One would ordinarily expect the political tussle rocking Rivers State for the past few weeks to come to a halt after the intervention of President Bola Tinubu. Well, on the contrary, that intervention seems to have triggered a new wave.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has insisted that there is no going back on the issue of the 25 Rivers lawmakers who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

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It appears there are days of adjudication coming. 

‘Poverty Not A Shameful Thing For Nigerians’ – Tinubu
President Bola Tinubu

The PDP issued a statement on Tuesday at the end of an emergency meeting.

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In that document, the party insisted that there is no remedy for the affected lawmakers.

Vehemently, the party told them to prepare for fresh elections.

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The PDP statement was signed by its Acting National Chairman, Umar Iliya Damagum.

The Meeting

Meanwhile, this is coming barely 24 hours after Tinubu presided over a reconciliatory meeting. The aim was to resolve the political crisis in Rivers State.

Part of the resolutions reached in the meeting was to allow the State Assembly defectors to return to the Assembly.

But, the PDP says there is only one option available for the defected lawmakers. This will enable them return to the House, it insists.

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Basically, that option is to seek fresh nomination and re-election on the platform of any political party of their choice.

False Hope From Abuja

The PDP insisted that there is no crisis or division in its Rivers State chapter.

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This means that the defectors are on their own.

To the party, the lawmakers should not allow false hopes from Abuja to make them think they can return to the House through the backdoor.

The statement by Damagun reads:
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asserts that there is no remedy for the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

“They by virtue of Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) vacated and lost their seats.

“This is by reason of defection from the PDP, upon which they were elected into the House of Assembly.

“Our Party insists that having now vacated and lost their seats, the only option available for the former lawmakers, if they wish to return to the House of Assembly, is to seek fresh nomination and re-election on the platform of any political party of their choice.

“This is in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.

Consequences Of Defection

“The 25 former Rivers lawmakers freely and without any cause vacated their seats.
They were fully aware of the consequences of defection from the Party upon which they were elected.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no division in the PDP.

“Be it at the national or any other level for that matter to justify the defection of the lawmakers from the Party.

“They, therefore, vacated their seats for reasons best known to them. And they cannot return to the House of Assembly without passing through a fresh electoral process.

”The process is in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.

Vacant Seats

“Moreover, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly Rt. Hon (Barr) Ehie O. Edison DSSRS officially declared the seat of the defected now former members vacant.

This is in line with Section 109 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“The Rivers State House of Assembly, having become Functus Officio on the matter cannot re-admit the former lawmakers unless through the channel of a fresh election.

“Our Party therefore counsels the former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly not to be deceived.

“Let them not be deceived by anybody giving them the false hope and impracticable assurances in Abuja.
Or that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can be stopped from conducting fresh election into the Constituencies.

Emphasis On The Law

“For emphasis Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022 is clear.

“It provides that no Courts have powers to stop INEC from conducting elections wherever and whenever a vacancy occurs in any electoral constituency.

“For clarity Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides that
“Nothing in this section shall empower the Courts to stop the holding of primaries or general election under this Act pending the determination of the suit.”

“The PDP demands that INEC should, in line with Section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022, fix a date for the conduct of fresh election”.

According to the PDP, election should be held in the 25 State Constituencies in Rivers State. Basically, these are constituencies where vacancies occurred due to defection of the Rivers lawmakers.

Also, this should be done, pending the determination of any suit in any court,” the party insists.

“The national leadership of the PDP charges all members of our great Party in Rivers State to remain united and resolute in the defence of Constitutional democracy and Rule of Law in Rivers State.”

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