PDP nullifies Tinubu’s agreement with Fubara, 27 defected Assembly members

THE People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has opposed the peace deal brokered by President Bola Tinubu, expectedly ending the political turmoil in Rivers state.

At a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, December 19, the party said the seats of all 27 members of the state House of Assembly who defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) remained vacant as announced by the Speaker, Ehie Edison, a lawyer.

It urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election to fill the vacancies.

The party, through its acting national chairman, Umar Damagum, who led the National Working Committee at the briefing, advised the defectors to pick the nomination form of any party of their choice if they wished to return to the Assembly.

“The 25 (27 as widely reported) 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.”

The PDP reiterated that there was no condition warranting the defection and insisted the party was without any crisis that could make them leave the party.

It vowed the defectors would not be re-admitted into the Assembly except through an election.

The party copiously quoted several portions of the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act (2022) to support its position.

It said Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act was clear in providing that no courts had powers to stop INEC from conducting elections wherever and whenever a vacancy occurred in any electoral constituency.

“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 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.”

On Monday, December 18, Tinubu and other relevant stakeholders agreed to resolve the state’s political crisis with an eight-point resolution.

The resolutions were reached during a closed-door meeting at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja, involving Governor Siminalayi Fubara, former Governor Peter Odili, immediate past Governor Nyesom Wike and other stakeholders from the state.

The resolution was signed by Fubara and Wike and other stakeholders, including the former Speaker of the Rivers state Assembly, Martin Amaewhule; the state PDP chairman, Aaron Chukwuemeka; and the state APC Chairman, Tony Okocha.

One of the resolutions is for Fubara and his group to immediately withdraw all legal proceedings he initiated in courts over the crisis.

The ICIR reports that there has been political tension in Rivers State following the rift between Fubara and his predecessor, Wike, the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

As tension between both leaders heightened, impeachment actions were initiated against Fubara on Monday, October 30, by some members of the state House of Assembly believed to be loyal to Wike.

The impeachment process failed, and in November, President Bola Tinubu waded into the issue, after which Fubara issued a public apology to the people of the state, assuring them of peace and stability.

However, the political situation in the state has become more tense, with 27 out of 32 state House of Assembly members defecting from the PDP to the APC on Monday, December 11.

Shortly after the defection, Fubara presented the state’s proposed 2024 budget to the five Assembly members left in the PDP.

Meanwhile, the communique issued after Monday’s meeting in Abuja and titled ‘directives for the resolution of the political impasse in Rivers State’ said all matters instituted in the courts by Fubara and his team regarding the political crisis in the state should be withdrawn immediately.

According to the communique, the state Assembly’s impeachment proceedings against the governor should be dropped forthwith.

It also directed that the leadership of the state Assembly, led by the former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, be recognised alongside the 27 members who resigned from the PDP.

Part of the communique read: “The remuneration and benefits of all members of the Rivers State House of Assembly and their staff must be reinstated immediately, and the governor of Rivers state shall henceforth not interfere with the full funding of the Rivers state House of Assembly.




     

     

    “The Rivers state House of Assembly shall choose where they want to sit and conduct their legislative business without interference and/or hindrance from the executive arm of government.

    “The governor of Rivers state, Fubara, shall re-present the state budget to a properly constituted Rivers state House of Assembly.”

    The stakeholders also agreed that the names of all commissioners in the state executive council who resigned due to the political crisis in the state should be resubmitted to the Assembly for approval.

    It added that the dissolution of the state’s local government administration was null and void, adding that there should not be a caretaker committee for the local governments in the state.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

    Join the ICIR WhatsApp channel for in-depth reports on the economy, politics and governance, and investigative reports.

    Support the ICIR

    We invite you to support us to continue the work we do.

    Your support will strengthen journalism in Nigeria and help sustain our democracy.

    If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here


    Support the ICIR

    We need your support to produce excellent journalism at all times.

    - Advertisement

    Recent

    - Advertisement