Nigeria: Court Declares Ogbuoji's Senatorial Seat Vacant

Abakaliki — The Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki has declared the Ebonyi South Senatorial District seat being occupied by Sonni Ogbuoji vacant.The court, presided by Justice Akintola Aluko, held that Ogbuoji's defection from the party under whose platform he was elected to another party flouted Section 68 (1) g of the 1999 Constitution.

It, therefore, ordered him to vacate the seat immediately and directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to him immediately and conduct a fresh election to fill the seat.

The court also ordered him to refund all monies be it salaries, allowances or any order form of payment he may have received as benefits from the position of senator from the date of his defection to the coffers of government."In other words, any lawmaker who defects to another political party when the party under whose platform he was elected was not undergoing any form of crisis or was not part of a merger with two or more political parties shall vacate his seat," the court said.

Justice Aluko, in the 71-page judgment obtained by The Guardian, held that Ogbuoji who defected from the People's Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2018 flouted the above section of the constitution.

The judgment was in respect of a suit filed by Evo Ogbonnaya Anegu, Oti Ama Ude, Uche Richard Ajali, Una Sunday Okoro and Simon Ajali Ogbadu for themselves and on behalf of the teaming members of the PDP in Ebonyi South Senatorial District.

They had sued Ogbuoji and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as second defendant, asking the court to declare Ogbuoji's seat vacant for defecting to the APC when there was no crisis or division in the PDP.They also prayed the court to order the first defendant (Ogbuoji) to refund all monies that may have been paid to him since January 2018 when he defected from the PDP to the APC.

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