Supreme Court must declare Saraki, others’ seats vacant, says Arise

0

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has been urged to approach the Supreme Court on the need to declare the seats of Senate President Bukola Saraki and other defecting senators vacant.
Former Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Ayo Arise, said the executive arm of government is empowered by law to invoke Section 68 (1) g of the 1999 Constitution to declare the seats of the defecting senators vacant.
Speaking on a Channels Television current affairs programme, POLITICS TODAY, monitored in Ado-Ekiti, Arise said the defection of Saraki and his followers in the Senate, without a valid reason as prescribed by the Constitution are no longer members of the National Assembly.
Arise, who was in the Senate between 2007 and 2011, and seeking a return to the upper chamber said approaching the Supreme Court would save the country from what he called “the ongoing defection mentality which has now become a recurring practice in Nigerian politics, especially in the build up to every election.”
According to him, the issue at stake is far beyond individual or a group of people but rather a constitutional matter in order to move the country forward.
The former lawmaker stressed that Nigeria will forever remain underdeveloped politically, if will fail to do what is right by adhering to the tenets and dictates of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Arise said: “Law is not a respecter of anybody and it must not be held contrary in Nigeria hence the need for the law to take its course in the latest development and set the record straight once and for all. This will go a long way at bringing sanity and sanctity into the nation’s democracy”.
“The Supreme Court in the case between Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde and Ondo State House of Assembly and others, had unambiguously settled the issue of defections, when it defined the difference between factionalisation and fractionalisation of a political party and explained the reasons that can warrant the defection of any elected member of the National or State Assembly without suffering the consequences as stated in section 68 (1) g of our Constitution.
“It stated that, factionalisation of a party could not have warranted any lawmaker to change his or her party but held that, factionalisation through which a Legislator can defect must be in conformity with the section 68(2) of the constitution which states that, there must be a division in the party.
“What “factionalisation or division” means here is that, there must be a parallel executive from the national to the ward level within the affected political party before the constitutional requirements that permits defection without forfeiture of one’s seat could be met.
“And as at today, there is no such ground in the APC to allow Saraki and others to change from the party through which they became legislators without losing their seats in the National Assembly. They could participate in a new election to fill their seats in their new parties.
“On the possibility of having the INEC budget for the 2019 general elections passed into law because of the current face-off between the National Assembly and the Executive, Sen. Arise noted that, the constitution allows the President to spend up to 50% of previous budget proposal in the event of a delay in passing a current budget by the Lawmakers.
“Therefore, the question of whether or not the passage of INEC budget could be an obstacle towards the conduct of 2019 general elections may not arise because the President can source for funds through some special intervention funds pending the settlement of the political imbroglio.
“The most practical and legal solution is to follow the dictates of our Constitution and declare the seats vacant by seeking the opinion of the Supreme Court again if anyone is doubt that any judgment of the Supreme Court is the law of the land.
“The Constitution also empowers the Executive arm of the government to enforce our laws.”