Appeal Court Reverses Judgement Sacking Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi

Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi is unbothered by defections to the APC in Nigeria
A file photot of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi.

 

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reversed the March 8 judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court, sacking Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi and his deputy, Eric Kelechi Igwe, for defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In a judgement on Friday, a three-member panel of the appellate court lead by Justice Haruna Tsanammi, held that the 1999 Constitution as amended, did not provide any punishment for a governor or deputy governor who defected from the party on which platform they got to office.

The appellate court further held that the only option opened to a political party, aggrieved by the defection of a governor or deputy governor, is to explore the impeachment option provided in the Constitution.


READ ALSO: 2023: Atiku Has Failed, Is Trying To Destroy Our Democracy – Kenneth Okonkwo


The court aligned with an earlier decision on the same issue given by the Enugu division of the court.

Justice Ekwo of the Abuja Federal High court Abuja had on March 8, 2022, ordered the Ebonyi state Governor Dave Umahi and his deputy, Eric Igwe, to vacate their sits as the sitting governor and deputy on grounds that the PDP won the election on March 2019 and not its candidate.

Citing section 221 of the constitution, Justice Inyang Ekwo declared their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress, as illegal, and unconstitutional.

Umahi Hosts Ebonyi National Awardees, Pledges Extension Of Empowerment Initiatives

Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi is unbothered by defections to the APC in Nigeria
A file photo of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi.

 

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi has vowed to extend his empowerment initiatives to indigenes of the state living in Abuja.

The governor said this during a reception organized for national honour recipients from Ebonyi State on Tuesday.

According to him, the empowerment programme was targeted at ensuring people were lifted out of the poverty line.

“We are a hardworking people who deserve to reap the benefits of our labour. I will continue to work for the upliftment of our people” the Special Assistant to the Governor (Media & Strategy), Chooks Oko, quoted Umahi as saying.

He also thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for the national honours conferred on Ebonyians.

READ ALSOBuhari Confers National Honours On Fashola, Okonjo-Iweala, Kyari, Others

“We submitted fifteen names but surprisingly, only seven were honoured. I protested and got assured that something is being done. Let us keep the lively and trustworthy Ebonyi spirit alive in us at all times and show the world that we have come of age,” Umahi said.

On his part, the Secretary to the State Government and Coordinating Commissioner, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, noted that the reception was to celebrate the honorees. He urged them to keep performing outstandingly in their fields to attract the right recognition.

Meanwhile, the President of Ebonyi Community in Abuja, Barr. Cletus Afoke, has thanked Governor Umahi for giving indigenes of the state reasons to smile.

“Before now, when you say you are from Ebonyi, you will get scornful looks, but not anymore,” he said in his opening remark.

“People now want to associate with us because of what the governor has turned our state into. We are grateful”.

On behalf of the honorees, General Abel Obi Umahi (rtd) lauded the governor for recommending them, noting that the rigorous process that followed makes the honour well deserved.

Equally speaking at the event, a former chief judge of the state, Justice Alloy Nwankwo, charged Ebonyians to work harder so as to attract more recognition.

2023: Obi’s Acceptability May Not Translate To Victory, Says Umahi

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has hailed the acceptability of the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate Peter Obi but believes this may not translate to victory for the former Anambra governor in next year’s exercise.

Umahi spoke on Friday in Abuja after his visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House. According to him, while Obi’s level of acceptability across the country is heart-warming, especially for the southeast region, it won’t be enough to unseat the ruling.


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A photo combination of Peter Obi and Umahi.

 

“So, while my party takes the victory, he would have prepared a very good ground for the south-east presidency, so that nobody is going to write us off. And you can see the level of his acceptability, which does not translate to victory over APC. I’m sure of that,” the governor told the press after the visit.

“But it’s a good movement. And it reassures the south-east people and the entire country that we are accepted, you know; that we will one day become the president of this country. It is very important.”

Umahi believes the “Peter Obi movement” is one built on equity, justice, and fairness. He maintained, however, that “it may not translate to outright win because I must defend my party; I must wish my party well and I have the ticket of my party. But whether what he is doing has meaning there, it is not only in the southeast; it does have meaning”.

He also said the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu is poised to win next year’s presidential poll, arguing that the party has the “structure” and “spread” to achieve that.

Nigeria Can’t Borrow N1.1 Trillion To Meet ASUU’s Demand – Umahi

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State says the Nigerian government cannot borrow N1.1 trillion to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who have been on strike for over five months. 

The Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum said this on Wednesday when he received a delegation from the Nigeria Police Trust Fund led by Dr. Ben Akabueze, in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi capital.

“There is no way Nigeria will go and borrow N1.1tn to meet ASUU’s demand, it’s quite unreasonable. Are their demands genuine? Yes. But we can start little by little,” the governor said.

“There must be a commitment on the side of both parties that look, ‘ASUU is not asking for this to take to their houses’ so to say. It’s asking for it for our children, to better the infrastructure, to better the lecturers and the students. Yes, but we can start with a fraction of that and then have a programme that will run on the platform of sincerity to address all the lots.”

READ ALSO: FG Can’t Borrow N1.1trn To End ASUU Strike – Festus Keyamo

He also called on varsities lecturers to show some level of understanding so the strike can end.

“So, it is important for ASUU to show some understanding and for those who are negotiating on the side of government to also show some understanding,” he added.

“Let’s meet ourselves halfway and then open the schools to save the fate of our children.”

The governor, who equally faulted the poor maintenance culture in the country, added that there is a need to work on it.

“But let me also say that most of the time, our people have a low appetite for maintenance of public works,” Umahi said.

“No matter how much you deploy to these universities unless the users and the industry regulators begin to treat public infrastructure as their own in the various universities, it will continue to go bad.

Insecurity In South East Politically-Motivated But Not Imported, Says Umahi

A file photo of Ebonyi Sate Governor, Dave Umahi. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television
A file photo of Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State believes insecurity in the South East is politically-motivated but ruled out foreigners as the masterminds. 

The governor’s comment came on the heels of rising insecurity in the region with an Anambra lawmaker Okechukwu Okoye being one of the latest casualties.

“In my state, there was a time that the insecurity was highly politically-motivated and the targets were Imo State, APC, and Ebonyi State the moment I defected,” he told Channels Television’s Sunday Politics. “We did not have this large scale of insecurity until I defected.”

But for how President Muhammadu Buhari handled the challenge, he said the spate of insecurity could have been worse in Nigeria and the South East specifically.

“Well, you see, the security situation in the country, as I have always told people, that if we did not have the kind of President that is very humane and not vindictive, nobody knows where Nigeria would have been by now,” the APC presidential aspirant said. “So, he [Buhari] has helped us tremendously in the security of the South East.”

READ ALSOUmahi Absent As South-East APC Presidential Aspirants Meet

“What I call bandits are people that are engaged in violence and our people, South East people; the youths, some of them are also in this category,” Umahi added.

“When people tend to say the insecurity in the southeast is imported, I don’t buy that because I am a governor and get security reports. We have arrested a number of these people and it should be about five or ten percent of the people outside the South East.

“So, you cannot say when you have up to 90 percent of our youths that are engaged in this thing and you say we are being infiltrated by others.”

The governor also linked the security challenges to comments by politicians as he urged them to be mindful of what they say.

“There are certain statements that we make as leaders that tend to elevate this insecurity,” Umahi maintained.

He argued that one of the ways to tackle insecurity in Nigeria is for the government to create jobs as well as provide infrastructure. His administration, he said, has done excellently in that line.

“Everywhere you go in my state, jobs are going on. Even as I am talking to you, there is no local government in my state that projects are not going on,” he said.

In what he termed the bottom-top approach, the governor said his administration engaged bandits in the state with a view to finding lasting solutions to the rising insecurity.

“We have rehabilitated a lot of them,” the APC chieftain stated.

Umahi Accuses Ohanaeze Of Delaying Negotiation For Nnamdi Kanu’s Release

 

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has accused the Igbo socio-cultural body, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, of delaying discussions with the Federal Government over Nnamdi Kanu’s release. 

The governor made the claim on Friday when he featured on Channels Television’s Politics Today. 

“We wished that it should be solved and that’s why I went to Mr President. And our leader, Chief Mbazuluike Amaechi, has also gone to the President and he agreed for a political solution, but it should be us that should initiate it,” he said on Friday.

“And I am asking Ambassador Obiozor (Ohanaeze President), he is very slow about this because I had gone to the DG DSS. I had gone to the Attorney-General of the Federation and they were ready to receive them to discuss. I had excluded myself so that politics is not by any means adduced to it.”

READ ALSO: UK Bars IPOB, Others From Seeking Asylum

“So, we should be encouraging the president of Ohanaeze to work with the IPOB leader as Mr President suggested and then let them, you know, bring something before the Federal Government and say, ‘These are what we are bringing on board.’ I think that the President is not averse to that,” the government added.

The governor, who said he foresaw the growing insecurity in the South East, reiterated that that was why his government opposed the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) from the onset.

He, however, said many people misunderstood him and “jumped into and used it for politics”. Umahi lamented that the situation is now  “a pain in everybody’s eye” in the region.

Buhari’s ‘Worry’

President Buhari flanked by Governor Umahi during the inauguration of the project. Photo: State House

 

Umahi’s comment followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the state where the Nigerian leader commissioned several projects.

During the visit, leaders of the South East region pleaded with the Nigerian leader for the release of Kanu who has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).

But Buhari told the Ebonyi State Stakeholders’ Forum at the Government House in Abakaliki on Friday, that only the court can decide the IPOB leader’s fate.

“I have listened carefully to the various appeals from the elders to the traditional leaders, regarding a wide range of options,” he said. “And as I have said previously, this matter remains in the full purview of the court where it will be properly adjudicated.

“My worry is for our hardworking and innocent civilians for whom life is already tough and will like to just go out and earn a decent and honest living.”

‘You’re An Engineer With Repute’: Buhari Hails Umahi’s Infrastructure Drive

President Buhari flanked by Governor Umahi during the inauguration of the project. Photo: State House

 

President Muhammadu Buhari had lauded Governor Dave Umahi’s infrastructure drive, describing the Ebonyi leader as an engineer with repute. 

Buhari said this on Thursday while inaugurating the 700-metre length twin-flyover (also called King David’s University flyover).

”I am not an Engineer by discipline but my eyes are very clear, even through my eyeglasses,” Buhari said of Umahi during the inauguration of the project constructed at the cost of N2 billion, according to a statement by his media aide, Femi Adesina.

“I am impressed with this performance and I know the projects will last. I congratulate the Governor on this feat and I am pleased to be associated with it.”

At Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area, President Buhari equally inaugurated the Cancer Centre at the King David University of Medical Sciences. The project was built and equipped by the Federal Government under TETFUND.

READ ALSO: Jonathan No Longer The Best Candidate For President In 2023 – Atedo Peterside

‘Indelible Marks’

Photo: State House

 

During his two-day visit to the South-East state, Buhari is also expected to commission other projects at the state-owned varsity in Uburu. These included a twin flyover, a 12-kilometre dualised Federal Road, from Mbu, Enugu State to Uburu, the university building and the University Medical Hospital, facilities and equipment.

On his part, Governor Umahi thanked Buhari for approving the funding of the Centre, saying that the facility is one of the best around the globe.

”It is in the same standard as Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and the State government also contributed to the project to bring it to completion,” the governor said.

Umahi also appreciated the President for acceding to the request of the state government on the Federal Government to take over the running of the teaching hospital of the university.

”This hospital is beyond the scope of any State government to run and we have been celebrating your approval of our request and are very proud that you are here to commission it yourself,” he said.

”You have left a lot of indelible marks in the development of this centre of excellence and it will never be forgotten.”

Defection: Court Upholds Judgement In Favour Of Umahi And His Deputy

The Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu on Friday upheld the February 28th decision of the Abakaliki High Court bothering on the defection of Governor David Umahi and his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, from the People’s Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The suit had been filed by Senator Sonny Ogbuoji who participated as a candidate of the APC in the 2019 governorship election.

It is not directly linked to the Federal High Court’s sack of Governor Umahi and his deputy, which was filed by the PDP.

READ ALSO: FG Is Complacent On Insecurity, Says Senator Ndume

Friday’s sitting, which began at exactly 11:00 am had the Honourable Justice Alfa Belgore assisted by justices Oyewole and S. N Gbagi, with counsel to both parties in attendance.

In a 37th judgement read on the floor of the court, Justice Belgore held that the appeal lacked merit and that the cases sighted are totally irrelevant to the matter brought before the court.

The lead judge, Justice Belgore further pointed out that the removal of elected officials, in this case, Governor Umahi and his deputy, lies in the hands of the legislature and must be in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

The judge specifically sighted section 308 of the Constitution and pointed out that no legal action can be taken against a sitting president and vice president, governor and his deputy.

He, therefore, dismissed the appeal with a N200k fine against the appellant.

 

 

 

Sack From Office: I’m Not Worried, Constitution Says I Can’t Be Sued – Umahi

A file photo of Ebonyi Sate Governor, Dave Umahi. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television
A file photo of Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

The Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, has maintained that he has entertained fewer worries since the counter pronouncement by a Federal High Court in Abuja, ordering that he and his deputy, Eric Igwe, vacate their seats as governor and deputy respectively.

He argued that asides from the immutable fact that he enjoys immunity as an elected governor, votes secured during an election legally belong to the candidate and not a political party.

Umahi further stressed that the difference between himself and Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, whom he thanked for carrying out the hatchet job and likened to Judas Iscariot in the Bible, is their faith.

According to Ebonyi Governor, he serves only the living God while that of his Rivers counterpart (whose name he refused to out-rightly mention) might be based on alcohol.

The governor’s comments are in reaction to the judgement of a Federal High Court in Abuja, ordering his sack and that of his deputy, following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

READ ALSO: PDP Interested In Destabilisation Of Nigeria – Femi Adesina

In its judgment, the court maintained that the PDP won the election in March 2019 and not the candidates. It further held that having defected to the APC, Governor Umahi, and his deputy cannot transfer the mandate of the PDP to the opposition party.

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, an order which the party has swiftly obeyed.

While Umahi has called on his supporters to remain calm after the Federal High Court order, PDP’s nominee for Governor of Ebonyi State, Iduma Igariwey, has asked incumbent Dave Umahi to vacate office without delay.

Mr Igariwey, a member of the House of Representatives, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to comply immediately with the court order and issue a certificate of return to him and his proposed deputy, Mr Fred Udeogu.

He said he was concerned that a few days after the court order, Governor Umahi was still parading himself as governor when there is no stay of execution order.

In a similar vein, the PDP has charged the INEC to immediately and without any further delay, issue certificates of return to Igariwe and Udogwu.

According to the PDP, INEC, pursuant to the provision of Section 287(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which provides that “the decisions of the Federal High Court, National Industrial Court, a High Court and of all other courts established by this Constitution shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by other courts of law with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Federal High Court, National Industrial Court, a High Court, and those other courts, respectively” is bound to issue certificates of return immediately to Hon. Iduma Igariwe and Fred Udogwu as Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State respectively”.

In this regard, the PDP also demanded that the Chief Judge of Ebonyi State, upon the issuance of the certificates, proceed to swear in the duo.

Party spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, in a statement on Monday argued that this is absolutely necessary to prevent the existence of vacuum in the government and governance of Ebonyi State as “Messers Umahi and Igwe can no longer exercise the functions of the office of Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State pursuant to the Order of the Federal High Court which removed them from office on March 8, 2022, and the subsequent Order of the Federal High Court today, which refused their application for Stay of Execution”.

The PDP commended the judiciary for its courage in defending the Constitution as well as the will of the people of Ebonyi State as expressed in their votes for the PDP in the 2019 governorship election.

Ebonyi: Issue Certificates Of Return To Igariwe, Udogwu Now, PDP Charges INEC

A photo combination of Mr Iduma Igariwey and Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi.
A photo combination of Mr Iduma Igariwey and Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately and without any further delay, issue certificates of return to Iduma Igariwe and Fred Udogwu as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State respectively.

This is in furtherance of the Order of the Federal High Court issued in Abuja on Monday,  refusing to grant Stay of Execution to the former Governor of Ebonyi State, David Nweze Umahi, and his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, over their removal from office by the Court.

According to the PDP, INEC, pursuant to the provision of Section 287(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which provides that “the decisions of the Federal High Court, National Industrial Court, a High Court and of all other courts established by this Constitution shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by other courts of law with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Federal High Court, National Industrial Court, a High Court, and those other courts, respectively” is bound to issue certificates of return immediately to Hon. Iduma Igariwe and Fred Udogwu as Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State respectively”.

READ ALSOCourt Strikes Out Suit Seeking To Halt Umahi’s Removal From Office

In this regard, the PDP also demanded that the Chief Judge of Ebonyi State, upon the issuance of certificates of return by INEC, proceed to swear in Igariwe and Udogwu as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State respectively.

Party spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, in a statement on Monday argued that this is absolutely necessary to prevent the existence of vacuum in the government and governance of Ebonyi State as “Messers Umahi and Igwe can no longer exercise the functions of the office of Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State pursuant to the Order of the Federal High Court which removed them from office on March 8, 2022, and the subsequent Order of the Federal High Court today, which refused their application for Stay of Execution”.

The PDP commended the judiciary for its courage in defending the Constitution as well as the will of the people of Ebonyi State as expressed in their votes for the PDP in the 2019 governorship election.

The party also congratulated the people of Ebonyi State for the restoration of their mandate and urged them to remain united under the PDP as they forge ahead in their mission to “Rescue and Rebuild” the country from the “rudderless” APC administration.

Ebonyi State High Court Reaffirms Earlier Judgement On Umahi, Deputy

 

An Ebonyi State High Court has ordered that Engr Dave Umahi and Dr Eric Igwe should remain in office as governor and deputy governor.

Justice Henry Njoku made this order pursuant to a motion exparte brought before the court and moved by counsel to the applicants, Roy Nwaaeze.

The governor and his deputy, who are the applicants in the suit, approached the court pursuant to order 39 rule 3 subsection 3 of the high court rules of the state and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

They asked the court to grant an interim order for seven days and subject to renewal that in view of its judgement delivered on February 28 which takes precedence over any subsequent contrary judgement, the applicants shall not be removed from office.


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On February 28, the court had dismissed the suit filed by the plaintiffs, Senator Soni Ogbuoji, Justin Ogodo and the APC, who challenged the defection of the governor and his deputy.

They asked the court to hold that having defected to APC from the PDP, the party under which he was elected, Umahi and his deputy ought to vacate the office of the governor upon defection and that the plaintiff having come second in the 2019 election, be sworn in instead.

In his judgment, Justice Njoku held that the applicants had not violated any provision of the constitution or the electoral act in their defection to the APC.

The court dismissed the suit filed by the plaintiffs for lacking in merit and awarded five hundred thousand naira (N500,000,000) as damages against Umahi and his deputy.

Reacting to the exparte order, the state’s Commissioner for Justice during a press briefing said the judgement reiterates earlier judgement that the seats of the governor and his deputy are not vacant.

INEC Yet To Get Certified Copy Of Judgment On Umahi – Festus Okoye

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it has not gotten the certified copy of the Federal High Court judgment that ordered the sack of Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, and his deputy,  Kelechi Igwe.

INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, said this in an exclusive interview with Channels Television on Thursday.

He, however, said that the commission has gotten a letter from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), nominating replacements for the duo.


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‘Executive Rascality’

A photo combination of NBA President Olumide Akpata and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi

 

On Tuesday,  a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered Umahi and Igwe to vacate their seats on grounds that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the election in March 2019 and not the candidates.

According to the judgment delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, having moved to the APC, Governor Umahi, and his deputy cannot transfer the mandate of the PDP to the APC.  He ruled that their defection was illegal, null, and unconstitutional.

He referenced Section 221 of the Constitution and ordered the PDP to send names of replacements to INEC. Justice Ekwo equally ordered the electoral body to cease from recognising Umahi and Igwe as the governor and deputy governor respectively.

In the wake of the judgment, Umahi said the court lacked the powers to sack him, arguing that the development has put the judiciary on trial. He also appealed the judgment.

His comments did not go fine with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which described Umahi’s remark as “executive rascality”.

The NBA in a statement said it “condemns without equivocation, Umahi’s unfortunate diatribe which, if it had emanated from an average litigant, would still have been regarded as shocking but coming from one who occupies the exalted office of a State Governor, is nothing short of a national embarrassment”.

But Umahi later apologised for the comment after the NBA demanded an apology from him.

“Now that the right thing has been done and the appeal process has been activated, we shall resume our backseat and allow the process to take its course,” the NBA president, Olumide Akpata, said in a series of tweets following the U-turn by Umahi.

“As far as the NBA is concerned, this brings an end to this unfortunate episode but we hope that important lessons have been learnt”.