There was wild jubilation on Thursday, in Calabar, Cross River State, shortly after a Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party asking the court to declare the seats of Governor Ben Ayade and his deputy, Ivara Esu, vacant, following their defection to the All Progressives Congress in May 2021.
Members of support groups gathered at the Kola Nut Centre, singing solidarity and victory songs.
A chieftain of the APC who was part of the victory party, Emmanuel Ironbar, said the “victory was well deserved.”
The Federal High Court in Abuja, had, in a judgment delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, held that Ayade and Esu could not be sacked other than through statutory procedures that were stipulated in Sections 180, 188 and 189 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
He held that defection is not an offence in the Nigerian constitution.
The judge cited the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division which refused to sack David Umahi as Ebonyi State Governor.
“The facts and circumstances of this case are similar to that of the Court of Appeal in Enugu,” the judge said.
But Justice Taiwo urged the National Assembly to amend the Constitution to make express provisions for the removal of a governor on account of his defection to another political party.
The judge noted that only a state parliament can initiate impeachment proceedings to oust a governor.
The PDP, had in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/975/2021, prayed the court to sack both Ayade and his deputy, contending that the duo, having abandoned the political party that sponsored their re-election, ought to vacate their respective offices.
It had among other things, urged the court to declare that, “in view of 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, votes at the election and elections are won by political parties and not their candidate or the candidates sponsored at the election by the political parties.”
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