BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, Political Editor, JOHN ERUNKE & GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
ABUJA—The 11 senators who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP are today set for a showdown with the Senate leadership with their resolve to cross carpet irrespective of the refusal of the Senate President to read their letter of defection.
In practical demonstration of their rejection of the PDP, the 11 senators, Vanguard learnt yesterday would take their ‘Plan B’ by vacating their allocated seats among PDP senators and cross the carpet to sit with All Progressives Congress, APC senators on the other side of the Senate chamber.
Meanwhile, it was learnt yesterday that the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark has received legal advice not to read the joint letter of defection sent by the 11 senators despite the insistence of the senators that he does so.
The 11 senators had penultimate week written a joint letter giving notice to the Senate President of their defection from the PDP to the APC but Mark and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu had in different Senate sessions refused to read out the letter and by that, frustrating the plans of the 11 senators to change their seats and allow them sit with fellow senators in the ranks of the opposition.
Today’s face-off follows last Wednesday’s abrupt adjournment when the Senate President at the end of a closed-door session on the issue promised to seek legal advice on how to proceed on the issue.
Multiple sources close to the Senate leadership told Vanguard yesterday that the Senate President has decided not to read the letter of defection from the senators upon multiple reasons, including the fact of an outstanding court order asking the Senate to maintain the status quo.
In anticipation of a negative nod from the Senate President, the 11 senators, Vanguard learnt, have decided to take matters in their hands and practically cross carpet.
It would be an unprecedented venture since the advent of the Fourth Republic given the fact that senators are according to the rules only expected to occupy seats allocated them by the whips.
Two of the affected senators who spoke on their plan yesterday said that since the Senate President has refused to toe the constitutionally required path by reading their joint letter, that they have adopted their “Plan B” of moving with their feet across the carpet to the APC side of the chamber.
“I can tell you that we have our Plan B here in our minds and just wait and watch us. Since the Senate President has consistently refused to read our letter, let’s see whether he will also stop us from leaving our seats in the “Majority Party” and begin sitting with our colleagues in the “Minority Parties”, one of them said.
He said since they have already obtained their APC membership cards in the party’s on-going registration, they can no longer sit with the senators of the PDP fold.
“Registering and having APC membership cards means that we are no longer members of the PDP, so how can we continue to sit on seats meant for senators of the PDP?” he asked.
A source privy to the plans of the PDP leadership to check the defectors told Vanguard yesterday that once the Senate resumes today that it would move into a closed door session where the Senate President is expected to state legal basis for his refusal to read out the letter from the defectors.
He is expected to cite the fact that the issue is in court and that a judge has ordered that all parties should maintain the status quo.
“The Senate President will not read the letter because under our rules, the Senate is not expected to dabble into any matter which in the opinion of the Senate President could jeopardize the potential judgment of the court.”
“Secondly, the Senate President will not read the letter because the judge has asked all parties to maintain the status quo. So if the judge has asked everyone to maintain status quo, why should he breach that ruling or circumvent the rule.”
Another senator also disclosed that the senators would be asked to write separate letters of defection if they want to be taken seriously.