A Federal High Court in Abuja has sacked Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and his deputy, Eric Igwe, over defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, in his ruling on Tuesday, also asked 15 lawmakers in the state Assembly, including the Speaker, who followed Umahi to the APC to vacate their seats.
Justice Ekwo also held that all salaries and allowances collected from the period of defection to the present should be forfeited to the government coffers.
With the development, governors of Zamfara and Cross River states, Bello Matawalle and Ben Ayade, respectively, may suffer the same fate.
Already, the PDP had instituted a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja, praying the court to, among others, sack Ayade and his deputy, Ivara Esu, following their defection to the APC.
Ayade and Esu were elected on the platform of the PDP, but defected to the APC on May 20, 2021.
In the suit a team of lawyers led by Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), the PDP argued that the mandate was given by the Cross River electorate to the party on whose platform Ayade contested, adding that the mandate cannot be transferred to the APC or any other political party.
Although a Federal High Court sitting in Gusau, Zamfara State had in February struck out a suit demanding removal of Matawalle for defecting to the APC, there is another pending suit against him before the Supreme Court.
The suit filed solely by the PDP (the plaintiff) is supported by a 26-point affidavit deposed by the National Secretary of the party, Senator Umar Tsuari.
The party, in the suit filed by Mr. Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), joined Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; the Chief Judge of Zamfara State and the Speaker of the Zamfara State House of Assembly, as defendants.
The suit however sought protection for the removal of the Deputy Governor, Mahdi Gusau, who did not defect from the PDP.
Aside from the Ayade and Matawalle, lawmakers who defected with them to the APC may also be sacked from offices if the suits before the courts were decided against them.
Similarly, the mandate of two lawmakers in the Edo State House of Assembly, Yekini Idaiye and Nosayaba Okunbor, may be at stake if dragged to court by the PDP.
Idaiye and Okunbor representing Akoko-Edo 1 and Orhionmwon East respectively, had defected from the APC in February 2021.
In the National Assembly, a number of lawmakers at both chambers equally stand the risk of being removed from office by court following their defection from the party under which they were elected.
As of June 2021, the figure of senators elected on the platform of the PDP in the Senate, had been depleted from 42 at the inception of the 9th Senate to 38 during the plenary on Wednesday, June 30.
That day, three PDP senators defected in separate letters written to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and read on the floor.
They are the Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Sahabi Ya’u (Zamfara North), Senator Lawali Hassan Anka (Zamfara West) and Senator Peter Nwaoboshi ( Delta North).
The previous day, June 29, Senator Mohammed Hassan representing Zamfara Central had defected from PDP to APC through a letter written to that effect.
In February 22, the Senator representing Taraba South Senatorial District in the red chamber, Emmanuel Bwacha, also defected from the PDP to APC. Bwacha, was until his defection, the Senate Deputy Minority Leader.