A former Senator in Ebonyi State, Julius Ucha, has described the removal order of Ebonyi State Governor, Engr David Umahi, and his deputy, Barrister Kelechi Igwe, as illegal.
He added that the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja over the defection of Umahi and his deputy would be subject to judicial interpretation by the appellate And supreme courts.
In a statement issued in Abakaliki, the pioneer Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly noted that the 1999 constitution and 2010 Electoral Act both as amended did not contemplate what will happen when a serving governor defects from one political party to another.
Ucha added: “the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) stipulates reasons for the defection and those stipulations are only applicable to members of State House of Assembly and National Assembly. There’s no provision in the Constitution contemplating what will happen when a Governor defects.
“Therefore, I do not know why the issue of the defection of a state Governor is a subject matter of litigation. The 1999 Constitution of the FRN as amended has a specific provision as to how a Governor can vacate his office. Those provisions are by death, resignation, incapacitation and by impeachment on misconduct by the State House of Assembly. It is not known to law or the Constitution that a Governor can be removed from office as a result of defection”.
Ucha, a two-term senator, who represented Ebonyi Central, dismissed the nomination of some persons to act as a Governor and Deputy Governor by the Peoples Democratic Party as a sheer mockery and celebration of absurdity which must be discountenanced.
He said that when the PDP was talking about reclaiming Ebonyi State, it was not only a distraction but deception and diversionary to make it difficult for Governor Umahi to install his successor.
“They are pretty sure that it is practically impossible to remove the Governor on account of his defection from one political party to the other. So, their attention is focused on 2023, not on the instant case.
“I say this because 2010 Electoral Act and 1999 constitution as amended have specific provisions that make it impossible for anybody who has not fully participated in all the stages of election to be appointed a Governor.
“It then follows that as provided in Section 141 of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended, it states that Election Tribunal or Court shall not under any circumstance, declare any person a winner of any election in which such a person has not fully participated in all the stages of the election. See also section 285 (13) of 1999 Constitution of FRN as amended which did not only emphasize but amplified the position of the Electoral Act in this matter,” he said.
He however stated that if a party secures judgment against a state Governor on defection, he has the right to appeal such judgment as in the case of Umahi and his deputy.
“In any event, it is a trite law that when Courts of coordinate jurisdiction give conflicting judgement, Honourable the Attorney General of the Federation is at will to choose which order to obey.
“I want to call on our leaders whether in PDP or APC from the State who are busy recruiting outsiders to brew crisis in the state to desist from such machinations in order not to reincarnate the past political crisis that almost destroyed our dear state during the notorious Abuja Group between 1999 and 2003,” Ucha said.
The APC chieftain, therefore, called on the people of Ebonyi State, the APC family in the state and Nigerians to remain calm as there are other levels of the appellate court and Supreme Court that will give further judicial interpretations to the laws as they relate to the instant case on the defection of a serving State Governor.