By Emman Ovuakporie
Last Wednesday would have been a sad day for the 37 defected Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, lawmakers following the move to declare their seats vacant.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola of Federal High Court, Abuja had, in a judgment on Monday, ordered the APC members in the House to halt any move to remove the principal officers of the green chamber who were elected on the platform of the PDP.
The judge went further to rubbish the former 37 members of the PDP who defected to APC to give the party the numerical strength upon which the planned removal of the principal officers was predicated then, saying they had lost all moral grounds to continue to stay in the parliament and urged them to vacate their seats.
According to Ademola, the lawmakers defected from the PDP for no justifiable reason before the law, and, therefore, should no longer sit in parliament.
The APC condemned the judgment and has gone on appeal.
Indications that all may not be well emerged when the PDP Caucus in the House met as early as 9am, on Wednesday, to strategise on how to end the APC onslaught on the PDP. The day’s plenary started at about 11.45am and the turnout was massive.
The lawmakers had barely spent 1.30minutes on the day’s legislative business when they resolved to go into an executive session.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that a female lawmaker from the South-south, during the executive session, suggested that the seats of the defected members be declared vacant.
Our source said she rhetorically asked the Minority Leader, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, to defend his earlier position on leadership change. The Speaker and his deputy, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, had to step in to calm frayed nerves. If not for the pleas of the two principal officers, there would have been crisis at the resumed plenary as members of the PDP Caucus had made arrangements to physically throw out the members who were affected by the judgment.
According to a source, a meeting was held on Tuesday where a decision was taken that the issue should not be discussed until a copy of the judgment was served on the House and a decision taken on it in accordance with the point of law. That explained why members of the PDP did not raise the issue at the Tuesday plenary.
However, the position of the caucus changed when another meeting was held by the PDP Caucus before the plenary, on Wednesday, to appraise the condemnation of the judgment by the APC and the denigration of the PDP by the APC in a bid to blame the PDP for the judgment as delivered by the judge.
PDP members resolved at the meeting that a point of order should be raised at plenary to ask the leadership to implement the judgment.
The source explained that a decision was reached also that PDP members should resort to physically throwing out any of the affected lawmakers present in the chamber, should the leadership fail to heed the request that the defected lawmakers’ seat be declared vacant in accordance with the demand to be made through the point of order.
Tambuwal and Ihedioha, who got wind of the plan, stalled it by refusing to give room for the point of order to be raised.
As soon as the plenary was convened, the leadership caused an emergency session to be called for the legislators to have discussions in camera.
At the session, Tambuwal and Ihedioha were said to have pleaded with the aggrieved PDP members to bury the hatchet and allow peace to reign in the green chamber. The source explained that it took the leadership close to 1.30mins before the aggrieved PDP lawmakers were placated.
Throughout the session, APC lawmakers were said to have been sober save Hon. Samson Osagie, Deputy Minority Whip, who was said to have angered the PDP members more by remaining defiant that the position of the APC on the judgment was right.
An unnamed PDP legislator, it was gathered, who was irritated by the claim of Osagie, was said to have insisted that the House should revert to plenary and allow the point of order to be raised so that the APC could defend itself openly so long as Osagie was not convinced that the APC had no genuine facts to fight its cause.
However, other APC members were said to have pleaded with the House and asked Osagie to drop his hard stance and allow peace reign.
At the end of the day, a stern warning was said to have been issued to the APC to stop “making noise” on the issue. The APC Caucus was also said to have been warned to stop denigrating the judiciary as well as the PDP government over the issue as the concession was said to have been given to the affected lawmakers on the premise that everyone in the parliament was expected to relate as friends.
Some dissatisfied PDP members were said to have insisted that should the table have been turned the other way, APC members would have stuck to their guns and would not have agreed to the political settlement.
Briefing journalists later on what happened at the executive session, Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Victor Ogene, said resolutions were reached at the session on the need to insulate members from the new trend of partisanship which he said was gradually creeping into the floor during debate on issues in the House.