Mark stops Senate from declaring defecting senators’ seats vacant

In what may be considered a retaliatory gesture of sorts, some Senators of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday made a surprise move against the eleven defecting senators by calling that their seats be declared vacant.

The defecting lawmakers during Tuesday’s plenary had taken their turns to declare that they had defected from the PDP to the APC.
Consequently, the development to declare the seats of defecting lawmakers vacant, came as a surprise and rude shock to all eleven, but was however stalled by the Senate President, Senator David Mark, who ruled that same was not feasible in view of the pending suit before the Federal High Court against the Senate by the All Progressives Congress.

Mark said that his ruling was in strict adherence to Section 53(5) of the senate standing rules.
Recall that the APC had in the suit filed, sought the Federal High Court to restrain the Senate president from declaring vacant, the seats of the eleven defecting Senators.

Senator Ita Enang (PDP, Akwa-Ibom), rising under order 14 of the Senate standing rules which dwells on matters of “privilege”, cited section 68(g) of the 1999 constitution as amended.
The lawmaker moved on the strength of the section of the constitution that the seats of the eleven senators be declared vacant.
Enang argued that the decision of the lawmakers to defect from the PDP to the APC in the absence of any division within the ruling party made it mandatory for the lawmakers’ seats to be made vacant.

The section reads: “A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if – being a person whose election to the House 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: provided that his membership of the latter political party was not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.”

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