By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, on Thursday said the defection of some lawmakers, including Senate President, Bukola Saraki, from the All Progressives Congress, APC to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, recently was unconstitutional.
Falana spoke at the official launch of Prof. Wole Soyinka’s Interventions VIII series, titled: “Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (Who keeps Watch over the Watchmen?), Gani’s Unfinished Business,” held at the Freedom Park, Lagos Island area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
According to him, section 68 (1) (G) of the 1979 and 1999 constitution, had prohibited cross-carpeting on the floor of the house on the crime that such decampees were cheating or shortchanging the electorate.
“So if you are elected on the platform of party ‘A’ and you don’t want that party again, you must go and seek fresh mandate under the platform of your new party,” he said.
Falana said the only exception for cross-carpeting was when the political party was in trouble and fractionalised.
“The only proviso is that if your political party is in trouble and is fractionalised, major division, you can crossover, but not a division instigated for the purpose of exiting. In the case between Adegunde and Ondo State House of Assembly, the Supreme Court made the point in 2014 that the division envisaged by the constitution must affect the structure of the party; in which case, there will be two congresses that will produce two chairmen at the national and state executives that have totally splinted into two.
“So you don’t just address a press conference and say we disagreed with the running of our party and in the next moment, you say you have defected. That is not it,” he said.
However, Falana thanked Soyinka for coming up with the intervention VIII series, lamenting that former President Olusegun Obasanjo built a presidential library with alleged stolen fund, saying that his reign witnessed all kinds of atrocities.
He said Obasanjo always hide on immunity clause to defend his actions even when he had left office, adding that when he was asked recently to defend his squandering of billions of naira in a failed power project, he was saying he had immunity.
“This guy recently came out, when he was asked to account, he will come out to invoke immunity , tribal or ethnic sentiment. Recently, he was asked to account and he held a meeting with one of the cultural groups, whose members he had always detested, he said his name is on the watch-list, my name was number 9 on the watch-list during his regime. This is the same guy who is now crying that his name is on the watch-list,” he said.