Following the sack of governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, and the deputy governor Dr. Eric Igwe by the Federal High Court in Abuja, for defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given reasons why it has not obeyed the court order for Umahi and his deputy to vacate their seats.
In a statement on Thursday by INEC, Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee for the electoral umpire, said, INEC does not want to rush to make a decision amid the multiple litigations that have emerged against the Ebonyi state governor and his deputy.
“It will be recalled that the commission met on Thursday 17th March 2022 on the matter, decided to defer its deliberation on the Ebonyi cases, and stepped down the listed Memorandum to enable its Legal Services and Clearance Committee to study the new processes served on it, in the light of the previously served ones, and advise the commission comprehensively.
“Since then, the commission has been served yet more court processes on the same matter, bringing the total to 12…”
Okoye, added that, if the decision is promptly taken, without a proper order, it would mean sacking 16 other members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly alongside the governor and his deputy.
“The Commission deliberated extensively on these cases, and decided to further suspend action on the defection of the Governor and Deputy-Governor of Ebonyi State and 16 members of the State House of Assembly” who defected “from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the light of the conflicting judgements and orders served on it from courts of coordinate jurisdiction.”
“The Commission also considers it prudent to stay action on the conflicting judgements and orders, being aware of the pendency of appeals and motions for stay of execution of some of the judgements before various divisions of the Court of Appeal.”
Recall that, A Federal High Court in Abuja, sacked Umahi and Igwe as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State respectively, on the request of the PDP after both men defected to the APC in November 2020.
The court, while relying on Section 221 of the Constitution, ordered the PDP to immediately send names of replacements to INEC, also with an order that, the governor and his deputy should vacate their offices.
In reaction to the court’s verdict, the All Progressives Congress had considered the judgement as “a glaring judicial error, and a travesty of justice.”