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Defection: Court okays suit seeking to declare Senator Oduah’s seat vacant

•Stella Oduah

….orders service of processes on Clerk of Senate

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA- An Abuja High Court sitting at Bwari has ordered Senator Stella Oduah who is representing Anambra North Senatorial District, to within five days, adduce reasons why her seat should not be declared vacant following her defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.

The court, in the order that was made by Justice Othman Musa, equally directed the service of all the legal processes on Clerk of the Senate, even as it fixed August 29 to commence hearing on the matter.

The order followed a suit marked FCT/HC/BW/CV/118/2018, which was lodged before the high court by a chieftain of the PDP in Anambra State, Mr. Nwaokike Godwin.

The plaintiff had through his lawyer, Mr. Jideobi Johnmary, prayed the court to determine, “Whether upon an intimate reading and complete understanding of section 68(1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, and especially in view of the decision of the Nigerian Supreme Court in Abegundu v. Ondo State House of Assembly, (2015) 8 NWLR. Part 1461 Page 314, the Defendant who defected to the All Progressives Grand Alliance from the People’s Democratic Party [on which platform she was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and where there was no faction as at time of her defection] ought not to have her seat in the Senate declared vacant by this Honourable Court”.

Upon determination of the sole question, the plaintiff, urged the court to declare Oduah’s seat vacant on the premise that there was no faction in the PDP as at the time of her defection to APGA.

Aside praying the court to void her Certificate of Return, the plaintiff, further applied for, “An order of this Honourable Court compelling the Defendant to relinquish and return forthwith [to the Treasury Single Account domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria] all salaries, emoluments, allowances and such other monetary benefits [howsoever named] paid to her as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from June, 2018 [being the month of her unlawful defection] to the delivery of judgment in this suit or end of May, 2019 [whichever one occurs first] and to file [with the Registry of this Honourable Court] an affidavit of having complied with the terms of this order Court’s Order within fourteen (14) days of the making of this Order.

As well as, “An order directing the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and the Inspector-General of Police to execute forthwith the judgment of this Court within fourty-eight (48) hours of its delivery”.

In a supporting affidavit that was deposed to by one Knowledge Onyekachi, the plaintiff, told the court that he hails from Awkuzu, in Oyi Local Government Area in Anambra North Senatorial District, being represented at the Senate by the Defendant.

He told the court that Senator Oduah had on June 6, announced that she was no longer a member of the PDP, the political party on whose platform she was elected into the Senate.

“I know as a fact that in June, 2018 when the Defendant defected to All Progressives Grand Alliance from the People’s Democratic Party [on which platform she was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there was no jot of division or faction at the national level of the People’s Democratic Party as the Nigerian Supreme Court on the 17th day of June, 2017 wholly settled all the leadership tussles hitherto plaguing the PDP.

“I know as a fact that the ideology of the Defendant’s new party, APGA, to which she has now fully subscribed, does not bear any similarity or represent the political philosophy of the PDP [which is the basis upon which I resolved to cast my vote for and elected the Defendant in 2015].

“I know as a fact that the conduct of the Defendant in defecting from the People’s Democratic Party to All Progressives Grand Alliance under the circumstances [and for the reasons that she did] has dealt a mortal blow to the fortunes of my Party, the People’s Democratic Party in Anambra North.

“I know as a fact that the conduct of Defendant being challenged herein if not condemned and upturned by this Honourable Court will continue to encourage political prostitution, legislative rascality and destroys the reasons for the laws made to regulate the defection of National Assembly Members by the Constitution of Nigeria itself.

“I know as a fact that the continuous stay of the Defendant at the Senate of the National Assembly does no longer represent my interest or that of thousands of other members of our Senatorial District who voted her in on the basis of their faith in our Party’s manifesto which they believed the Defendant was capable of representing in the Senate”, the deponent added.

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