Defecting Imo lawmakers have lost their seats ― PDP

• wants INEC to conduct fresh elections

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday declared that it members in the Imo House of Assembly who recently announced their defection to the All Progressive Congress (APC) have lost their seats.

Addressing a press conference at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, its national spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said their defection to the ruling party does not satisfy the provisions of the constitution.

While noting that there was no division in the PDP or a merger with another political group, he said their exit from the party has created vacancies in their constituencies.

The main opposition party, therefore, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to begin a process of conducting a fresh election to elect new representatives for the constituencies.

He said where the electoral body fails to do the needful, the party would challenge the action in court.

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The PDP, which views the defection as an abdication of mandate “ostensibly for their very selfish gains,” described the action as unpatriotic and an unpardonable betrayal of the people of their respective constituencies who chose and identified with the ideal and visions of the PDP as the platform for their representation at the state assembly.

The statement said: “The defectors have indeed shown absolute lack of character, failure of leadership capacity in moments of challenges and absence of faith to stand with the people in their most trying moment, but are easily bought by personal pecuniary and political interests.”

The PDP held that the defectors are fully aware of the grave implication of their actions to the effect that by their defection to the APC, they have automatically lost their seats and membership of the Imo state House of Assembly as they can only hold such position on the mandate of the party on which they were elected; the PDP.

The party spokesman added: “It is settled under the 1999 Constitution (as amended), that a legislator who decamps from a party upon which he was elected a member of a legislative house automatically loses his or her membership of that house as the seat belongs to the political party upon which platform the election was won and not the individual.

“The vacation of the seat, as a direct consequence of decamping to another political party other than the party upon which one was elected to occupy a seat in the legislature, is clear and unambiguous under section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“For the avoidance of doubt, section 109 (1)(g) provides that ‘a member of the House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if …(g) being a person whose election to the House of Assembly 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 Constitution went further to state ‘provided that his membership of the latter political party is 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.

“Consequent upon the above constitutional provisions, these defectors have vacated their seats, they no longer have a place in the state assembly, as there is no division or merger of any kind in the PDP at any level whatsoever.”

The party said it is therefore left with no other option than to request the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately commence the processes for the conduct of fresh elections into the respective state constituencies where the legislators have vacated their seats, in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

The PDP called on its members and supporters in Imo State to remain calm and focused “at this trying time” as the national leadership proceeds with arrangements ahead of fresh elections in the affected constituencies.

“Moreover, the national leadership assures the people of Imo State that processes are already on towards achieving a judicial review and reversal of the defective judgment of the Supreme Court, on the Imo state governorship election,” Ologbondiyan further said.

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