A former Secretary to the Government of Ebonyi State, Prof. Benard Odo, says the Federal High Court judgement that ousted Gov. Dave Umahi would “strengthen the democratic space in the country”.
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday sacked Dave Umahi along with his deputy, Dr Eric Kelechi-Igwe, for defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party-PDP to the rival All Progressives Congress-APC. Also affected by the judgement delivered by the Hon. Justice Inyang Ekwo also sacked 17 lawmakers of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly who defected along with the Umahi. The judge hinged his judgement on the view that votes belong to the political parties and not the individuals flying the tickets.
Odoh, in a statement on Thursday in Abakaliki, declared that the court verdict would enrich the nation’s adjudicatory system and deepen party democracy in Nigeria.
“As someone who has, and will always speak and stand for the Ebonyi masses, I am optimistic that this verdict, whichever way the pendulum swings, will indeed help in enriching the Nigerian adjudicatory system on election matters.
He particularly noted that the landmark judgement was the first time a serving governor and his deputy were being sacked by the court over defection to another political party.
“There has not been judicial precedence of this kind since the advent of the Fourth Republic, hence the varied interpretations and reactions the verdict has generated.
“However, for reasonable and discerning minds, the prevailing situation, including the varied interpretations, are all within the confines of what democracy permits,” he added.