18/08/2022

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Ebonyi: PDP, Umahi’s brother in war of words over High Court’s judgement

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The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ebonyi State chapter and Bar. Roy Nweze Esq, an elder brother to the state governor, Dave Umahi, on Friday, engaged in a war of words over a suit seeking the removal of the governor.

A gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Sen. Sunny OgbuOrji and others had asked the court to remove Umahi for defecting to the APC.

However, a High Court sitting in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State and presided by Justice H. A Njoku, had in a judgement delivered on February 28, 2022, dismissed the suit.

Justice Henry Njoku dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.

Njoku held that having regard to section 188 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the defendant (Governor Umahi) has not offended any provision of the Constitution or the Electoral Act in his defection to the APC.

He further held that having regard to section 308 of the Constitution, it was even wrong to institute criminal or civil proceedings against the office of the governor.

Justice Njoku also held that the plaintiff did not come through relevant rules of the court to institute their originating summons, the court still went ahead in the interest of substantive justice to hear the matter of the propriety of the defection of Governor Umahi from PDP to APC, and thereby threw out the suit.

But, the Peoples Democratic party, PDP, Ebonyi State chapter, had in a statement signed by its chairman, Mr. Tochukwu Okorie and made available to journalists in Abakaliki, faulted the judgement delivered by Justice Njoku and petitioned the National Judicial Council, NJC, for intervention.

The party also resolved to petition the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Disciplinary Committee, over the conducts of Barrister Roy Nweze, the elder brother to Governor David Umahi, and other lawyers involved in the matter, for what it described as “infamous” conducts, which ridicule the legal profession in Nigeria.

According to PDP: “Our attention has been drawn to a judgment delivered by Justice H.A. Njoku, of the High Court of Ebonyi State, on the 28th day of February 2022, in Suit No. HAB/13/2022, dated and filed on the 4th of February 2022, between Sen Sunny Obuoji, Justin Mbam Ogodo & All Progressive Congress V Engr David Nwaeze Umahi & Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe.

“The Peoples Democratic Party, Ebonyi State chapter, is also aware of plans, of Roy Nweze Esq, in connivance with few other lawyers in Ebonyi State, to duplicate other pending actions against the government and governor of Ebonyi State, pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja, to obtain arranged judgments to frustrate those ongoing matters.

“We want to state categorically, that we will not fold our arms, and watch the travesty of justice by the conducts, of supposed officers, in the temple of justice. We will take all legal steps necessary, to ensure that justice is not only done, but seen to have been properly done, in respect of the conduct of Roy Nweze Esq, and his cohorts.

“To our greatest shock, a process, seeking the same reliefs as in the suit filed at the Federal High Court Abuja, in suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/920/2021, which was already adjourned for judgment, and also have the same subject matter, and also having All Progressives Congress, as 3rd Plaintiff, Engr David Nwaeze Umahi and Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe, as defendants, who were 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants, in the matter pending at the Federal High Court Abuja for judgment, was filed on the 4th of February 2022, at the High Court of Ebonyi State Abakaliki.

“The entire case of the Plaintiffs, therein, which included All Progressives Congress, who is the 2nd Defendant in the suit pending for judgment in the Federal High Court Abuja, revolved around the same defection of David Umahi and His Deputy, from Peoples Democratic Party to APC, and part of the reliefs sought, was also for the duo to vacate their offices.

“Again, it was also surprising that the Peoples Democratic Party, whose mandate, an All Progressives Congress (APC), gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 governorship election in Ebonyi State, is now suddenly seeking to protect, was not joined as a party in the matter by the said Plaintiffs, who by their action, in the High Court of Ebonyi State, were seeking the protection of the interest of the Peoples Democratic Party, knowing that similar action was already subsisting, in the Federal High Court Abuja, and had since the 19th day of January, before they even filed their action, been adjourned for judgment” Okorie noted.

In a swift reaction, Barr. Roy Nweze the counsel to the defendants and Umahi’s brother, lampooned the PDP chairman and other leaders of the party, for always displaying crass ignorance of the law.

“Assuming the constitution of Nigeria had made consequences or punishment for Governors defecting from one party to another, the political party that would benefitted in Umahi’s defection, would have actually been the political party that came second, and not even the PDP because section 141 of the electoral Act as then amended and now repealed, says, that an election tribunal or court shall not under any circumstance declare any person a winner in an election if such person has not fully participated in the processes of the said election.

“So, it’s Senator Sunny Ogbuoji of the APC that is supposed to benefit assuming any consequence was provided in the constitution for a Governor defecting to another party. If the PDP are saying they should have been joined, they can go to court of Appeal to say that, in which case, it is a settled law that non-joinder of necessary parties does not defeat an action.

“When a plaintiff is suing, he decides the parties to sue based on the relief he is seeking. If they want to talk about law, they should go and look for somebody who knows law to teach them law. Everything is not politics,” he said