Court Rules That The Discrepancies In PDP Is Enough Reason For Hon. Emmanuel Ukoete’s Defection - Welcome to Uju Ayalogu's Blog

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Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Court Rules That The Discrepancies In PDP Is Enough Reason For Hon. Emmanuel Ukoete’s Defection

Court Rules That The Discrepancies In PDP Is Enough Reason For Hon. Emmanuel Ukoete’s Defection

Hon Emmanuel Ukoete

The Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state has declared that the crisis that bedeviled the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, before the Judgement of the Supreme Court, affirming the National chairmanship of Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, was enough justification for a lawmaker to defect from the PDP, without losing his seat.

Hon Justice Fatun Riman, while delivering Judgement in the suit brought before the court by the Peoples Democratic Party and 4 others, asking the court for an injunction restraining, Hon Emmanuel Ukoete from parading himself as the member representing Oruk Anam/Ukanafun Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives having publicly announced his resignation of membership of the PDP, under whose platform he was elected into the National Assembly, said that the member was justified in the prevailing situation then to defect to further his political career elsewhere.

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The PDP had in an originating summons, brought pursuant to Order 3 Rule 8 and 12 of the Federal High Court Rules urged the court to declare that the 1st Defendant, Hon Emmanuel Ukoete has lost his membership of the House of Representatives with effect from 19th January, 2017, when he announced his defection from the PDP to the APC.

The court process also sought a declaration that the 2nd Defendant, Hon Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, should declare the seat of the member representing Ukanafun/Oruk Anam Federal constituency vacant.

The Plaintiffs pegged their prayers on the interpretation of Section 68 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

Citing different authorities, the plaintiff counsel, led by Goddy Umoh Esq, maintained that the defecting lawmaker had no justification in law to defect from the platform on which he was elected without losing his membership of the National Assembly and called on the court to so hold.

The 1st Defendant Counsel, led by a former Attorney General of Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Victor Iyanam, pursued his defence on two major planks. The defence played up the issue of the propriety in law for the plaintiffs to bring the summons in their capacities as state party actors.

The Defence argued that the court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to even entertain the suit because, according to him, the proviso in Section 68 (2) constituted a condition precedent for the activation of the provisions of Section 68 (1) (g).

The Defence Counsel noted that it was the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives that had the powers to initiate the action anticipated in the section being relied on by the plaintiffs, and wondered where the plaintiffs got the necessary Locus Standi to bring the matter to the court.

The court, ruling on this preliminary matter of jurisdiction held that the issue raised was “peripheral” to the main issue and as such could not be relied on to arrive at the substantive justice of the case.

The court noted that Section 68 (2) may not have anticipated the likelihood of the issue being raised in court, adding “I do not agree that section 68 (2) was meant to create a condition precedent”. The court thereafter dismissed the preliminary issue raised by the 1st Defendant.

On the issue of interpretation of Section 68 (2) (g), the court held that that section was clear on the vacation of the seat by a defecting lawmaker. But noted that what was required was to determine what constitutes a division, or factionalisation as envisaged in Section 68 (1) (c) of the constitution.

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After appraising the crisis that engulfed the PDP, which the defence had highlighted, the court held, rejecting the attempt by the PDP to draw conclusion from the Supreme Court Judgement on the crisis, that the party was sufficiently riddled by crisis, which left it factionalised.

It therefore held that as at the time the defection took place, the lawmaker was justified to defect, without losing his membership of the House, based on the existence of factions, which he agreed was capable of jeopardizing the political future of the Honourable Member.

Hon Justice Fatun Riman, subsequently dismissed the suit for lack of merit.

Appearance in Court were Goddy Umoh Esq, leading Ekemini Udim, Ini Ememobong, for the Plaintiffs and Aniekan Udofia Esq, with David Augustine for the 1st Defendant.

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