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Court sacks sitting governor in Nigeria over party defection, See what that means for political parties

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The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria, on Tuesday, gave a judgement that could upset political behaviour in the West Africa country as it ordered removal of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and his Deputy, Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe, following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC.

The judgement, delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo followed a suit the PDP lodged before the court and held that the total number of 393, 042 votes governor Umahi secured during the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Ebonyi state, belonged to the PDP and same could not be legally transferred to the APC.

The court verdict is new a precedence in Nigeria political landscape. Party defection is common among politicians. Sitting governors particularly are fond of switching party allegiance.

In May 2021, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the All Progressives Congress (APC) after four years of speculations, foot dragging and denials.

In June of the same year the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, who was elected on the platform of the PDP after the Supreme Court nullified the victory of the APC in the 2019 elections in Zamfara State also joined Nigeria’s ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC).

It is expected that Mr. Umahi and the All Progressive Congress (APC) will challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court. If the apex court upheld the ruling, the verdict would become a case law that would influence political behaviour of gladiators in Nigeria.

According to the court, having defected to the APC, both Umahi and his deputy, not only jettisoned the PDP, but also the votes that belonged to it.

It held that going by the outcome of the governorship election, the office of the governor and deputy governor in Ebonyi state, “belong to the Plaintiff and no other political party”

“There is no constitutional provision that made the ballot transferrable from one party to the other”.

It held that the PDP is bound to retain the votes and mandate that was given to it by electorates in Ebonyi state, as both governor Umahi and his Deputy could not validly transfer same to APC.

The court, therefore, ordered both Umahi and Igwe to immediately vacate their positions.

It ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to immediately receive from the PDP, names of persons to replace Umahi and his Deputy, or in the alternative, conduct a fresh gubernatorial election in Ebonyi state in line with section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The court further restrained both Umahi and Igwe from further parading themselves as governor or deputy governor of Ebonyi state.

Politics

Chadian military leader Idriss Deby announces plan to run for president

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Days after opposition politician, Yaya Dillo, was shot and killed in the capital N’Djamena, Chad’s interim president, Mahamat Idriss Deby, said on Saturday he planned to run in this year’s long-awaited presidential race.

 

In a speech that avoided mentioning Dillo’s murder or his uncle’s arrest, Deby declared his candidature for the May–June election while addressing supporters and state officials.

 

“It is … with a mixture of honour, humility, responsibility and gratitude that I accept this nomination,” he said.

 

Divisions within the political class have been further revealed by Dillo’s death under dubious circumstances, at a politically sensitive moment for the

country as it gets ready for the anticipated return to democratic rule through elections.

 

The government of Chad claims that Dillo was slain in a gunfight with security personnel and charges that members of his party also attacked the internal

 

The European Union’s diplomatic service expressed its deep concern over the recent violence in N’Djamena on Saturday as well, calling for the facts and those responsible to be established in “a credible and independent way”.

 

“These events undermine the efforts needed to ensure a transparent, pluralist, inclusive and peaceful transition,” it said in a statement.

 

Chad is one Central and West African countries under military reigns as pressure continues from local and international stake holders for transition into democratic reign.

 

After his father, who had ruled for a long time, was killed in rebel clashes in 2021, Deby first pledged an 18-month switch to elections. However, later resolutions passed by his government permitted him to run for president and moved elections to 2024.

 

Around 50 civilians were killed when security forces violently put an end to protests that were sparked by the election delay.

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Nigerian govt, bar association begin prosecution of electoral offenders 

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The Nigerian government, in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association, has commenced legal proceedings against a number of electoral body—INEC— employees and political party officials who have been charged with various electoral offences related to the general elections of 2023.

 

Following the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25, 2023, Usman Baba, the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, stated that more than 700 individuals had been arrested by the Nigeria Police for breaking electoral laws.

 

On May 2, 2023, INEC announced that it would prosecute 215 of the 774 people the NPF had detained for a variety of electoral offences during the polls. 196 of the 215 case files that the commission was given involved electoral offences, and the NBA and INEC are handling those cases.

 

Election offences take many forms in Nigeria, including vote buying, thuggery, and rigging, and they frequently end in violence. From the colonial era through the first republic in 1960 until 1999, when Nigerians began to witness an aborted democratic journey in her electoral history, these offences had remained an albatross in the country’s electoral journeys.

 

Habeeb Lawal, the National Publicity Secretary of the NBA, informed our correspondent on Friday that 196 suspects, including INEC officials and political party members, were facing charges related to a variety of electoral offences, including vote-buying, possession of weapons, and other offences during the 2023 election.

 

Lawal mentioned that the Federal Capital Territory, state supreme courts, and magistrate courts were all used for the prosecution.

 

“The offences range from dereliction of duty, criminal conspiracy and disorderly conduct at election venues, unlawful possession of arms on election day, snatching and destroying of INEC materials, electoral malpractices, unlawful possession of election materials, voter inducement and vote-buying, malicious damage and assault, and electoral violence.

 

“Some of the suspects are INEC officials, while others are political party members and people without determinable political affiliations.

 

“The magistrates’ courts and the high courts of the states and the FCT have jurisdiction over electoral offences by virtue of the Electoral Act.

 

“Therefore, the offences are being prosecuted by our members in these different courts all over the country, as there is hardly anyone state of the federation that the prosecution is not ongoing.”

 

The commission through the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi declared that it would not support inappropriate behaviour and that those who engage in it in the future would be held responsible.

 

Oyekanmi said, “By engaging in the commendable collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association to jointly prosecute electoral offenders, the Independent National Electoral Commission is reinforcing its resolve not to condone bad behaviour.

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