PDP Plots Against Saraki, 10 Other Defecting Senators
The Peoples Democratic Party has perfected plans to finally stall the defection of its 11 senators to the opposition All Progressives Congress.
Investigations by our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday showed that the party had advised the Senate President, David Mark, to insist at Monday’s (today) meeting with the senators that he would not accept the letter they collectively wrote.
The party was said to have told the Senate President that defection was an individual matter and that he should not read the letter.
A leader of the PDP, who pleaded anonymity, said that the party had a position on the defection of the 11 senators.
He said, “We have put our views across to the Senate President and we believe as a loyal party member, he will heed our advice. We have told him not to read the letter. They should write their letters individually.”
The party was also said to have pointed out the existence of a subsisting court order which it said had made the reading of the letter impossible.
Efforts made to speak with the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, on the matter were not successful as he did not pick calls made to his mobile telephone line.
But the APC faulted the claim by the PDP. The APC said contrary to the misinformation being peddled in some quarters, there was no existing court order barring the 11 former PDP senators from defecting.
The party in a statement on Sunday in Ilorin by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the existing court order was to the effect that the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives should maintain the status quo concerning the defecting lawmakers.
It stated, “What this order means is that neither the President of the Senate nor the Speaker of the House can declare vacant the seats of the defecting lawmakers. It does not mean the letter of notification from defecting members cannot be read on the floor of the chambers.
The APC said that in view of this, the argument that the letter of the defecting senators could not be read on the floor, so as not to contravene the Senate’s Standing Rules that precludes the upper chamber from discussing any matter that is already in court, did not apply in this case.
The party stated, “We are not asking that the issue of the defection should be discussed or debated on the floor of the Senate. All we are saying is that the Senate President should read the letter of notification. The coast is very clear for this to be done, and the Senate President is duty bound to do so.”
It faulted those it said were engaging in wishful thinking that the 11 senators could be tactically prevented from defecting from the PDP to the APC.
As the APC issued the statement on Sunday, the aggrieved PDP senators expressed their preparedness to attend the meeting convened by the Senate President on Monday (today).
Although they failed to disclose the venue and time of the meeting, the senators said they would honour Mark’s invitation, any day and anytime.
For instance, Senator Ali Ndume said even if they belonged to different political parties with Mark, that would not stop them from holding meetings with him.
“Naturally if the Senate President wants to see me and even now if he says he wants to see me, I cannot ask why before I go and see him.
“It may not necessarily turn out to what he wants but as a leader he has done what he should do,” he said.
Senators Bukola Saraki, Saaba Lafiaji, Magnus Abe and Aisha Al-Hassan could not be reached for comments.
However, some other defectors who spoke with our correspondent on conditions of anonymity confirmed their preparedness to attend the meeting.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the respect the senators had for Mark would make them attend the meeting.
They however said the meeting would not make them change their minds on defection.
However, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, said the Senate President must first obtain a court order before he could declare the seat of any senator vacant.
Awomolo stated this in a legal opinion he made available to journalists on Sunday.
The SAN explained that the certificate of return issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission entitled the senator to stay in office for four years unless he was sacked by a court or a tribunal, resigned, died or otherwise removed according to the provisions of section 68 of the 1999 Constitution.
He stated, “Can the Senate President remove or declare vacant the office or sit of a senator who had defected to another political party or who has ceased to be a senator by reason of Section 68(1) of the Constitution?
“With respect, the Senate President on his own cannot take a decision to declare vacant the seat of a senator.”
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org