“You don’t need a doctorate degree in Constitutional Law to interpret the wordings of the above section. It simply demands that any lawmaker who defects from the political party that sponsored him/her to power MUST vacate the seat. In effect, when a lawmaker abandons PDP or APC and defects to APGA or NCP, he automatically loses the seat.”
The idea of self-help approach to providing security is well known in Nigeria. One of the well known groups of security operatives which evolved to complement government’s efforts to provide security were the Bakassi Boys. They were so effective at some point that they got government recognition in the South Eastern states as the official vigilante group. Bakassi boys, in a short time, bought down crime rates and provided a secure environment in the states where they operate. It used to be said of the Bakassi Boys that they struck fear into the hearts of criminal elements of society and the domain in which they operated were very well defended. Surely, the Bakassi Boy would make very good private security guards.
I want to recommend the services of Bakassi boys to Mr Tambuwal and his APC supporters who have been crying blue murder over the withdrawal of the Speaker’s police security. The moment, Tambuwal decamped from his political party, he ceased being a member of the house of representatives and became a private citizen like millions of Nigerians. If Tambuwal and his supporters feel so strongly that he requires more security than the other private citizens, they can contract Bakassi boys to provide that security.
Nigeria has a Constitution which provides the foundation for our democracy and defines roles for all institutions. Section 68 of this constitution is very clear and unambiguous with regards to the defection of a federal lawmaker to another political party.
It provides as follows:
Section 68(1): 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.
You don’t need a doctorate degree in Constitutional Law to interpret the wordings of the above section. It simply demands that any lawmaker who defects from the political party that sponsored him/her to power MUST vacate the seat. In effect, when a lawmaker abandons PDP or APC and defects to APGA or NCP, he automatically loses the seat.
However, it is instructive to note that there is an exception to this general rule. This exception is encapsulated in the proviso to 68(1)(g) and excuses any such defections.
It remains a mystery how Tambuwal seeks to hide under the cloak of this proviso to retain a seat he voluntarily vacated upon his formal defection to APC. The proviso to S.68(1)(g) applies solely to lawmakers who defected on account of divisions in their mother party.
If there was any doubt about the unity of PDP, the Federal High court in the case of Bamanga Tukur & 12ors v Baraje cleared it. Justice Evo Chukwu held, inter alia, that there was no division in PDP.
It is against this background that the withdrawal of Tambuwal’s police security must be understood. Tambuwal ceased to be a lawmaker and Speaker on Tuesday 28th October 2014 when he officially defected to APC. The Police did the needful to withdraw his security and redeploy them to address other security challenges facing our nation.
Those who argue that aggrieved PDP lawmakers should wait for the House to reconvene on Dec 3 before attempting to impeach Tambuwal clearly miss the point. You don’t impeach a vacant seat. And Tambuwal’s seat became vacant upon his defection.
It is also lame and laughable for Tambuwal’s supporters to cite the defection of Ondo Speaker to PDP as defence for Tambuwal’s action. Assuming without conceding that Ondo Speaker is guilty of the same breach, it doesn’t, by any stretch of legal imagination, serve as a justification of Tambuwal’s defection. It is akin to a student who is caught cheating in exams to put up a lame defence that other students engage in Exam malpractice too.
However, It is important to distinguish the Ondo case and that of ex Speaker Tambuwal. While the former defected on account of the leadership crisis in Labour Party and therefore falls under the protection offered by the proviso to S.68(1)(g), the latter voluntarily defected out of a party whoose unity and cohesion was recently affirmed and Judicially noticed.
So my advice to Tambuwal and his supporters is that they should conserve the energy they are misapplying at the law courts and the political circus they are setting up and concentrate on strategizing to secure Tambuwal’s re-election into the House of Representatives in the imminent elections. In the mean time, they should patronize Bakassi Boys to secure the newest private citizen in town.
Akaebube is a political and socio-economic affairs analyst. He writes exclusively for BREAKING TIMES every week in the column, Game of Thrones. He can be followed on Twitter at @Akaebube
The opinions expressed by columnists in the published feature – Game of Thrones do not reflect the “OPINION and or “POLICY” of BREAKING TIMES as an online news media publishing establishment. Words on this page remain at all times, the literary expression of the writers’ creative imagination.