ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has removed the member representing Brass Constituency 1 in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Daniel Charles, over his defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The APC had taken Charles to the court, demanding his removal after he defected from the party to the PDP.
Charles, however, won the case at the Federal High Court in Yenagoa presided over by Justice Isa Dashen.
The development prompted the APC to proceed to the Appeal Court to appeal the ruling.
But the Justices of the appellate court, Joseph Ikyegh, Gabriel Kolawole and Olabode Adegbehingbe, in the suit No. CA/PH/79/2022, declared that the decision of the lower court (Federal High Court) delivered on January 11 on the legality of Charles’ defection was set aside.
The justices declared that upon his defection from the APC, being the platform on which he was elected,
Charles should have vacated his seat at the House of Assembly since April 14, 2021 by the virtue of Section 109 (1) (g) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Appeal had Charles, the Speaker of the Bayelsa House of Assembly, Hon. Abraham Ngobere and the State House of Assembly as respondents.
They also declared that the second and third respondents (Speaker and the House of Assembly) were under constitutional and legal duties by the virtue of Section 109 (1)(g) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to declare the seat of the first respondent (Charles) as member representing Brass Constituency 1 at the Assembly vacant.
The appellate court also issued an order declaring the seat vacant and directed that the 1st respondent (Daniel Charles) should, with immediate effect, return all salaries, allowances and other emoluments, received from the 14th of April, 2021 as member representing the Brass constituency 1 of the State House of Assembly.
The court also ordered that the three respondents pay the cost of N250, 000 each to the appellant (the All Progressives Congress, APC).
Reacting to the ruling, Charles described it as unfortunate, considering his inalienable right to freedom of association.
He said he believed strongly that the Supreme Court would give a favourable judgment and ratify his mandate.
Charles urged the people of Brass Constituency 1, especially his supporters, to remain calm and hopeful as he planned to appeal the verdict in the coming days.
“From the very moment we joined the PDP, the plan of the opposition party was to distract us with litigation, but by the grace of God, we will continue to remain focused and deliver on the dividends of democracy to our people. So there is no cause for alarm,” the respondent said.