Two Legal Questions About Rivers State House Of Assembly; Answers From The Appellate Courts -(Compiled by The Reality Ministry (TRM))

What Happens When A Legislator Defect At A Time When No Division Or Merger Exists At The National Level Of His Political Party?

▪️(1). ABEGUNDE V. ONDO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY & ORS (2014) LPELR-23683 (CA) (pp. 78-79 (Per MSHELIA, J.C.A): “Appellant has violated the provisions of Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution. The consequence is that appellant has to mandatorily vacate his seat as member in the House of Representatives.”

▪️(2) . DAPIALONG V DARIYE [2007] NGSC 181), the Supreme Court (per Onnoghen, while delivering the lead judgment): “There is no doubt that there existed in the Plateau State House of Assembly 14 vacant seats as a result of cross-carapeting.”

▪️(3). A.G. FEDERATION v. ABUBAKAR (2007) 10 NWLR (PT.1041) 1 AT 178, the Supreme Court of Nigeria (per Aderemi, JSC at page 178) held as follows: “I have no doubt in my mind that the legislators have made it manifest that if any of these elective members after winning an election on the platform of a political party, later…defects to another political party, he is deemed, in law, to have automatically vacated his seat in the House of which he is a member. No other interpretation can be given to the above provision. A similar provision was fashioned out for members of the State House of Assembly, Section 109(1)(g) of the Constitution which is the relevant provision…. It is manifest from the above quoted constitutional provisions that the lawmakers intended to and indeed made punishable the defection of an elected member, from the political party that sponsored him, to another political party before the expiration of the period for which the House was elected by declaring his seat vacant.”

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Can The Remaining 05 Members Validly Carry On With The Business Of The Rivers State House Of Assembly?

✔️LEGAL ANSWER: ▪️Hon Justice Walter Onnoghen, JSC, while delivering the lead judgment in HON. MICHAEL DAPIANLONG & ORS v. CHIEF (DR.) JOSHUA CHIBI DARIYE & ANOR (APPEAL NO: SC/39/2007) reported in (2007) 3 PLR/1983/22(SC); [2007]NGSC 181 (27 APRIL 2007); (2007) LPELR-928(SC) @61. His Lord held as follows:
“In the instant case, it is not disputed that 8 out of 10 members in a House of 24 membership initiated and carried out the impeachment of the 1st respondent. There is no doubt that there existed in the Plateau State House of Assembly 14 vacant seats as a result of cross-carapeting. It is my view that until the vacancies created by the carpet crossing members are filled by the process of by-election, the Plateau State House of Assembly can only transact such legislative duties that require the participation of less than 2/3 majority of ALL the members of that House, which duties definitely excludes impeachment proceedings”.
Sylvester Udemezue (udems),
The Reality Ministry (TRM)
(07 July 2024)

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