OrderPaperToday – Popular legal practitioner, Liborus Oshoma, has said the suspension of Ndudi Elumelu and six others by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has endangered their emergence as minority leaders of the House of Representatives.
Mr. Oshoma however, posited that the action of the party will further exacerbate the crisis engulfing the PDP caucus in the parliament.
The lawyer stated these positions while speaking to OrderPaperNG in a telephone interview this evening.
The PDP caucus is currently factionalized between the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu and Kingsley Chinda, the choice of the party for the minority leader.
The party through a press statement by it national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, announced the suspension of Elumelu after the meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
According to the standing rules of the House of Representatives, Order 7 rule 9 (a,b,c) the minority leaders speaks for all the parties, not just a dominant party.
But Liborus said that contrary to the current practice, the members of the assembly are supposed to choose who becomes their leader from among themselves. Hear him:
“By convention, even though members of the party are supposed to choose their leadership from among their members, but by practice, that is usually done by the party, outside the caucus, that has always been the practice since 1999, it is an unwritten code, where the party decides who owns what.”
“This is about a party that has the highest number. If you have two political parties with shared numerical strength, the one with the highest votes becomes the minority leader, that does not stop the other party from also nominating someone for their party, you can call that a caucus leader.
“If you have SDP that has 1 member, and PDP that has several members, will they (SDP) produce the minority leader. The PDP can have the minority leader while they have the caucus leader.
“The party caucus nominates the leader. In practice that is the rule, but the convention has been followed since 1999 and you will recalled that the supreme court has ruled that the mandate belongs to the party. the party plays a major role, but it is the duty of the speaker to announce the nominated candidates.
“Moreover, you are nominated, as a party member, if the party should suspend you, can you still be the leader of the party in the assembly. The moment Akpabio left the PDP he relinquished his position, he did not hold on to it. If you are suspended, you are no longer a member of that party at that moment. Whether you are nominated by the members, or by the political party, you can no longer validly say that you are the minority leader.”
The legal expert added that with the pronouncement, Elumelu cannot function as the minority leader, making example of Sen Godswill Akpabio who defected from the opposition and relinquished his position.
“But look, the convention been taking the place of the law since 1999, and that is where the problem is. The convention cannot take the place of a written law which is the side that the Elumelu group are holding on to. By extension, with the pronouncement, they cannot claim to be leader in a party they have been suspended from.
“The national working committee has the power to suspend, but not expel, the national working committee has such power. If there is a disciplinary procedure against a member, the national working committee can recommend suspension for the member, pending the determination of the investigation. Otherwise the NWC will be a mere paper tiger. Once the investigation has been done, then the communication will be sent to the ward level.
“Politics is about give and take, there should be a concession between the party leaders and the members in electing who becomes the leader of the minority. Also, these members of the House understand who enjoys the popularity support of the House, when that is not done.”