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Court Shifts Judgement On Ayade’s Defection For Second Time In Two Weeks

Emmanuela Obaje-Daniels  
Updated April 6, 2022
A file photo of Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade. Twitter: @senatorbenayade

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja has again shifted judgment on a suit by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State and his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who initially fixed March 25 to decide on the case, had now postponed the judgement in the suit until Wednesday, April 6.

He, however, fixed Thursday, April 7 for judgment after the counsels representing the parties in the suit addressed the court on the judgement of the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal on the defection of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Emmanuel Ukala, represented the PDP while another SAN, Mike Ozekhome, represented Governor Ayade.

In his address, Ukala insisted that the subject matter, issues raised for determination, and interpretation of certain provisions of the Constitution in the cases of Umahi and Ayade, were completely different.

He said the prayers of Umahi at the Abakiliki High Court were different from what the PDP was seeking at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

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Ozekhome, on his part, informed the court that the case decided at the Court of Appeal in Enugu Division was the same as the instant case at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

He posited that considering the principle of stare decisis, the trial court was bound by law to follow the precedence set by the appellate court in Enugu.

The SAN also cited the Supreme Court judgment in the case of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, when the former defected from the PDP to the Action Congress of Nigeria, which went in favour of Atiku.

In its prayers, the PDP had asked the court to sack both Ayade and Esu, contending that the duo, having abandoned the political party that sponsored their re-election, ought to vacate their respective offices.

It also among others sought a declaration that votes at the election and other elections were won by political parties, and not the candidate or the candidates sponsored at the election by the political parties.

The main opposition party predicated its position on the provisions of Section 221 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and the democratic system of governance operated in Nigeria.

It prayed the court to order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately receive the names of its candidates to replace Ayade and Esu, from it.

The party explained that this became necessary to utilise the lawful votes cast in favour of the plaintiff.

In the alternative, it asked the court to direct the first defendant (INEC) to hold a governorship election in Cross River State, in accordance with Section 177 of the Constitution.

The PDP, however, wants the third and fourth defendants (Ayada and Esu) to be excluded from the poll, stressing that they have been disqualified from participating in the election.