POLITICAL GANGSTER, FLIRTATION, or you name it, that is how some have viewed the actions of elected Nigerian politicians, who abandoned those who voted for them, and the political party platform on which they ran the elections, and migrate with the electorates votes to another political party to foster their political selfish interest. Nigerian judiciary is coming to rescue with two landmark judgements within two weeks.
Monday, March 21, 2022, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, sacked 20 Cross River State lawmakers, for defecting from the political party – the platform on which they were elected, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. The judge ruled that there was no justification for the defection of the lawmakers.
Justice Taiwo’s judgement gave a declarative order that the lawmakers vacate their seats, since they had abandoned the party, which brought them to power; and ordered the plaintiff [Peoples Democratic Party, PDP] to forward names of its candidates to fill the vacant seats; or Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct fresh elections to replace the defectors within 90 days.
“I consider the attempts of the 6th – 25th defendants to justify their defection, feeble in the circumstances of this case”, Justice Taiwo stated, after reviewing the cited legal position and arguments by the parties. He ruled that the public voted for the lawmakers through the plaintiff [PDP] who sponsored them, and not voted for them as independent candidates.
Justice Taiwo added: “They had a vehicle which conveyed them and that vehicle belongs to the plaintiff. They cannot abandon the vehicle”. He remarked that politicians treat citizens that elected them into power as if they did not matter. A day will come, he said, when elected officers must resign their post if they decamp to another party, or seek the permission of the people before they decamp.
He agreed with the plaintiff that the continued stay in office by the defendants amounted to an “illegality”, after crossed to another political party; that those votes belong to a political party. The electorates, the judge stated, voted for the legislators because they contested under the platform of the PDP, and not on individual capacity, and ordered the lawmakers to vacate their offices immediately.
BEN AYADE, GOVERNOR of Cross River State, and his deputy, in May 2021, defected from the PDP, the platform on which they were elected Governor and deputy governor of the state for [two terms of four years each], to the ruling APC. Twenty law makers – two House of Representatives members and 18 lawmakers in the State House of Assembly, defected with him. The suit against Ben Ayade and his deputy’s defection is pending in court.
The House of Representatives members to vacate their seats are: Micheal Etaba and Legor Idagbor; while the State House of Assembly lawmakers are: Eteng William, Joseph Bassey, Odey Agbe, Okon Ephraim, Regina Anyogo, Mathew Olory, Ekpo Bassey, Ogbor Udop, Ekpe Okon, Hillary Bisong, Francis Asuquo, Elvert Ayambem, Davis Etta. Others included Sunday Achunekan, Cynthia Nkasi, Edward Ajang, Chris Ogar and Maria Akwaji.
Earlier, March 8, 2022, Justice Inyang Ekwo, of the Federal Hight Court, sacked Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and his deputy; and 15 lawmakers of the State House of Assembly, for defecting from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP – the platform on which the governor and his deputy they were elected for [two terms of four each] to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
Justice Inyang Ekwo ruled that votes belong to political parties, and such votes cannot be transferred from party to party by politicians when they decamped from one party to another.
The judgements of Justice Inyang Ekwo and Justice Taiwo Taiwo have been appealed in the Court of Appeal by the defendants in both cases.