… as 52 Senators warn against looming crisis
BY SONI DANIEL & JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU
Abuja — Senate President, David Mark, is not in a hurry to declare vacant the seats of members defecting from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, findings have shown.
But threats by some influential persons within the National Assembly to annul the defecting members’ seats have forced no fewer than 52 senators to write the Senate President not to move against any of them who wanted to move to any party of their choice.
In a joint letter, which was made available to Vanguard last night, the senators noted with concern the threats by elected and un-elected persons to declare vacant the seats of lawmakers leaving the PDP for other political parties.
But a competent source in the Senate said that although the issue of annulling the aggrieved PDP members’ seats had been cropping up regularly, Mark did not want to drag his name into the mud by declaring any defecting senator’s seat vacant.
“The Senate President enjoys the support of majority of the senators across party lines and will, therefore, not want to shoot himself on the foot by playing to the gallery of some politicians.
“Although some officials would want the action to be taken in order to save their jobs, the Senate President being mindful of the consequence of the action, would not want to do anything that might unduly heat up the already charged political atmosphere in the National Assembly,” the source said.
Reminding the Senate President that defection was not a new thing in the Nigerian political history, the senators asked him not to support any plan to cause any setback to the current political dispensation in Nigeria.
The senators described the threats to declare vacant the seats of defecting senators as mischievous and capable of undermining the independence of the legislature and taking away the mandate given to them as representatives of the people.
The lawmakers also drew the attention of Mark to the suit pending at Abuja Federal High Court on the matter, saying that in the tradition of the NASS, the matter should not be a subject of discussion or debate on the floor of the Senate.
The senators said: “We hereby note that this is not the first experience in the Senate where some senators have moved to political parties of their choice as a result of one reason or the other, whereas, such has not caused any political tension or intimidation.
“It is our resolve that the Senate should maintain and sustain this principle and precedence.
“It is our resolve that we do not support any attempt that the seat of any senator proposing to defect to another political party be declared vacant except by recall process from their constituents or by pronouncement of a court of competent and final jurisdiction, rather than politics of intimidation, harassment and comment that could jeopardise the peaceful co-existence of Nigeria.
“Finally, we enjoin the leadership of the National Assembly to continue to accommodate all legislators irrespective of their views, believing that our country can only make progress when we tolerate, respect one another and the rule of law.”
Among the Senators, who signed the letter to Mark were: Chris Ngige, George Akume, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Magnus Abe, Wilson Ake, Mohammed Danjuma Goje and Alhassan Aisha Jummai.
Others whose names were included on the lists were: Mohammed Ali Ndume, Ahmed Maccido, Kabidu Gaya, Prof Olusola Adeyeye, Oluremi Tinubu and Solomon Ewuga.