PDP orders 37 defected lawmakers to return

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, have written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, asking him to direct the 37 lawmakers who defected from PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday to revert to status quo.

This statement was made just as the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP described as false the court order upon which 37 members of the House based their defection to the APC.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY, was signed by the counsel to the PDP and Tukur, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN).

They stated in the letter that a Federal High Court in Abuja had last Tuesday ordered the parties in the suit filed by the lawmakers seeking to restrain the PDP from declaring their seats vacant, to maintain the status quo.

In their view, the decision of the 37 lawmakers to announce their defection on the floor of the House was in violation of the court’s order directing the parties to maintain the status quo.

The letter reads: “We have today filed a motion on notice, which has already been served on your office seeking to overturn the purported movement of 37 of the plaintiffs to the APC.

“It is in the light of this that we enjoin you to act in obedience to the order of court and direct the plaintiffs to revert to the status quo ante bellum.

“Anything contrary to this will send out the wrong signals to Nigerians and the world that the federal legislatures have no regard for the law and the constitution which they have sworn to uphold.

“The action of the plaintiffs, if not contained, may lead to a state of anarchy, which is not good for our democracy, constitutionalism, rule of law and the polity.”

They quoted Section 68 (1)(g) and (h) of the constitution, which gives the conditions under which a member of the House of Representatives who defects to another party might be allowed to retain his seat.
PDP and Tukur argued that the conditions were not met.

“It is crystal clear from the above legal authorities that the mandatory criteria have not been complied with by the plaintiffs,” they added.
They have also filed an application before the court seeking the following reliefs:

An order of this court declaring the defection on December 18, 2013, by 37 of the plaintiffs from the PDP to ACP as null and void and contrary to the order of this court made on Tuesday, the 17th day of December, 2013.

A mandatory order of this court that the 37 legislators revert to status quo pending the hearing of the plaintiffs’ motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

In the alternative to prayer 2 above, an order setting aside the earlier order of this court on parties to maintain the status quo pending the hearing of the motion for interlocutory injunction.

The plaintiffs had approached the Federal High Court via an originating summons, for among others restraining the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate President from declaring their seats vacant, in the event of their defection to another political party.

The case will come up on January 22, 2014.

Similarly, the NWC of the PDP yesterday described as false the court order upon which 37 members of the House of Representatives based their defection to the opposition APC.

In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, PDP said: “We have, after a careful review, discovered that this claim is false. For the avoidance of doubt, the order of the court clearly says that status quo be maintained which means the affected members shall remain members of the PDP.”

According to him, “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Section 68(i)(g) clearly spells out the consequences of cross carpeting when there is no division in any party. We wish to re-emphasise here that the courts have pronounced, and INEC has concurred, that there are no faction in the PDP.”

Thus, Metuh added: “Since the affected members have renounced their membership of the PDP, we call on the presiding officer in the House of Representatives to declare the 37 seats vacant without any further delay.

“This action shall be in adherence to our grand norm, which is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“Nigerians are eagerly awaiting this call to duty as this will go a long way in demonstrating our commitment to the rule of law.”

But as the PDP battles to hold on to its lawmakers in the lower chamber, no fewer than 10 of the 22 senators who pledged loyalty to the splinter group of the PDP on September 2 this year, are currently warming up to defect to the APC.

The senators, who had hitherto operated as New PDP senators, on Tuesday, claimed that they had obtained an order of mandamus restraining Tukur, Senate President David Mark and INEC from declaring their seats vacant should they defect to another party.
THISDAY was reliably informed yesterday that the senators who are set to defect from PDP met with the leadership of APC on Monday at the Kano Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, where the process of their defection was discussed.

A source from the meeting reliably told news men that the forum was attended by Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso; his counterpart in Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi; interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande; former Governor of Lagos State, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu; and former National Chairman of New PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje.

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