Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Despite their suspension by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the members of the Minority Leadership in the House of Representatives have restated their loyalty to the main opposition party.
The Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu yesterday reacted to a statement by his party, accusing him and other leaders in the minority leadership of disloyalty.
In his reaction, Elumelu said they are loyal members of the party who only acted on the principles of the rule of law.
In a statement signed by the Special Adviser, Legal to the Minority Leader, Oyorima Idahosa, Elumelu argued that labelling them as disloyal members is against the spirit of the Constitution and House of Representatives’ rules on how to elect leaders and presiding officers.
According to the statement, Elumelu said, “for the avoidance of doubt, the minority leadership of the House of Representatives was elected in strict observance of Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Order 7 Rule 8 of the Standing Rule of the House of Representatives.
“Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution unambiguously provides that ‘Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Senate or the House of Representatives shall have power to regulate its own procedure, including the procedure for summoning and recess of the House”.
“Also, Order 7 Rule 8 clearly states that ‘Members of the Minority Parties in the House shall nominate from among them, the Minority Leader, Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Leader, and Deputy Minority Whip”.
“This, the overwhelming majority of the Minority Caucus comprising eight political parties, did, and communicated their decision to the Speaker in a letter dated July 2, 2019 and signed by over 100 members of the 147-member Caucus.
“By parliamentary convention, persons so elected become the leaders of their party caucuses in the legislature”, he stated in the statement.
He said that “while the party can guide their elected Members through the zoning of various minority leadership offices, it is not in the place of the party, by the provisions of the Constitution, House Standing Rule, and parliamentary traditions, to appoint or foist Minority or Majority Caucus leadership on its members”.
He went further to explain, “The attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to foist leadership of the Majority Caucus on the National Assembly in 2015 could not stand as such obnoxious action was vehemently resisted by the Senate, which stuck to the list of elected leaders of the Majority Caucus submitted by APC Senators.
“The stand of our great party, which also had Prince Uche Secondus, the current National Chairman, as the Acting National Chairman at the time, is still very fresh on the minds of Nigerians. The PDP strongly criticised and lampooned the APC for impunity and meddlesomeness in the internal affairs of the parliament.
“It is, therefore, ironical that the same party under the same chairman, has chosen the same path for which they pilloried the APC in 2015”.
Elumelu said that “It is even more ironical and painful that the same party, under the same chairman, has now branded us and our colleagues, who transparently elected us, as disloyal for the simple reason that we strictly followed the Constitution, House Standing Rule, and best parliamentary traditions.
“We equally find it very curious that over three months after various organs of the party set up Committees to investigate this matter and related issues bordering on PDP National Assembly Caucus within two weeks, the party has been reluctant or refused to consider the reports of these various committees so that the issues can be laid to rest”.
Accordingly, Elumelu said, “we totally reject such malicious allegation as we remain loyal and law-abiding members of the PDP.
“We see the endless suspension of loyal party members outside the provisions of the PDP Constitution, 1999 Constitution, and rules of parliament as palpably oppressive.
“On the rule of law we stand. We are Peoples Democratic Party, and we must act true to our name”, the statement stated.