The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), led by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the Minority Caucus, read by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu for the first time openly disagreed on Thursday, following the defection of two Members of the House from Imo, Pascal Chigozie and Chima Uju from the Action Alliance (AA) to APC.
Trouble started soon after the Speaker read the letters of defection submitted to him by Chigozie and Uju and was vehemently countered by Elumelu.
The Speaker led Uju letter which stated that: “it is with almost sincerity of purpose and after due consultation with my political followership with my federal constituency in Imo state, that I wish to convey to you my decision to officially defect from my Action Alliance (AA) to All Progressives Congress (APC).
“May I further inform you that my decision to join the ruling APC was necessitated by the incessant intra-party quagmire within AA, which has filed all reconciliatory effort.
“I therefore wish to convey to you my assurance and readiness to play within the rules and the constitution of the APC”.
He also read the defection letter of Chigozie which said: “after due consultation with my constituents and my family members and taking into congnizant of the present irremediable situation of things in my party, the AA, I have decided to resign my membership of the AA and hereby move back to my former party, the APC where I started my political journey.
“It is my resolve to work assiduously for the APC to enable my constituents enjoy the dividends of democracy”.
Immediately reading both letters, the Minority Leader raised point of order, coming under constitutional order Section 68 (1d) which provides that a member of the Senate or House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if:
“(1a) being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by one political he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which the House was elected, provided by his membership of that political party is not as a result of division of which he was previously a member of the merger of two or more political parties of factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.
“Mr. Speaker, by the grace of God and by the wishes of all the minority caucus members, I am still the Minority Leader. I am not aware that the National Chairman or the National Secretariat of AA ever write to me or even by publication to state the obvious that there is any division in that political party.
“Therefore, I think that what is being done this morning is illegal, is not acceptable”.
But Gbajabiamila ruled Elumelu out of order, saying: “I will rule from your point of order. Did you listen carefully to the letters that I read out? The letters clearly stated the reason why they were leaving AA which is in tandem with the provisions of Section 68 (1)
“There is something in law called locus. My question to you is this, are you a member of AA? You are the Minority Leader, you are a member of PDP, as Minority Leader, you are not automatically a member of AA. So you have no locus.
“If you go to court and I’m saying the matter can be interpreted in court, but unfortunately you cannot go to court because you are not aggrieved. You do not have locus standi. Unfortunately your point of order is out of order”.
The defection was made even dramatic when the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodima and former governor of the State and Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Rochas Okoroch ande Uche Nwosu, governorship candidate and Leader of AA in Imo stormed the Chambers e the House to witness the defection.