The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has declared vacant, the seats of the eight members of the Imo State House of Assembly who on Tuesday, defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
At a media briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the defectors cannot continue to hold on to the mandates given to them on the platform of the PDP.
The assembly members, including the Speaker, had announced their defection on the floor of the House on Tuesday, a development the PDP said was ostensibly for selfish gains.
The party described the actions of the lawmakers 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 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.
“These 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.
“It is settled under the 1999 Constitution (as amended), that a legislator who defects 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”, Ologbondiyan said.
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The spokesman further said that the vacation of seat, as a direct consequence of defecting to another political party other than the party upon which one was elected to occupy a seat in the legislature, was clear and unambiguous under Section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Continuing, Ologbondiyan said, “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 spokesman said the PDP is 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 party called on its members and supporters in Imo state to remain calm, as the national leadership proceeds with arrangements ahead of fresh elections in the affected constituencies.
The PDP assured the people of Imo state that processes were already on towards achieving a judicial review and reversal of the “defective judgment” of the Supreme Court, on the Imo state governorship election.