Members of the opposition parties, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) at the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, staged a walkout during a plenary which was held under rowdy atmosphere.
This was not unconnected to the decision of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to align with his All Progressives Congress (APC) members who were in support of the defection of a PDP member, Hon. Nnana Igbokwe.
Hon. Igbokwe, a member representing Ahiazu – Mbaise/Ezinihitte federal constituency of Imo State, had announced, through a backdated letter to the speaker, that he was leaving the umbrella party for the ruling APC.
This decision did not go down well with the members of opposition parties, who cited that, it was only on the ground of crisis in the party that a member could carpet-cross on the floor of the House.
Those who spoke in opposition of the defection, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai (Delta state), Hon. Binta Bello (Gombe) and Hon. Patrick Asado (Enugu), also challenged the authenticity of the letter of defection which was purportedly written since January 2017.
They wondered why it took the lawmaker 12 months to submit a letter which he claimed he wrote to the Honourable Speaker.
Ruling under a tense atmosphere witnessed by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, the Speaker, Dogara, cited section 68(2) of the 1999 constitution as amended, which stipulates that, aside defecting as a result of crisis, a member could be deemed to have ceased to be a member of his original party, if the members present at the plenary resolve through a majority vote.
He therefore, said, on such ground, the seat of the member could not be declared vacant.
Bearing in mind that the APC holds the majority of members at the green chamber and obviously the vote would go against them, members of the opposition staged a walkout in protest of the decision of the Speaker.
Addressing newsmen jointly after the protest, members of the opposition parties said they would test it at the court and seek that Igbokwe's seat be declared vacant.
Hon. Binta Bello, who spoke on behalf of others, said the Speaker was not a Judge to interpret the relevant session of the constitution.
"We shall approach the Supreme Court to help us interpret the relevant sessions concerning defections of members", adding that, Speaker Dogara cannot override the decision of the Supreme Court.
Governor Okorocha who was also at the plenary, however, refused to talk to press on why he was at the House.
Our Correspondent, however, gathered that, the Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had earlier at the beginning of the plenary, sought the leave of the House to admit the Governor, "pursuant to order 19, rule 8 (X) of the standing Orders of the House of Representatives".
With the supposed defection of Igbokwe, it has brought the number of Reps members who defected to APC in the 2017 legislative year to six.