A Human Rights lawyer, Mr Frank Tietie, has advised that the seat of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, be declared vacant since he had defected to another party.

Tietie, who made the call on Monday in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), about the situation of the country also called on the Senate to do same for Sen. Godswill Akpabio, the former Senate Minority Leader.

The lawyer said that the declaration became necessary because of the provision of Section 68 (1) (G) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

According to him, the section provides that the seat of a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives shall be declared vacant if he becomes a member of any other political party before the expiration of the period for which he is elected.

He, however, said that there could only be an exception to the above Section if “the existence of a division in the political party of which the senator or representative was previously a member.

“The existence of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of the parties of which the Senator or representative is previously a member.’’

Tietie said that when none of the conditions above had been fulfilled, all such Senators and members of the National Assembly who have defected from the party that originally sponsored their elections must have their seats declared vacant.

He added that INEC must proceed immediately to conduct bye-elections to replace the affected senators and members of the House of Representatives.

“The fact whether or not there exists a faction in a party can only be determined by INEC. It is only where INEC is satisfied that there has been a division or merger before senators or representatives can begin to defect from one party to the other.

“A proclamation by powerful figures in a political party that there has been a division in a political party cannot satisfy the requirement by law,’’ he said.

Tietie said that the existence of a division in a political party must be legally and officially recognised by INEC before senators or representatives can defect from their previous political parties of sponsorship.

He added that neither the Senate President nor Speaker of the House of Representatives has the powers to determine whether or not there has been a division or merger of a political party.

The lawyer said that the president of the country also lacked such powers and responsibility to determine whether there was a division or merger of a political party, adding that only the entire Senate or House of Representatives can be convinced that there has been a division or merger based on an evidence presented to it by a member.

According to Tietie, only INEC has the constitutional and statutory responsibility to superintend over the affairs of political parties in Nigeria and give the official status of a political party.

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