Sacked Members Did Not Defect Properly – Omole, Assembly Spokesperson
A Member of All Progressives Congress in the Ondo State Assembly and Chairman of the House Committee on Information and Guidance, Mr. Gbenga Omole, recounts PIERRE DADA on recent developments in the Assembly where the seats of two lawmakers were declared vacant following alleged anti-party activity
Why have the seats of two lawmakers been declared vacant by the House leadership?
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly states how a legislator can leave his party for another party. Article 109, paragraph (g) of the constitution is clear on this and both legislators (Mr. Success Torhukerhijo and Ms. Favor Tomomewo) clearly violated it.
Could you explain how they violated it?
Currently, one of them is a candidate of a party (for the next general elections in 2023) and you cannot be a member of two political parties at the same time, it is not possible. Section 109, subsection (g) of the Nigerian Constitution, to which I have referred, provides that a member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if, being a person whose election to the House of Assembly has been sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that Assembly was elected”. The Supreme Court also spoke on this when it said that for you to be unscathed there must be a division in your party, and currently there is no division within the APC in Ondo State. Favor was a member of three political parties because she was in the APC at the time. She contested the House of Assembly primary under PDP (People’s Democratic Party) but she lost. Today, she is the ADC (African Democratic Congress) candidate in the same constituency.
Could you share with us the process that led to their dismissal?
Their dismissal was not an initiative of the House. A letter was written by their neighborhoods and local governments. Clearly, they violated the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and based on the power vested in the Speaker, the House declared their seats vacant. You cannot blow hot and cold at the same time. You cannot be a member of two political parties at the same time and you cannot have your cake and eat it. The other member (Success Torhukerhijo) contested the primary in the federal constituency of Ilaje Ese-Odo under the PDP. The same applied to him. A letter has been written from his district to the House of Assembly and we must do what is necessary because it is clear what should happen when a legislator leaves his political party when there was no division. Today, we don’t have two presidents in the party and there is no crisis that could justify a legislator who took advantage of the party and won elections under the party now leaving the party. It is unconstitutional. If you want to leave the APC for another political party, you can but you cannot hide under the APC and be a candidate for another party in the same election year and you want to remain a member of the party in the Chamber. It’s not done. The constitution is clear on this and there is a Supreme Court ruling on this as well.
But one of them claimed that his name was still on the list of APC members in the Assembly and his salary was still deducted?
The deduction for which month? They try to be smart. We are in August and their seat was declared vacant in August, so they would receive a salary until July. You and I know that August’s salary hasn’t been paid, so how do they justify having their salary deducted? It is obviously a fabric of lies.
Some time ago there were reports that the two members were expelled by the party, why did the House not act then?
This thing is a process. If you are expelled by a party at the local level and the state level does not know about it, we will not act on it. No one wrote us a letter before the one we received and acted upon. They may have been kicked out at the unit or neighborhood level, but we weren’t aware of that. This time, a letter came from their neighborhood, local government and state level.
What is the House’s reaction to the allegation that the Assembly’s actions were a witch hunt due to their support for a former Deputy Governor of the State?
Someone who is in PDP talking about what happened last year, does it add up? You were in APC and went to the contest under PDP and now you say it’s a witch hunt, does that add up?
Is there a way to move forward on this issue?
They are adults and they have already made their decisions. They are legislators and therefore, in the first place, they are supposed to be honorable. What is the procedure when you are already a member of another party? Can one be a member of two political parties at the same time? Did they deny participating in another political party? In fact, the parties they went to had first alluded to our party (APC). So we have already made the decision.
What is the relationship between the other members of the Assembly?
Ondo State House of Assembly consists of members from different political parties and we get along very well. We are doing our job and there is no problem at the moment, but when you do anything unconstitutional you should expect the consequences.