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‘PDP cannot declare our seats vacant’

You and 36 other members of the House of Representatives announced your defection to APC in one fell swoop. What does this portend for the…

You and 36 other members of the House of Representatives announced your defection to APC in one fell swoop. What does this portend for the nation and what should Nigerians expect from this development?
Well for the country, it is good riddance. Nigeria has since the time of NRC and SDP not had two strong political parties to check each other. Before now it used to be PDP and some splinter parties. But now it is two major national parties and Nigeria would have a better choice to make.
What is the import of the court order you secured which restrained the Speaker  and Senate President from declaring your seats vacant?
The problem with the PDP is that they cherry-pick.  Once a judgment suits them, they accept it, otherwise they interpret a court order to their advantage. Rather than appeal or seek another judicial process, they interpret it weirdly and act on it because they have control on use of legal force.
I am not talking academically; we have seen it during the Oyinlola judgment in the Court of Appeal, even the court of first instance ruled that Oyinlola is the Secretary of PDP. The day after, they interpreted it somehow and suspended him thereby rendering the court judgment nugatory.
So in this instance, we are not surprised. The court said the second and third defendants; that is the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives are restrained; that the status quo should be maintained especially with regards to these two defendants concerning any attempt to declare the seats of the plaintiffs vacant.
The court didn’t say, “Parties should maintain the status quo, full stop”. No. It is not a status quo in general. It is specific. It says status quo with regards to declaring the seats of the plaintiffs vacant. Now constitutionally, who has the responsibility of declaring seats vacant- the Speaker and the President of the Senate.
So that’s why after the judgment when Bamanga said they will still declare our seats vacant, we didn’t complain because that order was not directed at him. When Olisah Metuh also was talking from both sides of the mouth, we didn’t complain. But if the Speaker and Senate President had uttered a word, you would see us in court the next day. But these guys haven’t spoken.
The court says the status quo should be maintained with regards to taking any action that would render the action of the court nugatory. Now you should know where they are coming from. They tried to be smart. The court order was gotten on Tuesday, we defected on Wednesday. Now they are saying that court order said we should not defect. So, you should understand where they are coming from and educate your people that the status quo affected us.
The court now says “provided that where such legislator defects by reason of two things-either there is a division or faction in the party or there is a merger between his party or faction of his party with another party”. But PDP is not reading that, “provided”. It would now stop and say, “You cannot decamp”.
In essence you are telling PDP not to misread or misinterpret court judgment?
That’s what they are doing and that’s what we have read they would do. We are now asking them for the benefit of the polity not to misread and for even Nigerians to go and read and interpret for PDP.
Is there a relationship between your case and that of former governor of Borno State, Mohammed Goni and FEDECO?
I am glad you mentioned that case. Succinctly in that case, Governor Goni defected from GNPP to UPN. Now for you as a first time governor to be qualified to contest for a second term, the qualification is the same thing with the qualification of a legislator. The qualification is that you cannot defect. So the GNPP said, “Mr. Goni, you cannot re-contest because you have defected, you have left our party”. Then Goni wrote to FEDECO that, “I want to re-contest”. FEDECO said, “No, we are not recognising your faction because GNPP has gotten into two factions, we are not recognising your faction, we are recognising Waziri Ibrahim’s faction. So sorry you cannot contest, let GNPP go and bring their own (candidate)”.
Then Goni went to court up to Supreme Court. What did the Supreme Court say? Supreme Court said, “Look in GNPP there is faction. Yes his own faction is a smaller faction and that because FEDECO recognised Waziri Ibrahim’s faction, that’s the reason he can defect”. That’s very key. Now the PDP is saying, “You cannot defect” but Supreme Court says there’s fundamental right to association. So if a small party cannot be registered by FEDECO or will not even be registered by INEC, the electoral body, it should not be denied the right to associate with a bigger party. So the right to merge is given because there’s faction. So the court said Goni can still contest because one; there is faction in GNPP. Because his faction is not recognised, if his faction was recognised, he would not come under section 68 (1) (g). 68 (1) (g) is given to minority faction. That’s what we call minority right. “You the recognised faction, go, you the minority, come under section 68 (1) (g)”. So if you say we cannot come under PDP, let us come under GNPP. An Hausa man will say, “You cannot beat me and refuse me to cry, you have beaten me, please let me cry”. You said you don’t want us in PDP, let us go to where we have to go. And you see that’s the confusion they are falling into. In one breadth, they said we have done this, now they now went to court and they said the court should render that order nugatory, how can you do that? What they are saying is that the Speaker should un-read the letter we wrote to him, that the letter we have signed should be unsigned. That’s what they are saying, they went to the court  that the court should reverse our defection and the letter. But how is that possible?
We have heard instances of members defecting. Why is this different that the PDP is itching to declare your seats vacant?
A member of the House of Representatives from APC, from former ACN, defected to PDP. The speaker read his letter, APC didn’t complain. There are some people from other parties, there is another candidate from APC also that defected to Labour. Now APC didn’t complain. And the reason they could have defected legally is because they would say there is a merger. So they are treating it as if the only reason you can defect is when there is division or faction. Even when there is no division, if there is a merger and you don’t agree with that merger, you opt out. So is PDP the only party in Nigeria that cannot lose members? The constitution applies to those cases but when it now comes to PDP to lose members, it would now see that the only reason you can defect is when there is division and to them there is no division. Even that division, the court has said, “Oyinlola is the secretary of PDP”. You have said, “You are the Secretary”. That’s the conclusive evidence that there is division in PDP because this is the court judgment, that Oyinlola/Baraje’s faction controls the PDP, has the secretariat, he’s the Secretary. Now you said, “No”. What is that? That is division. Conclusively that is a division but even if you say there is no division, let anybody ask PDP, Is there merger between APC and Baraje’s faction? All this sweating, all this gallivanting, let somebody ask PDP, is there a merger? Constitution provides that you can defect when there is a merger. And that’s the decision of the Supreme Court in FEDECO and Goni and section 68 (1) (g).

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