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HomePoliticsFubara Mum; PDP Talks Fresh Polls As 27 Pro-Wike Lawmakers Join APC

Fubara Mum; PDP Talks Fresh Polls As 27 Pro-Wike Lawmakers Join APC

Twenty-seven members of the Rivers State House of Assembly faithful to the Minister of the FCT, Nyesom Wike, on Monday switched from their loyalty from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in a move that, political experts believe, has rekindled the plot to impeach the state governor, Similanayi Fubara.

Remember that the clash between Fubara and his predecessor and former political mentor, Wike, led to the factionalization of the state assembly with the 27 lawmakers aligning with the ex-governor while four others, who are loyal to the present governor, declared a parallel assembly.

While an initial attempt to impeach Fubara encountered a barrier, Monday’s defection of the 27 lawmakers has reignited the speculations.

It was gathered that the lawmakers, under the leadership of Martin Amaehwule, convened a plenary at about 8 am on Monday where the decision was made.

Freshreporters News gathered that the lawmakers convened at the Assembly complex, along Moscow Road in Port Harcourt, amidst a substantial security presence at the entrance of the complex.

Citing leadership conflict and division within the PDP as the reason for their defection, the lawmakers stated that the conflict over the PDP’s national secretary position had made it impossible for them to address their concerns to the party.

In what many political analysts have termed a precursor for an impending impeachment proceeding against the governor, the lawmakers accused the governor of shielding suspects alleged to have carried out the burning of parts of the Assembly complex.

They also accused the governor of withholding funds meant to operate the Assembly, describing it as a bold abuse of power.

They subsequently threatened to henceforth reject future requests from the governor for approval of funds pending the governor’s compliance with their resolutions.

When contacted, both the governor’s SSA on Media, Boniface Onyedi, and the Commissioner for Information, Joe Johnson, did not respond to questions posed to them on the defection of the lawmakers.

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But the 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 in Rivers.

While reports had earlier indicated that the governor summoned an emergency cabinet meeting after the defection of the lawmakers, it was gathered that the meeting had nothing to do with the defection but to discuss the proposals for the 2024 Appropriation Bill of the state.

Daily Trust had reported that the crisis in the state and the factionalization of the state Assembly had created uncertainties around the 2024 budget, with observers raising the question of which of the factions of the Assembly the governor would be approaching with the appropriation bill.

At the Monday meeting, it was gathered that the State Executive Council deliberated on and approved an estimated budget of N800bn for the government to spend in the 2024 fiscal year.

Addressing newsmen after the meeting, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, said the budget was named ‘Budget of Renewed Hope, Consolidation, and Continuity.’

He was, however, silent on where and when the governor would be presenting the budget as well as the defection of the 27 lawmakers.

PDP demands fresh polls

Reacting to the defection of the lawmakers, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said the seats have become vacant following the defection of the 27 former state lawmakers to the APC.

He said the party asserts that by defecting from the PDP, the political party 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).

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According to him, “For the avoidance of doubt, Section 109 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that “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…’

“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 have 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.”

The party insisted that due to the vacancy now existing 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 elections to fill the vacancies.

“Our party cautions 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.”

Defection will bring checks and balances – APC

But the Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee in Rivers State, Tony Okocha, who welcomed the lawmakers, said the reception of the defected Assembly members has laid to rest the rumor of their defection, adding that the decision taken by the lawmakers to join APC was a right step in the right direction.

Okocha said the defection of the lawmakers will bring about checks and balances in government.

He said the lawmakers confided in him that leadership in the state has been run aground.

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“Rivers State House of Assembly members have defected to APC from the chambers of the Assembly. And recently it appeared like a rumor that we saw them flung APC flags, but they have officially communicated to us of that move, and we have decided to let Nigerians know what has happened, and it’s a good thing that has happened.

“We commend the defectors, the Assembly members for the defection. You see the 27 members of the Assembly cannot be playing, and if the governor of the state who held the executive arm of government in Rivers State has decided to lend vent to the four persons over and above 27 persons, then you know that there is a problem.

“And again, the Assembly members who have confided in me that the leadership in Rivers State has been run aground, that there is no government in Rivers State and all of you will agree with them that there is no government in Rivers State.

“All that we have heard is that the former governor of Rivers State has been amplified. This government was built on consolidation and continuity but you and I are witnesses to the fact that it is a complete aberration; nothing is happening in the State.

“There is hunger in the land, what you only hear is that some persons are declaring themselves as the speaker of Rivers House of Assembly.

“There has to be checks and balances. You know that the whole essence of the separation of power is about checks. So now that the 27 members have defected to the APC, there is going to be a check in government because they have said to me that they will never be in a government that is not accountable, and so I commend them for the decision they have taken,” he said…[CONTINUE READING HERE]>>

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