A SUIT seeking the removal of Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade and his deputy, Ivara Esu, over their defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC), has been dismissed.
The suit, filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was dismissed by Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday.
The PDP, through its lawyer Emmanuel Ukala, had prayed the court to sack Ayade and Esu.
Defendants in the suit include Ayade and his deputy, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC.
The PDP told the court that the governor and his deputy ought to vacate their respective offices for abandoning the party that sponsored their reelection.
The party equally asked the court to declare that “in view of the provisions of Section 221 of the amended 1999 Constitution and the democratic system of governance operated in Nigeria, votes at the election and elections are won by political parties and not their candidate or the candidates sponsored at the election by the political parties”.
The court was also asked to order INEC to immediately “receive from the plaintiff (PDP) the name of its candidates” to replace Ayade and his deputy.
However, in its ruling on Thursday, the court held that Ayade and his deputy cannot be sacked from their positions other than through statutory procedures that were stipulated in sections 180, 188 and 189 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
“The 3rd and 4th defendants (Ayade and Esu) cannot be removed except by constitutional provisions,” the court declared.
The court held that defection to another political party was not stated as one of the grounds for the removal of either a governor or his deputy.
Last month, The ICIR reported how the court sacked 20 members of the Cross River State House of Assembly for defecting from the PDP to the APC.
The judge held that the lawmakers, having abandoned the political party that sponsored them to power, ought to vacate their seats.
The judge declared the lawmakers’ seats vacant and restrained them from further parading themselves as members of the state house of assembly.
He also directed INEC to withdraw their certificates of return and accept new nominees from the PDP to fill the vacancies.