Why Governor Umahi, Deputy Can’t Be Removed From Office – Mike Ozekhome Reveals

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome has faulted the sacking of the Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi and Dr Eric Igwe respectively, following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

 According to Ozekhome, the “tenure of office of a Governor and his Deputy are constitutional matters”.

Mikeozekhome SAN

The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo on Tuesday, held that the total number of 393,042 votes Umahi secured during the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Ebonyi state, belonged to the PDP and same could not be legally transferred to the APC.

According to the court, having defected to the APC, both Umahi and his deputy, not only jettisoned the PDP, but also the votes that belonged to it.

The senior lawyer, however, disagreed with the judgment, in a statement on Tuesday, saying, “The appellate courts have since held again and again that votes cast in an election belong to a live candidate and not the political party which merely serves as a vehicle that enthrones candidates.”

Ozekhome cited the position of the Supreme Court in the case of Ozomgbachi v. Amadi & Ors (2018), saying, “…I believe the Supreme Court has laid to rest the contention that it is the political party which contests and wins an election. In C.P.C. v OMBUGADU (2013) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1385), the court was categorical that individuals as candidates win election and not the political parties.” 

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He noted that in the case of Haruna v. APC & Ors (2019), the Court of Appeal held among several others that “parties do not contest, win or lose election directly; they do so by the candidates they sponsored and before a person can be returned as elected by a tribunal or court, that person must have fully participated in all the stages of the election starting from nomination to the actual voting”.

He said, “The implication of section 141 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) is that while a candidate at an election must be sponsored by a political party, the candidate who stands to win or lose the election is the candidate and not the political party that sponsored him.

“I, therefore, most respectfully submit (as held by appellate courts) that a political party is merely a vehicle in which a candidate can ride to contest an election and nothing more. The votes belong to the candidate and not the political party. The political party ceases to have any considerable relevance or insolence over a person that has won an election and has been sworn in as a legislator, Governor or President of the entire people, who are far larger than a mere political party.”

According to Ozekhome, Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution grants absolute immunity to the President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor from being proceeded against in any civil or criminal proceedings.

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He said, “Consequently, no civil or criminal proceedings could ever sustain against this set of persons, whilst still holding office.”

“Going by the above plethora of authorities, I humbly submit that a Governor already sworn in cannot be removed by the Federal High Court through an Originating Summons. It will surely be set aside on appeal,” he added.

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About Uchenna Mbam 9159 Articles
Uchenna Mbam is a reliable full time Blogger on news media as Editor/Publisher. Be free to Contact me via Facebook @Mbam Uchenna or Email me @uchennambam23@gmail.com

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