Cracks have appeared in the ranks of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators planning to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) as eight out of the original 22, refused to sign a correspondence addressed to Senate President David Mark. Curiously, the lawmakers who endorsed the letter may have served notice of their defection.
Controversy, however, is trailing the letter as sources in the Office of the Senate President have, however, denied receipt of the correspondence while some members who signed the letter insisted that it was indeed, submitted and received in the same office. Regardless, the letter, written a day before Senate resumed plenary on January 21 was entitled: “Sustenance and protection of the unity of National Assembly as an institution.” Thirty-one out of the 33 members of the APC signed the letter while 13 PDP senators appended their signatures to the document.
Senators Maina Ma’Aji Lawan (Borno) and Ehigie Edobor Uzamere (Edo) from the APC, whose names appeared on the list, did not sign while others, whose names were also there but refused to append their signatures include: Senators Ahmed Muhammed Maccido (Sokoto), Saidu Ahmed Alkali (Gombe); Abdulaziz Usman (Jigawa), Abdulmumini Muhammad Hassan (Jigawa), Danladi Abdullahi Sankara (Jigawa) and Basheer Garba Mohammed (Kano).
Those who signed are: Senators Chris Ngige, George Akume, Domingo Alaba Obende; Olubunmi Adetunmbi; Babafemi Ojudu; Anthony Ademuyiwa Adeniyi; Mohammed Sani Saleh; Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya; Abu Ibrahim; Abubakar Sadik Yar’Adua; Hadi Sirika; Atai Aidoko Usman; Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon; Oluremi Tinubu; Gbenga Bareehu Ashafa; Solomon Sunday Ewuga; and Ibrahim Musa;
Others include “Senators Olugbenga Obadara Onaolapo; Adegbenga Kaka Shefiu; Akin Kamar Babalola Odunsi; Robert Ajayi Boroffice; Olusola Adeyeye; Omoworare Babajide Christopher; Mudashiru Oyetunde Hussaini; Ayoade Ademola Adeseun and Olufemi Akinola Lanlehin.
The rest are Senators Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan; Bukar Abba Ibrahim; Alkali Abdulkadir Jajere; Ahmad Rufai; Kabir Garba Marafa; Abubakar Bukola Saraki; Mohammed Sha’aba Lafiagi; Abdullahi Adamu; Abdullahi Ibrahim Gobir; Umaru Dahiru; Magnus Ngei Abe; Wilson Asinobi Ake; Bindo Umaru Jibrilla; Mohammed Danjuma Goje; Alhassan Aisha Jummai; Mohammed Ali Ndume; Ahmed Zanna and Ahmed Hassan Barata.
Three days after the letter was delivered to the Senate President, another set of senators approached the leadership and verbally asked, “to be dissociated from the list.” Some of those senators are from the North-East.
The letter, Daily Sun obtained a copy of which, reminded Mark of a pending suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja which stipulated that no action can be taken against the plaintiffs (senators).
But section 53 (5) of the Senate Standing Orders (2011, as amended), vests the powers on the Senate President. The order states: “Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending, in such a way as might in the opinion of the President of the Senate prejudice the interest of parties thereto.”
The suit, which was adjourned when it first came up for hearing last week, will continue today.
A part of the letter reads: “Having reaffirmed our confidence in the National Assembly as the only institution empowered by the constitution to protect and defend the collective interest and yearning of Nigerians are, however, concerned about some comments and threats in the print and electronic media credited to some elected and unelected persons threatening to declare vacant, the seats of some senators who are the representatives of the Nigerian people in the National Assembly.
“It is our resolve that we do to support any attempt that the seat of any senator proposing to defect to another political party be declared vacant except by recall process from their constituents or by the pronouncement of a court of competent and final jurisdiction, rather than politics of intimidation, harassment and of comment that could jeopardize the peaceful co-existence of the unity of Nigeria,
Pacetv’s exclusively reported last week that 10 out of the original 22 senators returned to the court on November 29, 2013 and filed a Notice of Discontinuance Pursuant to Order 50 Rule 2 (1) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure Rules, 2009).
They averred that they should be removed from the list of the senators who wish to defect to the APC in suit no: FHC/ABJ/ CV/ 621/2013 and copied to the leadership of the Senate.
The court order was received in the Senate on December 2, 2013.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Senate is insisting that while it will not stop any senator from defecting, such action must be done individually on the floor of the Senate.
There are hiccups in the planned defection in the chamber as some members blatantly refused to sign the defection presented to them by prominent members of the nPDP senators.
While the leadership of the nPDP wanted the movement to take place as a group, some senators backed out, refusing to append their signatures when the document was presented to them.
Besides, some senators are said to be “watching out for the body language” of their governors before making any move on the floor of the Senate.