With the dust generated by the defection of a total of 51 federal lawmakers from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yet to settle, some senior lawyers have disclosed that the only option available for the party to ventilate its grievances about the decampees’ action is to go to court.
The lawyers while baring their minds on the gale of defections could not speak with one voice on what becomes of the seats of the decampees after dumping the party through which they were elected into the National Assembly.
Speaking on the issue, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ahamba, disclosed that the decampees can actually retain their seats owing to the division in the ruling party.
He said: “Those who defected can retain their seats because of the split in the party. It is the division that allows the lawmakers to defect enmass like that.
“Besides, the persons who are to declare their seats vacant are also defecting. Dogara and Saraki are with them. So, anyone who is aggrieved will have to go to court to compel the two leaders of both chambers to declare the seats of defectors vacant. But it’s not going to be an easy task.
“The defectors remain members of the National Assembly until when the two leaders make such declarations”.
To Dr. Biodun Layonu (SAN), guidelines have been provided by both the Constitution and Supreme Court’s pronouncement on what should happen to the seats of the decampees.
“Guidelines have been provided not only by the law as written in the Constitution but also the Supreme Court. The main thing is whether or not there is a split in the party.
“Anyone who feels there was no justification for the defections would have to seek legal redress in court. I would expect that perhaps the All Progressives Congress (APC) would approach the court and say there is no split in the party and as such there was no justification for those who left to do so”, he said.
In his own submissions, the National President of Voters’ Awareness Initiative, Mr. Wale Ogunade, was of the view that the decampees ought not to retain their seats.
He said: “Ordinarily, those defectors should not retain their seats. They can only retain those seats if the party they are leaving is in crisis. But the party they are leaving is not in crisis.
“According to the Supreme Court in the case of PDP and Abegunde, crisis means there must be a division. This is a notorious fact that must be followed.
“But my problem with the Nigerian politicians is that they think they are above the law, particularly members of the National Assembly. They think they can do and undo. They think that the law was made for them and they cannot obey it in any way.
“All that has been happening so far just goes to show that these people are selfish and they cared less about people’s interests. I want to assure them that this is not 2015 and the electoral body should know that Nigerians are now wiser. 2019 elections is going to be a big surprise for most of them if not for all of them. It’s not about PDP or APC.
“In essence, I weep for democracy in Nigeria. This is because we now realized that God has blessed us with bread and butter politicians. Nothing more, nothing less. Even if the APC said it want to go to court, time is no longer on its side. The legal system in this country is so slow. How many months do we have to the elections? So, I think the party should just let the sleeping dog lie.”
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