The Court of Appeal Enugu Division, on Friday dismissed suit challenging the defection of Governor David Umahi and his deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe, to the All Progressives Congress.
It could be recalled that Governor Umahi and his Deputy had on November 2020 left the PDP, a platform on which they were elected, to the APC, citing injustice by the PDP against the South East zone.
However, on Tuesday, February 28, 2022, Justice Inyang Ekwo of federal high court ruled that their defection was unlawful.
But the court in a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice A. O Belgore, held that Governor Umahi and his deputy had the right to move to any political party they so wished, adding that there was nowhere in the constitution, the supreme law of the land, that barred a sitting governor from defecting to any political party.
Other members of the three-man panel of Justices are Justice J.O.K Oyewole and Justice S.N Gbagi.
The court held that Governor Umahi and his deputy did not offend any provision of the Constitution or the Electoral Act, as there was no consequence under the law against the defection of the holder of the office of the President, Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor, to another political Party from the party that sponsored the election that brought him or her to office.
It further held that, the defection of a political office holder may appear immoral, but it was not the duty of the Court to embark on investigation or probe into the provisions of the laws, warning that judicial activism must not be turned into judicial rascality.
The Appellate Court further held that there was no provision in sections 180, 188 or 189 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, that empowered the Court to remove either a sitting governor or the deputy.
According to the learned Justices, “defection of an office holder is not novel to Nigeria’s judicial jurisprudence.”
While dismissing the appeal, the court awarded the sum of N200,000 against the appellants.