The Cross River State House of Assembly (CRSHA) has declared the seat of Hon member Okora Elucate Ekom, representing Obubra 11 State Constituency vacant over his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Already, the House is in position of a resolution from his Iyamoyong PDP Council Ward, declaring the seat vacant. The House, also in position of a resolution from his Obubra Chapter of the PDP and the State Executive of the Party has declared the seat vacant.
In reply to a test message sent to the Speaker of the (CRSHA) Rt. Hon John Gaul Lebo by Daily Post, he said “Yes, we received a resolution from his Iyamoyong PDP Council Ward declaring the seat vacant; we also received a resolution from his Obubra Chapter of the PDP and the State Executive of the Party also declaring the seat vacant”.
“He wrote to the Party notifying them of his defection without giving any reason, he wrote to the House notifying us of his defection and gave the reasons for defection as result of the crisis in the National Executive of the Party”
“Our position is that the PDP had a legal tussle and dispute over the Chairmanship position and at every point there was a court Judgment giving a direction to members and preserving the status quo ante, a legal dispute is different from a Political crisis as contemplated in the constitution capable of making a member to defect”.
“In his ward, Chapter and State level of the Party, there was no crises whatsoever capable of invoking S109 (g)” the speaker concluded. But the APC Acting Chairman, Sir John Ochala, also in reply to a text message said, “The State House of Assembly has declared the seat of Hon Ekom Elucate, representing Obubra 11 State Constituency vacant”.
“The State Assembly erred in taking such a decision. Section 109 sub g allows him to defect if there is division in the Party. We are all aware that PDP had two Chairmen as at the time of his defection (Sheriff and Markafi) We shall seek redress in Court” he stated.
Consequently, the Senior Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Barrister Okoi Obono-Obla while speaking with our correspondent on phone said the action of the House was illegal and impunity that is the hallmark of the Party.
“It’s the illegality and impunity that is the hallmark of PDP, they don’t have the right, the Speaker has no molecule or colour or Atom of right to declare the seat of Hon Member Hon Okura Elucate Ekom, member representing Obubra II State Constituency vacant under the guise that he left PDP and joined APC”.
“It is a notorious fact that PDP is in faction, Makafi and Sheriff faction and by virtue of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, where there is a split in the National leadership of a Political Party, a legislator or Parliamentarian, elected under a party platform, has the right to defect.
”Dr Ekom defected three weeks ago, so the attempt to declare his seat vacant is unconstitutional and as I said earlier, is example of the impunity which PDP is known for and what has led to what PDP is suffering now.”
He further said, “they just want to declare his seat vacant because may be they perceived that he is no longer committed to PDP but they should not do that. As I said when a Party is divided and in faction at the National level, anybody elected under any other Party who is in the National Assembly or State House of Assembly has a right to defect”.
“We have seen a lot of examples of recent, Hon John Owan Eno, the Senator representing Cross River Central Senatorial District defected and his seat was not declare vacant, PDP did not go to court and another member in Akwa Ibom State defected to APC, his seat was not declare vacant and many others”.
Answering questions that in event that the House goes ahead to declare the seat vacant, what will he do, “We will definitely go to court, we will challenge it, we cannot leave that kind of Impunity unchallenged, we will challenge it in court and fight the case to its logical conclusion. But let me urged PDP to be law abiding, they should not do that, let the PDP toe line of peace,” he pleaded.