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27 Defecting Rivers Lawmakers to Vacate Seats for Bye-Elections

Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP)
Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP)

Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has reacted to the political development in Rivers State where 27 lawmakers elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) into the state House of Assembly reportedly defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In a statement signed by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, James Ezema, the CNPP urged the defecting legislators to immediately vacate their seats, calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a bye-election in the affected state constituencies “for the people to choose their representatives.”

The CNPP noted that “it is both immoral and illegal for a lawmaker elected on one political party platform to defect to another and still retain his or her legislative seat.

“In 2022, as has been cited by many, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had sacked 16 Ebonyi House of Assembly members for defection based on Section 109 (1) (g) of the Constitution, just as 18 members of Cross River House of Assembly and two House of Representatives members as well as the a House of Representatives member on the platform of the Labour Party in Ondo State were sacked under the same constitutional provisions.

“In the case of the Labour Party, the member representing Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency who defected to another party was ordered by the Supreme Court to vacate his seat.

“We recall that the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, had on several occasions described a situation where politicians would defect to other political parties with the mandate of another party as unconstitutional.

“As a matter of fact, the former Rivers State governor fought up to the Supreme Court in the governorship case between Rotimi Amaechi and Celestine Omeha and the apex court in its landmark judgment ruled unambiguously that votes cast in elections belong to political parties, not the individual candidates.

“Therefore, if indeed the 27 lawmakers are loyal to the Minister of FCT, as being speculated, it will be a political disaster waiting to happen to see the same personality, who stood for rule of law, now undermining the same. And that’s why we don’t want to believe that former Governor Nyesom Wike is behind the lawmakers until proven otherwise.

“We, therefore, urge President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the FCT Minister to intervene in the current twist in the Rivers State political crisis to forestall breakdown of law and order in the state.

“We also call on all political parties, the civil society and all lovers of democracy to pressure the Rivers State Speaker to declare the seats of the 27 lawmakers vacant if they indeed defected to another political party to enable INEC to conduct fresh polls in the affected state legislative constituencies.

“If a political party accepts the trampling of democracy today, it could be at the receiving end someday. In justice to one should be injustice to all if our democracy and the society can survive”, the CNPP said.

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