Judgment on Umahi’s Defection: Our legal ‘giants’ will shock you with substance of law, Ebonyi Govt tells PDP

Samuel Amah-Ugbor, Abakaliki

Access Bank
The Ebonyi State Government has boasted its legal ‘giants’ will decimate and shock the Peoples Democratic Party, in the state, should the latter decide to approach the court to challenge the ruling on Governor David Umahi’s defection from the party to the All Progressives Congress.
Recall Umahi had in November 2020 dumped the PDP on which he was elected for two terms, and moved over to the APC.
Owing to the development, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji approached the court by way of originating summons and asked it to hold that the governor, having defected to the APC from the PDP, ought to vacate the office.
As a consequence, the Abakaliki Division of the Ebonyi State High Court, on Monday, dismissed the suit challenging the defection of Governor Umahi from the PDP to the APC.
The court ruled the governor did not flout any provision of the Electoral Act or the constitution to warrant his removal from office.
But, the Ebonyi State Chapter of the PDP, on Friday, vowed it would appeal the judgement delivered by Justice H. A Njoku, at the Court of Appeal, describing it as sham.
The PDP also insisted that Justice Njoku erred in delivering the judgement. It said it would petition the National Judicial Council, stressing that his conduct debased judiciary and abused court processes.
Reacting, on Saturday, to PDP’s planned appeal of the judgement, the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Barr Uchenna Orji, in a statement, said the opposition party lacked the legal footings and knowledge to challenge Justice Njoku’s ruling in Court, adding, “In all of its (PDP) lengthy press release, the only grouse by Mr. Tochukwu Okorie and his frustrated Party is that the People’s Democratic Party was not joined in a suit filed by a candidate that came second in an election that produced our dear Governor in 2019…”
According to Orji, the matter being frivolously queried by the PDP, had been
robustly contested and decided by legally recognised entities, which were invested with unfettered right under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to the commissioner, in the statement, “We have noted the understandable expressions of frustration and confusion that engulfed the spirit and letters of the press release of the Chairman of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Ebonyi State Chapter, Mr. Tochukwu Okorie.
“We would not have joined issues with a man who is neither politically nor legally rooted and a man notorious for faking titles in order to deceive the gullible about his personality, but for the need to put the records straight for the public pleasure. We shall start our response by demanding that he strips -off the appellation “Hon.” in his name, same being an unlawful and fraudulent prefix that follows his name and we hereby give him 7 clear days to drop the appellation “Hon.” in his name  in all his publications  and or public recognitions forthwith or we file a suit seeking a relief that he be stripped-off the appellation with legal consequences that will have terminal effect on his position as PDP Chairman. He has been put on NOTICE.
“We discountenance with utmost responsibility, the press release of Mr. Tochukwu Okorie as absolutely irresponsible, without foundation and mischievously woven to attack the credibility of a robustly contested and well decided matter instituted by legally recognized entities and personalities who are invested with unfettered right under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to sue and be sued; we view the press release as a substanceless piece calculated to sully the hard earned reputation of the Judge of the State High Court that heard and judicially and judiciously disposed of a matter properly brought before him, and that of the lawyers for both parties who diligently discharged  their constitutional duties of legal representation
“It will be noted that the Judge never acted utra vires and that his court never acted outside the jurisdiction conferred to it by the grundnum itself. Incidentally it has coordinate jurisdiction with the Federal High Court on this matter So, Mr Tochukwu Okorie must know that his disparaging press release is  politics taken too far and it goes with legal consequences.
“The verbose and clumsy press release of Ebonyi State PDP Chairman gave indication that his Party, PDP had filed a suit at Federal High Court Abuja to challenge the defection of our dear Governor His Excellency, Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi FNSE, FNATE (Akubaraoha) and his Deputy, His Excellency, Barr. Eric Kelechi Igwe PhD, from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC), Next Level. In other words, they sought to determine whether by their defection to APC, the ‘PDP’ ought not be  sworn-in as the Governor.
“In all of this lengthy press release, the only grouse by Mr. Tochukwu Okorie and his frustrated Party is that the People’s Democratic Party was not joined in a suit filed by a candidate that came second in an election that produced our dear Governor in 2019,; the grouse of Mr. Tochukwu Okorie and his party is that the candidate who came second ought to have folded his hands and wait for PDP to be through in the Federal High Court when the law stipulates that should the winner of election cease to hold office as a result of pre- electon or electon issues, that the candidate who came second will be declared winner.”
He added, “While we intend to allow the author of the press release and his half backed   advisers to swim in the ocean of ignorance of the law, especially on the jurisprudential values  of originating summons and the principles of Green Vs Green on who is a necessary party, we assert that for the sake of the public, the author of the press release and his co-travelers  must know that the essence of originating summons is to interpret the constructions of the law or  the Constitution which is the grundnum or any other document and to make declarations thereto.
“We assert further that locus standi is a condition precedent for eligibility to sue in this regard and no more. It is further averred that the necessary party or proper party is the party that will be affected by outcome of the decision in a matter having regard to the relief sought by the party(ies) before it. In this case, the candidate recognized by the constitution as a proper party ot probable contender for the Governorship position in the pre-election or election matter is the candidate that came second. Section 188 provides the conditions and circumstances when a duly elected and  sworn -in Governor and Deputy shall vacate office and it does not apply to  issue of defection to another Party.
“We have a plethora of authorities of superior courts which affirmed that no political Party (except Candidates) can be declared the winner of an election. It is a common knowledge that under the constitution, a candidate is declared winner of an election not a political party.
“We therefore use this medium to prepare the mind of Mr. Tochukwu Okorie of PDP on the legal consequences of attempting to damage the hard earned reputation of an erudite Judge and that of the legal practitioners  who are ministers in the temple of Justice. Our happiness is that the learned personalities whom the author of the press release is prosecuting on the pages of social media are legal giants that will shock him with the substance of the law.
“PDP has finally sold Mr. Tochukwu Okorie cheap to legal embarrassment. The Ministry of Information and State Orientation therefore  views the publication of Mr. Tochukwu Okorie as the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. The outcome will send a red signal to the rest of the political nonconformists  in PDP on the gravity of publication of  falsehood in the eyes of the law.”
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