By Dare Lawal
In a unanimous ruling on Friday, the Supreme Court of Nigeria ordered a member of the House of Representatives representing Akure South/North Federal Constituency of Ondo State, Ifedayo Abegunde, to vacate his seat.
The order was handed as a result of Abegunde’s defection from the Labour Party, which sponsored his election in 2011, to the now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria.
The seven-man panel, which was led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, held that Abegunde’s defection could not be justified since his allegation of division in the Labour Party was not in existence in the “national structure” of the party but 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 68(1)(g) of the constitution, justifies a person’s defection to another party.
Abegunde defected from LP to the ACN in 2011. He filed a suit at the Federal High Court to preempt the party from recalling him but he lost the case at the court and also lost at the Appellate court before today’s ruling by the Supreme Court.