A Federal High Court in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, has declared the Ebonyi South
Senatorial District seat being occupied by Sonni Ogbuoji vacant and ordered him to vacate the seat immediately.
TJustice Akintola Aluko held that Ogbuoji by defecting from the PDP, under whose platform he was elected to another party, flouted section 68(1)g of the 1999 constitution.
The Court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the certificate of return issued to the Senator and to conduct a fresh election immediately to fill the seat.
Furthermore, the court also ordered the lawmaker 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.
The said section 68(1)g says that “a member of Senate or House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House if being a person whose election to the house was sponsored by another political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that house was elected. Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored”
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.
Justice Aluko in the 71 page judgement held that Ogbuoji who defected from the PDP to the APC in 2018 flouted the above section of the constitution.
Mr Ogbuoji, it will be recalled contested the 2019 governorship election in Ebonyi state against the incumbent Governor, David Umahi under the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
He however lost the election to the governor who was on Tuesday issued Certificate of Return and is expected to be sworn in on May 29 for a second term in office.