Defection: Court asked to declare Akpabio’s seat vacant

…. Judge restrains Saraki

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja was yesterday asked to declare the seat of Senator Godswill Akpabio at the Senate vacant and order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a byelection within 90 days into the vacant seat. That was even as another an FCT High Court sitting in Bwari restrained Senate President Bukola Saraki from declaring Akpabio’s seat vacant.

In a suit filed at the registry of the court, by the Incorporated Trustees of Dynamic Patriotic Citizens Foundation, the court was further urged to declare that Akpabio has lost his seat as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by virtue of his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC) on August 8, 2018.

The group, in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CS/887/2018, submitted that the former Minority Leader defected from the PDP to the APC, without any division, crisis or faction in the PDP as envisaged by the provision to section 68(1) (g) of the 1999 constitution. The group formulated a single issue for determination by the court to wit:

Whether or not by virtue of the provisions of section 68(1) (g) of Nigerian Constitution (as altered), and in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in the case law of Hon. Ifedayo Sunday Abegunde V Ondo State House of Assembly and 12 others (2015) LPELR -24588, which sufficiently interpreted the said section 68(1) (g), Akpabio who defected from the PDP to the APC, on August 8, 2018, without any division, crisis or faction in the PDP as envisaged by the proviso to section 68(1) (g) of the 1999 constitution and interpreted in Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde’s case, has not lost his seat as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and therefore liable to be kicked out by the Nigerian Senate.

Those listed as defendants in the suit filed on behalf of the group by Tolu Babalaye are the Senate; the Senate President; the Deputy Senate President; the Clerk of the National Assembly; Senator Godswill Akpabio and the Independent National Electoral Commission. In a 12 paragraph affidavit in support of the suit, the deponent, Akinola Apanisile, averred that Akpabio being a legal practitioner was aware of the consequences of his defection and also the fact that he ought not decamped from the party that sponsored him into the Senate. That he did not state or show that his defection from the PDP to the APC is as a result of the division, crisis or faction in his former party, which did not allow him to function properly as a member of the party and as a Senator but that “President Muhammadu Buhari is a man of integrity and a Nationalist.”

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