Lawmakers of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Thursday, said the action of their colleagues in declaring three of their seats vacant was ‘unconstitutional and a contempt of court,’ adding that the legislators who took the action were no longer members of the House, until the Court decides otherwise.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had Tuesday, March 8, 2022 sacked 16 members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, including the erstwhile Speaker, Rt. Hon. Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru for defecting from the PDP to the ruling APC in the State.
The court presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo had earlier same day also sacked the state governor, David Umahi and his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, citing the same reasons.
However, despite their removal, the 16 members of the House elected on the platform of the APC, convened plenary earlier in the week to declare three seats occupied by the PDP legislators as vacant, despite a court having ruled that the APC members remained sacked from the assembly.
Reacting to the development, the three PDP legislators called the action of their colleagues as ‘unconstitutional and a contempt of Court.’
In a statement signed by the member representing Abakaliki North constituency, Hon. Mrs Franca Okpo, on behalf of her colleagues, the lawmaker said that the sacked members of the House of Assembly lacked both the moral and constitutional powers to declare their seats vacant.
“The sacked members are no longer members of Ebonyi State House of Assembly until stated otherwise by a competent Court of law.”
According to Okpo, “My attention has been drawn to online publications by sacked members of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, purporting that I, Hon. Mrs Franca Okpo representing Abakaliki North constituency, Hon. Victor Aleke representing Ebonyi North West Constituency and Hon Okechukwu Ali representing Ishielu North constituency resigned our positions and as a result, our seats were declared vacant.
“It is therefore surprising to hear that duly sacked members of the house sat illegally and declared the seats of authentic members of the House vacant.
“It’s on record that after the Federal High Court judgement, that the erstwhile Speaker in his live broadcast together with the other sacked members claimed to have accepted it in good faith, not like they had another option though.
“You may wish to recall that the former Speaker also stated that they have applied for a stay of execution. And uptill now, no stay of execution have been granted by any competent court.
“I urge you all to remain calm as any action allegedly done by them is not only invalid ab initio as neither of them possess the power to do so, but also amounts to contempt of court and forgery and won’t be taken likely.”