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Group sues Saraki, Melaye, Akpabio, others over defection

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has dragged Senate President Bukola Saraki, and some other lawmakers to court seeking a declaration that they are no longer members of the National Assembly.

In a suit filed before an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, the group joined Godswill Akpabio, the former Senate minority leader; Dino Melaye; and Rabiu Kwankwaso as defendants.

Twelve other senators and 36 members of the House of Representatives were also joined as defendants.

Further joined as defendants were the Independent National Electoral Commission, the deputy senate president, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The suit is seeking, among others, a declaration that by virtue of section 68(1)(g) of the Nigerian Constitution, any member of the National Assembly who resigns from the political party that sponsored his election into the National Assembly before the expiration of the term for which he was elected, automatically loses his seat in the Assembly.

It is also seeking a declaration that the lawmakers are no longer entitled to receive any remunerations due to a member of the National Assembly and that any of such remunerations after their date of defection be refunded to the federal government.

LEDAP in the suit filed on September 14 so prayed the presiding members of the National Assembly to declare vacant the seats of the defectors.

No date has been fixed yet for the hearing of the suit.

In July, 37 members of the House of Representatives defected from the All Progressives Congress – 32 joined the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) while four joined the African Democratic Congress (ADC); one did not announce his new party at the time.

On the same day, 14 APC senators defected to the PDP.

About a week after the senators’ defection, Mr Saraki himself announced his decision to dump the APC for the PDP.

Mr Dogara followed suit almost two months later by quietly purchasing a nomination form to run on the PDP platform.

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