Nigerian senator, sacked by court, appeals ruling

Sonni Ogbuoji
Sonni Ogbuoji (Photo Credit: Sun Newspaper)

A senator, Sonni Ogbuoji (Ebonyi South senatorial district), has asked the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu to vacate and annul a judgement of a Federal High court declaring his seat vacant.

Mr Ogbuoji, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi in the March 9 governorship election, was sacked from office by a federal high court in Abakaliki, presided over by Justice Akintoye Aluko on April 16.

Mr Ogbuoji, in the appeal filed by his counsel, Michael Odo, a copy of which was obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), contended that the trial court deliberately over-looked evidences tendered that showed he resigned from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on January 27, 2017.

The appeal with case number CA/E/2019 and filed on April 18, further contended that the trial judge also ignored evidences that proved that Mr Ogbuoji registered with the APC on February 2, 2017.

The senator argued that he resigned from his former party at a time it was engulfed in crisis leading to the factionalisation of the PDP between the groups led by Ahmed Makarfi and that led by Ali-Modu Sherif.

He said that the crisis was later resolved by the Supreme Court in favour of the group led by Mr Makarfi on July 12, 2017 in a matter known in the Nigeria’s Judicial system as the case of ‘PDP vs Ali-Modu Sherif’.

The embattled senator said that his letter of resignation from PDP was tendered to the appropriate party quarters six months before the Supreme Court resolved the PDP crisis.

He also contended that he joined the APC six months before the final judgement in the PDP vs Ali-Modu Sherif’s case.

He said that by swarping parties within the time the PDP was embroiled in leadership crisis, that he only expressed his constitutionally right to freely join any association and had therefore committed no constitutional breaches.

Mr Ogbuoji also contended that the trial court erred in judgement by overlooking evidences adduced by his counsel on the dates he resigned from the PDP and his registration with the APC.

He said that rather, the court based its judgement in the suit, on the date he formally defected on the floor of the Senate as the date of his exit from the PDP.

Mr Ogbuoji in his appeal noted that the trial judge intentionally misled self in the interpretation of section 68 (1)G of the 1999 constitution as amended by taking January 2018 when he defected to the APC at the floor of the senate as the day he joined the APC.

He said that the trial court erred in its judgement to have concluded that he left his former party when there was no crisis in the party.

Mr Ogbuoji described the judgement as a miscarriage of justice, insisting in his appeal that the trial court erred in resolving the meaning and correct interpretation of Section 68 (1)g, of the 1999 Constitution on defection and forfeiture of the seat of a defected legislator.

Mr Ogbuoji, who prayed the appellate court to set aside the decision of the lower court and overrule the declaration of his seat vacant, raised seven errors in the decision of the trial court that made its conclusion a nullity in law that ought not to stand.

Mr Odo, Mr Ogbuoj’s lead counsel, argued that the decision of the court was perverse as it refused to consider evidences before it that showed unambiguously when the senator resigned from the PDP and another showing when he joined the APC.

The senator asked the appellate court to void the judgement and reinstate him as the valid senator of the Ebonyi south district.

He also prayed the appellate court to decide that the declaration of his seat vacant was illegal, unconstitutional, at variance with the law and should be declared a nullity.

The appeal also asked the Court of Appeal to make an order to stay the execution of the judgement of the trial court as it was in error until the appellate court made its decision that must supercede that of the lower court.

No date had been fixed for the commencement of hearing of the appeal.

(NAN)

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