Judge adjourns until March 20 for Appellate Court decision on Matawalle’s defection


*Photo: Gov Matawalle *

Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed March 20 for report on the Court of Appeal decision in a suit filed against Gov. Bello Matawalle over his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).


Justice Ekwo, who fixed the date on Thursday, said the development became necessary since a similar suit was pending at Court of Appeal, Abuja.
He also recalled a judgment he delivered in a similar suit sacking Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi and his deputy, Eric Igwe, which a Court of Appeal in Enugu upturned in another separate suit.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Ekwo had, on March 8, ordered the removal of Umahi and Igwe, as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi, following their defection from PDP to APC.


The judge held that the 393, 042 votes polled by Umahi in the March 9, 2019 governorship election belonged to the PDP and cannot be legally transferred to the APC.
But unsatisfied with the judgment, Umahi and his deputy appealed the lower court decision at Court of Appeal, Abuja.

In another development, the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu also, on April 1, affirmed the judgement of Ebonyi High Court, Abakaliki, which quashed a suit challenging the defection of Umahi and Igwe to the APC.

The suit in Abakaliki was filed by the governorship candidate of the APC in 2019 in Ebonyi, Sen. Suny Ogbuoji and his running mate, Mr Justin Ogodo.
Umahi and his deputy had on November 2020 left the PDP for APC, citing injustice by the PDP against the South-East geopolitical zone.

When the PDP matter against Matawalle and others was called on Thursday, counsel for the plaintiffs, M. A. Ebute, SAN, informed that the Court of Appeal in Abuja was yet to decide the case.

Justice Ekwo held that it would be better to await the superior court decision on the legality of the defection.

He subsequently adjourned the matter until March 20 for report.

NAN reports that while Matawalle, state and federal lawmakers from the state defected from the PDP to the APC, his deputy governor, Barrister Mahdi Aliyu Mohammed, did not.

But the PDP, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/650/2021 had prayed the court for an order removing Matawalle as governor over his defection to APC.
The party also asked the court to sack the senators, House of Representatives members and state House of Assembly’s members who decamped alongside the governor to APC.

Amidst the legal battle, the Zamfara House of Assembly impeached the erstwhile deputy governor, Mohammed. (NAN)

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