Alleged defection: Court dismisses APC’s suit seeking Tambuwal’s removal

By Taiye Agbaje

 A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday dismissed a suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking the removal of Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State for defecting from the party to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Aug. 1, 2018.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, refused to grant the request on the ground that similar suits were voided by the Court of Appeal in several judgments.

Justice Ekwo said that since the Appeal Court’s judgments which held that governors cannot forfeit their seats on grounds of defection had not been set aside by the Supreme Court, they remained the law and binding on lower courts.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Tambuwal, who was elected as governor on the APC’s platform, had on Aug. 1, 2018 defected to PDP less than a year to the expiration of his tenure.

APC had, in the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/449/2022 and filed on April 5, 2022, asked the court to invoke Sections 177, 179 and 189 of the 1999 Constitution to declare the governorship seat of Sokoto State vacant on the account of defection by Tambuwal to another party.

The party sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), PDP and Tambuwal as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

The party sought a declaration that by defecting from APC to PDP, a political party that did not win the governorship election in the state, Tambuwal had “resigned or was deemed to have resigned from the office of the Governor of Sokoto State with effect from from 1st August, 2018 until the end of the tenure on the 28th May, 2019.”

It sought an order declaring all actions, functions and duties performed by Tambuwal from Aug. 1, 2018 to May 28, 2019 as unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, null and void.

It also prayed for an order compelling the governor to immediately refund all salaries received from Aug. 1, 2018 to May 28, 2019 to the end of that tenure, including allowances and security votes

Besides, APC sought a declaration that Tambuwal was unfit to hold public office for violating the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended).

Justice Ekwo held that lawyers ought to have counselled their clients in respect of such matters that are pending before the Supreme Court.

He said it would amount to an exercise in futility for a Federal High Court to decide on a matter pending before the apex court.

The judge, who held that the case of APC failed and lacked merit in view of the position of the Court of Appeal on similar matters, dismissed the suit.(NAN)