26 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) have lost their seats, according to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which insists on a fresh poll.
The defection, led by lawmakers aligned with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and former governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, was attributed to perceived divisions within the PDP. The PDP, however, maintains that these lawmakers are no longer part of the state legislature.
The announcement of their defection was made during a plenary session, but the PDP contends that their departure necessitates new elections for their vacated seats.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately commence the process of conducting fresh elections into the 27 state constituencies in Rivers State over defections by their lawmakers.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, in a statement, said the call for the election followed the vacancies created when the state lawmakers willfully abandoned their seats by defecting from to the APC.
The party explained that by defecting from the PDP to the APC, the seats of the 27 former lawmakers had become vacant by the provision of Section 109 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
PDP urged the lawmakers to stop parading themselves as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly as such would amount to impersonation with criminal consequences.
The PDP National Legal Adviser, Adeyemi Ajibade, SAN, on Thursday told journalists that though President Bola Tinubu might have waded in the dispute between the Governor Siminalayi Fubara and the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, the party stood on what the constitution says on defection.
Ajibade while addressing newsmen shortly after Justice Donatus Okorowo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, adjourned the embattled lawmakers’ suit until January 24, 2024, said; “PDP as a party, we are standing on the side of the constitution of the country.
“It is not about issues of an agreement because by the constitution, we all sworn to uphold.
“The governor himself sworn to uphold the constitution likewise the president; I am not against the president, calling for the resolution of the matter. He is the chief security officer of this country and he has every right to intervene in the issue.”
According to the senior lawyer, aside from that, the constitution of the country is very clear; Section 109 (1g) is clear as to issues of detection, adding that the affected lawmakers had not denied that they had not defected.