The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has made good its threat to sue a serving senator, Nelson Effiong, for defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The case, which came up Thursday for mention at the federal high court, Abuja, has the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, as a co-defendant.
Mr. Effiong, who represents Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, was elected to the Senate on the PDP platform in 2015. He is among four senators who have so far decamped, nationwide, from the PDP to the APC.
Mr. Effiong had said he was leaving the PDP partly because of the lingering tussle over the national chairmanship position of the party which has divided it into two factions.
The Akwa Ibom State Chapter of PDP, which is the plaintiff in the case, is asking the court to declare Senator Effiong’s seat in the senate vacant.
Goddy Umoh, the PDP legal adviser in the state, led other seven lawyers to appear for the plaintiff. The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Ini Emembong, who is also a lawyer, was part of the legal team.
The senator was not in court, neither was he represented by a counsel. He did not also file any response in the court as at the time of writing this story.
The court, presided over by Justice John Tsoho, adjourned the case to May 11 for hearing.
Mr. Ememobong told PREMIUM TIMES why the PDP was really concerned about Senator Effiong’s defection.
“It is not whether Senator Effiong represents Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Senatorial District or not. Anybody who takes the tickets – what was given to the party by the people via a mandate who is barred by an Act of the parliament or any existing law – we will take any legal step to recover that mandate.
“You will recall that it is the party logo and the party name that goes for election. So, it is the party that determines the candidate. There is a law that does not allow Nelson Effiong to defect. We are going to the court for the interpretation of that law,” Mr. Ememobong said.
Mr. Ememobong said the party has also filed a court case against Emmanuel Ukoette, a member of the House of Representatives, from the state, who also defected recently from the PDP to the APC.
PREMIUM TIMES could not reach Mr. Effiong for his response. But the APC in Akwa Ibom State, through its Secretary, Effiong Etok, said they were not aware of the case.
Mr. Etok said the APC would want to be joined as a co-defendant in the court case.