Fifty-two members of the Senate have written to the leadership of the National Assembly to express their objection to any attempts to declare vacant the seat of any member of the Upper Chamber who defects to another political party.
The Senators in the letter dated January 20, warned that if the seat of any member must be declared vacant, it should be only through a process of recall by the relevant constituents or by the pronouncement of a court of competent and final jurisdiction, rather than what they called “politics of intimidation, harassment and or comment that could jeopardize the peaceful co-existence of unity of Nigeria”.
The Senators, who made reference to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) crisis which has culminated in some Senators threatening to defect to other political parties, stressed the need to forestall imminent crisis in the polity. Urging the Senate to continue to tolerate all legislators irrespective of their views, they said the country could only make progress when there is tolerance and respect for one another and the rule of law.
“Having reaffirmed our confidence in the National Assembly as the only institution empowered by the Constitution to protect and defend the collective interest and yearning of Nigeria are however concerned about some comments, statements and threat in the print and electronic media credited to some elected and unelected persons threatening to declare vacant, the seats of some Senators who are the representatives of the Nigerian people in the National Assembly”, they said.
They stressed that they view such threats with serious concern as they are mischievous and capable of undermining the independence of the legislature and taking away the mandate given to such Senators as the representatives of the Nigerian people.
The Senators further drew attention to an existing legal matter at the Federal High Court in Abuja on the same subject matter, pointing out that it is the practice of the Senate that where a matter is pending in a law court, it cannot be a subject of discussion or debate on the floor of Senate.
“We hereby note that this is not the first experience in the Senate where some Senators have moved to political parties of their choice as a result of one reason or the other, whereas, such has not caused any political tension or intimidation,” the letter cautioned, adding that “It is our resolve that the Senate should maintain and sustain this principle and precedence”.