‘Why Fubara can’t be impeached’

Rivers state has 32 state constituencies. This means that the state has 32 House of Assembly members. Currently, there are two factions of the House. One led by Martin Amaewhule and the other led by the new speaker, Oko Jumbo.

All the House of Assembly members were elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections. However, about 27 of them had long defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC). One of them died last year and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to conduct a by-election to fill the vacancy several months after. 

That the defected lawmakers have a greater number on their side does not confer legitimacy on them. Their defection to the APC is still a subject of litigation by a group of civil society organisation. The minority faction even with just three members including the speaker has legitimacy on their side. The greater number or greater amount of illegality can never make it legal.

The minority faction which had last year passed the current fiscal budget for the state has all legitimacy and constitutionality on its side. In this case, numbers do not matter. For instance, assuming in a state assembly that comprises 50 lawmakers, 47 of them unfortunately have a fatal accident like a plane crash (God forbid), will the surviving three lawmakers not carry out their duties as lawmakers until the 47 vacancies are filled? Will the remaining three lawmakers not elect a speaker among themselves to continue with the business of legislation or will the state be grounded until the 47 vacancies are filled?

Since Rivers state has two factions of the state assembly now, the activities of the other faction even with greater majority will remain null, void and of no effect until the courts of the land interpret their defection. All their activities so far including the purported intention to impeach the governor will remain invalid until perhaps the Supreme Court finally confers legitimacy on them by upholding their defection to the APC.

Unfortunately for them, they cannot return to the PDP now even if they so wish. They shot themselves on the foot by hurriedly defecting to the APC even when their godfather is still claiming to still be a member of the PDP. They would have had every authority and legality to frustrate the governor as they are currently doing if they had remained in the PDP with their overwhelming majority. But God put confusion in their midst and they made a costly mistake of defection. Nigerians are waiting to see how the courts of the land will interpret their defection since there’s no crisis in their former party.

Just like Governor Sim Fubara recently said, they are floating on air. It’s just a matter of time before they know their fate on the issue of defection. It behoves on the Nigerian courts to give this matter speedy or accelerated hearings and conclusion since the matter of interpreting defection does not require a load of exhibits and calling of witnesses. This matter can be thrashed out within a year even if it goes up to the supreme court. The interpretations of the courts will also help to deepen democracy in the country. The final interpretation of this vexatious issue of defection will set a precedent in the country even though there seems to be a precedent already on the matter.

Ifeanyi Maduako,

Owerri, Imo state

[email protected]