Defection: Declare Stella Oduah’s seat vacant
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Bwari has been asked to declare the seat of the Senator representing Anambra North Senatorial District, Senator Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi at the Senate vacant on the account of her defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
A member of the PDP in Anambra state, Nwaokike Godwin had, in an originating summons marked FCT/HC/BW/CV/118/2018, also asked the court to cancel her Certificate of Return issued to her by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as well as an order, directing the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Inspector-General of Police to execute the judgment of the Court within 48 hours of its delivery.
Godwin, in the originating summons filed on his behalf by his counsel, Kenechukwu Ezije Ijeudo of Johnmary C. Jideobi Chambers also wants the court to compel the Defendant to relinquish and return to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) domicile at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), all salaries, emoluments, allowances and such other monetary benefits paid to her as a senator from June, 2018 (being the month of her unlawful defection) to the delivery of judgment in the suit or end of May, 2019.
The plaintiff formulated only one prayer for the determination of the court, that is a declaration of the court that, “Upon an intimate reading and complete understanding of section 68(1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, and especially in view of the decision of the Nigerian Supreme Court in Abegundu v. Ondo State House of Assembly, (2015) 8 NWLR. Part 1461 Page 314, Stella who defected to the APGA from the PDP (on which platform she was elected a Senator and where there was no faction as at time of her defection) ought to have her seat in the Senate declared vacant by the court.
An affidavit of extreme urgency attached to the summons averred that the plaintiff/claimant, a member of the PDP hails from Awkuzu, in Oyi Local Government Area in Anambra North Senatorial District of Anambra State being represented at the Senate by the Defendant, who was elected into the Senate in 2015.
The affidavit stated that sometime around June 6, 2018, the Defendant announced that she was no longer a member of the PDP, the political party on whose platform the plaintiff/claimant and other good people of Anambra North Senatorial District elected her into the Senate to represent us.
That, in June 2018 when Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi defected to APGA from the PDP, there was no division or faction at the national level of the PDP as the Supreme Court had, on June 17, 2017, wholly settled all the leadership tussles hitherto plaguing the PDP.
According to the affidavit, deposed to by Knowledge Onyekachi, a Litigation Secretary in the Law Office of Johnmary C. Jideobi & Co stated that, if the conduct of the Defendant being challenged, is not condemned and upturned by the court, it will amount to encouraging political prostitution, legislative rascality and destroys the reasons for the laws made to regulate the defection of National Assembly Members by the Constitution of Nigeria itself.
“I know that by serving this Court’s process on the Clerk of the National Assembly or publishing same in any Newspaper circulating in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, this suit will get to the knowledge of the Defendant”, he stated.
Already, Justice O. A Musa had on August 14, 2018, while ruling on an exparte motion filed by the plaintiff, ordered that the originating process and all other processes in the suit be served on the Defendant/Respondent by serving same on the office of the Clerk of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or by publishing same in any Newspaper circulating in Abuja.
Justice Musa also abridged the time within which the Defendant can enter her appearance and file her defence in the suit to five days and adjourned till August 29, 2018, for the hearing of the originating summons.