Following Tuesday’s judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, that sacked Dave Umahi and his deputy, Dr. Eric Kelechi-Igwe as Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State respectively, a legal practitioner, Sebastian Ozoana has faulted the suit, saying the governor was sued in his personal name, not in his nominal capacity.
Justice Ekwo’s judgment opened a new vista in Nigeria’s political landscape in suits marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 920/21 and FHC/ABJ/CS/ 1041/21, filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) seeking the removal of the Governor and his Deputy from office for abandoning the party.
Ozoana, who is a retired police officer and a notary public, in a telephone interview with TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) on Thursday, said: “under the Constitution, he is enjoying immunity as a Governor, like the Vice President and President; they all enjoy immunity under the law.
“So, you cannot sue them by their personal name. To start with, that suit was wrong on that premise. You should not have taken a governor to court in his personal name”.
The legal practitioner noted that the Nigerian Constitution has prescribed how a Governor, Deputy Governor, President or Vice President should be removed from office, stressing that “it is a Constitutional matter”.
Ozoana argued that the case of Amechi vs INEC is no longer the law, adding: “that of Amechi and INEC decided that the votes belong to the political party but the situation has since changed the law. That is, the vote cast in an election is for the person you have voted for, not for the party”.
He, however, condemned the action of the Umahi for lambasting the judge personally.
In his words: “The governor made a mistake of lambasting the judge personally. The fact that a judge gave judgment against a party or person, is not a reason to attack the judge personally. Go on appeal and, if not, take it till the highest court of the land but not to be attacking the judge personally. No!
“You cannot lambast a judge and call him names; it is never done in any good democracy. The governor was very wrong to have done that and I am equally happy about how the NBA replied to him immediately, to put him in check.
“It is not when a judgment favours you that you begin to praise the judiciary and the judge. When the judgment is against you, you begin to lambast the judiciary, which is not the proper way to do it”.
He expressed satisfaction that Umahi has appealed Justice Ekwo’s judgment, saying “which is the proper thing to do. It is not for you to insult the judge, insult the lawyers. If any lawyer has done anything wrong, there are procedures of going against that person”.