The Supreme Court has ordered a member of House of Representatives representing Akure South/North Federal Constituency of Ondo State, Ifedayo Abegunde, to vacate his seat on account of his defection from the Labour Party, which sponsored his election in 2011, to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria.
In a unanimous decision by the seven-man panel, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the apex court held that Abegunde’s defection could not be justified since his excuse of purported division in the Labour Party was not in existence in the national structure of the party.
The court noted that the division and factionalisation, cited by Abegunde as his excuse for abandoning the Labour Party, was only at the state level.
Justice Musa Muhammad, who read the lead judgment, held that only a division that makes it impossible or impracticable for the party to function, by virtue of the provision in Section Sixty-eight, sub-section one of the constitution, justifies a person’s defection to another party.
Abegunde had defected from Labour Party to the ACN in 2011, and in a bid to pre-empt the party from recalling him, filed a suit at the Federal High Court.
He lost the case at the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal and subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court.