After knocking Justice Ekwo, Umahi hires SANs to reclaim Ebonyi guber seat

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NBA fumes, says the comment was ‘executive rascality taken too far
Suit against gov lacks merit, doomed to collapse, says Al-Makura

Outsted Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi, yesterday, revealed how he plans to upturn the court ruling that ordered his removal as governor.

Justice Inyang Ekwo had on Tuesday sacked Umahi and his deputy, Eric Kelechi Igwe, on grounds of defection from Peoples Democratic Party to All Progressives Congress (APC).

The duo has, however, appealed the judgment before the Court of Appeal in Abuja, in a suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/920/2021.

Speaking to thousands of his supporters at Udensi Roundabout in Abakaliki, yesterday, Umahi explained: “We are before the Appeal in Enugu and we are before the Appeal in Abuja, and we have also filed a stay of execution. So, we are still the governor and deputy governor of your state. We have engaged eight Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to proceed to Abuja. We have engaged 10 SANs to proceed to Enugu. We have confidence in the judiciary and I know they will do the right thing.”

“The same thing goes with the House of Assembly. I made it very clear that the Supreme Court has said that for any defection in the legislative Houses, the presiding officer, who is the Speaker or the Senate President, has the duty, and not the court, to declare the seat vacant. And so, we have appealed against that and our House of Assembly is still intact.”

Shortly after news of the court ruling broke on Tuesday, Umahi had said: “I have listened to the judgment of Ekwo and it is very obvious that he was on a mission. He was making all efforts to upturn the rulings of the Supreme Court and Appeal Court on issues like this.

“We heard the rumours before now, that he was determined to give judgment against all known laws and the Constitution, first to embarrass APC, secondly, to embarrass the Federal Government.

“He has murdered justice in this country and he well remembered, and his generation, for this jungle justice, which has no leg to stand.

“Let me tell you that this same judge has over 10 cases against Ebonyi State Government with him. And you can imagine what he is going to rule. We have petitioned him before the National Judicial Council (NJC) and we will follow it up at all cost to ensure that this man is brought to justice.”

Meanwhile, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), yesterday, condemned Umahi’s outburst in a statement signed by its president, Olumide Akpata.

It said it was unfortunate and totally unacceptable for a governor to cast aspersions on the personality of a judge.

“Umahi accused the court of murdering justice and also arrogated to himself the judicial powers and magisterial authority to declare the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction null and void, while unashamedly declaring his intention to disregard the judgment in favour of another. This is impunity of the highest order and executive rascality taken too far,” NBA said.

The association said, rather than throwing caution to the wind, it had expected the governor to sue for calm from his supporters and assure them that all legal and constitutional avenues would be explored to challenge the judgment.

NBA also demanded an immediate apology from the governor and a retraction of the comments he made against the person and judgment of Ekwo.

The association also demanded that the apology and retraction be given as much media coverage as the press conference where the unfortunate comments were made.

Also, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) asked Umahi to stand down from the position of governor, in compliance with the judgment.

It said it is unfortunate that a man who has worked as a governor for seven years would openly cast aspersions against the judge of a competent court.

But a leading APC national chairmanship aspirant, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, enjoined Umahi not to lose sleep over the court ruling.

In a solidarity message, he added: “The PDP suit against Umahi, in popular view, lacks merit and will ultimately collapse and earn its deserved place as a reckless academic exercise.

“I stand in solidarity with Governor Dave Umahi, the people of Ebonyi State, and our great party. I support the governor in every step taken to ensure judicial redresses on this matter.

“I equally call on him to remain unscathed and undistracted in the face of this onslaught, but continue in the delivery of his widely acclaimed democracy dividends to the people of Ebonyi in particular, and Nigerians in general.”

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