Defection: Court Sacks AKHA Member

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Court gavel
Court gavel

A Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Monday, affirmed the sack of member representing Etim Ekpo/Ika State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly.

Gabriel Toby defected from Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to All Progressives Congress, APC in August last year.

The Court had, in November last year, sacked Idongesit Ituen, a member who represented Itu State Constituency, in Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly, and declared the seat vacant.

Ituen equally defected from the PDP to APC with Senator Godswill Akpabio.

The court presided over by Justice Fatun Riman ruled that Toby lost his seat, having defected from the PDP that sponsored him to office to the APC last year.

The court also granted all the prayers sought by the respondents and speaker of the House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke who was represented by Barr. Ekemini Udim and Barr. Ini Ememobong and PDP represented by Barr. Godswill Umoh.

Speaking shortly after the ruling, Umoh, the counsel to the PDP, said the court relied on Section 109 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which gives two grounds warranting defection by a lawmaker to include division in a party and where a merger is reached.

He said none of the scenarios played out last November when the complaint defected to the APC, and lauded the judgment of the court.

“We are awaiting the judgment on the remaining similar cases, but for Gabriel Toby and Idongesit Ituen (who earlier received a similar judgment), this is a final judgment as far as this case is concerned the court has declared their defection as unacceptable in totality and as such was wrong.”

“The Court says their defection was illegal and that means automatically they had lost their seats the day they defected. It is a simple interpretation of what the constitution says in Section 109.”

Counsel to the plaintiff, Uyo Jumbo said despite the ruling his client was still a member of the house till Monday, May 13 and urged the house leadership to pay him his claims and other entitlements.

Meanwhile, the court reserves judgment for Nse Ntuen and Victor Udofia, other defected lawmakers, for next week.