The last may not have been heard of the defection saga in the Senate, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described Senate President David Mark’s insistence on not reading the letter of the 11 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators who want to defect to APC as double standards.
The opposition party threatened to take further steps to assert the rights of the defected senators by next week if the matter is not resolved amicably.
Speaking to THISDAY on the phone friday evening, the interim National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said the party viewed the drama in the senate over the defection as totally strange and uncalled for.
“It amounts to double standards for the senate president not to have allowed the letter to be read, whereas the defections to PDP was celebrated by the ruling party.
“Why will he refuse to read our senators’ letter while at the time allowing other defections to sail through? It is lack of sincerity to allow defections to one party and refuse others from defecting to another. As a matter of fact, what applies to the House of Representatives should also apply to the Senate,” he maintained.
He said the recourse to the Standing Rules of the Senate and order of the court by Mark was not tenable as far as the issue of defection was concerned.
On the affected senators, Lai Muhammed said they remained APC members whether their letter was read or not by the senate president, adding that what was playing out at the upper legislative chambers was strange.
The affected senators who wrote a joint letter to the senate president notifying him of their intention to defect from PDP to APC a fortnight ago are Senator Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central), Umaru Dahiru (Sokoto South), Magnus Ngei Abe (Rivers South-East), Wilson Asinobi Ake (Rivers West), Bindawa Muhammed Jibrilla (Adamawa North) and Mohammed Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central).
Others are Aisha Jummai Alhassan (Taraba North), Mohammed Ali Ndume (Borno South), Mohammed Shaba Lafiaji (Kwara North), Abdulahi Adamu (Nasarawa West) and Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir (Sokoto East).
On the threat to declare the seats of the affected senators vacant, the APC spokesman said it was not possible to tamper with their seats.
“Declaration of seats vacant is not possible. First the senate president has no reason whatsoever under any Standing Rule or convention not to read the letter because of the matter in court.
“What the court meant when it ordered for maintenance of status-quo was that no action must be taken to declare any members’ seats vacant, not about the right to defect. APC will definitely respond to the fresh challenge by next week,”
Continuing, he wondered: “Why do we even worry about that, when even the senate president has said that in the same token he cannot read the 11 senators’ letter, he would not do anything to cause the declaration of their seats vacant.”
Meanwhile, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has urged all his supporters and loyalists in PDP and other parties or associations to register immediately with APC.
In a statement personally signed by him, the former vice-president advised all his supporters to move to a common platform to accelerate the much needed change in Nigeria’s democratic direction.
According to Atiku, the imperative of change demands a united front and voice. He said instead of being on the fence, all his supporters should not hesitate to register with APC in order to be part of the historic movement towards revitalising the country’s democracy by making it more results-oriented.
The former vice-president stressed that for his supporters to be part of the much needed change, they must register massively. He explained that participation is the vehicle to influencing change in every society.