Sen. Ita Enang (PDP-Akwa Ibom) has said that senators who defect from one political party to another will lose their seats as the law does not allow anyone who defects to retain the seat.
Enang made the assertion on Thursday in Abuja while speaking with newsmen.
The senator explained that while it was acceptable for politicians to defect to another party, it was unacceptable for them to retain their seats.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that some senators on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) promised to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) when the senate resumed from its recess.
NAN also recalls that 37 PDP members of the House of Representatives had defected to the APC in 2013, citing division in the party as their reason.
Enang, who is the chairman of Senate Committee on Business and Rules, said that the law clearly mandated that any member intending to defect to another party must prove that there was a division in the member’s current party or the party had merged.
According to him, there is currently no division in the PDP as declared by the court, adding that members of the PDP intending to defect have no ground upon which to defect.
“A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and presided over by Justice Elvis Chukwu had ruled on Oct. 18, 2013, that there was no division in the PDP”, he said.
Enang also cited the case of one Mr Ifedayo Abegunde in Akure North/Akure South Constituency, who lost his seat after defecting from the Labour Party in 2012.
The senator said: “The court upheld the contention that the lawmaker did not prove a division or faction within the Labour Party”.
He said that defection would be legal only if the judgement of the court was set aside and the members could provide proof that there was, indeed, a division in the party.
“Section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, provides that a member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member.
“This shall happen if being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party”.
The section, according to him, also adds that “he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected.
It further said: “Provided that his membership of the later political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member.
“Secondly as a result of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored”.
The lawmaker said that it was lawful for the presiding officer (the Senate President) to declare vacant the seat of any lawmaker who defected to another party.
He said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would, thereafter, be asked to conduct fresh elections to fill the vacancy.
Enang also said that the previous proposal in the constitution amendment to allow for an independent candidate in an election was also rejected.
He said that the fact that some lawmakers had defected in past and were ignored did not make the situation right.
The senator said that it was the responsibility of lawmakers to bring the provisions of the law to lime light. (NAN)