New Telegraph

Defection: PDP, LP Call For Fresh Elections In 27 Rivers’ Constituencies

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately commence the process of conducting fresh elections into the 27 state constituencies in Rivers State over the defection of the lawmakers from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In separate statements issued on Monday, the two political parties argued that by defecting from the political platform where they were elected to another party, their seats have automatically become vacant.

PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary Debo Ologunagba, asserted that the seats became vacant by virtue of the provision of Section 109 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

According to the party, “by reason of the constitutional provision and its interpretation by the Supreme Court, the 27 defected members of the Rivers State House of Assembly have vacated and lost their seats, rights, privileges, recognition and obligations accruable to members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.”

It demands that the Speaker of the Rivers State House Assembly should immediately comply with the provision of the constitution by declaring the seats of the 27 former lawmakers vacant.

“In view of the vacancy now existing in the 27 state constituencies in Rivers State, the PDP demands that INEC should within the stipulated period under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) conduct fresh election to fill the vacancies.

“Our party cautions that the former lawmakers should stop parading themselves as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly as such would amount to impersonation with serious criminal consequences,” PDP stated.

LP on its part, said in a statement by the Chairman of its Rivers State chapter Hilda Dokubo, that the defection was in disregard to the constitutional provisions, adding that the constitutional provision “is very clear about the fate that must befall on those legislators who betrayed the party that sponsored them.”

The party recalled that in 2022, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja sacked 16 Ebonyi House of Assembly members for defection.

“The court held that the movement was in breach of Section 109(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which provides that defector legislators are not allowed to retain their seats in the legislature.

“The same fate befell 18 members of the Cross River House of Assembly and two members of the House of Representatives who were asked to vacate their seats for defecting from their party last year,” it noted.

The LP also recalled that in 2012, its member representing Akure North/Akure South federal constituency defected to another party.

“This case lingered until the Supreme Court in 2022 ordered him to immediately vacate his seat following his defection from the Labour Party.

“The Court’s unanimous judgement held that the lawmaker who decamped from the Labour Party to another party was constitutionally unfit to retain his seat as a federal lawmaker in the federal House of Representatives.

“Though, the case aforementioned was slow in coming the fact that the apex court did justice to the matter with a proper interpretation of the law is enough for the political class to be aware that it can no longer take both the electorate and party that sponsored them for elections for a ride,” the party warned.

It stated that it is “involved in this matter because we know the manipulations and electoral frauds that threw up some of these out-going lawmakers in Rivers State, which unfortunately deprived popular candidates of Labour Party victory in the last election.

“We believe that with fresh election in Rivers State, the people will have the opportunity to elect their true representatives.”

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