A federal high court in Abuja has fixed Friday to deliver judgment in a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Ben Ayade, Cross River governor.
The PDP had taken Ayade to court seeking an order directing him and his deputy, Ivara Esu, to vacate office over their defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ayade was elected on the platform of the PDP in 2015 and 2019, but defected to the APC on May 20, 2021, along with his deputy.
On Monday, Taiwo Taiwo, a judge, sacked 20 lawmakers from Cross River state who defected alongside the governor to the APC.
In his ruling, the judge said: “A day must surely come when elected officials, must either resign from their office or ask the people who voted for them before defecting to other political parties, instead of defecting to another party without recourse to the law and the citizens.”
Taiwo is also the judge in the suit seeking Ayade’s removal.
In the suit to be determined on Friday, the PDP is praying the court for “a declaration that in view of the provisions of section 221 of the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the democratic system of governance operated in Nigeria, votes at the election and elections are won by political parties and not their candidate or the candidates sponsored at the election by the political parties”.
The party is also seeking an order directing the first defendant (INEC) “to immediately receive from the plaintiff (PDP), the name of its candidates to replace the 3rd and 4th defendants (Ayade and Esu) for the purpose of utilising the lawful votes cast in favour of the plaintiff or in the alternative directing the 1st defendant to hold a gubernatorial election for Cross River State in accordance with Section 177 © of the Constitution (excluding the 3rd and 4th defendants who are disqualified from participating in the election by virtue of Section 192 (1) (b) of the Constitution) arising from abandonment of the majority lawful votes and the offices occasioned by the action of the 3rd and 4th defendants by reason of their becoming members of the 2nd defendant who did not win majority of the lawful votes cast at the election”.
In a similar suit, Inyang Ekwo, an Abuja federal high court judge, on March 8, sacked David Umahi, governor of Ebonyi, and his deputy, Eric Igwe, from office over their defection from the PDP to the APC.
The judge held that the 393,042 votes polled by Umahi in the March 2019 governorship election belonged to the PDP and cannot be legally transferred to the APC.
Consequently, Ekwo ordered the PDP to present another candidate or in the alternative, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should conduct a fresh poll within 90 days.
The Ebonyi state governor has since appealed against the judgment.