I have meticulously reviewed the arguments filed the learned counsels on behalf of the parties. I have equally reviewed the originating summons, the affidavit in support of originating summons and all the processes filed and in my view there is only one question that call for determination. And wit.
Whether the 1st defendant who was elected on the platform of the People Democratic Party has lost his seat as the Governor of Zamfara State when he defected to the All Progressive Congress (the 3rd defendant)”.
Baffa continued in his judgement:
The office of a Governor is created by section 176(1) of the constitution and section 177 list the qualifications of election as a Governor, section 180(1) of the constitution provides the instances where a person shall hold the office of a Governor. From the communal reading of section 180 and 188 of the constitution, the Governor will cease to hold office when his successor in office take the oath of that office, he dies while holding such office, he resigns from the office or he is impeached in accordance with the provision of section 188 of the constitution.
He went further to cite “ in AG FEDERATION VS ABUBAKAR (SUPRA) the Supreme Court in interpreting the provision of section 68 (1) (g) and 109 (1) (g) of the constitution held that:
“it is manifest from the provision of section 68(1) (g) and 109 (1) (g) of the constitution that the makers of the constitution intended to and indeed made punishable the defection of members of senate, house of representative or house of assembly from political party before the expiration of the period from which the legislative house was elected by declaring the seat of such member vacant. However, no similar provision is made for the Vice President or President. In other words, if the makers of the constitution has intended the Vice President or President to suffer the same fate as the members of the Senate, House of Assembly, they would have inserted such provision in the constitution in clear terms”.
Justice Bappa went further to state in his judgement that:
It is clear that it is only the member of the Senate, House of Representative and house of assembly of a state that loses his seat upon defection from the platform of the party which he is elected to another party. I can find no provision in the constitution which state that a Governor will lose his seat whenever he defects to another party other than the political party in which he is elected.
The 1st defendant as a Governor has the right to assembly and association with respect to joining or belonging to a political party. The Supreme Court in AG FEDERATION VS ABUBAKAR (supra) held that:
“By virtue of of section 40 of the 1999 constitution, it is unconstitutional to deny a citizen of Nigeria the right to opt out of any political party or the right to join or belonging to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interest provided that the political party is recognized by the Independent Electoral Commission.
In the instant case, it was not shown by credible evidence that the political party to which the 1st respondent (Governor) defected was not recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission. In the circumstances, the 1st respondent (Governor) ought not to be penalized for joining the political party”.
Learned justice Bappa went further to cite in his judgement:
I. T. Muhammad JSC as he then was at page 157 of the report said:
“The 1st respondent is alleged to have defected or cross carpeted to another party. Although defection or cross carpeting to another party or dumping the original party that sponsored one for election to a particular office which is created by the constitution or in the same vein, condemning or criticizing that party or it’s members who by virtue of the same election hold some offices created by the constitution, is painful, unconscionable and immoral, it is however not illegal. I cannot find any fault with the lower court’s adumbration on section 40 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, chapter IV therefore which guarantees a citizen of this country freedom of association”.
Bappa consolidated his judgement to say:
“the 1st defendant (Governor) in exercise of his right of Freedom of Association as guaranteed under section 40 of the constitution can defect to any party of his choice and still maintain his seat as Governor of Zamfara state. The fact that he has defected from the platform of the party on which he was elected does not and will not make him lose his seat as the Governor and I so hold”.
On the whole note:
I find that, this case is devoid of iota of merit. The case ought to be dismiss and I accordingly dismiss it.
I award the cost of N1,000,000 (One Million Naira Only) in favour of each of the defendants against the plaintiffs.