Former governor of Akwa Ibom state on Tuesday told a Federal High Court, Abuja that he moved to the All Progressive Party (APC) because the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) expelled him from the party.
While urging the court to dismiss the suit filed last year by the Legal Defense and Assistant Project (LEDAP) seeking to declare the seat of Akpabio and 54 other national lawmakers vacant over their defection from one political party to the other in 2018, the former governor said the PDP in his ward suspended him, after which he was expelled from the party at the local government level.
Speaking through his counsel, Sunday Ameh (SAN), the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District at the Senate said the date of the two incidences, in exhibits A and B, was July and August 2019.
“When juxtaposed with the calendar for the primary elections as issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the intention of the PDP then, was to render him fait accompli and to deny him a platform to contest the election, as his nomination must come from the ward up”, Ameh told the court. The senior counsel said Akpabio, who is the 3rd defendant in the suit filed by LEDAP was thrown out of the PDP at a very crucial moment in a political arrangement towards 2019 general election.
“In order not to fall prey of the gang-up, calculated at turning him into political orphan and preventing him from participating in the 2019 general, “He has to take advantage of his constitutional right under Section 40 of the constitution to join the APC that was willing to accept him after his party has thrown him out”. Ameh told the court what the PDP did to Akpabio was an uncommon situation and that is why he seeks a constitutional remedy.
He said if Akpabio’s action was not correct, the PDP would have applied to be joined in the matter to say that the 3rd defendant willingly left the party and urged the court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
Earlier in his oral submission, counsel to the plaintiff, Jibrin Okutepa (SAN) insisted that there was no division to warrant the defendants’ defection, adding also that the further counter affidavit deposed to personally shows that defendants have admitted that there was no division in their parties.
Okutepa, while urging the court to discountenance the arguments of Akpabio’s counsel said, “When you have a petty local quarrel within your political party at the ward level, it does not give you an unbridled license to join another political party.
“What they put as expulsion from his local branch, does not constitute a division known to law to bring the case of the 3rd defendant under Section 58(1)(g) of the 1999 constitution, as amended”, Okutepa added.
He urged the court to hold that the defence raised in the further counter affidavit cannot avail the 3rd defendant the ground to stop the court from making an order sacking the defendants from their seat at the National Assembly Counsel to Senate President Bukola Saraki and other defendants in the suit, Mahmud Magaji (SAN) in his submission, urged the court to dismiss the suit as filed by the plaintiff for constituting an abuse of court process.
“If a person is suspended, expelled or removed from a political party, he can move to another political party of his choice. The 3rd defendant only exercised his freedom of association and urged the court to dismiss the suit without cost.
The trial Judge, in a bench ruling, said judgment in the suit will be delivered on May 17, 2019, subject to availability of judicial time. LEDAP had last year approached the Court with a suit seeking to declare the seat of the affected national lawmakers vacant over their defection to the two major political parties in 2018.