Rivers crisis: PDP Insists On Fresh Polls To Replace 25 Lawmakers

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to set a date to conduct fresh elections to fill 25 vacancies in the Rivers State House of Assembly.

PDP said its demand was in line with Section 109 (1) (g) of the Nigerian constitution.

According to the PDP, there is no remedy for the 25 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected from the party to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

PDP said by virtue of Section 109 (1)(g) of the Nigerian Constitution, the lawmakers vacated and lost their seats after defecting from the party.

A statement released on Tuesday by PDP acting National Chairman, Umar Iliya Damagum, said: “Our Party insists that having now vacated and lost their seats, 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 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.

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“The 25 former Rivers lawmakers freely and without any cause vacated their seats, being fully aware of the consequences of defection from the Party upon which they were elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly without the conditions stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no division in the PDP at the national or any other level for that matter to justify the defection of the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from the Party. They therefore vacated their seats for reasons best known to them and cannot return to the House of Assembly without passing through a fresh electoral process in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.

“Moreover, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly Rt. Hon (Barr) Ehie O. Edison officially declared the seats of the defected now former members vacant in line with Section 109 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The Rivers State House of Assembly, having become Functus Officio on the matter cannot re-admit the former lawmakers unless through the channel of a fresh election.

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“Our Party therefore counsels the former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly not to be deceived by anybody giving them the false hope and impracticable assurances in Abuja that they can return to the Rivers State House of Assembly without a fresh election or that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can be stopped from conducting fresh election into the 25 Rivers State Constituencies where vacancies have occurred by reason of their defection.

“For emphasis Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022, is clear in providing that no Courts have powers to stop INEC from conducting elections wherever and whenever a vacancy occurs in any electoral constituency.

“For clarity Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides that: “Nothing in this section shall empower the Courts to stop the holding of primaries or general election under this Act pending the determination of the suit.”

“The PDP demands that INEC should, in line with Section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022, fix a date for the conduct of fresh elections into the 25 State Constituencies in Rivers State where vacancies have occurred by reason of the defection of the now former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, pending the determination of any suit in any court.

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“The national leadership of the PDP charges all members of our great Party in Rivers State to remain united and resolute in the defence of Constitutional democracy and Rule of Law in Rivers State.”