Technocrat Media |Abuja
Twenty members of the Cross River state house of assembly has been sacked by an Abuja federal high court over defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PDP had instituted a suit against the defected lawmakers seeking their removal from office.
According to TheCable, JusticeTaiwo Taiwo in his ruling in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/975/2021 on Monday, held that the lawmakers should vacate their seats, having abandoned the political party that sponsored them to power.
The affected lawmakers are Michael Etaba, Legor Idagbor, Eteng Jonah William, Joseph A. Bassey, Odey Peter Agbe, Okon E. Ephraim, Regina L. Anyogo, Matthew S. Olory, Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, Ogbor Ogbor Udop and Ekpe Charles Okon.
Others are Hillary Ekpang Bisong, Francis B. Asuquo, Elvert Ayambem, Davis Etta, Sunday U. Achunekan, Cynthia Nkasi, Edward Ajang, Chris Nja-Mbu Ogar and Maria Akwaji representing different constituencies in the State.
PDP in the suit joined the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), speaker of the house of representatives, national assembly, clerk of the national assembly, Cross River state house of assembly, clerk of the state house of assembly and the APC as defendants.
Counsel to the 4th-25th defendants, Mike Ozekhome challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit.
The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) submitted that the cause of action arose in Calabar and that the matter should be transferred to the high court in Calabar.
But the presiding judge held that “there is nothing against the law that the suit is heard by this court”.
He said the 4th-25th defendants are joined with other defendants who have their offices in Abuja.
“Where there is more than one defendant, the suit can be established anywhere, subject to the discretion of the court,” he said.
“I find no merit in the application for transfer.”
In their defence, the lawmakers argued that there was rancour in the PDP which led to their expulsion from the party.
The ruling APC argued that the lawmakers are not in the party’s register.
The APC had in its submissions told the court that the lawmakers are not registered members of the party.
However, the judge held that the defendants had intentions to mislead the court. He said he found gaps and loopholes in their defence as they tried to twist events to suit their own narratives.
“They wined and dined under the umbrella of the plaintiff who also gave them shelter,” he said.
Taiwo noted that they not only defected loudly, “They took pictures of their defection and were received by the officials of the 26th defendant”.
“The is no doubt that the defendants can belong to or join any political association and assembly as they are free to do so,” he ruled.
“I consider the attempts of the 6th – 25th defendants to justify their defection, feeble in the circumstances of this case.”
Taiwo said the public voted for the lawmakers through the plaintiff who sponsored them and they were not elected as independent candidates.
“They had a vehicle which conveyed them and that vehicle belongs to the plaintiff. They cannot abandon the vehicle,” he held.
The judge said politicians treat citizens who elected them into power as if they don’t matter when they assume office.
He said a day will come when elected officers must resign if they migrate to another party — or seek the permission of the people before they decamp.