The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Tuesday foreclosed the chances of the 25 Rivers State House of Assembly members who recently defected to the All Progressive Congress (APC) retaining their seats, without fresh election.
This is as the South-South Leader, Edwin Clark, on Tuesday, described the directives issued to Governor Sim Fubara as resolution of the political crisis in Rivers State as not only appalling but also unacceptable particularly to the Ijaw ethnic nationality.
The Party’s Acting National Chairman, Ilya Damagun, disclosed this in Abuja while fielding questions from Journalists at the end of its emergency MEC meting on the Political Developments in Rivers State.
The PDP leader citing Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), said the members “vacated and lost their seats by reason of defection from the PDP, the Party platform upon which they were elected into the House of Assembly”
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According to him, ” the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asserts that there is no remedy for the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who by virtue of Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) vacated and lost their seats by reason of defection from the PDP, the Party platform upon which they were elected into the House of Assembly.
” Our Party insists that having now vacated and lost their seats, the only option available for the former lawmakers, if they wish to return to the House of Assembly, is to seek fresh nomination and re-election on the platform of any political party of their choice in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022″
The party insisted that the”25 former Rivers lawmakers freely and without any cause vacated their seats, being fully aware of the consequences of defection from the Party upon which they were elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly without the conditions stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.
” For the avoidance of doubt, there is no division in the PDP at the national or any other level for that matter to justify the defection of the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from the Party. They therefore vacated their seats for reasons best known to them and cannot return to the House of Assembly without passing through a fresh electoral process in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.
The incumbent Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Ehie Edison had officially declared the seat of the defected now former members vacant in line with Section 109 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
” The Rivers State House of Assembly, having become Functus Officio on the matter cannot re-admit the former lawmakers unless through the channel of a fresh election.
“Our Party therefore counsels the former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly not to be deceived by anybody giving them the false hope and impracticable assurances in Abuja that they can return to the Rivers State House of Assembly without a fresh election or that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can be stopped from conducting fresh election into the 25 Rivers State Constituencies where vacancies have occurred by reason of their defection.
“For emphasis Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022 is clear in providing that no Courts have powers to stop INEC from conducting elections wherever and whenever a vacancy occurs in any electoral constituency.
“For clarity Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides that
“Nothing in this section shall empower the Courts to stop the holding of primaries or general election under this Act pending the determination of the suit.”
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The PDP demands that INEC should, in line with Section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022, fix a date for the conduct of fresh election into the 25 State Constituencies in Rivers State where vacancies have occurred by reason of the defection of the now former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, pending the determination of any suit in any court.
The national leadership of the PDP also charged all members of the party in Rivers State to remain united and resolute in the defence of Constitutional democracy and Rule of Law in Rivers State.
As Clark declared Purported resolution unacceptable
Edwin Clark, Leader of the South-South, described the directives issued to Governor Sim Fubara, on Monday night at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, purported to be resolution of the political crisis in Rivers State as not only appalling but also unacceptable particularly to the Ijaw ethnic nationality.
The directives were given at a meeting presided over by President Bola Tinubu, at a meeting attended by Rivers state stakeholders, the governor and other Rivers stakeholders at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday night.
The foremost Ijaw leader made the declaration on Tuesday at a press briefing in his residence in Abuja, threatening to take legal action.
He said the eight-point resolution is undemocratic, dictatorial, one-sided and aimed at handing over the political leadership of Rivers State to former governor of the state andMinister of federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike.
According to him, from the terms of the purported settlement, it is obvious that President Tinubu used his role as a mediator, to once again, show gratitude to the FCT minister for “delivering” Rivers State to him during the last presidential elections.
He observed that Tinubu had previously gratified Wike by making him the minister of FCT.
Clark at a Press Conference in Abuja, however, commended President Bola Tinubu for heeding the various calls, to mediate in the on-going crisis rocking Rivers State by calling Nyesome Wike to order so as to restore peace and tranquillity in the State and avert any problem similar to that which occurred in 2013, when Wike was Minister of State Education.
Clark described the terms of settlement as contained in the Communique issued at the end of the reconciliatory meeting as “baffling, appalling and unacceptable to the people, especially, the Ijaw ethnic nationality”
“From the terms of settlement, it is obvious that President Tinubu sees his role as a mediator, to once again, show gratitude to the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), for “delivering” Rivers State to him during the past Presidential elections, having first of gratified him by making him the Minister of FCT.
The South South leader questioned the composition of the attendees of the meeting which he said was ” one sided in favour of Nyesome Wike, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), because while Martins Amaewhule, a former Speaker, (because he has automatically lost his seat the very moment he decamped to another political party), was present at the meeting, it would have only been equitable and expedient, for Edison Ehie, the Speaker as affirmed by constitutional provisions and by the granting of the court, to be in the meeting, if there were sincerity of purpose”
According to him, ” the 8 resolutions reached, are the most unconstitutional, absurd and obnoxious resolutions at settling feuding parties that I have ever witnessed in my life.
” As a matter of fact, some medias captured it very well when they described it as Directives. And for the fact that such thing was done at the Villa, the seat of the Federal Government of Nigeria, is sacrilegious, because any place housing or is a custodian of symbol of authority, ought to be sacred.
” It is obvious that Governor Siminialayi Fubara was ambushed and intimidated into submission
“President Tinubu should know that with all the powers he possesses, he cannot override the Constitution.
” From all that transpired at the meeting, the laws of the land have not been obeyed. President Tinubu simply sat over a meeting where the Constitution, which is the fulcrum of his office as President and which he swore to uphold and abide by, was truncated and desecrated.
” The 27 or so members (because the figure is not certain), of the Rivers State House of Assembly left the political party on which platform they were elected. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear on that. Section 109 is quite clear on that and it says:
Clark while also citing Constitutional provisions, stated that ” Amember of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if
“Being a person whose election to the House of Assembly 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 later 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;
” The Speaker of the House of Assembly shall give effect to subsection (1) of this section, so however that the Speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of the member.
” Nyesom Wike is quite abreast of these constitutional provisions. He shouted his voice hoarse calling for the removal of persons like David Umahi as Governor of Ebonyi State, Ben Ayade as Governor of Cross River State and Bello Matawalle as Governor of Zamafara State, when they decamped from the PDP on which platform they were elected into office, to the APC, citing the above constitutional provisions. What has changed?
Clark noted that ” a Court of competent jurisdiction has pronounced Edison Ehie as the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. That Ruling has not been vacated, and based on that he exercised the duties conferred on him by Section 109 (2) as quoted above, when the 27 or so members openly defected to APC, waving the flags of the party and singing President Tinubu’s campaign songs, from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). As at today and going by the Constitution, the Rivers State House of Assembly has four members who are recognised by the laws of the land
He therefore , questioned the premise the President relied upon in saying that the 27 decamped members should go back to the House?
” Under what political party, the PDP or the APC.
” The directives of Mr. President is absurd and cannot hold water. Mr. President should be aware that Siminialayi Fubara, today, is the elected Governor of Rivers State in the same manner Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the elected President of the country.
He stated that Fubara possesses all the powers as conferred on him by the Constitution, as a Governor
” Re-Submission of the names of Commissioners who have resigned their Appointments:
Another “directive” of Mr. President that the names of the Commissioners who were nominated by Nyesom Wike and who resigned on their own volition, and who have lost their trust in Governor Fubara, should be represented to the Rivers State House of Assembly for clearance to become Commissioners again, is ridiculous. Who is nominating them to become Commissioners again? Is it Mr. President? Was Mr. President thinking that he was mediating in a matter between Nyesom Wike and employees in Nyesom Wike’s private company? Is it what Nyesom Wike means when he talks about “structure”, referring to Rivers State as his personal holdings or enterprise?
“Re-Presentation of a Budget already signed and passed into Law: Another unthinkable “directive” of Mr. President is that a Budget which has been passed into Law, should be represented. It is absolutely ridiculous and unconstitutional.
“By President Tinubu’s actions and directives, he has overruled the Constitution of the country; he has shaken the foundation of the country’s democracy. People lost their lives fighting for democracy in this country. Today, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has made of no effect the blood of the freedom fighters shed to salvage this country. He has thrown the country’s democracy fifty years backwards; this is unacceptable. Rather than building a strong system and society, we are building strong, invidious characters, with our national patrimony through corruption and avarice.
“By the actions of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he has really shown his dislike and disdain for the Ijaw people. and confirms his hatred for them. And as the leader of the Ijaws, we will resist it.
“Nyesom Wike is not an emperor. For the eight years he was in power as Governor of the Rivers State, he ruled with an iron fist. As Governor, he will not accept such treatment from anyone, as he is spear heading to be meted out to the current Governor of the State, Siminialayi Fubara. Barr. Wike destroyed his opponent’s houses and even threatened to kill them as cried out by Senator Lee Maiba from Ogoni, and Dr. Abiye Sekibo from Okrika
” It is still fresh in our memory, how Nyesom Wike, as Minister of State, Education, used federal might to fight the then Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi that almost led to the grinding to a halt of governance in Rivers State when the Judiciary was closed down and the House of Assembly was shut down by the then Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. President Jonathan did not interfere in his action because if he did, he will definitely be breaching Section 5(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, which President Tinubu has deliberately breached, despite his oath of office to uphold and promote the Constitution. Nyesom Wike is Minister now, and again, he is using the federal government to truncate the wishes of the people of Rivers State. The rule of law in the country is completely truncated by President Tinubu. While it will be noted that presently, the National Assembly is discussing on the Bill of Local Government Autonomy, President Bola Tinubu is directing Governor Fubara to put into effect, a Bill passed by people who are no longer law makers.
Also speaking on members of the House of Assembly choosing where they will sit to carry out their legislative duties, Clark asserted that
“It is the duty of the executive to provide legislative accommodation for the Houses of Assembly including the National Assembly, and not the members of the House of Assembly to choose a place to meet. It is in this vein that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in presenting his Budget to the National Assembly, recognised the FCT Minister, Nyesome Nwike, as the land lord, because he is of the executive arm of government.
” It is the FCT that owns the National Assembly complex and maintains it. It is, therefore, ridiculous and unconstitutional for President Tinubu to direct, in his settlement, that the members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, should meet wherever they want to meet.
“We will resist such draconic, arbitrary and unconstitutional action by Mr. President and his customer Nyesom Wike. We will go to court to challenge this so-called one-sided and oppressive action of Mr. President.
“On his part, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Siminialayi Fubara, who has the mandate of the people of Rivers State to govern them for the next four years, has shown feebleness of character, by agreeing and appending his signature on a document containing such absurdity.
” He has betrayed the people who elected him as Governor and those who stood behind him in this cause. Mr Fubara has shown naivety in his actions; by signing that document, he has signed his death warrant, believing that the President will show him some sort of favours. Mr. Fubara’s mandate is Constitutional and so, he cannot surrender it in the face of intimidation from any quarter. And it is quite unfortunate.”