- Femi Falana says legislators who defected recently are not entitled to keep their seats; except there was a case of factionalisation in the parties they left
- He said this division in their previous political parties as envisaged by the Constitution, cannot be a figment of the imagination of prospective defectors
- However, he said the Constitution is silent on defection by the president and state governors from the political parties which sponsored their elections
Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, has stated that legislators who defected from the parties that sponsored their elections are not entitled to keep their seats.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) made the comment in a statement released on Sunday, August 5, Punch reports.
NAIJ.com notes that Falana however said when it comes to governors who defect, the Constitution is silent.
He further opined that the only way legislators can justify keeping their seats after they defect, is if there is factionalisation in the party they are exiting, which makes it difficult for the party to function.
He said: “From the clear and unambiguous pronouncements of the apex court, a division in a political party envisaged by the Constitution cannot be a figment of the imagination of prospective defectors.
“The division must make it practically impossible for the party to function.
“In the instant case, the APC was not split to the extent that two parallel congresses were held, leading to the emergence of two parallel sets of officers at the national, state and ward levels.
“A recent example of the factionalisation or division of a political party was recently witnessed when the PDP broke into two factions led by former governors Sheriff and Makarfi until the faction led by the latter was recognised by the Supreme Court.
“No doubt, the members of the R-APC were dissatisfied with the running of the affairs of the APC, but they did not hold any parallel convention which would have produced elected officials of the aggrieved members.
“To that extent, the defection of the R-APC legislators from the APC to the PDP and ADC can be impugned under section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution.
“However, since the APC had allowed legislators to decamp from the PDP to join its fold in the recent past, the ruling party lacks the moral and political rights to condemn the defection of the R-APC legislators.
“But the crass opportunism of the APC cannot legitimise the prostitution of the political system.
“Having decamped from the APC which sponsored their elections, the R-APC defectors ought to resign from the legislative houses and seek a fresh mandate from the electorate.
“In order to curb the dangerous trend, some aggrieved members of the constituencies of the defectors ought to contest the legal validity of the refusal to resign from the affected legislative houses.”
He continued: “However, the Constitution is silent on defection by the president and state governors from the political parties which sponsored their election.
Hence, in Atiku Abubakar v attorney general of the federation (2007) 4 SC (Pt II) 62, the Supreme Court held that the defection of the appellant from PDP to the former Action Congress of Nigeria was not illegal and unconstitutional.
“On the basis of that judicial authority, the decision of governors to dump the political parties which sponsored their elections was not challenged.
“I have therefore canvassed the argument that the defection of Governors Tambuwal, Ortom, and Ahmed of Sokoto, Benue and Kwara states respectively from the APC to the PDP cannot be said to be illegal or unconstitutional.”
Recall that NAIJ.com previously reported that Femi Falana described the defection of the Senate president, the governor of Sokoto state and all top politicians holding public offices as unconstitutional.
Falana, faulting the politicians' defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) there was no crisis in the APC to warrant their defection from the party to the PDP.
Senators, lawmakers defect from APC - on NAIJ.com TV: