Section 68 Of Our Constitution Dealing With Party Defection, A Lame Duck Provision

By Yusuf Shehu Usman

The most abused provision of our Consttitution by our Legislators who are not only the makers of our laws but also the custodians of the Consttitution, is section 68, which deals with the issue of defection from the party on whose platform the Member was elected and on the basis of which, he takes a seat in the Legislature either of a State or at federal level
For the avoidance of doubt, section 68 provides inter alia that a member of the Senate or the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat
(Section 68 (g) if being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another Political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected:
Provided that his membership of the latter Political party is not as a result of a division in the Political party of which he was previously a member, or of a merger of two or more Political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored
This provision of the Supreme law is very clear and unambiguous in content, context and effect
The Legislature is the first of the three arms of Government that should be in the forefront of complying with all the provisions of the Constitution before it’s the custodian thereof
We are all witnesses that many of the Legislators have violated this provision with reckless abandon and without any consequences whatsoever
There is disputing the fact that many.of the Legislators have over the years changed from the platforms of the parties on which they were elected to other Political parties and some have done so serially by defecting and re defecting according to their whims and caprices and they have not vacated their seats, neither did the Presiding Officers take any step as required by the Consttitution, to declare the seats of such offending Legislators vacant
Instead defection was celebrated on the floors of the hallowed Chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives
In most cases, it’s even the Presiding Officers that announce the defection and lead in the celebration, especially if such defection is in favour of their own Political Parties
What is even more appalling is the fact that even the constituents of such Legislators and the Political parties whose members have defected, do not appear keen to challenge such Legislators in the court to ensure that the rule of law upon which the Consttitution is predicated is observed or that the Consttitution which is the Supreme law is upheld, applied and complied with, to protect it’s supremacy and sanctity by those on whom the responsibility is entrusted
What all these add up to, is that section 68 has been and is continuously being violated by those who should protect and apply it’s provisions as binding piece of superior legislation
And, no body outside the Legislature seems willing to take up the gauntlet to call the earring law makers and their leaders to order
We all seem to be guilty of culpable silence or at least democratic inertia
My take is that if we don’t believe in the provisions of section 68 of the Consttitution, there is no point keeping it as a part of the Constitution
It’s a law observed more in breach than in compliance. I think it’s better not to have it in our constitution than to leave it to operate as an albatross


“Prima facie case And Reasonable Suspicion Of Commission Of A Crime”

What’s the difference between a prima facie case and reasonable suspicion of commission of a crime?
I thought they mean the same
But hearing the Hon Attorney General of the Federation on Channels TV yesterday explaining the status of the Investigation of case against Ibrahim Magu the erstwhile Chairman of the Efcc and DCP Abba Kyari, i got the impression that the Honourable Attorney General was trying to draw a distinction between the two
It’s either I am confused about their meanings or the Honourable Attorney General was
In my little understanding of the law, if the result of Investigation reveal a prima facie case against the person under investigation, it also means that a reasonable suspicion of commission of e crime has been established against such a suspect
The next stage under the provisions of our criminal law, is for such a person to be arraigned before a competent court of law to stand trial and in there is no role left for any administrative body to play in the Judicial process, except the possible expectation for them to appear and testify during the trial

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