PDP Demands INEC Conduct New Elections in Rivers Following Mass Defection  - The Top Society

PDP Demands INEC Conduct New Elections in Rivers Following Mass Defection 

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize new elections in the 27 state constituencies of Rivers State. This move follows the defection of 27 Rivers State Assembly members from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

27 Rivers House Members Defect from PDP to APC 

The PDP in a statement on Monday insists that INEC should declare the seats of the defected lawmakers vacant, invoking constitutional provisions.

The PDP contends that

“according to Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the seats of the 27 lawmakers have automatically become vacant as a result of their departure from the PDP, the political party under whose platform they were elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly.” 

Citing Section 109(1) of the Constitution, PDP’s national spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, who endorsed the statement, affirmed that “a member shall vacate their seat if they become a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which the House was elected, the PDP emphasises that the Supreme Court’s clear interpretation supports the view that the defected members have forfeited their seats, rights, privileges, recognition, and obligations.” 

The party further urges the Speaker of the Rivers State House Assembly to promptly adhere to the Constitution by declaring the seats of the 27 former lawmakers vacant.

Mass Defection: Fubara Calls Emergency Meeting 

Highlighting the constitutional framework, the PDP requests that INEC, within the stipulated period outlined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), organize fresh elections to fill the now-existing vacancies in the 27 State Constituencies of Rivers State.

In a stern warning, the PDP cautions the defected lawmakers against presenting themselves as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, emphasizing that such actions could result in charges of impersonation with serious legal consequences.

Full Statement From the PDP 

December 11, 2023

Press Statement Rivers State Assembly: PDP Demands INEC to Conduct Fresh Elections in 27 State Constituencies. … 

Insists Defected Rivers Lawmakers Automatically Vacated their Seats 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) demands that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should immediately commence the process of conducting fresh elections into the 27 State Constituencies in Rivers State which have become vacant by reason of the defection of the 27 former State lawmakers in the Rivers State House of Assembly to the All Progressives Congress (APC). The PDP asserts that by defecting from the PDP, the political Party platform on which they were elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly, the seats of the respective 27 former lawmakers have become vacant by virtue of the provision of Section 109 (1) (g) 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…” By reason 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. In view of the vacancy now exiting 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 PDP commends the people of Rivers State for their steadfastness and loyalty to Democracy and Rule of Law especially at this time.

Signed: Hon. Debo Ologunagba National Publicity Secretary 

PDP Leader Backs Fubara Amidst Mass Defections 

Shedding more light on the issue, Enemi Alabo, a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, cited internal divisions within the PDP as a primary reason for the defection.

“We have a division in the PDP. We have cases in court concerning the secretaryship of our party. We desperately tried to reach the secretariat of our party, and we could not. As I speak to you, I can’t tell you who the secretary of my party is,” the lawmaker said.

“If I can’t even have correspondence with my party, then what am I talking about? We’ve been in the eye of the storm for a few weeks now and since then, there has been no communication from my party at the national level. What kind of party is that?” 

He attributed the move to ongoing legal disputes concerning the party’s secretaryship and expressed frustration over his inability to establish communication with the party’s secretariat.

Alabo underscored the lack of clarity regarding the party’s leadership, highlighting challenges such as the burning of the assembly chambers and intimidation faced by Rivers State PDP members.

“Rivers State has been in the news. The House of Assembly has been grappling [with issues]; we’ve been bullied; we’ve been suppressed and repressed. 

“Our chambers were burned down, and our members are being intimidated. The official residence of Mr. Speaker was brutally attacked by hired thugs. 

“As I speak, there is no communication from the party that I called my party. And so, 27 members came together and we said to ourselves that we could not continue like this.” 

In response to these difficulties, Alabo clarified that the lawmakers collectively opted to defect, invoking Section 109 of the constitution, which permits a party switch in the presence of a perceived division.

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