By JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & JOSEPH ERUNKE, Abuja
THE Senate yesterday distanced itself from comments by the Chairman Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Ita Enang that the leadership of the upper legislative chamber would declare vacant the seat of any Senator that defects from the party that he was elected to another party.
Senator Enang had while briefing Senate press corps on Thursday stated that any senator that defects to another party would automatically lose his seat. Enang had stated that it was the party that was voted for and not individuals and that while defecting to another party, the persons must vacate the seats.
Enang also said that the position was his personal view and in no way reflected the view or position of the Senate but there was the feeling that he was indirectly representing the view of the senate leadership as a principal officer of the Senate.
About 22 aggrieved senators elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had recently threatened to dump the party to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, and are allegedly going to make their defection formal as the Senate resumes on Tuesday after the Christmas break.
But reacting to the comment by Senator Enang, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Public Affairs, Enyinnaya Abaribe distanced the Senate from Enang’s comment saying it was purely his (Enang) position and not that of the Senate as there was no plan by the Red Chamber to declare seats of PDP Senators that defect to APC vacant.
The Senate spokesman in a statement also absolved the Senate President, David Mark of any link to Enang’s statement.
Abaribe said the report credited to Senator Enang was wholly his personal opinion to which he was entitled to and has nothing to do with the Senate as a chamber of the National Assembly.
He further stated that the position of Enang had nothing to do with Mark who he claimed had in a statement assured that the leadership of the PDP would work to keep the party intact and prevent further crisis in the party.
Abaribe said: “In the first place, there is no acrimony in the Senate irrespective of political party affiliation. The senate is still on vacation and will resume on the 14th of January and only after its deliberations would any statement on urgent matters of state be issued.
Abaribe noted that the Senate was at peace and that there was no sign that the senators are working at cross purposes with one another, adding that the upper legislative chamber was one whole family of patriotic Nigerians who first and foremost defer to issues that were of national interest.
No senator has right to declare another senate seat vacant—Lar
Also reacting to Senator Enang’s position, Senator Victor Lar, PDP, Plateau South Senatorial district said that no individual senator has the constitutional powers to usurp the functions of the court, saying that it was the court that has the right to declare seats of senators vacant.
Senator Lar said: “I want to state categorically that the issue of declaring any senator’s seat vacant should be left to the court and not a matter that should be at the discretion of any Senator.
”This is a time when caution and healing of those aggrieved within the PDP is required.”
Politics of blackmail will backfire — APC
But the APC Senators have risen to the defence of any of the PDP senators that intend to defect to APC saying that it is their constitutional right of freedom of association and that nobody should use that to cow others.
Speaking on behalf of the APC senators, Senator Olusola Adeyeye said:” We have watched and read with keen interest, some pronouncements on the proposed defection of some members from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) emanating from the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang.
”Senator Ita Enang would do well not to arrogate powers which he does not have to himself.
”On this matter, Senator Ita Enang is speaking for himself. He does not even have the mandate to speak for the entire Senate on this matter. We want to make it clear that Senators would make their opinions known when they resume from the Yuletide break next week”.