A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, yesterday, declared Ebonyi South Senatorial District seat occupied by Senator Sonni Ogbuoji vacant and ordered him to vacate the seat immediately.
Ogbuoji is the first Ebonyi Senator to suffer such fate in the country.
A judgment delivered by Justice Akintola Aluko of the Abakaliki Division of the Court held that Ogbuoji by defecting from the party on which platform he was elected to another party flouted section 68(1)g of the 1999 constitution.
The court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the Senator and as well, conduct a fresh election immediately to fill the seat.
It also ordered the lawmaker to refund all monies be it salaries, allowances or any other form of payment he may have received as benefits as a Senator from the date of his defection, to the coffers of government.
Section 68(1)g says that: “A member of Senate or House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House if being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by another political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected. Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored”
Justice Aluko in the 71-page judgement obtained by Vanguard held that Ogbuoji, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the All Progressive Congress, APC, in 2018 flouted the above section of the constitution.
The judgement was in respect of suit FHC/AI/CS/44/2018 filed by Evo Ogbonnaya Anegu, Oti Ama Ude, Uche Richard Ajali, Una Sunday Okoro and Simon Ajali Ogbadu for themselves and on behalf of members of the PDP in Ebonyi South Senatorial District.
They had sued Ogbuoji and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC(2nd Defendant) asking the court to declare his seat vacant for defecting to the APC when there was no crisis or division in the PDP.
They also prayed the court to order the 1st defendant (Ogbuoji) to refund all monies he may have been paid to him since January 2018 when he defected from the PDP to APC. – Vanguard.