Politics

You’ve lost your seats, PDP tells defected lawmakers

From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, insisted that members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, who dumped the opposition party for the All Progressives Congress (APC) have lost their seats in line with the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The PDP in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, accused the APC of plotting to force itself into government in Rivers State against the will of the people.

The opposition party urged the APC to come to terms that following the defection of  the majority of the members in the Rivers Assembly, the quorum of the legislative house would be the number of the remaining member.

The statement reads in part: “It is indeed pathetic for the APC to think that the facts and true import of Section 109 (1) (G) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to the effect that the former lawmakers have since lost their seats can be muddled and lost in litigations and lengthy press statements.

“Interestingly, in the failed bid to subvert the Constitution to give the former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly a lifeline, the APC ended up admitting the clarity of the proviso of Section 109(1)(G) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in voiding their seats upon their defection.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 109 (1)(G) of the Constitution is clear in providing that ‘a member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if – being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before expiration of the period for which that House was elected:

“Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.’

“The former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, for reasons best known to them, wittingly vacated and summarily lost their seats as nothing in the proviso protects or allows them to retain their membership of the Rivers State House of Assembly after decamping from the political party upon which they were elected.

“These former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly have only themselves to blame for constitutionally vacating their seats; a course which cannot be reversed or remedied. They should admit their miscalculation and bear the inescapable consequences.

“This is especially so as the Supreme Court, in the case of Abegunde vs Ondo State House of Assembly and Others, has since clarified and affirmed the import of the proviso in Section 109(1)(g) in validating the automatic vacation of a seat by a member of a legislative house who defected from the party upon which he was elected into that house.

“For the umpteenth time the PDP cautions the APC to steer clear of Rivers State; it should perish the thoughts of forcefully taking over the state and stop exasperating the public space by seeking to reverse the irreversible.”

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