ABUJA â€” The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, to declare the seat of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State vacant, following his defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
In a motion filed before the High Court, the electoral body sought the dismissal of the suit instituted against Governor Okorocha by his former party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.
It will be recalled that APGA had in a suit filed by its lawyer, Mr. Victor Odjemu, asked court to declare Okorochaâ€™s seat vacant and order that the deputy governor of Imo State, be sworn -in to take over since the governor had joined another party which manifesto and policies were different from APGAâ€™s.
Insisting that Okorocha was holding in trust a mandate given to him by APGA and thus could not transfer same to a different political group, APGA, told the court that its decision to seek the immediate removal of the governor culminated from a meeting held by its National Executive Committee, NEC, in Abuja on August 3, 2013.
It urged the court to, in the alternative, either okay the deputy governor as a viable replacement for Okorocha or direct that the speaker of Imo State House of Assembly or any officer next in line to the position of the governor, who is a member of the plaintiff, APGA, be sworn-in to pilot the affairs of the state.
Aside Okorocha, INEC and Imo State House of Assembly were equally joined as the 2nd and 3rd defendants/respondents.
In a preliminary objection dated March 21, INEC, through its lawyer Mr. Ibrahim K. Bawa, insisted that having regard to the provision of Section 251(l)(p)(q)(r) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the subject matter of the suit was outside the jurisdiction of the high court.
According to INECâ€™s preliminary objection, a copy of which was obtained by Vanguard, â€œThe claims of the plaintiff in this suit are contained in the originating Summon and affidavit in support of same.