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03 Oct 2016
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Can a Legistor Cross Carpet whilst still being Keep Their Seat Under Nigerian Law?

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Our main concern let me reveal to go over the appropriate consequences regarding the existing spate of celebration defection by members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC). We shall leave the duty of recounting Nigeria’s history on carpet crossing to historians and shall never be bordered by it. We shall in addition not allow ourselves become attracted into arguments regarding morality/propriety of carpet crossing.

The news is awash with all the development regarding the defection of 37 PDP members of the home of Representatives to the APC. Already, five PDP governors have actually dumped the celebration for the APC. The failure regarding the PDP because the governing celebration in Nigeria so that as Africa’s biggest governmental celebration appears imminent as unconfirmed reports say that twenty-two senators are planning to in addition dump the celebration for the APC.

Nigerian legislation on carpet crossing begins and stops with all the provisions of areas 68(1)(g) and 109(1)(g) regarding the 1999 Constitution regarding the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These sections supply that:

“an associate regarding the Senate or home of Representatives or State House of Assembly shall not vacate their seat inside your home that he is an associate if being people whoever election in to the home had been sponsored by a governmental celebration, he becomes an associate of another governmental celebration before the conclusion regarding the duration that the home had been elected.

Provided that their account regarding the latter governmental celebration is not as a direct result an unit in governmental celebration that he had been formerly an associate of a merger of two or more governmental parties by certainly one of that he was previously sponsored.”

It really is interesting to notice that unlike the purport of preceding provisions, areas 135 and 180 regarding the said Constitution which offers for circumstances under that the President or their Vice, and a Governor or their Deputy could cease to keep workplace cannot point out celebration defection as a floor for vacating or ceasing to keep workplace.

From preceding provisions consequently, Nigerian legislation on carpet crossing could be summarized the following:

1. A Legislator in Nigeria could drop or vacate their seat in parliament if he defects from the celebration that sponsored him in to the Legislative home to another celebration.

2. A Nigerian Governor, Deputy Governor, President or vice-president cannot vacate or cease to keep workplace for defecting from the governmental celebration that sponsored him into workplace to another.

3. Before a Legislator in Nigeria could be made to drop their seat in parliament for defecting to a celebration except that the one which sponsored him in to the home, the main officer of the Legislative home( the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives or even the Speaker regarding the State House of Assembly because the instance may be) or an associate of the Legislative home must initially provide evidence satisfactory to the Legislative home stressed that an associate features defected from the governmental celebration that sponsored him in to the home to another governmental celebration and it has by operation of legislation vacated their seat in Parliament.

4. It uses from the overhead that when there’s absolutely no satisfactory evidence provided to the Legislative home on an associate’s defection, the member who is purported to have defected can still retain their seat. He can but carry on being understood and dealt with as an associate regarding the celebration that sponsored him in to the home.

5. A Legislator in Nigerian can get across carpet to a celebration except that the one which sponsored him in to the home whilst still being keep their seat if they can prove that their defection had been because of an unit within their previous celebration.

6. Additionally, a Legislator in Nigeria will likely not lose/vacate their seat while he’s defected from the celebration sponsored him to another celebration if they can prove that their account of an innovative new celebration is as a direct result a merger of two or more governmental parties or factions by certainly one of that he was previously sponsored.

The career that while a Legislator in Nigeria is liable to reduce their seat in parliament for cross flooring to another celebration, the President, vice-president, Governor or Deputy Governor just isn’t liable and cannot need to vacate or cease to keep workplace for similar reason had been recommended by the Nigerian Supreme legal regarding AGF V. Atiku Abubarkar (2007)4 S.C (pt.11)62 where in fact the problem before the court had been whether the vice-president’s defection from the PDP( on whose system he had been elected into workplace) to the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN) implied that he had automatically vacated and ceased to keep that workplace.

The Supreme legal presented that it is just Legislators which can be prone to vacate their seating in parliament for defection to some other celebration from the one which sponsored them into workplace. The supreme held your constitution cannot envisage or give the vacation /cessation regarding the workplace regarding the President, vice-president, Governor or Deputy Governor for defection from the celebration that sponsored them into workplace to another celebration. The Apex court presented consequently that Vice-President Atiku Abubarkar had been eligible to keep and/or in workplace while he’d effected from the PDP to the ACN.

Again, the positioning that a legislator may drop their seat in parliament for cross flooring to another governmental celebration was affirmed by the court in some choices. For instance, the Federal High legal of Nigeria sitting in Akure regarding Hon. Ifedayo Sunday Abegunde v. The Ondo State-house of Assembly & Ors. sacked Mr. Abegunde, a property of Representatives member representing Akure North and Southern, Ondo State for defecting from the Labour Party to the ACN. Mr Abegunde was elected in to the home underneath the auspices regarding the Labour Party in April 2011 General Elections. He however, defected to the ACN throughout the money regarding the tenure of the House. The court presented that Mr Abegunde had vacated their seat and ceased become an associate of the House by operation of legislation. This choice had been affirmed and upheld by the legal of Appea in Re Hon. Ifedayo Sunday Abegunde v. The Ondo State-house of Assembly & Ors. (2014) LPELR-23683(CA),Appeal No.CA/AK/110/2012.

Again, regarding Hon. Michael Dapialong v. Chief (Dr) Joseph Chibi Dariye, Appeal No. S.C 39/2007 the Supreme legal took judicial notice to the fact that between 25th and 26th July,2006, fourteen members of the twenty-four members of the Plateau State House of Assembly like the Speaker in addition to Deputy Speaker thereof defected from the PDP system on whoever these people were elected to the home in 2009 to the Advanced Congress of d Democrats(ACD) because of that the said 14 members had been held to have vacated their seating by operation of legislation.

Depending on the Supreme legal choice in AGF V. Atiku Aburbakar consequently, we can properly deduce your five PDP Governors which had defected to the APC can validly do so without having to be prone to vacate or cease to keep their workplaces. This is because the Constitution merely cannot penalize the President, vice-president, a Governor or Deputy Governor whom dumps the celebration that sponsored him into workplace for the next celebration. Additionally, unlike Legislators, these members of the executive arm of national are not necessary to proffer explanations or reasons to justify defection.

However, some people have actually argued that even though the Constitution cannot penalize defection by Governors, the Supreme legal choice in Rotimi Amaechi v INEC Appeal No. SC 525/2007 could be relied upon to effect the vacation from workplace of Governors whom defect from the parties that sponsored them into workplace to another governmental celebration before the conclusion of these tenure. Acording Mr Dan Nwayanwu, Chairman regarding the Labour Party of Nigeria, the Supreme legal’s dictum in Amaechi’s situation to the effect that it is the governmental celebration and never the candidate that the electorate cast their votes could be interpreted and put on imply that Governors whom have elected into workplace only to dump the celebration that sponsored them into workplace for the next celebration should vacate or cease to keep workplace upon defection.

Mr Dan Nwamyawu in an interview awarded to Sunday Trust magazines in 2007 advocated that Governors whom defect to parties except that those that sponsored them into workplace should-be kicked out of office based on the choice in Amaechi v. INEC. We humbly disagree with this particular place. This is because the Constitution cannot impose any penalty or appropriate impairment on carpet crossing by Governors. Subsequently, the Supreme legal in Amaechi’s Case didn’t decide the problem regarding the consequence of a Governor’s defection from their celebration. Instead, the question in Amaechi’s instance had been whether a person who didn’t contest an election could be heard to challenge an election or be stated as Governor. Your choice in AGF V. Atiku Abubarka for many intents and purposes remains the respected exposition regarding the legislation on celebration defection in Nigeria.

It really is by now beyond doubt your five PDP governors who had defected to the APC are entitled to do so without any attendant penalty or appropriate impairment. But could equivalent be said regarding the 37 members of the home of Representatives members with defected to the APC? Can they validly dump the PDP for the APC without losing their seat in parliament?

By a letter resolved to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, called ‘Communication of Change of Political Party’ and dated the 18tth December, 2013, the 37 defecting Federal Lawmakers explained that their defection from the PDP to the APC had been because of the inner crisis in the PDP. The Lawmakers in addition premised their defection from the PDP to the APC regarding proven fact that the PDP features broken into two factions: the New PDP in addition to Old PDP. The so-called New PDP composed of the dissatisfied and disgruntled members of the celebration, nearly all whom have actually defected to the APC.

It really is to be remembered that in Agundade’s instance, he’d argued that given the inner crisis, unit and factionalization in the Labour Party, he had been entitled by virtue regarding the proviso in Section 109(1)(g) regarding the 1999 Constitution to defect from the Labour Party to the ACN without losing or being forced to vacate their seat inside your home. The court but ruled that since he cannot prove unit or factionalization in the Labour Party, he had been not eligible to keep or retain their seat after he decamped to the ACN. He vacated their seat upon defection to the ACN by operation of legislation.

The proviso to the provisions of Section 68(1) (g) and 109(1) (g) regarding the 1999 Constitution are to the effect that although a Legislator would ordinarily drop their seat if he defects to a celebration different from the one which sponsored him in to the Legislative home, he is eligible to keep their seat if they can prove that:

1. He defected to a different celebration because of unit in the celebration that sponsored him in to the household.

2. Their account regarding the brand-new celebration is as a direct result the merger of two or more governmental parties or factions by certainly one of that he was previously sponsored.

Before we proceed to examine whether the inner crisis rocking the PDP falls in the proviso to Sections 68(1)(g) and 109(1) (g) regarding the Constitution, it really is relevant to find out exactly what comprises unit in a governmental celebration. The constitution cannot define term “division”. The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of active English, 6th Edition, describes unit as a disagreement or difference in viewpoint or lifestyle etc particularly between members of a society or an organization.

According to Professor Okey Okon regarding the Southern Central University, California, American, unit could arise from:

1. Ideological variations and
2. Organizational variations.

Organizational variations denote conflict, unit, crisis etc arising because of just how and way the celebration is run, operated or handled. Actually, all disputes and crises as a result of the management and operation regarding the natural construction regarding the governmental celebration are categorized as the category of organizational variations. Conflict, unit or crises as a result of organizational variations bordering on such issues as inner democracy mechanism regarding the celebration, conduct of primaries election, financing, election of principal officers regarding the celebration, adoption of applicants as celebration flag-bearer for election, managing of celebration funds, planning and execution of election campaign strategies etc come under organizational variations.

It really is a notorious proven fact that the PDP features from inception already been bedeviled by inner crises due to the occurrence of undemocratic methods in the celebration. The defecting 37 Federal Legislators have actually alleged that their defection from the PDP to APC had been because of unit and inner crises in the celebration and they are entitled to keep their seating in parliament. We don’t know the particulars regarding the so-called unit or crises in the PDP however, if their allegations are real then they are entitled to keep their seating in parliament.

We shall now switch our attention to the problem of whether ideological variations constitute unit as to entitle a defecting legislator to retain their seat in parliament. Ideological variations pertains to conflict, disagreement, crisis or unit as a result of a conflict between a celebration member’s a few ideas, beliefs, belief, maxims, philosophy or plan with those of their governmental celebration. Whenever an associate disagrees with his celebration’s a few ideas, guidelines, programs, philosophy or maxims on socio- governmental or financial issues does this disenchantment or disagreement with his celebration entitle him to defect to another celebration without the need to lose/vacate their seat in parliament? Performs this conflict or disagreement with his celebration represent unit as envisaged by the proviso in Sections 68(1)(g) and 109(1)(g) regarding the 1999 Constitution?

Professor Okey Okon is regarding the viewpoint that ideological variations constitute unit in the meaning of Sections 68(1)(g) and 109(1) (g) regarding the Constitution at such empowers a Legislator to defect to another celebration without losing their seat when he disagrees with all the plan and philosophy of their celebration. In line with the learned Professor, ideological variations are a kind of unit which should justify a legislator to defect to another celebration without the need to drop or vacate their seat. He opined that any explanation regarding the legislation to exclude ideological huge difference as constituting unit is incorrect. The learned Professor further posits that failure to treat ideological variations as unit will deprive Legislators regarding the feeling of security and protection they have to stand up for just what they have confidence in. He presented that such a narrow reading regarding the legislation will give you perverse bonuses for Legislators to focus on compliance at the cost of maxims and belief to expediency.

We but beg to disagree with this particular place. With due value to the learned professor, the proviso to Section 68(1) (g) and 109(1) (g) regarding the Constitution can not be objectively interpreted to imply that when a legislator disagrees with all the plan or philosophy of their celebration on socio-economic governmental or any other issues they can dump their celebration for the next celebration whilst still being retain their seat in parliament. These types of an interpretation regarding the legislation can not be the intendment regarding the drafters regarding the Constitution. You should keep in mind that the relevant supply reads… “because of a division in governmental celebration”… This shows demonstrably that exactly what regulations envisages is a situation where there’s a conflict or disagreement in the celebration that leads to inner crisis or instability in celebration. This means, ideological variations alone cannot justify defection.

However, for ideological variations to justify defection, they have to be of these magnitude and strength as to trigger crisis, instability, factionalization and conflict in the celebration. The Noscitur Associis rule of building of statutes states your company a word keeps recommends its definition. Your message “division” as utilized in Sections 68(1)(g) and 109(1) (g) regarding the 1999 Constitution are combined with the words “merger” and “factions” which words denotes a big change or alteration in natural construction of a political celebration. We consequently agree with Professor Okey to the level that ideological variations can represent unit that could justify defection only if such variations are of these magnitude and strength as to trigger instability or crises in the celebration. A mere difference in viewpoint or belief will likely not suffice to justify defection.

Indeed, legislators do not have to defect to a different celebration to state or hold opinions or views unlike those favoured by their celebration unless doing so would result and actually brings about instability and crisis/conflict in the celebration. It really is posted that to permit defection just on the ground that a legislator disagrees with all the guidelines or ideological place of their celebration on certain socio-economic cum governmental or ethical issues would defeat the purpose regarding the framers regarding the constitution. The constitution demonstrably intends to discourage and penalize legislators for defection except on unusual and exceptional circumstances. Making simple differences in viewpoint and belief a ground for governmental defection would provide legislators an excuse for governmental prostitution.

It really is interesting to notice your 37 defecting legislators have sought to justify their defection on the ground your PDP had been divided into two governmental parties; the old PDP in addition to brand-new PDP which consist of the defecting and disgruntled member. They alleged your brand-new PDP features officially combined with all the APC. Our company is regarding the viewpoint that when these allegations are real then your 37 defecting legislators are entitled to therefore defect without the need to drop their seating. It really is relevant to notice your PDP features gotten a court order declaring the so-called brand-new PDP unlawful and restraining its members from parading by themselves as PDP members. Issue that comes from this development is, what’s the appropriate aftereffect of this order regarding legal rights among these defecting legislators maintain their seating. It really is our simple viewpoint your court order has no effect whatsoever regarding legal rights regarding the defecting legislators maintain their seating. Your order just forbids the utilization of the name PDP by the defecting faction. It generally does not imply that the defecting faction is an illegal team because they’re not several criminals or bandit.

Indeed, Sections 39 and 40 regarding the 1999 Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of phrase as well as the right to freedom of relationship. The court order consequently cannot operate to deprive or perhaps in in whatever way prejudice the defecting members’ entitlement maintain their seating.

The PDP features reacted to the defection of the member, especially the 37 Federal lawmakers by saying that any person in the celebration that renounces its account of PDP shall be made to vacate their seat. There are also reports in news your PDP went to court to acquire a declaration for the vacation regarding the seating and workplaces regarding the defecting legislators and five governors. Let’s keep our hands entered once we watch the crisis unfold.

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