PDP lawmakers protest as Imo Rep member joins APC
Igbokwe informed the House that he actually defected to the APC since January 2017 and had been paying his membership dues to the APC.
The defection, which had Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha in attendance, occurred on Tuesday, December 19, 2017.
“You will recall that the judgment of the Supreme Court that finally resolved the leadership crisis was delivered in July 2017, six months after I joined the APC,” part of his defection letter read.
Punch reports that Igbokwe's announcement stirred a protest by members of the PDP, especially when Igbokwe cited divisions in the party as his reason for dumping the PDP.
The PDP lawmakers, who were led by the Deputy Minority Whip, Binta Bello, asked the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, not to allow the defection to stand.
Bello demanded that Dogara should ignore the reason given by Igbokwe and instead declare his seat vacant.
Citing Section 68 of the 1999 Constitution, Bello noted that Igbokwe was insulting the sensibilities of members by citing “divisions” as a reason for leaving the PDP.
Bello, who is from Gombe State, added, “Mr. Speaker, the PDP is one family and we don’t have any division. Our case was settled by the Supreme Court and a member cannot come here and be telling the House that the PDP has divisions. It is not true.”
Igbokwe was the sixth member of the PDP to leave the party this year, with the APC being the main beneficiary.
His defection cut the numerical strength of the PDP to about 119.
Reactions from PDP and APC lawmakers
More members of the PDP in the House, including the Chairman, House Committee on Ethics/Privileges, Nicholas Ossai, supported Bello, urging Dogara to ignore Igbokwe.
Ossai also argued that the Speaker ought to have caused Igbokwe’s claim that there were divisions in the PDP to be investigated before allowing it to stand.
Gbjabiamila shouted down
The Majority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, made an attempt to rose to speak, but the PDP lawmakers quickly shouted him down.
They kept shooting “no,” “no,” “no” to every attempt Gbajabiamila made to make some points.
Gbajabiamila, an APC member from Lagos State, succeeded in saying that the fact of the apex court identifying one of the PDP factions as the authentic one, meant that there were indeed divisions.
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Amid the protests staged by the PDP members of the House of Reps, the Speaker, Dogara ruled in favour of the defection.
He noted that his understanding of Section 68(2) of the constitution would also imply that the House must first pass a resolution to decide whether to declare Igbokwe’s seat vacant or not.
“In this case, it will even be the decision of the majority and a losing battle already,” the Speaker ruled.
As the Speaker’s gavel came down to seal his decision, Bello jumped to her feet and beckoned to her fellow PDP colleagues to leave the chambers.
They complied and filed behind her and walked out of the floor in protest.
This action saw the APC members shouting “bye-bye”, “bye-bye” as the PDP lawmakers left the chambers.
The aggrieved lawmakers later held a news conference where Bello again restated her earlier position, which she presented on the floor. The lawmakers were joined by other minority party lawmakers from the All Progressives Grand Alliance, the Labour Party and the Accord Party.
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