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Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State yesterday filed an appeal against the Federal High Court’s judgment ordering him and his deputy, Eric Igwe to vacate office as Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State respectively.
This is just as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has declared that Umahi and Igwe can no longer exercise the functions of Ebonyi State governor and deputy governor respectively
However, Umahi through his lawyer, Chukwuma Machukwu-Ume, accordingly applied to the court to withdraw the application for stay of execution of the judgment pending their appeal at the higher court.
Justice Ekwo had in a judgment delivered on March 8, ordered the applicants to vacate the elected offices they occupied owing to their defection from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) whose platform they became governor and deputy to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The court had held that their continued stay in office was illegal, null and unconstitutional on the grounds that votes in an election belongs to political parties and such votes cannot be transferred, hence the applicants who won the 2019 election with the PDP cannot transfer the votes of the PDP to the APC following their defection.
The judge further ordered the PDP to present another candidate to replace the decamped governor and deputy, or in the alternative, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should conduct a fresh poll within 90 days.
Shortly after a Notice of Appeal was filed at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, Umahi and his deputy had brought an application for stay of execution of the judgment, pending their appeal.
However, the application was not heard last week following request by Machukwu-Ume for a short adjournment to enable him correct some noticeable clerical errors in the motions.
The request was granted with the court fixing fixed March 21, for hearing in the motion for stay.
The court also fixed same date for hearing a similar motion by 15 lawmakers of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, whom were also sacked for decamping from the PDP to APC.
When the matter came up yesterday, Machukwu-Ume informed the court of his intention to withdraw the application for stay.
According to him, the appeal of the respondents have been entered at the Court of Appeal and records of proceedings also transmitted to the appellate court.
He said as such he would be asking to withdraw the application seeking to stay execution of the judgment that sacked Umahi, his deputy and 15 members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly.
Counsel to the PDP, Chief Emmanuel Ukala, however, did not oppose the application. Consequently, the court struck out the application for stay.
Umahi and his deputy, in the motion on notice brought pursuant to order 26 rules 1 & 2(1) and order 32 rules 1 & 4(1), of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) rules 2019, are praying the court for an order staying the execution of the orders made in the judgment of the court delivered on March 8, 2022.
They are specifically seeking a stay of execution of the order of court directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately receive from the PDP, the names of its candidates to replace them.
In addition, they want the court to stay the execution of its order directing INEC to hold a governorship election in accordance with section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution.
Furthermore, they want another order staying the execution of the order of court directing INEC to immediately declare the persons nominated by the PDP as Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State respectively.
Umahi Can No Longer Exercise Functions of Governor, Says PDP
Meanwhile, the PDP has averred that Umahi and Igwe can no longer exercise the functions of Ebonyi State governor and deputy governor respectively.
The National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Debo Ologunagba said this yesterday, pursuant to the order of the Federal High Court, which removed them from office and the subsequent order of the Federal High Court today, which refused their application for stay of execution.
The PDP also urged 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.
In a statement by Ologunagba, 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.
This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.