A Federal High Court sitting in Uyo has affirmed the sack of Mr. Gabriel Toby, member representing Etim Ekpo/Ika State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
The Court, presided over by Justice
Fatun Riman ruled that the lawmaker lost his seat, having defected from the Party
which gave him the ticket – People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – to the All
Progressives Congress (APC), last year.
Speaking shortly after the ruling, counsel to the PDP, Barr. Umoh said the Court relied on Section 109 of the constitution which gives two grounds warranting defection by a lawmaker to include division in a party and where a merger is reached.
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Umoh noted that none of the scenarios
played out last November when the complaint defected to the APC, and lauded the
judgment of the court.
“We are awaiting the judgment
on the remaining similar cases, but for Gabriel Toby and Idongesit Ituen (who
earlier received a similar judgement), this is a final judgment as far as this
case is concerned. The Court has declared their defection as unacceptable in
totality and as such was wrong”
“The Court says their
defection was illegal and that means automatically they had lost their seats
the day they defected. It is a simple interpretation of what the constitution
says in Section 109”
Meanwhile, one of the sacked lawmakers of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr Victor Udofia who’s similar case is still pending, has applauded the judgment of the federal High Court concerning his colleague, Mr. Gabriel Toby.
Interacting with newsmen at the Uyo
Federal High Court premises, Mr. Udofia described the judgement as a ‘win-win’
situation saying the Judge was fair in his ruling.
“We knew the process and we
know the consequences, once you cross carpet from the Political party. Even the
Bible says you must know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
“For the Judgment today,
honestly there was no compromise, the Judge did what the law says and for me, I
am satisfied” Udofia said.
On his judgment coming up next
Monday, Udofia maintained that, “from all indications the Judge is not
biased and the ruling that will come on that day will not be different from
what has happened today.
“But to be honest with you, it
is a win-win situation for both parties”
He however said the Speaker ought
to have waited for the court to make pronouncements on the vacation of the
seats rather than “taking laws into his own hands”.
Mr. Udofia who said he has a future
outside politics urged Akwa Ibom people to learn to play politics devoid
of bitterness and learn to relate as brothers irrespective of differences.