The Kogi State House of Assembly on Tuesday declared the seat of the immediate past speaker of the House and the member representing Lokoja I state constituency, Umar Ahmed Imam, vacant.
The seat was declared vacant following the defection of the former speaker from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The House, at its resumed sitting and presided over by the speaker, Matthew Kolawole, said it would write to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Imam has already written the Assembly informing it of his defection citing the crisis in the APC, while the state chairman of APC, Abdullahi Bello, also wrote the hHuse to declare the seat vacant since he was no longer a member of the ruling party.
Moving the motion for the declaration of the seat vacant, the majority leader, Bello Hassan Abdulahi (Ajaokuta, APC), urged the Assembly to declare Imam’s seat vacant.
Seconding the motion, the deputy majority leader, Ahmed Muhammed, representing Ankpa I state constituency, the motion was timely as there was no basis for the defection.
However, a former the Speaker of the House, Momoh-Jimoh Lawal, from Okene II state constituency, disagreed with the letter of the APC and the motion moved by the majority leader.
He said, “I disagree with the APC and this motion to declare the seat of our colleague vacant. We are all aware that, at the national level, there is Reform APC which shows that there is the crisis in the ruling party. Only the court of law can declare the seat of any member vacant. Mr Speaker, you are a beneficiary of this defection. So why was your seat not declared vacant”.
The member representing Yagba West state constituency, Oluwatoyin Lawal, also spoke against the declaration of the seat vacant.
Hon. Rabiu Alfa Momoh (APC, Ankpa II) pointed out that no seat was declared vacant by the House when some members defected from the PDP to APC some times ago, even though the Speaker had a letter from the PDP to suspend the said members. He distanced himself from the motion.
Hon. Linus Ojochenemi Eneche of Olamaboro State Constituency stated there is glaring crisis in the APC and as such it is inappropriate to declare the seat vacant.
Hon. Lawi A.T. Ahmed of Okene I State Constituency supported the motion noting that there is no crisis in Kogi APC, that he won’t understand why a member will defect from the party that sponsored his election.
Hon. Kekere Abdulkareem of Okehi State Constituency while supporting the motion recited that members defected from the PDP while there was serious crisis between the Makarfi led and Ali Modu Sheriff lef factions of the party.
Hon. Zakari Osewu Mohammed of Kogi(KotonKarfe), while opposing the motion, said it is needless for the House to be a judge over a matter that is strictly a party affair.
Chief Whip, Hon. Victor Omofaiye while supporting the motion in defence of the APC reiterated that members who defected to APC some months did so because of the serious crisis rocking the PDP then. Omofaiye stated that he has nothing against Rt. Hon. Imam but he has to protect his party, the APC.
He added that contrary to Rt. Hon. Momoh Jimoh’s opinion, according to the law, the Speaker has the prerogative to declare seat vacant owing to the provision of the constitution.
Hon. Friday Ali of Ofu State Constituency said the seat should not be declared vacant as there is crisis in the APC.
The Speaker of the House, Mathew Kolawole who noted that he is on the side of the law on the matter before the House, directed the Clerk to convey the resolution of the Assembly to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).