By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA-An Abuja Federal High Court has stopped the Speaker of Cross Rivers House of Assembly, Honourable John Gaul Lebo, from declaring vacant the seat of a member of the house, Honourable Elucate Okora Ekom for defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Hon. Ekom who represents the Obubra II Constituency was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but defected to APC in July.
The Speaker, Hon. Lebo consequently declared his seat vacant and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct bye-election to fill the vacancy.
But the court presided over by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, has ordered both parties to “maintain status quo that exists as the 9th day of August,” even as he adjourned the matter to September 18 for further hearing.
Hon. Ekom, in his relief, posited that in compliance with section 109 (1g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hon. Ekom is entitled to retain his seat even after leaving the party on which platform he was elected into the Assembly.
He also urged the court to set aside the decision of the house to declare his seat vacant because his former party, the PDP, was in crisis at the time he defected to APC.
Joined in the suit are INEC, the Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly, PDP, APC, among others.