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Friday, June 2, 2023

Umahi: Why Appeal Court may upturn judgment 

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Chief Mike Ozekhome, the lead counsel to Nnamdi Kanu, has said the ruling of an Abuja Federal High Court sacking Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and his deputy, Dr Eric Igwe, was wrong.

Ozekhome argued that a governor and his deputy cannot be removed from office for simply moving to another political party outside the one that brought them to power.

Justice Inyang Ekwo had sacked Umahi and Igwe for defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

The judge ruled that the votes that produced Umahi and his deputy were not transferable since they were obtained under the PDP.

Ezekhome stressed that votes belong to the candidates and not political parties.

A statement signed by the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, said: “The appellate courts have since held again and again that votes cast in an election belong to a live candidate and not the political party which merely serves as a vehicle that enthrone candidates.

“The implication of section 141 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) is that while a candidate at an election must be sponsored by a political party, the candidate who stands to win or lose the election is the candidate and not the political party that sponsored him.

“I, therefore, most respectfully submit (as held by appellate courts) that a political party is merely a vehicle in which a candidate can ride to contest an election and nothing more. The votes belong to the candidate and not the political party. The political party ceases to have any considerable relevance or insolence over a person that has won an election and has been sworn in as a legislator, Governor or President of the entire people, who are far larger than a mere political party.”

He said that Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution grants absolute immunity to the President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor while in office.

According to the SAN: “Consequently, no civil or criminal proceedings could ever sustain against this set of persons, whilst still holding office.

“Going by the above plethora of authorities, I humbly submit that a Governor already sworn in cannot be removed by the Federal High Court through an Originating Summons. It will surely be set aside on appeal.”

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