By KEMI KASUMU
Falana said, “The seats of the cross carpeting members have been declared vacant by the Speaker known to law.”
Opposition to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s intervention in the crisis rocking Rivers State may have gained more grounds as human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), says that the President cannot reinstate 27 members of the sate House of Assembly, who defected from their party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to tge All Progressives Congress (APC).
The cross-carpeting lawmakers, who are loyalists of Nyesom, had said Sunday that they defected to APC because Tinubu was “doing very well” as president and because he had appointed more indigenes of Rivers into his government.
Wike, who is immediate past governor has locked horns with Sir Siminalayi Fubara, the current Governor of Rivers State over the control of power structure in the state.
Wike’s failure to continue to be in charge because he is no ĺonger the governor, our investigation revealed, was the reason for the crisis that snowballed into 27 of 32 lawmakers of the state’s ruling PDP defecting to APC allegedly on the directive of Wike, while his nine loyalists imposed on Fubara’s cabinet res8gned their appointments.
President Tinubu made a second intervention Monday night and reportedly came up with a purported eight-point agenda the governor was said to have signed and in which, among others, he directed that Governor Fubara reinstate the cross-carpeting lawmakers to continue to function with him. And update later emerged on Tuesday revealing that the governor and former governor Peter Odili did not sign any eight-point resolution neither with Tinubu nor Wike.
However, Mr. Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said Tuesday that presidential interventions must always be grounded in the provisions of the Constitution.
“With respect, the presidential reinstatement of the 27 cross carpeting members of the Rivers State House of Assembly by the Presidency is alien to the Constitution in every material particular,” Falana said.
Falana said, “The seats of the cross carpeting members have been declared vacant by the Speaker known to law. To that extent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is mandatorily required to conduct the by-election once the ex parte order issued by the Federal High Court last Friday is quashed.”
The senior lawyer said the cross carpeting legislator can only retain their seats if they can prove that the political party that sponsored them is divided into two or more factions.
“Even if all the cases in the Rivers State High Court and the Federal High Court are withdrawn in line with the advice of the President, it is submitted that all actions taken by the Speaker (Ehie) recognised by the Rivers State High Court, remain valid, including his pronouncement on the vacant seats of the 27 cross carpeting members of the House.
“In other words, only a court of law is constitutionally competent to set aside the pronouncement of the Speaker which is anchored on section 109 of the Constitution. Furthermore, as the Speaker (Ehie) has not been removed by the required number of legislators, a presidential directive cannot remove him,” Falana stated.
The senior lawyer further asked INEC to conduct a by-election to fill the 27 vacant seats, adding that “the remaining members of the House are competent to conduct legislative business except the impeachment of the governor which can only be carried out by the two thirds of the entire members of the House”.