Members of the Kogi State House of Assembly on Tuesday disagreed over suggestions that the seat of the immediate past speaker, Alhaji Umar Imam, be declared vacant following his defection from the APC to the SDP.
He is currently contesting the Aug. 11 bye-election to fill the vacant seat of Lokoja Federal Constituency on the platform of his new political party.
At the House’s plenary on Tuesday, Abdullahi Hassan-Bello (APC/Ajaokuta), who is the Majority Leader, moved a motion seeking that Imam’s seat be declared vacant since he had left the APC.
Seconding the motion, deputy majority leader Ahmed Mohammed (APC/Ankpa I) declared that it was timely, arguing that there was no crisis in APC to justify a defection.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state chairman of APC, Alhaji Abdullahi Bello, had earlier written a letter asking the legislators to declare Imam’s seat vacant following his defection’.
In his contribution, a former Speaker of the House, Momoh-Jimoh Lawal (PDP/Okene II) opposed the motion and recalled that many APC members had cross-carpeted at the National Assembly and kept their seats.
“I do not support the suggestion that the seat of our colleague be declared vacant.
“We are all aware that at the national level, there is Reform APC, which signifies crisis in the ruling party.
“Only a court of law can declare the seat of any member vacant. Mr Speaker, you are a beneficiary of this defection because you were elected on the platform of the PDP before you defected to the APC last year.
“When you defected, your seat was not declared vacant”, Lawal pointed out, citing Section 109(1)(g) of the 1999 constitution to back up his insistence that Imam be allowed to keep his seat.
Also contributing, Momoh Rabiu l-Alfa (APC/Ankpa II) told his colleagues that they were lawmakers and not law breakers.
“Declaring the seat of the former speaker vacant is of no use to the members. I therefore distance myself from this motion”, he stated.
Linus Eneche (APC/Olamaboro), in his contribution, urged members to have the fear of God in their dealings with others, saying that maltreating Imam could backfire.
“Declaring the seat of the former speaker vacant, to me, is not necessary,” he said.
In his ruling, however, the Speaker, Mathew Kolawole, claimed that he was on the side of the law, and directed the Clerk to convey the decision to declare Imam’s seat vacant, to INEC.
NAN recalls that Kolawole, along with five others – John Abah, Adoke Bello, Ahmed Mohammed, Victor Omofaiye, and Kekere Sani-Abdulkareem representing Ibaji, Adavi, Ankpa 1, Ijummu and Okehi respectively, defected from the PDP to the APC on March 27, 2017.
Their letter notifying the House of the intention to defect was read at plenary by Imam, who was then the Speaker.