Court Ruling; Forum of APC Chairmen In Nigeria Afirms Solidarity With Gov Umahi, Deputy

Forum of 36 States Chairmen of the All Progressives Congress APC, have affirmed their solidarity and support for Governor David Umahi and his Deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe, following the March 8, Federal High Court Abuja ruling, which ordered for the removal of the state Governor and Deputy on account of their defection from the people's Democratic party PDP, to the All Progressives Congress APC.

In a communique raised after the meeting in Abuja, and signed by the chairman of the forum and APC Chairman, Borno State,Hon Ali Bukar Dalori, reads in full;

"Following the judgement delivered by the Federal High Court Abuja on March 8, 2022 which ordered Governor David Nweze Umahi of Ebonyi State and his Deputy Dr Kelechi Igwe to vacate their respective offices on the ground that they defected from the People's Democratic Party PDP to the All Progressives Congress APC on November, 2021 has continued to agitate the minds of many right thinking people in Nigeria and beyond. 

"Having carefully studied and digested the court's judgment on the aforementioned matter, the Forum of State APC Chairmen in the country wishes to categorically state as follows:

"That the forum wishes to express dissatisfaction with the Federal High Court's verdict because it lacked constitutional justification. In the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, there is no place the issue of cross carpeting from one political party to another was stated hence establishing something on nothing cannot exist. The Constitution guarantees freedom of association, belonging to or joining of any lawful assembly such as political party as provided in section 40 of the constitution.   For now, there's no provision in the constitution or any extant law that says that Governor's defection from one party to another is unlawful or unconstitutional. Therefore the constitution which is a legal tender should be invoked on this matter so that the just will not suffer unduly. 

"That the forum recalls the fact that once a candidate wins an election as in this situation at hand, the Governor ceases to belong to a particular political party, hence he becomes a leader to all the people occupying that geographical enclave. This is why the entire members of that society and not just his political party will always hold that individual accountable in his actions and inactions in governance.

"That the constitution however stipulates the grounds under which a President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor can vacate their seats. The provisions are on the account of resignation, impeachment and/or death. It is however regrettably sad that none of the constitutional provisions suffices in this present case. Does it means that the court now has the power to make law and not to interpret the law as incorporated in the constitution. There is no lacuna concerning this issue of declaring the aforementioned seats vacant.

"That the law made it expressly clear that Federal and State High Courts are courts of coordinate or concurrent jurisdiction. Based on the foregoing, the Federal High Court does not have the locus to adjudicate on a matter earlier addressed by  a High Court domicile in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital which Judgement was delivered on the 28th of February 2022 on the same matter of defection that is valid and still subsisting. The Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate on this matter.  In the eyes of the law, it is only an appellate court that has the jurisdiction to set aside the judgement of the High Court delivered on February 28, 2022. 

"That the forum wishes to remind the general public that the same court had earlier justified the defection of the Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Bello Matawalle from the People's Democratic Party PDP to the All Progressives Congress APC describing it as an inalienable constitutional rights of the Governor. Based on the foregoing, does it now implies that the same court is upturning it's earlier ruling in view of the case at hand (Ebonyi State Governor David Nweze Umahi and his Deputy Dr Kelechi Igwe)?

"In the words of Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN,  who said “I am of the firm belief that the judgment, shredded of all legal and factual details, cannot stand the acid test of constitutionalism, nor pass the furnace of appellate courts scrutiny. This is because the tenure of office of a Governor and his Deputy are constitutional matters". “Perhaps, the Jurist’s learned attention was not drawn to appellate decisions on this type of matter, which under the doctrine of stare decisis and judicial precedent, he ought to have followed meticulously.

“He may also not have been availed of the clear provisions of sections 180 and 188 of the 1999 Constitution.
“I most respectfully submit (as held by appellate courts) that a political party is mere 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.

“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. Mark my words". End of quote. 

"Relying on the above assertions of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria and among other things, the forum wishes to join millions of people in solidarity with the Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Nweze Umahi and his Deputy Dr Kelechi Igwe to say that the Federal High Court's Judgement would not pass the furnace of appellate Court's scrutiny. 

"That the forum reiterates it's unwavering confidence and respect for the Judiciary hence the appellate court will do the needful by reversing the judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja in line with constitutional provisions and in the interest of Ebonyi people who first gave the verdict in 2019. 

"As it stands, both the law and morality would not canvass a distortion in the Infrastructural trajectory and other sensitive catalyst of development, His Excellency, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Engr David Nweze Umahi has through his leadership acumen, ingenuity and sagacity brought to the state. An abortion of his Government will not only truncated the rapid development but it will also amount to a rape on democracy in Nigeria. 

"That the forum wishes to remind His Excellency that he is not alone at this moment of distraction as the Almighty God, the People and the Judiciary must surely vindicate him".

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