Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday declared that it would invoke the relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) against lawmakers who defect from the political parties on which platforms they were elected before the expiration of their tenures.
Speculations have been rife that the current crisis in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, might force some aggrieved lawmakers to defect to other political parties to avoid being sanctioned for anti-party activities.
But INEC Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Nick Dazang, told newsmen yesterday in Abuja that the constitution is clear on the position the commission would take in such situation.
Quoting Section 109 (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), 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 or Senate.
Last year, the Supreme Court 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 APC. The apex court held that there was no division in the Labour Party at the time the lawmaker joined the APC.