According to PDP, this demand complies with Nigerian Constitution Section 109 (1) (g).
The PDP claims that the 25 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who left the party to join the All Progressives Congress, or APC, have no option.
PDP claimed that the lawmakers forfeited their seats and vacated them in accordance with Section 109 (1)(g) of the Nigerian Constitution as a result of their party desertion.
“Our Party insists that 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 Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022,” PDP acting National Chairman Umar Iliya Damagum said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“The twenty-five former legislators from Rivers voluntarily and without justification left their positions, fully aware of the ramifications of defecting from the Party that had granted them election to the Rivers State House of Assembly without meeting the requirements outlined in the 1999 Constitution.
To be clear, the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly left the PDP, and there is no reason for them to have done so, either at the national or local levels. As a result, they left their positions for reasons that are only known to them, and they are unable to return to the House of Assembly without first going through a new election procedure in compliance with the terms of the Electoral Act of 2022 and the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Furthermore, in accordance with Section 109 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Barr) Ehie O. Edison, formally proclaimed the seats of the defecting, now-former members vacant. Since he has assumed the role of Functus Officio in this case, the Rivers State House of Assembly is unable to admit the former legislators back unless a new election is held.
The former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly are therefore advised by our party not to be duped by anyone who offers them unrealistic guarantees and false hope in Abuja that they can return to the House of Assembly without holding new elections or that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can be prevented from holding new elections in the 25 Rivers State Constituencies where vacancies have arisen as a result of their defection.
The Electoral Act, 2022, namely Section 84 (15) makes it very clear that courts do not have the authority to prevent INEC from holding elections anytime a vacancy arises in any electoral constituency.
For clarification, the Electoral Act of 2022 states in provision 84(15) 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.”
“The PDP demands that INEC set a date for new elections to be held in the 25 state constituencies in Rivers State where vacancies have resulted from the defection of the now-former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, subject to the outcome of any lawsuits in any courts, in accordance with Section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“All members of our great Party in Rivers State are charged by the national leadership of the PDP to remain united and resolute in the defence of constitutional democracy and the Rule of Law in Rivers State.”