A member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the House of Representatives, Hon. Sam Onuigbo on Thursday announced his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The announcement of Onuigbo’s defection was received with a standing ovation by members of the APC family in the House and former Governor of Abia state, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu who was admitted into the chamber to witness the brief ceremony.
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However, the defection of the Lawmaker who is one of the oldest members of the House created uproar from members of the opposition in the House who insisted that the constitution has been breached and therefore his seat should be declared vacant.
In a letter read on the floor of the House by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Abia Lawmaker said he decided to join the APC as a result of crisis and lack of internal democracy, and outright impunity within the PDP.
He said that in arriving at the decision to resign from the PDP to join the APC, he consulted widely both within and outside the Abia state and decided to take the step to embark on the journey of helping the APC reposition the country.
Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said, Hon. Onuigbo was one of the longest-serving members of the House and one of the most respected.
Objecting to the defection and demanding the seat be declared vacant, Hon Solomon Bob (PDP, Rivers) described the action as a charade as there was no crisis within the PDP to necessitate the step, saying “Mr. Speaker, I know that you a leader and you know what to do. What we are doing here is nothing but tramping on the constitution we swore to protect.
“If somebody writes to you claiming he was leaving the party that sponsored him to this house because of crisis, it is your responsibility to investigate that before accepting his letter.”
House Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu who said he was a proud member of the PDP wants the House to invoke the provisions of section 68 and declare the seat vacant; pointing out that the claim of a crisis within the PDP was false.
Elumelu said the National Organising Secretary of the PDP hails from the same local government as Hon. Onuigbo, saying “there can never be a crisis in the party there. What we are doing is wrong and so, we should declare the seat vacant”.
However, addressing Elumelu, the Speaker said “some years ago, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House decamped to the PDP. Did you ask for their seats to be declared vacant? Now, that former Speaker has left the PDP and rejoined the APC. Are you saying I should declare his seat vacant?
But Elumelu insisted that what was going on was building on a faulty foundation and therefore there was the need to empower a Committee to investigate the claims.
Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu said the spirit and letters of the constitution were sacrosanct and should be respected, saying “Onuigbo has taken a dangerous step as there was no crisis in the PDP either in Abia state or at the national level.”