Defection: Court Sacks Ebonyi Gov, Dep …PDP Submits Nominees For Umahi/Igwe Replacement – – The Tide

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Umahi and his Deputy, Eric Igwe, to vacate their seats as the sitting governor and deputy, respectively, on grounds that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the election on March 9, 2019, and not its candidate.
This is even as the PDP has nominated Hon. Iduma Igariwey as possible replacement for the sacked governor of Ebonyi State.
Having defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Umahi and his deputy cannot transfer the mandate of the PDP to the APC, the court said.
Citing Section 221 of the Constitution, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the PDP to immediately send names of replacements to INEC so that fresh elections can be conducted.
Ekwo also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cease from recognising Umahi and Igwe as the governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State.
Delivering judgement in the case, the presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the governor and his deputy to vacate office, adding that their defection was illegal, null and unconstitutional.
He ordered INEC to receive names of candidates from the PDP to replace Umahi and Igwe.
The governor and his deputy defected from the PDP on whose platform they were elected into office in the 2015 and 2019 general election to the APC.
Determined to reclaim its mandate, the PDP sued the Umahi, Igwe, the APC and INEC.
The court noted that the crux of the matter was the defection of the 3rd and 4th from the PDP to the APC, adding that the averments of the 3rd and 4th Defendants did not address the issue of defection rightly and frontally but rather resorted to general denial to affidavit evidence.
Ekwo said the depositions of the 3rd and 4th Defendants in their counter affidavit were “evasive and insufficient” to competently challenge the Plaintiff’s originating process.
It was the opinion of the court that the “Immunity Clause” in Section 308 of the Constitution is not absolute.
The court ruled that “Section 308 is a veritable constitutional shield” and not for political reasons.
Inyang said Umahi and Igwe did not controvert the deposition that total votes scored in an election belong to a political party.
He stated that evidence abound that the 2nd defendant (APC) contested the Ebonyi State Governorship election held on March 9, 2019, with its own candidates.
“It can be noted that the Constitution does not deal with the issue of defection lightly,” the court stated.
“The 3rd and 4th Defendants cannot transfer the votes and victory of the Plaintiff on March 9, 2019, to the APC. Office of the Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State belongs to the PDP.
“The option for Umahi and Igwe is to vacate office and wait for next election to contest election under the platform of its new party,” the court declared.
The court said the act of the APC, Umahi and his deputy was aimed at dismantling the 1999 Constitution.
Consequently, the court declared that under the democratic system operated in Nigeria, the plaintiff won the majority of votes during the election and was entitled to enjoy same till end of tenure of office for which the election was conducted.
However, the embattled Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Umahi has reacted to reports of his sack by a Federal High Court in Abuja over his defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking to journalists in Abakaliki, Umahi said that the judgement would not stand, and that his followers would not obey it.
He described the ruling as “jungle justice that was purchased.”
The governor insisted that such ruling was not a good development for the Judiciary.
The PDP had in an originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/920/2021, approached the court to declare that by defecting from the party on which they were elected as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State to the APC, they had resigned or are deemed to have resigned from office.
Ekwo, in a judgement, yesterday, held that the total number of 393,042 votes Umahi secured at the March 9, 2019 Ebonyi State governorship election belonged to the PDP, hence could not be legally transferred to the APC.
Meanwhile, the PDP has nominated Hon. Iduma Igariwey as possible replacement for the sacked governor of Ebonyi State.
The PDP National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, who disclosed this at a world press conference, yesterday, in Abuja, hailed the judgement, saying “the Judiciary is indeed the backbone of this democracy.”
Ayu, who appreciated the Judiciary for what he described as a “landmark judgement”, said the verdict would bring order in the political space and check the issue of political rascality and stolen mandates.
He said, “We also want to single out Justice Inyang Ekwo for special recognition, particularly for being courageous and forthright in going for the substance of the law rather than the technicalities.
“And in line with the court order, PDP is immediately submitting to INEC the names of our candidates for governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State, respectively.
“We are also calling on INEC to immediately issue the Certificates of Return to the PDP nominees as a replacement for Messrs Umahi and Igwe, pursuant to the Order of the Honourable Court.”
Responding to questions, Ayu said the party nominated Hon Iduma Enwo Igariwey as a replacement for Governor David Umahi, and Fred Udeogu as deputy governor.
Ayu also called on the Chief Judge of Ebonyi State to immediately swear them in as soon as INEC issues the requisites Certificates of Return.
The chairman of the opposition party also called on INEC to immediately withdraw the Certificates of Return from the 17 lawmakers and commence the process of conducting bye-elections to replace them.
Buhari Seeks Amendment Of Section 84, Electoral Act
APC, Averse To Internal Democracy, Wike Declares
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Flight delays and cancellations among domestic airlines have continued unabated as scarcity of aviation fuel bites harder and cost of purchase increases to N570 per litre.
The situation with airlines like Ibom Air was very dire, yesterday, as many of their aircraft couldn’t fly to most of their destinations due to fuel scarcity.
The airline admitted that the situation was bad and impacted its flight schedule, yesterday and may do the same, today.
“We have encountered a situation today where aviation fuel is scarce, and therefore, unavailable at almost all our flight destinations. This has significantly impacted our flight schedule today (Tuesday) and may do the same tomorrow (Wednesday). We sincerely apologize to all our passengers affected by the current situation.
“At this time, we have no indication when the issue will be resolved, however, we are working with our fellow airlines and fuel suppliers to find a solution. Our passengers and the public should please be informed. We will give an update once we have further information,” the airline said.
Last week, Dana Air apologised to its passengers for the flight disruptions that happened in March 1, where most of their flights were cancelled due to scarcity of fuel.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Sukhjinder Mann, said the disruptions were due to fuel scarcity, ramp congestion and bad weather, and promised to give complimentary tickets to passengers that were affected.
In a letter to passengers, he said: “I accept that our recent disruptions scarcity of fuel, ramp congestion and bad weather would have affected your plans and I understand how frustrating it would have been for you to contact our customer service representative to reschedule your flight or having to wait in some instances, but I would like to reassure you that all your feedback has not gone unnoticed regardless of how your sent them.
“On fuel scarcity, we are working with our partners to significantly mitigate the challenge and I am pleased to advise that we have made major inroads in this area with our key suppliers. We will continue to do our best to minimize any foreseeable challenges while hoping that the situation improves generally for all carriers as soon as possible.”
Late last month, Air Peace had through one their circulars informed passengers that some of their flights were delayed due to scarcity.
The airline said their Lagos to Port Harcourt flight for 14:30 on February 15 was delayed due to lack of fuel and the Port Harcourt to Abuja flight for 16:25 and Abuja to Lagos for 16:25 were also affected.
The airline also revealed that the Lagos to Asaba flight of 14:25 of the same day was delayed because of aviation fuel and it affected the Abuja to Lagos flight of 16:25.
Also, the Lagos to Douala flight for 15:00 was also delayed due to scarcity and it affected their return leg of Doula to Lagos for 17:15.
An insider in one of the airlines said that there is suspicion in the industry that marketers were taking advantage of the fuel crisis in the country to hoard the product and increase the price.
“We are suspecting that many of the marketers are deliberately creating false scarcity in order to increase the price of aviation fuel to N570 and this has caused so much problems for airlines. It is unfortunate and the government doesn’t seem to know how to handle the situation.
“A lot of passengers won’t understand our predicament, they always like to blame the airlines but in this situation, tell me what the airlines can do? They are helpless. We are still battling with scarcity of forex, on top of that, we are now being faced with scarcity of fuel,” the insider said.
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Authorities of the Rivers State University (RSU) have said that the three campuses of the institution located at Ahoada, Etche and Emohua would be ready by March 31, 2022.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Nlerum Okogbule disclosed this at the university’s main campus while giving account of his stewardship within the last two years in office.
He said work on the three campuses was 95percent completed, adding that it would be commissioned by May, 2022.
Okogbule also listed other achievements to include the commencement and completion of the Centre for Continuing Education building, 80percent completion of Faculty of Basic Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Clinical Science and Pathology building.
The rest are ongoing construction of nursing building, Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Social Sciences and Faculty of Education, which are all TETFUND projects within the main campus.
The vice chancellor also said Post Graduate Studies building was 50percent completed; erection of modern bus-stop completed, and now in use, demolition of security village in readiness for the building of staff quarters as well as securing approval for the construction of additional staff quarters.
Other achievements, according to him, are renovation and furnishing of space for Faculty of Engineering Conference Room, ensuring regular environmental sanitation in the campus, enhanced security at the campus, promotion of academic staff of various categories and the creation of two new faculties and establishment of the University Business School.
The vice chancellor said the institution also had successful accreditation for its medical college by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria leading to the commencement of clinical training as well as successful accreditation of other academic programmes by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), among other achievements.
Okogbule said that within the period under review, the university also won both national and international awards, especially award which makes RSU the University of the Year, 2021.
He said his administration would continue to be inclusive where ideas, suggestions and inputs would be taking into consideration.
Speaking, Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), RSU chapter, Prof Emmanuel Ekwulo, and others, thanked the vice chancellor for giving the institution a pride of place in the scheme of things.
By: John Bibor
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President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the House of Representatives, seeking amendment of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, read the President’s letter to the lawmakers during plenary in Abuja, yesterday.
Recall that Buhari, while signing the 2022 electoral amendment bill on February 25, 2022, complained that the provision constituted fundamental defect, saying it was in conflict with extant constitutional provisions.
According to the president, Section 84 (12) constitutes a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at conventions or congresses of any political party.
This, he said, was for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the National Election.
The section read: “No political appointee at any level shall be voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
Buhari stated that the provision introduced qualification and disqualification criteria that ultra vires the Constitution by way of importing blanket restriction and disqualification.
This he said was basically for serving political office holders of which they were constitutionally accorded protection.
“It is imperative to note that the only constitutional expectation placed on serving political office holders that qualify by extension as public officers within the context of the constitution is resignation.
“Others he said were; withdrawal or retirement, at least, 30 days before the date of the election.
“Hence, it will be stretching things beyond the constitutional limit to import extraneous restriction into the Constitution on account of practical application of Section 84(12) of the bill”, Buhari said.
This, according to him, is where political parties’ conventions and congresses were to hold earlier than 30 days to the election.
However, Buhari is asking for the amendment of the bill to reflect the spirit of the Constitution.
Buhari requested that the Nationally Assembly considered immediate amendments that would bring the bill in tune with constitutionality by way of deleting Section 84(12) accordingly.
Meanwhile, the Federal High Court on March 7, stopped Buhari, Attorney General of the Federation and the National Assembly from tampering with the newly amended Electoral Act 2022.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling on an ex parte application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), agreed that the Electoral Act had become a valid law and could not be tampered with without following due process.
Ekwo held that the proper place to challenge validity of any existing law was in a court of competent jurisdiction.
A member of the House of Reps, Herma Hembe, (APC-Benue), however, reminded the House on the ruling of the court.
Meanwhile, the Senate has insisted that it is going ahead to amend the Electoral Act 2022 as amended despite an interim order restraining the National Assembly from tampering with the Act pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The National Assembly is of the view that the Constitution conferred on it the right to make and amend laws and therefore, court orders cannot prevent it from carrying out this constitutional function.
This is coming as the Senate responded to the ruling of the Federal High Court restraining the National Assembly from amending the new Electoral Act 2022.
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