Labour Party takes stand on Rivers lawmakers’ defection

Following the defection of the 27 lawmakers of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), to the All Progressives Congress, (APC), in Rivers State, Labour Party, (LP), has called on the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Martin Chike Amaewhule to declare the seats of the defected lawmakers vacant.

The party also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), to conduct fresh election in the 27 State Constituencies of the defected Assembly lawmakers.

While recalling Section 109. (1) (g) of the Nigeria constitution, LP said that, the constitution is clear about the impending fate of the defected PDP lawmakers who betrayed the party that sponsored them into elected offices.

According to a statement issued by the Rivers State Chairman, Hon. Hilda Dokubo, Monday, the party also cited similar case of a Federal High Court verdict sacking 16 Ebonyi House of Assembly members for defection.

The statement read: “It has come to the attention of the leadership of the Labour Party of the development in the Rivers State House of Assembly where about 27 members of the Assembly were said to have defected from one party to another in disregard to the constitutional provisions.

“Section 109. (1) (g) of the Nigeria constitution clearly states that ‘A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if 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.

“The above provision of the constitution is very clear about the fate that must befall on those legislators who betrayed the party that sponsored them. Therefore Labour is calling on the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly to declare vacant the 27 seats of the defected members without delay in line with the laws of the land.

“The party is also calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to begin the process of conducting a fresh election to fill the vacant spaces.

“Labour Party recalls that in 2022, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja sacked 16 Ebonyi House of Assembly members for defection. The court held that the movement was in breach of Section 109(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which provides that defector legislators are not allowed to retain their seats in the legislature.

“The same fate befell on 18 members of the Cross River House of Assembly and 2 members of the House of Representatives who were asked to vacate their seats for defecting from their party last year.

“The Labour Party can also vividly recall that in 2012, our member representing Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency defected to another party. This case lingered until the Supreme Court in 2022 ordered him to immediately vacate his seat following his defection from the Labour Party. The Court’s unanimous judgement held that the lawmaker who decamped from the Labour Party to another party was constitutionally unfit to retain his seat as a federal lawmaker in the federal House of Representatives.

“Though, the case aforementioned was slow in coming but the fact that the apex Court did justice to the matter with a proper interpretation of the law is enough for the political class to be aware that it can no longer take both the electorates and party that sponsored them for elections for a ride.

“Labour Party is directly involved in this matter because we know the manipulations and electoral frauds that threw up some of these out-going lawmakers in Rivers State, which unfortunately deprived popular candidates of Labour Party victory in the last election. We believe that with fresh election in Rivers state, the people will have the opportunity to elect their true representatives.”