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Sunday, 12 August 2018

Saraki To Declare Akpabio's Seat Vacant?

There is no known faction in the PDP. Is it possible for a serving Senator to decamp from a party without a faction and still keep his or her seat?

The nation may witness yet another showdown in the Senate as the senators cut short their vacation to discuss President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 polls budget request this week.

Apart from the fact that constant fierce arguments between members of the ruling APC and the opposition PDP will be a regular occurrence, The Punch investigations have revealed that a major step to send some senators back home would cause a major uproar in the red chamber.

A source, who is very close to the leadership of the Senate, confided in The Punch that arrangements were being perfected to ensure that the former senate minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, and others who defected recently from the PDP to the APC and other parties recently face a recall process.

The source hinted that the move against the defectors started just before the Senate went on recess, with the refusal of Senate President Bukola Saraki to read the letter of defection submitted to him by Akpabio.

No fewer than four senators have dumped the PDP but their defections have not been declared on the floor of the Senate. While three of them left the PDP for the APC, one of them left for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

For instance, senators Hope Uzodinma (Imo State) and Fatimah Raji-Rasaki (Ekiti State), formerly of the PDP, have been attending APC meetings and events within and outside the Senate.

Also, Senator Sonny Ogbuoji (Ebonyi State) recently introduced himself as the “the newest catch” of the APC when the National Working Committee of the party met with the Senate caucus.

Similarly, Stella Oduah (Anambra State) had joined APGA in Anambra State.

Shortly after the defections of 14 senators to the PDP were announced, the APC Caucus had addressed journalists where the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, while responding to a question on why the party listed those who had yet to formalise their defections at the Senate, said they only needed to register with the ruling party.

Lawan had said the public appearance of Uzodinma and Raji-Rasaki with the APC caucus members had answered the question.

There, Uzodinma alleged that he had written to the Senate President to declare his defection on the floor but his letter was not read.

“I am a bona fide, registered, financial card-carrying member of the APC. As you are aware, two months ago, I wrote to the leadership of the Senate. The duty to read it is not mine. But I am now a member of the APC,” he said.

Raji-Rasaki also said, “Recently, I have made it open and public to all Nigerians that I’ve moved from the PDP to the APC. I have done it in my ward and I have done it here.”

Akpabio, Raji-Rasaki other PDP defectors’ action illegal—Senator 
However, a senator from the North-Central geopolitical zone and an ally of Saraki said trouble could start on resumption when the APC caucus would definitely demand a roll call so that senators who defected to its fold could sit with their party members for easy identification.

He said, “On resumption any moment from now, the APC senators would call for realignment so that those who defected would move to the seats reserved for members of their political party.

It is in the course of doing so that the Senate President will wield the big stick against Akpabio and others by asking them to justify their reasons for defection.

“We know that the development would provoke an uproar, but the Senate President would remain resolute. So, the only option that would be left for Akpabio and his co-travellers would be to approach the court to determine whether there is actually a division in the PDP or not.

“Until the procurement of the legal interpretation of their status, those who defected from the PDP would be barred from entering the premises of the National Assembly.

“They will probably remain in court till the end of the current 8th Assembly.”

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