March 4, 2024

The National Working Committee, NWC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has insisted that fresh elections be conducted to fill the 25 seats allegedly vacated by 25 of its lawmakers in the Rivers State Assembly.

This was part of the decisions taken at an emergency meeting of the NWC in Abuja on Tuesday.

The acting national chairman of the party, Amb. Umar Iliya Damagum announced this while briefing journalists shortly after the meeting.

He explained that the emergency meeting was convened to discuss unfolding political developments in Rivers State.

Damagun noted that the “25 former members” of the party had better prepare for fresh polls should they still be interested in returning to the legislature because there “is no remedy for them.”

He further said, “The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asserts that there is no remedy for the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who by virtue of Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), vacated and lost their seats by reason of defection from the PDP, the party platform 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 in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.

“The 25 former Rivers lawmakers freely and without any cause vacated their seats, being fully aware of the consequences of defection from the party upon which they were elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly without the conditions stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no division in the PDP at the national or any other level for that matter to justify the defection of the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from the Party.

“They therefore vacated their seats for reasons best known to them and cannot return to the House of Assembly without passing through a fresh electoral process in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.

“Moreover, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon (Barr) Ehie O. Edison, DSSRS, officially declared the seats of the defected and now-former members vacant 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 by anybody giving them the false hope and impracticable assurances in Abuja that they can return to the Rivers State House of Assembly without a fresh election or that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can be stopped from conducting fresh elections into the 25 Rivers State Constituencies where vacancies have occurred by reason of their defection.

“For emphasis, Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022, is clear in providing that no court has the power 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 elections under this Act pending the determination of the suit.”

He further said, “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 elections into the 25 state constituencies in Rivers State where vacancies have occurred by reason of the defection of the now former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, pending the determination of any suit in any court.

“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 the rule of law in Rivers State.”

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