Court sacks 20 Cross River lawmakers for defecting to APC

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The Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in Cross River State, Mike Ojisi, has described the sacking of 20 lawmakers in the state over their defection as a welcome development.

Ojisi spoke with one of our correspondents after the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja sacked 18 members of the state House of Assembly and two members of the House of Representatives who defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress.

The affected lawmakers are Michael Etaba, Legor Idagbor, Eteng William, Joseph Bassey, Odey Agbe, Okon Ephraim, Regina Anyogo, Matthew Olory, Ekpo Bassey, Ogbor Udop and Ekpe Okon.

Others are Hillary Bisong, Francis Asuquo, Elvert Ayambem, Davis Etta, Sunday Achunekan, Cynthia Nkasi, Edward Ajang, Chris Ogar and Maria Akwaji.

In opposition to the suit, counsel for the fourth to 25th defendants, Mike Ozekhome, had challenged the FCT court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit.

He submitted that the cause of action arose in Calabar and that the matter should be transferred to the High Court in Calabar.

However, the presiding judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in his judgment on Monday, held that “there is nothing against the law that the suit be heard by this court.”

He said the fourth to 25th defendants are joined with other defendants who have their offices in Abuja.

“Where there are more than one defendants, the suit can be established anywhere subject to the discretion of the court.

“I find no merit in the application for transfer,” Justice Taiwo ruled.

In their defence, the lawmakers had argued that there was rancour in the PDP which led to their expulsion from the party.

The APC had, in its submission, told the court that the lawmakers are not registered members of their party.

However, the judge held that the defendants had intentions to mislead the court.

He said he found gaps and loopholes in their defence as they tried to twist events to suit their own narratives.

Justice Taiwo noted that the public voted for the lawmakers through the plaintiff who sponsored them and they were not voted for as independent candidates.

“They had a vehicle which conveyed them and that vehicle belongs to the plaintiff. They cannot abandon the vehicle,” he held.

Reacting to the judgment, Ojisi said, “It is a welcome development. We are very impressed about the judgment,” adding that it was wrong for the lawmakers to win election on a political party’s platform and transfer the mandate to another party.

On May 20, 2021, Governor Ben Ayade; his deputy, Prof Ivara Esu, some members of his cabinet and the 20 lawmakers defected to the APC in what the governor described as “socketing to the centre.”

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