A Port Harcourt-based legal practitioner and public affairs analyst, Barr Chioma Choko has blamed the indiscriminate defection of politicians in the country from one political party to another on openings created in the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) with regard to the subject matter.
Barr Choko made the assertion while exchanging views with The Tide in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, recently.
According to the lawyer, even though the constitution talks about the incidence of a division or crisis within a political party as a condition precedent for an elected member to move from his political party to another, the same constitution is not clear about what constitutes a division or crisis.
“Yes, we acknowledge that there are provisions (in the constitution) that allow a particular candidate (elected member) to move without approaching the court, the provisions of the law regulating this particular activity is not clear as to the definition of certain acts of that particular political party that can be concluded by members of the public to mean acts that are inconsistent with the rules and regulations of the political party,” he said, adding that “this, as a matter of fact, has given leeway to political party members who would want to move from where they say they’re no longer comfortable to a particular political party where they feel that their interest will be secured”.
With specific reference to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, lawmakers in the Imo State House of Assembly who defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, Barr Choko, who is also a member of the APC in Rivers State said the legislators action could only be self-serving.
“In the case of Imo State, a large number of the society will agree with me that what is playing out there cannot be said to mean crisis in the political party that should warrant the defection of members of that political party.
“The members that have left the PDP for the APC do not have a good excuse or reason for which they have elected to so do. So, I have reason to conclude that these persons are not serving the interest of democracy.
“They, at every point in time, seem to be protecting their personal interest rather than the interest of their constituencies. They seem to be protecting their pockets. They seem to be protecting whatever monetary interests that may accrue to them as members of that particular house”, he argued.
Asked if he was excited to see the defectors move into the APC, the party stalwart said beyond swelling the numerical strength of the party and providing possible cover for the chief executive of the state, there was nothing useful to expect from them.
“If you look at the integrity of these persons, the question we will have to ask ourselves is ‘what do they really have to offer?
“These are persons who are coming to extract from the political party; they’re coming to extract from the executive arm of the government; they’re coming to benefit from where they did not work; they’re coming to rip off the state’s resources. So, it is not a good reason for me to rejoice for anything. They have nothing to offer”, he said.
By: Opaka Dokubo
Bayelsa, Kogi Guber Polls: A’court orders INEC to respond to APP’s appeal
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal yesterday ordered an accelerated hearing in the appeal filed by the Action Peoples Party (APP) against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the exclusion of its candidates from participating in the 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
A three-man member panel of the appellate court headed by its Acting President, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, specifically granted the motion for abridgement of time filed and argued by the party.
The said motion was filed on March 30th wherein the appellant sought for the abridgement of time by directing INEC to respond to its appeal within five days.
The party argued that out of the statutory 60 days stipulated for the hearing of the appeal, 30 days have already been spent.
Counsel to the APP Mr Obed Agu added that if the motion for abridgement of time is not granted, it will rob the court of its jurisdiction to hear the appeal as it would become statute-barred.
Ruling on the motion, the Acting President of the court, Justice Dongban-Mensem, who was sitting for the first time after her swearing-in on March 6th, granted the request.
The court, accordingly, ordered INEC to respond to the appeal within five days and adjourned further hearing of the appeal to April 8th.
Earlier, the Acting President charged litigants to be mindful of the coronavirus disease and observe all health protocols governing the conduct of persons in the face of the pandemic as they come to court.
“In view of the perilous times, counsel should make a point of duty not to delay proceedings unnecessarily.
“No filling of frivolous applications,” said Justice Dongban-Mensem.
Excited by this, counsel to APP, Mr Obed Agu said: “I’m amazed that the president is here herself.
“That shows how duty-bound she is. It shows a lot about her dexterity. Any other person would have given excuses over the lockdown.”
The APP had in its appeal marked CA/ABJ/CV/218/2020 against asked the appellate court to abridge the time in the hearing of the case for being statute-barred.
The appeal proper is against the judgment of Justice Ijeoma of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court delivered on February 21st, wherein she held that INEC was right to have excluded candidates of the party (APP) in the governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa States in 2019.
The judgment of the trial court was predicated on the ground that APP replaced its withdrawn candidates outside the statutory period of 45 days to the date of the 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship election.
Maiduguri Residents Urge Politicians To Reach Out To Needy Electorates
Some residents of Maiduguri have urged politicians to share rice and other foodstuffs to households, the same way they did, during election period.
The residents, told our source that they were disappointed with the politicians who, at this time of need, had yet to extend such gesture to the electorate.
“This is the best time we need to get the rice, sugar, salt and other assistance from them, but they are not forth coming.
“All we hear is that they have donated their salary in Abuja forgetting about us,” Ibrahim Abubakar of Mairi ward said.
Falmata Bukar, another resident wondered why the politicians were less bothered to extend favour to the masses at this critical time.
“Although it is not a right, but it is a shame for one who gave you food when you are not really in need, just to vote for him, to now ignore you when you voted him in and now in need of his support,” Bukar said.
She pointed out that Maiduguri had a lot of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) residing outside the camps, with relations also in need of support at this critical time.
Idris Mohammed and Modu Musa also expressed disappointment with the slow response from the politicians, in using the COVID-19 situation to assist their respective constituencies.
They pointed out that before the indefinite suspension of the proposed Local Government elections in the state last week, some politicians had started meeting on how to distribute items to the electorate.
“Since the suspension of the electioneering campaigns by the State Electoral Commission, the politicians are no longer calling for meeting to strategise, let alone discussing how to mobilise voters with gifts,” Mohammed said.
On their part, John Vandi and Babale Mustafa urged politicians to have a rethink on their actions, before it is late, as the appropriate time for such support was now.
Support Abiodun’s Fight Against COVID-19, Ogun Students Tell Senators
The National Association of Ogun State Students (NAOSS) has called on the senators representing the three senatorial districts in the state to give total support to Governor Dapo Abiodun in the fight against COVID -19.
The call was contained in a statement issued in Abeokuta , yesterday by the association’s National President, Oluwagbemileke Ogunrombi.
It appealed to Senators Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central), Lekan Mustapha (Ogun East) and Tolu Odebiyi (Ogun West) to join hands with the governor in order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
The association urged the senators to set aside their individual and political differences and work together with the governor for the benefit of the state.
It specifically urged the senators to help in the provision of relief materials such as food items, cash and protective materials to their constituents to lessen the hardship on the people.
“This is a trying time for the entire world, Africa and Nigeria. Ogun is not left out in the scourge of this deadly disease.
“Therefore, the state needs all the help it can get from private individuals, politicians, religious leaders and other well-meaning Nigerians to ensure we win this war against COVID-19.
“All hands must be on deck to fight the spread of COVID-19. This is not the time for us to be divided, we must be united,” the statement added.
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