The Independent National Electoral Commission has said it would not hesitate to use the relevant section of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) in the event of any lawmaker leaving the political party on which platform he or she was elected, before the expiration of the tenure.
The warning came after rumours spread in some quarters that the crisis in some political parties might lead to mass defection of aggrieved lawmakers.
Deputy Director, Public Affairs of INEC, Nick Dazang, told New Telegraph that the constitution is clear on the position the commission will take in such situation. Quoting Section 109 (g) of the 1999 Constitution, Dazang said the provision is explicit on “what happens if one defects from one political party to another.”
Section 109 (g) states that a member of the legislature shall vacate his seat in the House if “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 of which that House was elected.”
It however, gives a proviso, that: “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.”
In this circumstance, the reverse might be the case. Dazang, however, said he was not aware of any plan by any lawmaker to defect from the political party he or she was elected into the House.
The Supreme Court had last year, ruled that a member of House of Representatives representing Akure North/South Federal Constituency of Ondo State should vacate his seat for defecting from Labour Party to the All Progressives Congress. The apex court held that there was no division in the Labour Party at the time the lawmaker joined the APC.