The Court of Appeal in Abuja has overturned a judgment issued by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on March 8 which sacked Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state and his deputy, Eric Igwe, over their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Justice Ekwo at the time held that the 393,042 votes polled by Umahi in the March 2019 governorship election belong to the PDP and cannot be legally transferred to the APC. Consequently, Ekwo ordered the PDP to present another candidate or in the alternative, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should conduct a fresh poll within 90 days.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, Governor Umahi and his deputy filed an appeal against the judgment as well as an application staying its execution.
In a judgment delivered today, a three-member panel of justices held that the Nigerian constitution does not provide any punishment for a governor or deputy governor who defects from the party on whose platform he or she was elected into office.
Justice Haruna Tsanami who was on the three-member panel held in the lead judgment that the sole recourse available to a political party aggrieved by the defection of a governor or deputy governor is to explore the constitutional provision of impeachment.