A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, ordered former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to vacate his seat as member representing Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro Federal Constituency of Bauchi State.
The judgement was delivered by Justice Donatus Okorowo, who declared that having defected from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC), Dogara was no longer qualified to occupy the seat by virtue of Section 68(1)(g) of the constitution.
Judge says Dogara’s action against the law
Justice Okorowo in his submission supported the argument of the PDP that by defecting from the party that sponsored him to the ninth National Assembly before the expiration of his tenure, Dogara ought to vacate the seat as he was no longer qualified to partake in the activities of the lower house.
The judge, who held that the action of the lawmaker is prohibited by law, agreed that the aim of Section 68(1)(g) was to check political prostitution among the legislators.
He declared, “The judgment is therefore given in favour of the plaintiffs I hereby granted the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.’’
The PDP and one of its members in Bauchi State had, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1060/20, sued Dogara, the speaker of the House of Representatives and asked the court to remove him.
Other defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC as 1st to 4th defendants respectively.
Dogara’s exit from PDP and a frosty relationship with Bauchi State Governor
- Dogara who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives between 2015 and 2019 under the APC platform, joined the PDP in the build up to the 2019 general election. He defected back to the APC after winning his re-election under the PDP in 2019.
- His frosty relationship with his state governor, Bala Mohammed, who he said orchestrated the suspension of his traditional title by the Bauchi Emirate Council, was one of the main reasons he ditched the PDP which he joined less than five years ago.
- Mr Dogara had on July 24, 2020, dumped the PDP and returned to his former party, the APC.
- In a letter of resignation addressed to the Bogoro ‘C’ Ward Chairman of the PDP dated July 24, 2020, Mr Dogara mentioned a breakdown of governance in his native state of Bauchi under the administration of Governor Bala Mohammed whom he said he helped installed as a governor in 2019.
- The former speaker said he could not successfully ask questions about those issues without being accused of disloyalty if he were to remain in the PDP.
What you should know
- There have been several legal battles over the defection of elected public officers from one party to the other in recent times with court pronouncements.
- Recall that on March 8, Justice Inyang Ekwo sacked Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi and his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, alongside other lawmakers who dumped the PDP for APC, describing their action as unlawful and immoral.
- Justice Taiwo Taiwo, another judge in the Abuja division, had also, on March 21, ordered the 20 lawmakers from Cross River to vacate their seats following their defection from the PDP to APC.
- The lawmakers comprise two House of Representatives members and 18 state House of Assembly members.
- However, in a judgement about 2 weeks ago, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, dismissed a suit by the PDP seeking the removal of Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State for defecting to the APC.
- The judge held that a governor cannot be sacked on account of defecting from the political party on whose platform he was elected, to another.
- He based his decision on last Friday’s judgement of the Court of Appeal in Enugu, which dismissed an appeal filed against the Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, on account of his defection from the PDP to the APC.