From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
House of Representatives members elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) staged a walkout from the plenary yesterday following the defection of Nnanna Igbokwe to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
They were joined by their colleagues elected on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Labour Party (LP).
Igbokwe, a lawmaker from Imo State, in a letter to the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, said he was leaving the PDP because of the division in the party in his state.
Besides, the lawmaker said he had joined the APC in January before the Supreme Court decided the leadership tussle between the then PDP National Caretaker Committee chairman, Senator Ahmed Malaria and former national chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff.
He noted that the letter was to clear doubts in the minds of his colleagues and constituents as to the political party he belonged.
In a swift reaction, Deputy Minority Whip, Binta Bello urged Dogara to invoke the spirit of section 68(1g) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and declare Igbokwe’s seat vacant.
According to her, there is no more division in the PDP since the apex court resolved its leadership crisis.
However, Dogara ruled her out of order, stating that the provisions in section 61(1) could be invoked only with a condition in section 61(2).
The speaker said the House must be properly notified about the development conducted in support or against declaring any seat vacant, with majority decision prevailing.
He explained:”And you know this will be determined by the majority.”
However, Dogara’s ruling did not go down well with opposition lawmakers, as they staged a walkout and expressed their displeasure to journalists.
Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, who was present at the plenary, handed the APC flag to Igbokwe.