Two members of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ephraim Nwuzi from Rivers State and Hon. David Abel from Taraba State yesterday defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The lawmakers announced their defection on the floor of the House at resumed plenary in separate letters addressed to the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
In the letters read by Gbajabiamila, the lawmakers said their decision to join the ruling party was informed by the charismatic and purposeful leadership of the Speaker.
However, the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, raised a point of order, saying that the defection should be based on law and due process and not simply quoting the charisma of the Speaker.
”We ask Mr. Speaker to observe with respect to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, abide by the rules of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said
Corroborating Okechukwu’s statement, the Leader of the PDP caucus in the House, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, tasked the Speaker to do what is right to advance the course of democracy in Nigeria.
He said that the Speaker swore to protect the Constitution, adding that the Speaker as a lawyer should prove that he respects the law.
Chinda recalled that in 2007, the Supreme Court had ruled that any members who defect for any reason, outside division in the party should vacate his seat.
He added that this is an opportunity for the Speaker to do the right thing, stressing that failure to do so is either cowardice or incompetence.
Responding, Gbajabiamila recalled that he was once a minority leader in the House and many of his members defected to the PDP, which was then the ruling party.
He said that he cited all the relevant laws and called on House to declare their seats vacant until he lost his voice.
Gbajabiamila further pointed out that there are some members of the PDP who had not attended any sitting since the commencement of the 9th Assembly.
He said that Section 68, Sub-section (1f) of Constitution states that the seat of such members should be declared vacant and asked the PDP lawmakers if he should go on to declare their seats vacant.
Gbajabiamila noted that the PDP failed to lay the foundation of sanctioning illegal defections while in power.
He said: “Like you used to tell me, your points are noted. Any more defections?”
Reacting, the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu said that the Clerk of the House should be directed to provide the register to confirm the position of the Speaker on the absent PDP lawmakers.