For Defecting From Labour Party To Defunct ACN, Appeal Court Declares Ondo National Assembly Lawmaker’s Seat Vacant

The Federal Court of Appeal, sitting in Akure, has declared vacant the seat of Ifedayo Sunday Abegunde, popularly known as ‘Abena,’ who represents the Akure South/North Federal Constituency in the House of 

Representative.Sunday AbegundeSahara Reporters Media

At a sitting on Monday in the Ondo state capital, the court hinged its decision on the defection of Hon. Abegunde from the ruling Labour Party (LP) in the state to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). That party is now a part of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

According to the Court, the defection violated the provision of Section 68 (1) (g) of the 1999 constitution, adding that the lawmaker left the LP when there was no division in the party despite securing its ticket and gaining his National Assembly seat on its platform.

The court, headed by Justice Garuba Mshelia, said the failure of the appellant to obey the constitutional process of defecting from one political party to another negates the constitution and that he should therefore immediately vacate the seat.

Abegunde, after he had completed a term in office, defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the LP and was given the mandate and ticket to contest under the LP platform in April 2011.

He won that election. However, after his re-election into the green chamber under the platform of the LP, Hon. Abegunde defected to the ACN a few months later.

It was following his defection that the LP went to court to seek to declare the seat of Hon. Abegunde vacant.

The LP, through its Defence counsel, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, (SAN), told the court that since Hon. Abegunde had dumped the LP and had refused to prove any division within the party, the court should automatically declare his seat vacant.

It also prayed that the court to instruct the electoral commission to conduct a bye-election to fill the seat.

In her judgment on the May 30, 2012, the presiding judge, Justice Gloria Okeke upheld the position of the LP defendant and said no candidate can contest an election without a political party.

Justice Okeke said there was no provision for independent candidacy in the nation’s electoral process, and therefore declared the seat vacant, as Abegunde had defected from the party that sponsored him to the National Assembly.

But to prevent his recall from the green chamber, Abegunde through his lawyer, Mr Yemi Osibajo (SAN) sought the protection of the Federal High Court of Appeal and asked it to pronounce that the division within the LP facilitated his defection to the defunct ACN.

He sought the determination of whether or not, in view of the provisions of Section 68(1) (g) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, he is not entitled to dump the LP to another party especially when there is division within the former.

On Monday, following an exchange of briefs and written addresses by the plaintiff and defendants, the Appeal Court dismissed the appeal filed by the lawmaker and upheld the decision of the lower court.

Speaking briefly with SaharaReporters by telephone, Hon. Abegunde said he had already contacted his counsel and would be heading for the Supreme Court.

He vowed to reclaim his mandate, adding that he has nothing to fear as his lawyers have already advised him on how to go about the case.

In order to avoid further questions from the SaharaReporters correspondent in Akure, the agitated legislator slammed down his phone and immediately switched it off.
Sources;sahara reporters

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