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Nigeria Politics: Defection bills causes uproar in the Senate

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The decision of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution to alter sections 68 and 109 in the proposed amendments is currently generating ripples in the upper chamber.

National AssemblyThe committee, led by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu,  last week submitted additional provisions which sought to alter certain sections of the document.

Specifically, it sought to alter sections 68 and 109 to empower the Clerk of the National Assembly and those  of the states Houses of Assembly to notify the Independent National Electoral Commission in writing within seven days of a vacancy in any of the chambers arising from resignation,  death or defection.

Members of the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, who would be the beneficiary of the planned defection moves of some aggrieved Peoples Democractic Party senators in the red chamber, have, however, vowed to stop the passage of the bill.

The opposition senators argued that the proposed bill was a smart way of starting the process of declaring vacant, the seats of defecting senators.

Senators Ganiyu Solomon and Kabiru Marafa urged their members to reject the bill because it was unneessary since the Senate had passed an earlier proposal.

But Senators Ita Enang, Abdul Ningi,  James Manager and Ike Ekweremadu,  however, said the passage of the bill was crucial to further strenghten democracy.

Enang said, “The constitution is not made for a person and could not be deemed to have been made for a person. This amendment is not being made with any person in  mind.

“I am in agreement with the proposal and it is not in any manner restrictive and  I pray that we adopt it. Secondly, there are lots of amendments proposed by the committee in this bill and they do not seem to attract enough attention as the first amendment.”

Attempts to speak with any of the 11 affected senators on the issue were unsuccessful, as those who picked their calls declined comments.

However,  Senate President, David Mark, had ruled that the senators would vote on the matter on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a non governmental organisation, Team Goodluck Nigeria,  has commended Justice Ademola Adeniyi of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for asking the defecting members of the House of Representatives to resign their positions.

The group, in a statement in Abuja signed by the National Secretary,  Mr. Okey Anozie, described the judgment as a landmark judgment that should strengthen the nation’s democracy.

The group  commended the judge for his “well researched judgment.”

It also wondered why some opposition leaders were faulting the judgment that was delivered with the backing of the constitution.

The group said, “Why is it that each time a judgment is against the opposition they will shout blue murder or that justice has been miscarried? But when the judgment is in their favour they will applaud the judiciary as being the last hope of the common man.

“This is double talk, and it is time Nigerians see the hypocrisy of the opposition. Section 68 (1) of the Constitution, as amended, is very clear on the matter.”

It, therefore, called on the leadership of the APC “to call their Honourable members to order to honourably vacate their seats immediately, bearing in mind that this judgment is over 48 hours and they are yet to obey the court order.

“Their continued stay in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly is an embarrassment to us Nigerians and the international community as a whole,” the group added.

Calls put through to Senators Aisha Al – Hassan, Ali Ndume, Shaaba Lafiaji, Bukola Saraki and Adamu Abdullahi were not answered, while Magnus Abe could not be reached on the phone.

Also, text messages sent to them on the issue were also not replied except the media aide to Saraki, Mr. Bankole Omisore, who promised to study the contents of the message and  get back to our correspondent. But he had yet to reply as of the time of filling this report.

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