Rivers Political Crisis Escalates As PDP Declares Defected 27 Rivers Lawmakers’ Seats Vacant

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Rivers Political Crisis Escalates As PDP Declares Defected 27 Rivers Lawmakers’ Seats Vacant

Following the defection of 27 state lawmakers in the Rivers State House of Assembly to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately commence the process of conducting fresh elections into the 27 State Constituencies.

The PDP pointed out that sequel to the defections from the party – the political platform on which they were elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly, the seats of the respective 27 former lawmakers have become vacant by virtue of Section 109 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Hon Debo Ologunagba, in a statement, quoted Section 109 (1) of the 1999 Constitution thus: “a member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if … (g) 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….”

He added that by reason of the above constitutional provision and its clear interpretation by the Supreme Court, the 27 defected members of the Rivers State House of Assembly had vacated and lost their seats, rights, privileges, recognition and obligations accruable to members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

“The PDP, therefore, demands that the Speaker of the Rivers State House Assembly immediately comply with the provision of the Constitution by declaring the seats of the 27 former lawmakers vacant.

“In view of the vacancy now exiting in the 27 State Constituencies in Rivers State, the PDP demands that INEC should within the stipulated period under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) conduct fresh election to fill the vacancies,” he said.

The party further demanded that the former lawmakers should stop parading themselves as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly as such would amount to impersonation with serious criminal consequences.

Meanwhile, the APC in Rivers State has said the 27 members of the State House of Assembly dumped the PDP for the party due to a lack of governance in the state.

The chairman of APC caretaker committee, Chief Tony Okocha, made the comment yesterday in Port Harcourt while reacting to the decision of the 27 lawmakers loyal to the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, to the party.

The lawmakers, led by the factional Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule, had in their individual letters said their decision to leave the PDP followed unresolved leadership crisis at the national level.

With the defection, the APC has become the majority in the State House of Assembly, leaving the PDP with only four members.

The 32-member House was reduced to 31 following the death of the lawmaker representing Khana Constituency 2, Hon. Loolo Bieneri, who was buried last weekend.

Okocha, who is also the Rivers State representative in the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), said the move by the 27 lawmakers was not to impeach Fubara, adding that the party would be happy if Wike, who is the immediate-past state governor of the state, decides to dump the PDP.

The APC caretaker committee chairman said: “I have met with the 27 lawmakers who joined us yesterday. We can confirm that they have formally joined the All Progressives Congress. They confided in me that governance in the state has been run aground; there is no government in the state.

“We are begging the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Barrister Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, to come to the APC, which is a moving train.”

Okocha said the party will organise a thanksgiving service on Sunday in Port Harcourt, to formally receive the 27 state lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the Rivers State Executive Council yesterday approved N800 billion for the 2024 appropriation year during an emergency meeting summoned by Governor Siminalayi Fubara at Government House, Port Harcourt.

It was christened: ‘Budget of Renewed Hope, Consolidation and Continuity.’

Addressing newsmen after the meeting, the commissioner for information and communications, Warisenibo Joseph Johnson, said N412bn is projected for capital expenditure while recurrent expenditure has N361bn.

Johnson said: “Essentially, the budget is focused on some key areas with infrastructure taking the lead with N128bn of the budget followed by education, health and security.”

On his part, the secretary to the state government (SSG), Dr. Tammy Danagogo, said the budget estimate approved by council is aimed at giving Rivers’ people a renewed hope that will guarantee continual harvest of projects and human capital development.

 


 

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