Senate President Bukola Saraki and other former All Progressive Congress (APC) lawmakers who recently defected to the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Patty (PDP) have been called upon to immediately vacate their seat for reportedly breaching the 1999 constitution.
Already, the Federal Attorney General and the Attorneys General of the States have been urged to set in motion the appropriate mechanism vide law suits to unseat the erring Federal and State Legislators in a bid to deepening the nation’s democratic values and culture.
A human right lawyer, Oghenejabor Ikimi who made the call in a press release on Friday in Warri, Delta state obtained by BigPen Online, said that Saraki and other federal and state lawmakers erred in law with their defection from the political party that brought them to power.
Ikimi argued that the real reasons for all the so-called defections are unconstitutional as they are founded on avarice rather than on the inability of their political parties to operate as a party under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
The lawyer contended that Section 68 (1)(g) and Section 109(1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) doesn’t allow Saraki and other to defect and still maintain their seats as lawmakers.
Ikimi held: a community reading of Section 68(1) (g) and Section 109(1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) reveals that no member of the Senate or House of Representative or a State Legislator whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party can become a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected provided the membership of the latter political party is not as a result of any division such as would render ineffective the operations of the previous political party as a party under the Constitution.
According to him; “I make bold to say that a calm reading of Sections 68(1)(g) and 109(1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) would reveal that the above defections of the above Federal and State Legislators in our polity in the circumstance is unconstitutional as non of the major political parties where these erring Federal and State Legislators had defected are either factionalized or ineffective to operate as a political party under our Constitution.
For the avoidance of doubt, I reproduce Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) thus:
“68(1) 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 –
(g) 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 is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or if a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored”.
Continuing, he said; I submit that from the above provisions of the Constitution vis-à-vis section 109(1) (g) that all the Federal and State Legislators that have defected from the political party that sponsored their election in the House ceases automatically to be Legislators as the scenario provided for in the proviso to Sections 68(1)(g) and 109(1)(g) respectively do not exist in the present circumstance.
Saying that there are plethora of legal authorities including the Supreme Court case of ABEGUNDE VS. ONDO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY & ORS (2015) LPELR-24588 to support his clarion call, Ikimi said, “I am not oblivious of the civic duty we owe the Nigerian nation as citizens in protecting and defending her fledgling democracy, hence my call to the Federal and States Attorneys General to unseat all erring Federal and State Legislators vide the Law courts.
“Nigerians especially her electorates must shun greedy politicians and must not allow them to truncate our democracy or turn same into a tool for seizing power illegally or to cause disunity and disaffection in our polity.
“The Nigerian electorates must resist all political mercenaries masquerading themselves as politicians by all lawfully means through the ballot box”, the statement added.