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Defection: Ayade Escapes Sack as Judge Bows to Appeal Court Judgment


In submission to the principle of ‘Stare disisis’ Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday refused to order the removal of Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade and his Deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu from office.


The judge had on March 22, sacked two members of the National Assembly from Cross River State and 18 lawmakers of the State House of Assembly for dumping the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that brought them to power in 2019.




Justice Taiwo had on March 25, adjourned to April 6, to deliver his judgment in the suit seeking the sack of Ayade and his deputy due to their defection from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC), last year. However, when the matter came up Wednesday, the judge asked lawyers to parties in the suit to address him on the propriety of going ahead with his judgment in the light of a Court of Appeal judgment that held that a governor cannot be sacked on account of defection from one political party to another.


After taking submissions from counsel, Justice Taiwo had announced that judgment would be delivered yesterday.Delivering judgment, the judge agreed with the submission of Chief Mike Ozekhome, counsel to Ayade and his deputy, on the need to abide by the judgment of a Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, which held that a court lacks powers to remove a sitting governor who defects because the constitution has yet to make it an offence.Justice Taiwo held that governors and their deputies could only be removed from office in line with sections 180, 188 and 189 of the constitution which stipulated that elective office holders could only be removed from office on account of death, resignation or impeachment.He said since defection was not one of the constitutional provisions to remove any governor, no court has power to insert such into it.


While agreeing that defection was immoral, improper and condemnable, the judge however, held that judicial precedents of a higher court must be followed by a lower court and applied in similar matters so as to avoid judicial rascality and anarchy. The court held that although parties and facts in the matter that led to Court of Appeal’s new decision are fundamentally different from those before it except on defection alone, the application of judicial precedent must be followed and in fact, binding on lower courts.

Culled from THISDAY

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