The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has submitted replacements for Governor David Umahi and his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, following their removal from office by the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.
While the opposition party named Iduma Igariwey, a member of the House of Representatives as the replacement for Mr Umahi, it named Fred Udogwu to take the place of Mr Igwe.
The court had earlier on Tuesday, sacked Messrs Umahi and Igwe as well as16 lawmakers in the state following their defection from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
After serving twice as deputy governor of the state, the sacked governor was elected in 2015 and 2019 on the platform of the PDP before dumping the party in November 2021.
He attributed his defection to the party’s poor leadership and accused it of playing politics of bitterness and anger.
He also said the main opposition party was not considering zoning the presidency to the South-east geopolitical zone.
Ruling on the suit filed against Mr Umahi and other members by the PDP, the judge, Inyang Ekwo, ordered INEC to receive new names of candidates from the party.
“The votes in any election in Nigeria are to political parties, and not candidates,” Mr Ekwo said.
Reacting to the judgement, the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, announced that the party has submitted the names of Messrs Igariwey and Udogwu as the new governor and deputy respectively to INEC as directed by the court.
He said the party arrived at the new choice of candidates after consulting with “party stakeholders” in the state.
“We are happy to inform you that, to the position of governor, after due consultation with stakeholders in Ebonyi State, we are putting forward Honourable Iduma Igariwey as the new governor. For the position of the deputy Governor, Fred Udogwu,” Mr Ayu announced on Tuesday.
Mr Igariwey currently represents the Afikpo North/Afikpo South federal constituency of the state in the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile despite the court judgement, Mr Umahi said he remains the governor of Ebonyi and faulted the position of the judge.
The sacked governor argued that the court lacked the powers to remove him as governor as he is covered by the immunity clause.
He said the constitution stipulates that the only way a governor can vacate his seat is either by death, resignation or impeachment by the House of Assembly.
“There is no other provision that empowers a hatchet man to turn the constitution upside down. I have listened to the judgement of Ekwo and it is very obvious that he was on a mission. He was making all efforts to upturn the rulings of the Appeal and Supreme courts on issues like this which protects him (me) from any form of litigation that is not a pre-election and tribunal matter,” the governor said.
He added that he has sent his petition against Ms Ekwo to to the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC).
Mr Umahi recently declared his intention to run for president under the APC, a move he had denied was part of his reasons for leaving the PDP.
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