The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has written to the Independent National Electoral Commission demanding fresh elections to replace the 27 lawmakers in the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected to the All Progressives Congress on Monday.
This was made known in a press statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba.
The PUNCH reports that the lawmakers cited division within the PDP as the primary reason for their defection to the opposition APC.
The affected lawmakers are said to be loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.
According to Ologunagba, the seats of the defected lawmakers have become vacant owing to the fact that they contested elections on the platform of the party in their respective constituencies.
Citing the party’s constitution, he said, “The seats of the respective 27 former lawmakers have become vacant by virtue of the provision of Section 109 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 109 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that ‘a member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if … (g) 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 the expiration of the period for which that House was elected…’
“Because of the above constitutional provision and its clear 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.
“The PDP, therefore, demands that the Speaker of the Rivers State House Assembly immediately comply with the provision of the Constitution by declaring the seats of the 27 former lawmakers vacant.”
He maintained, “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.”
The party further implored the people of the state to remain steadfast and loyal to democracy and the rule of law, especially during this time