PDP-APC war looms as Senate leadership may declare seat vacant

As the Senate resumes from a four-week recess tomorrow, war looms between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) over moves to finally declare the seat of Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice vacant.pdp-apc

The Senate leadership has finally decided to follow through with a committee report which had earlier declared Boroffice’s movement from the Labour Party (LP) to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which formed APC with other parties, as illegal by allowing the chamber debate the report and its recommendations. The committee recommended that the Ondo North Senatorial Distirct seat be declared vacant.

Senator Boroffice decamped from the LP, the platform on which he was elected into the Senate in 2011, to the ACN in 2013.

Till date, Boroffice was yet to formally notify the Senate of his movement to the ACN which has now transformed into the APC.

The issue over whether to declare Boroffice’s seat vacant had been pending in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly since the last quarter of 2012 after the Committee on Ethics, Public Petitions and Privileges submitted its report which allegedly affirmed that the seat be declared vacant having contravened some constitutional provisions with regards to defection.

Shortly after defecting to the ACN then, Senator Boroffice wrote to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to notify the agency of his resignation from the LP and his decision to join the ACN while alleging division in the LP.

In its response, however, INEC said “it (Commission) has no record of any division in the Labour Party to justify your (Boroffice’s) resignation from the party”.

In a letter dated September 13, 2012 and signed by the Secretary of the commission, Abdullahi A. Kaugama, INEC further stated that “Section 68(1)(g) (of the 1999 Constitution as amended) does not operate in your favour as there is no division in the Labour Party.”

With the letter, Boroffice remains a senator elected on LP’s platform and cannot not be recognized as a senator of the ACN (APC) extraction.

Coincidentally, the Ethics committee headed by Senator Ayo Akinyelure, is Boroffice’s kinsman from Ondo State. The committee had since submitted its report to the Senate and concluded therein that the Upper Chamber should declare Boroffice’s seat vacant, having said his movement from labour party was “illegal.”

The report, which was unanimously endorsed by all members of the committe, noted that his colleagues interacted with him during investigations and “Boroffice could not defend himself on the allegations that he ran foul of Section 68(1)g) of the 1999 Constitution.

Thereafter, the report was kept in the cooler, even after the LP and the Ondo State House of Assembly formally petitioned Senate President David Mark on the continued retention of Boroffice in the chamber after INEC had declared the seat vacant.

Not satisfied with INEC’s position, however, Boroffice went to court, restraining the Senate and indeed, the National Assembly from declaring his seat vacant. The matter subsists in an Abuja court.

Regardless, National Assembly sources told Daily Sun in Abuja yesterday that the matter will be re-opened on resumption of plenary this week. “The leadership may have finally made up its mind to go ahead to allow the chamber debate the report which had been pending for almost two years now.

“When he moved to the ACN, there were various pleas to the Senate President to stay action, even after the INEC had made its position known on the matter. The court case instituted by the senator didn’t even help matters, but the situation has changed now since some members are bent on defecting from the PDP to the APC.

“The leadership is resolute on going ahead with the report…Let’s wait and see how his co-travellers in APC and those moving from the PDP handle the matter in the chamber…”

The Senate may have also decided to commence work on the N4.6 trillion 2014 budget on Wednesday. A source privy to the Order Paper disclosed that legislative consideration of the new budget will start on Wednesday with the commencement of the Second Reading. “Any senator willing to contribute to the debate will be allowed to do so before it is committed to the Appropriations Committee for further work.”

Thereafter, the relevant standing committees will invite the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for the budget defence.