Defection to APC: Saraki, Goje, nine other senators adamant
The 11 Senators who dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday for the All Progressives Congress (APC) are adamant in their decision to switch camp, regardless of the planned meeting with them on Monday by Senate President David Mark.
They are also insisting that going by the principle of mutatis mutandis in law, the Senate leadership cannot declare their seats vacant after a court has issued an injunction against the House of Representatives from declaring the seats of defecting Reps vacant
Some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are understood to be considering going to court to stop the 11 Senators from defecting.
The Senators include: Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central), Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Mohammed Ndume (Borno South), Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West) and Magnus Abe (Rivers South East), Wilson Ake (Rivers West).
The rest are :Bindo Jubrilla (Adamawa North), Abdullahi Gobir (Sokoto East) and Alhassan Aisha Jummai (Taraba North).
Although,the Senators on Wednesday protested the refusal of Senate Deputy President Ike Ekweremadu to read their joint letter on the defection on the floor of the chambers,they now say their defection is already in the public domain .
One of the Senators said: “We are prepared to meet the President of the Senate on Monday but the session cannot change our mind not to defect to APC. We have gone beyond this stage.
“Whether our letter is read or not on the floor, we have defected to APC and Nigerians are aware of it. No one can compel us to belong to PDP Caucus in the Senate.
“The only issue in dispute is about declaration of our seats vacant. This involves some retaliatory politics within the PDP leadership, we are waiting for them.”
A former governor, who is one of the defecting governors, said: “We learnt that some forces in PDP are trying to go to court to stop our defection. Maybe they want to get a court injunction to restrain us. But can this stop our position on debates and matters before the Senate?
“They cannot declare our seats vacant; we believe the doctrine or principle of mutatis mutandis should apply in this case. A court had issued an injunction restraining the House of Representatives from declaring the seats of his members, who defected to APC, vacant. As a chamber of the National Assembly, whatever affects the House should apply to the Senate.
“It is subjudice to declare defecting Senators’ seats vacant when a case is in court on a similar matter.”
However,another source said the 11 Senators may decline to honour the invitation to the Monday meeting with Senator Mark.
He said:”We believe we have met all the constitutional requirements and complied with the Senate rules as regards defections.
“The leadership of the Senate seems hell bent on frustrating our movement through delay tactics.
“The letter was submitted during plenary on Wednesday and it was not read. We expected that it would be read last Thursday only for us to be told that the Deputy Senate President did not have the mandate of Mark to read the letter.
“They did not meet with us before we submitted the letter. Why are they now making meeting with us a condition to read our letter?”
The source insisted that all the 11 Senators have resolved to join the APC and no amount of delay tactics would make them change their mind.
It was also gathered that Mark has set up a committee headed by a principal officer of the Senate to lobby the defecting lawmakers to see reason and attend the meeting.
The mandate of the lobby group is to ensure that the crucial meeting is not boycotted by the defecting Senators on Monday.
Meanwhile, fresh facts emerged yesterday that five Senators are bidding time on their defection for strategic reasons.
One of them said the stance of ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar would determine his next political move.
The five Senators are Saidu Alkali; Basheer Mohammed; Ahmed Zanna; Ahmed Barata; and Mohammed Maccido.
Another source said: “Some of the Senators are bidding time because of local politics in their states. Once the issues are sorted out, they will make up their mind.
“We gave ourselves a deadline to decide on whether to defect or not. But these five colleagues cited local politics for delaying their decision.
“One of them also said ex-VP Atiku’s position on the situation in PDP will guide him on his defection .
“Another Senator is doing some calculations because of his interest in the governorship race in his state in 2015.
“We understand their position because in politics, you have to watch your back.”