Defection: Court dismisses suit seeking Ayade, deputy’s sack

ccd ayade app x
ccd ayade app x

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has dismissed the suit the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) filed to declare the seat of Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State and his Deputy, Ivara Esu, vacant, following their defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in his judgment, yesterday,  held that the duo could not be sacked from their positions, other than through statutory procedures stipulated in sections 180, 188 and 189 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

He further held that defection to another political party was not stated as one of the grounds for the removal of either a governor or his deputy.

“The 3rd and 4th Defendant cannot be removed except by Constitutional provision. This court has no power to declare vacant the seat of the 3rd and 4th Defendants,” Justice Taiwo held.

PDP had, in its suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/975/2021, prayed the court to sack both Ayade and his deputy, contending that the duo, having abandoned the political party that sponsored their re-election, ought to vacate their respective offices.

The judge predicated his judgment on the last Friday’s decision of the Court of Appeal in Enugu, which dismissed an appeal filed against the Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, on account of his defection from the PDP to the APC.

Mr Taiwo had, on Wednesday, taken oral arguments from lawyers to the parties in Mr Aayade’s case to determine the significance of the latest decision of the Court of Appeal on the implication of the defection of a governor from one party to another.

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In the decision which was brought to the attention of the judge by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), on Wednesday, the Court of Appeal in Enugu dismissed the legal action seeking to remove Mr Umahi and his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, from office on the account of their dumping the PDP for the APC last year.

While placing reliance on the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Enugu, Justice Taiwo emphasised the necessity of the doctrine of judicial precedent, following the legal reasoning of the appellate court in Enugu.

“The facts and circumstances of this case are similar to that of the Court of Appeal in Enugu,” the judge said.

Ozekhome had prayed the court to bow and respect the decision of the higher Court of Appeal on defection related matters.

While addressing the court on the effects of the Court of Appeal judgment on the defection suit against governor Ayade, he asked Justice Taiwo to apply the higher court decision to dismiss the suit against his client.

Besides, he further drew the attention of the judge to a portion of the Court of Appeal judgment which held that under the amended Constitution, votes cast in any election belong to individuals and not political parties.

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