By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, sacked 17 members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly that defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC.
The lawmakers had on November 17, 2020, joined Governor David Umahi and his Deputy, Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe to move over to the APC.
The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that the lawmakers, having abandoned the political party that sponsored them, could not transfer the mandate they obtained from the ballot to another political party.
It held that the Defendants who became members of House of Assembly on the platform of the PDP, could not justify their defection when there was no division in the PDP.
It held that section 109(1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution was purposely couched to ensure that defectors were not allowed to retain their seat in the House, unless such defectors are able to justify their action.
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The court held that the case PDP brought against them succeeded.
Consequently, it ordered the lawmakers to immediately vacate their positions, even as it restrained them from further parading themselves or acting as members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly.
The court also made an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to accept from the PDP, a list of its candidates to replace the sacked lawmakers, as well as to issue Certificate of Return to them.
Alternately, the court directed INEC to within 90 days, conduct fresh election in Ebonyi State to fill up the vacant positions.
It further ordered all the lawmakers to refund all salaries and monies they received from the period they defected to the APC.