Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi State and the deputy governor of the state, Eric Kelechi Igwe, have been asked by an Ebonyi State High Court not to vacate their offices.
The decision followed an ex-parte motion filed by counsel to the duo, Roy Umahi brought pursuant to rule 3(3) of the High Court rules of Ebonyi state in suit no HAB/13/22.
The Court had on February 28, 2022, ruled that Governor Umahi and his Deputy did not flout any law by defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The Court presided by Justice Henry Njoku had dismissed the matter for lacking in merit and fined the plaintiff, Sunny Ogbuoji, who was the APC candidate and runner up in the 2019 governorship election N500, 000.
However, an Abuja Federal High Court on 8th March ruling on a similar matter filed by the PDP ordered the Governor and his Deputy along with sixteen lawmakers to vacate their seats.
The presiding Judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo further ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to accept new nominations for the two positions from the PDP and to issue them with certificates of return for them to be sworn in as Governor and Deputy.
Umahi and his Deputy rejected the Abuja ruling arguing that the Ebonyi High Court ruling should take precedence.
To this effect, Messrs Umahi and Igwe approached the same Ebonyi High Court yesterday, praying the court to declare that its judgement of the 28th February 2022 on their defection to APC remains valid as a judgement in rem and as such should have precedence over any other contrary judgement and should be binding on all parties, persons and authorities.
In his ruling, Justice Henry Njoku granted the prayers sought by the duo and adjourned the matter to March 16 for a hearing on the motion on notice.
He declared: “it is hereby ordered as follows, an interim order of this honourable court for seven days(subject to renewal) is hereby granted in view of the judgement in suit no. HAB/13/22 delivered on the 28th day of February 2022, being a judgement in rem and having precedence over any contrary judgement.
“The applicants hereto Engr David Nweze Umahi and Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe shall accordingly remain and not be removed from office as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi state respectively”