The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) maintains that the 25 former lawmakers must follow the established legal process to reclaim their seats, despite President Tinubu’s request for their reinstatement.
In a statement issued after an emergency meeting, the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) declared that the former lawmakers can only return to the Rivers State House of Assembly through fresh elections.
Recall that Tinubu on Monday directed Governor Fubara to recognise Martin Amaewhule as Speaker and pay the salaries of the defected lawmakers.
However, the PDP said such a move isn’t legal.
“The only option available for the former lawmakers is to seek fresh nomination and re-election on the platform of any political party of their choice,” the statement said.
“They freely vacated their seats, being fully aware of the consequences of defection without justification.”
The PDP further clarified that the Rivers State House of Assembly, having declared the seats vacant, cannot re-admit the former members without a fresh election. They also dismissed claims that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can be prevented from conducting elections in the affected constituencies.
“Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022 is clear,” the statement noted. “No court has the power to stop INEC from conducting elections wherever a vacancy occurs.”
The PDP, therefore, urged INEC to proceed with fixing a date for fresh elections in the 25 constituencies, while assuring their party members to remain united and resolute in upholding the rule of law.
The development is the latest chapter in the ongoing political saga in Rivers State, fueled by the power struggle between Governor Nyesom Wike and his successor, Governor Siminalayi Fubara. The defection of 27 lawmakers, allegedly loyal to Wike, and the counter-declaration of their seats as vacant by Fubara’s camp had plunged the state assembly into turmoil.