Sonaiya
Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya, the 2015 Presidential Candidate of the KOWA Party

Lordson Okpetu with agency report

A group of politicians, apparently in reaction to the recent defection of some political office holders, on Tuesday called for vacation of seats by political office holders who defect to another party.

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The politicians argue that the Electoral Act recognized political parties and not candidates during elections.

Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya, the 2015 Presidential Candidate of the KOWA Party, said: “Any politician who defects to another party should vacate his or her seat.

“Since people are voted into political position on the party’s platform, not necessarily on their individual merit, the decent thing to do is to vacate the position once they defect – even if there is no law in that regard.

“When the primary interest of politicians is to gain personal benefits, then, defections will be common.

“Most of them want to be with the party in power, so they can have their shares of the cake,’’ Sonaiya said.

Martin Onovo, the 2015 Presidential Candidate of the National Conscience Party, also joined voices with Sonaiya to call for power forfeiture for elected public office holders who defect to another party.

“Political office holders are elected on a platform to implement the agenda of that party. Unless for the exceptions allowed by law, those that defected must lose their seats,” Onovo said.

Denis Aghanya, a politician and the Executive Secretary, Global Action Against Corruption and Bad Leadership Initiative, also lent his voice to the same argument. He urged political office holders to vacate their seats for defection.

“In Nigeria democracy, political parties are not ideology-based.

“That is why somebody will win an election on the platform of one party based on its manifesto, and suddenly come up with excuse of internal problems; hence, he or she defects to another party.

However, Alhaji Musa Umar, a chieftain of the APC in Kano State, said that the Electoral Law did not require a defecting fellow to vacate his seat.

“The Electoral Law stipulates that a defecting party member should not vacate his seat as long as the party he is leaving has factions.

“The spate of defections by politicians simply typifies the psyche of the typical Nigerian politician who stands for nothing and fight for everything.

“There are those who defect to escape from the long arm of the law, while others simply cannot stand being in the opposition.

“To actualize their political ambition, politicians would rather be with the winning party.

“We need to tighten the defection laws to make it difficult for political harlots to operate,” Umar said.

Human rights activist and lawyer, Festus Keyamo, however told NAN that by way of logical reasoning, once an elected official defects from one political party to another, he or she should automatically lose the seat they occupy. However, the constitution provided an escape route.

He however explains that the constitution provides a leeway.

“The constitution says that if you defect because there is a division in the party that sponsored you to the legislature, you will not lose your seat,” Keyamo said.

The activist said defection was caused by political miscalculations by the actors.