Lawmakers defection: No court can stop INEC from conducting fresh elections in Rivers - PDP replies Tinubu, others
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Lawmakers defection: No court can stop INEC from conducting fresh elections in Rivers - PDP replies Tinubu, others

Dec. 20, 2023

Lawmakers defection: No court can stop INEC from conducting fresh elections in Rivers - PDP replies Tinubu, others

Admin By Adewale Adewale
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The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has insisted that seats of 25 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected to the All Progressives Congress remain vacant.

Quoting Section 84(15) of the Electoral Act, 2022, the party said no court has the power to stop the Independent Narional Electoral Commission, INEC, from exercising its core mandate in Rivers State.

Addressing newsmen after their emergency meeting on the developments in Rivers, the Acting National Chairman of the party, Amb. Umar Iliya Damagum, cautioned the lawmakers against being deceived by the assurance of Abuja.

The party insisted that they cannot return into the Assembly without fresh elections.

"Our Party therefore counsels the former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly not to be deceived by anybody giving them the false hope and impracticable assurances in Abuja that they can return to the Rivers State House of Assembly without a fresh election or that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can be stopped from conducting fresh election into the 25 Rivers State Constituencies where vacancies have occurred by reason of their defection.

"For emphasis Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022 is clear in providing that no Courts have powers to stop INEC from conducting elections wherever and whenever a vacancy occurs in any electoral constituency.

"For clarity Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides that 'Nothing in this section shall empower the Courts to stop the holding of primaries or general election under this Act pending the determination of the suit," he said.

Amb. Damagum maintained that the lawmakers, having vacated their seats has an option of representing themselves for fresh elections if they intend to return to the Assembly.

"The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asserts that there is no remedy for the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, who by virtue of Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) vacated and lost their seats by reason of defection from the PDP, the Party platform upon which they were elected into the House of Assembly.

"Our Party insists that having now vacated and lost their seats, the only option available for the former lawmakers, if they wish to return to the House of Assembly, is to seek fresh nomination and re-election on the platform of any political party of their choice in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022."

The party maintained that, "the 25 former Rivers lawmakers freely and without any cause vacated their seats, being fully aware of the consequences of defection from the Party upon which they were elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly without the conditions stipulated by the 1999 Constitution."

The party explained that the lawmakers have not valid excuse for decamping to another political party, adding, "for the avoidance of doubt, there is no division in the PDP at the national or any other level for that matter to justify the defection of the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from the Party.

"They therefore vacated their seats for reasons best known to them and cannot return to the House of Assembly without passing through a fresh electoral process in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.

"Moreover, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly Rt. Hon (Barr) Ehie O. Edison DSSRS officially declared the seat of the defected now former members vacant in line with Section 109 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

"The Rivers State House of Assembly, having become Functus Officio on the matter cannot re-admit the former lawmakers unless through the channel of a fresh election."

The PDP has, however, demanded the INEC to, in line with Section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022, fix a date for the conduct of fresh election into the 25 State Constituencies in Rivers State.

The national leadership of the party charged all members of the Party in Rivers State to remain united and resolute in the defence of Constitutional democracy and Rule of Law in Rivers State.

Fielding questions from newsmen, the Acting National Chairman said that apart from Wike, there are other people, who worked against the party, adding that when the time comes they will sanction everybody.

"And our stand about our Wike, I have always say this thing that as long as you are a member of the PDP there is a time for everything.

"My duty is to stabilize this party and not to cause crisis and I will continue to do that within the confine of reason.

"When things go out of hand, we will act. But meanwhile, we still see it within the ambit of the law. Mind you, we have other litigations going on at this party we won't want to plunge our party into another crisis.

"And let me tell you something, it is not only Wike, there are other people who worked against this party when we get to that level we will sanction everybody. 

"If Wike believes he's above this party, we will be able to show him that he is not above this party. 

"One thing I am conscious about is that there was never a time he said he's not a member of this party. 

"Meanwhile, recently we have approved and are about to inaugurate the 2023 review committee. They are to review what happened in 2023 and come out with a report not only about one person, but every person who has one way or another engaged in anti-party. Then after that, we will see what kind of measure to take," he said.

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