Rivers lawmakers who defected to APC have lost their seats – Falana

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Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has insisted that members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress have forfeited their positions in the legislative body.

 

Twenty five lawmakers loyal to the former governor of Rivers State and current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, had switched to the APC amid the political deadlock between him and Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

 

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Falana asserted that the lawmakers would be ousted from their seats for transitioning to the APC.

 

Citing the constitution, he said, “Unless you can show and demonstrate that there is division in a political party that sponsored your election, you cannot remain in any legislative arm if you decamp to another party.

 

“The whole idea is that the constitution set out to ban political prostitution on the part of legislators.”

 

The human rights lawyer noted that there is a court order restraining the 25 lawmakers from representing themselves as legislators in the state, as well as prohibiting the speaker from identifying himself as the speaker of the house.

 

 “It may be very difficult to persuade the court to allow them to remain in the legislative house unless they are prepared to go back to the people and have their mandate renewed by the people.

 

“The Supreme Court made this clear in the case of Adetunde and the Labour Party, that you cannot decamp and then remain a member of a legislative house in Nigeria unless you can show that there is a division in your party. It doesn’t mean a division in a local government or a state. It has to be on the national level. That is the position of the court,” he said.

 

The crisis between Fubara and his godfather, Wike, started last year when the Assembly, predominantly composed of Wike’s loyalists, made attempts to impeach the governor.

 

Subsequently, 27 lawmakers aligned with Wike defected from the ruling PDP in the state to the APC.

 

Led by Martin Amaewhule, the lawmakers cited internal division within the PDP as the principal motive for their transition to the APC.

 

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