Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Two lawmakers in the House of Representatives elected on the platform of Action Alliance (AA), Hon. Kingsely Uju Chima and Hon. Chigozie Obi from Imo State thursday defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) citing irreconcilable differences in their former party.
But the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, in a swift reaction, kicked against the defection, raising a constitutional point of order under Section 68 and argued that their seats be declared vacant.
The defection of the two House members was witnessed by the governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, his predecessor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, the National Organising Secretary of the APC, Mr. Emma Ibediro, and the governorship candidate of AA in the 2019 elections, Mr. Uche Nwosu.
Announcing their defection at the resumption of plenary , the House Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbaiabiamila, said there are still room to accommodate others that would like to defect.
Uju in his letter addressed to the Speaker said: “It is with utmost 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.”
Obi in his letter addressed to the speaker said: “After due consultation with my constituents and my family members and taking into congnisant of the present irredeemable 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.”
Reacting to the defection, Elumelu, raised a constitutional point of order under Section 68, insisting that their seats be declared vacant.
He said: “I am coming under constitutional order Section 68 (1d). 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 party, 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.”
Elumelu stressed that as the leader of the minority caucus, he was not aware that the national chairman of the national secretariat of AA ever write to him 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,” he added.
Ruling on his point of order, Gbajabiamila insisted that Elumelu has no locust standi, stressing that being the minority leader does not mean he is a member of AA.
The speaker added: “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 I in tandem with the provisions of Section 68 (1)
“There is something in law called locus standi. 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 standi. 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”.