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PDP senators walk out over defection of colleague to APC


Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators led by the Chief Whip walked out of the Senate chamber yesterday in protest against the defection of their colleague, Senator Yele Omogunwa (Ondo South) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Omogunwa had in his letter of defection read by the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, explained that he defected to the APC to give support to the Ondo State governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu.

But the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, who led the protest against the refusal of Saraki to declare Omogunwa’s seat vacant, said Omogunwa’s reason was not provided for in the constitution.

Akpabio, who raised Order 43 of Senate Standing Rules to fault Omogunwa’s defection, said the only ground upon which a serving lawmaker could defect from one party to another as specified in section 68(c) of the 1999 constitution as amended, is through division in the leadership of his party, which he said no longer exist in PDP based on Court of Appeal and Supreme Court judgment over the nomination of PDP candidate for Ondo election.

He explained that the appellate courts stated categorically in their judgments that the only known and recognised national leadership of the PDP was the caretaker committee under Senator Ahmad Markafi.

He was, however, overruled by Saraki who said that the matter was controversial, a fact, which Saraki said ran contrary to the spirit and letter of Order 43 on which Akpabio made his objection.

The rising tension among the PDP senators over the development, heightened when Senator Dino Melaye, (APC Kogi West), who also raised a motion through Order 43, maintained that the division within the PDP national leadership between Markafi and Modu Sherrif still exists, which made “Omogunwa’s defection to be valid.”

Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP Delta North) kicked against, accusing the Senate President of running foul of the standing rules of allowing Melaye to make remarks over an issue that had already been ruled upon.

“Mr. President, having ruled the Senate Minority Leader out of order over his objection and by extension, PDP Senators’ objection to Omogunwa’s defection, it was wrong to have allowed another senator to remark on the same issue,” he said. Saraki responded by saying, “noted.”

Apparently infuriated by the development, the PDP senators staged a walkout out of the Chamber to the Senate Hearing Room 2 where they addressed the press on why they took the action.

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