Ebonyi South: Why Court judgement against me won’t stand – Ogbuoji

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Senator Sonni Ogbuoji representing the Ebonyi South senatorial district at the National Assembly has approached the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, seeking a vacation of a judgment of the Federal High Court declaring his seat vacant.

Reports show that the court sitting in Abakiliki had sacked him as Senator representing the area.

But in his contention against the judgment, he said the court deliberately overlooked evidences he tendered showing he resigned from PDP on January 27, 2017, and another to show he registered with the APC on February 2, 2017.

His major argument is that during the period he resigned from the PDP there was a national factionalization of the party between a group led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff factions, which was later resolved in a Supreme Court judgment of July 12, 2017 in a matter known in the Nigerian judicial system as the case of PDP vs. Ali Modu Sheriff reported at the 2017, 15, NWLR, Pt. 1588, 219.

According to him, the letters to resign from and register with another party were done six clear months before the PDP crisis was resolved at the Supreme Court, which makes the time of his swapping parties within the crisis era of his former party, the PDP and therefore his leaving the party never breached any law.

He said instead of relying on the evidence of the dates of his resignation from the PDP and the that of his registration with the APC, the trial judge deliberately took the date he defected on the floor of the senate as time of his leaving one party and joining another and erroneously concluded that at the time he left there was no crisis in the PDP.

The appeal was filed at Enugu by his legal counsel, Michael Odo, arguing that the decision by Justice Akintayo Aluko of the Federal High Court, Abakaliki on April 16, 2019 was a miscarriage of justice as the court erred in resolving the meaning and correct interpretation of Section 68,1,G, of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria on defection and forfeiture of the seat of a defected legislator.

Ogbuoji raised seven errors in the decision of the trial court that made its conclusion a nullity in law that ought not to stand and therefore asked the appeal court to set aside the decision and overrule the declaration of his seat vacant.

The appeal contended that rather than examining the evidence tendered by Ogbuoji on the day he resigned from the PDP and the day he joined the APC, the judgment instead based its decision on the day the senator defected on the floor of the Senate.

His counsel, Odo 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 PDD and another showing when he joined the APC.

In conclusion, the senator and former candidate of the APC in Ebonyi State for the 2019 gubernatorial election argued that the judgment should be voided as worthless in law and appeal by him praying that he remains the valid senator of the district upheld.

He asked the appellate court to decide based on facts of law, which the trial court negated, 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 judgment of the trial court as it was in error until the appellate court makes its decision that must supercede that of the lower court.

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