Posted by News Express | 13 February 2014 | 3,628 times
Senate President David Mark, yesterday, came under pressure to declare vacant the seats of the 11 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators who recently defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He, however, refused to bow to the pressure, halting further debate on the matter until the courts rule on the issue. The affected senators, whose letter of defection Mark has refused to read citing court cases over the matter, are Bukola Saraki – Kwara Central; Umaru Dahiru – Sokoto South; Magnus Ngei Abe – Rivers South-East; Wilson Asinobi Ake – Rivers West; Bindawa Muhammed Jibrilla – Adamawa North; Mohammed Danjuma Goje – Gombe Central; Aisha Jummai Alhassan – Taraba North; Mohammed Ali Ndume – Borno South; Mohammed Shaba Lafiaji – Kwara North; Abdulahi Adamu – Nasarawa West and Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir – Sokoto East.
Senator Ita Enang led the failed bid to get Mark to declare the seats of the defected senators vacant. Coming through Order 14 of the Senate Standing Rule and relying on Section 68 Subsection (1g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Senator Enang said that by defecting, the 11 senate had automatically lost their membership of the upper chamber.
He quoted Section 68 (1) g of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic “A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected:
“Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.”
Senator Enang’s submission was overwhelmingly supported by PDP senators, who unanimously urged Mark to declare the seats of the affected Senators vacant.
The Senate President would, however, have none of that. He ruled Senator Enang out of order also stopped further debate on the matter until the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivers final judgment on it.
Mark told Enang: “You were in the chamber here, yesterday and I did explain that the matter is in a court of competent jurisdiction. We all agreed that no reference should be made in a matter before a competent court of law. My ruling is that I am not going to be different because it is a constitutional matter. I shall not make any more pronouncements on it. The decision that you ask me to make is not possible.”
PDP senators, who were in war mood, however, felt otherwise. Disagreeing with Mark on the issue, Senator Thomson Sekibo, also coming under Order 14 of the Senate Standing Order and Sections 1 and 2 of the Nigerian Constitution, said that Order 53 (5) of the Senate Standing Rule upon which the Senate President based his position was inconsistent with Section 1 of the constitution.
Senator Sekibo insisted that the country’s Constitution is superior to any other law and cited Section 1 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended: “If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution, the constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency by voided.”
But Mark told Sekibo: “Senator Sekibo, the subject matter in which you spoke vigorously is before a court of competent jurisdiction.” The Senate President thereafter bluntly refused to allow any more debate on the issue.
•Photo shows Senate President David Mark.
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