Falana to defectors: It’s illegal to leave the party that sponsored your elections

Femi Falana, lawyer and rights activist, says the defection of some lawmakers from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is illegal.

Fifty-three members of the national assembly recently dumped the ruling party and moved to the opposition, with most of them citing division as their reasons for leaving.

Among the lawmakers were 37 members of the house of representatives and 16 senators, including Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Falana, however, faulted the reasons given by the lawmakers, saying what exists in the ruling party is only “artificial” division.

Speaking during a Channels TV programme on Friday, the senior advocate of Nigeria said the lawmakers’ defection is contrary to both the provisions of the 1999 constitution as well as previous court judgements regarding the issue.

The section 68 (1) of the 1999 constitution which talks about defections states: “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 – (g) 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.”

Falana said the division in question “must be total” and “must not be artificial factionalisation.”

“The division the constitution was talking about was recently witnessed in the PDP whereby you had the Ali Modu Sheriff faction and the Makarfi faction,” he added.

“Two conventions were held almost simultaneously two sets of officers emerged down the line. So you cannot just simply

“This (the APC’s) was a division that was announced in a press conference; it goes beyond that.

“You cannot leave the party that sponsored your election for another party without refining so that you can ask for a fresh mandate form the electorate. And that has not happened in this case.”

The APC reps caucus had hinted at taking legal actions against the defectors.