There is no plan to declare the seat of a senator, Godswill Akpabio, or that of any other defecting lawmaker vacant, Senate President Bukola Saraki has said.
Mr Saraki was reacting to reports there were such plans and a reaction to it by Mr Akpabio who recently joined Nigeria’s ruling APC, from the main opposition PDP.
At least 15 senators have changed parties in the past month, including Mr Saraki who moved from the APC to the PDP.
Mr Saraki’s media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, declared on Tuesday that the rumour to declare any seat vacant was false.
“All that is mere talk,” he said. “People are making claims when we don’t even know when they’ll reconvene.”
The spokesperson was making reference to the current recess of the National Assembly which was expected to be suspended this week. However, Mr Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, released a joint statement on Tuesday saying there was no date yet for the resumption.
Speaking further on the reports of plans to declare Mr Akpabio’s seat vacant, Mr Olaniyonu said, “There’s a lot to be done and we don’t even have time for all that one.”
He linked the reports to the travails of Mr Saraki who risks losing his seat after the APC asked him to resign or be removed.
“These people should focus on other things and leave Saraki alone. They have turned the man into a superstar overnight,” Mr Olaniyonu said.
He called on the public to ignore such reports saying the leadership of the National Assembly is focused on making the country better.
Earlier the Punch Newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying arrangements were being made to ensure that Mr Akpabio, and others who defected recently from the PDP to the APC are removed or face a recall process.
According to the Punch, the source hinted that the move against the defectors started just before the Senate went on recess, with the alleged refusal of Mr Saraki to read the letter of defection submitted to him by Mr Akpabio.
In his reaction, Mr Akpabio said he is not perturbed over alleged plot to declare his seat vacant, the Vanguard Newspaper reports.
Mr Akpabio who spoke to select journalists in Abuja, described the insinuations as mere rumour. He also said there is no division in his new party, APC, at the moment; and so seats of those like Mr Saraki who left the party should rather be declared vacant.
“Even as you are looking at me, do I look perturbed? I have not heard the report. Because the reason why I think that is a rumour is that there is, at the moment, no division in the APC. The APC is one family.
“If you hear about R-APC that was not really a political party. That was not a division, it has since been consumed in what they call Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP). So, there is no division. And so, any defection from APC to PDP, we will like to declare those seats vacant,” Vanguard quoted him as saying.
He also denied having knowledge of the APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole’s call for Mr Saraki to resign or be removed.