Some lawmakers from the minority parties have called on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to lift the suspension on the Ndudi Elumelu-led House minority leadership.
The main opposition on Friday evening in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, announced the suspension of members of the House of Representatives loyal to Mr Elumelu.
Those suspended were Wole Oke, Lynda Ikpeazu, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
The suspended members were announced by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, as minority leaders, against the choices sent in by the PDP.
The PDP had nominated Chukwuka Onyema as Deputy Minority Leader, Yakubu Barde as Minority Whip and Muraina Ajibola as Deputy Minority Whip.
The announcement of a different set of lawmakers caused confusion in the parliament on Wednesday and Thursday last week, with members breaking into a fight.
The PDP summoned Mr Elumelu and the other lawmakers but none of them turned up for the meeting. Mr Elumelu had asked that the meeting be postponed as he and others summoned were out of Abuja.
At a press conference on Monday in Abuja, the opposition lawmakers declared support for the suspended minority principal officers and Mr Gbajabiamila.
Lawmakers present at the press conference include members of APGA, PRP, AA, LP, ADC and SDP.
Notable amongst them were Leke Abejide (Kogi, ADC), Paschal Obi (Imo, AA), Akinjo Victor (Ondo, PDP), Beni Lar(Plateau, PDP) and Sylvester Ogbaga (Ebonyi, PDP).
Speaking on behalf of the lawmakers, Legor Idagbo (PDP-Cross River) said that the selection of the officers was in conformity with the House rules, Order 7 Rule 8, which derives strength from section 60 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Quoting the rules, Mr Idagbo said: “members in the minority parties in the house shall nominate from among them, the Minority Leader, Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Whip.”
Mr Idagbo said that members in the minority parties in the House adhered to the provisions of the rules in the selection of Mr Elumelu, as Minority Leader.
He said that the rule was also applied in selecting Toby Okechukwu as Deputy Minority Leader, Gideon Gwani as Minority Whip and Adesegun Adekoya as Deputy Minority Whip.
He said that the speaker was communicated by majority members of the minority parties on July 2 and this was announced on July 3.
Mr Idagbo said that the parliament since 1999 had remained an independent body that had not been coerced into accepting any leadership imposed by an external influence that was not in line with the wishes of the majority of its members.
“We would like to appeal to our party chairman and the NWC of our great party, who we know are seasoned and experienced politicians that understand these dynamics to rescind their earlier decision to suspend our leaders.
“Through no fault of theirs, they were nominated and elected by majority of members of the minority parties. Were an offence to have been committed in this process, the perpetrators would be all 111 of us, not six members as were suspended by our great party.
“We use this opportunity to sue for peace and to state that we are available for further discussions with the NWC of our great party on how to resolve these issues and move our party forward.”
The lawmakers called on well-meaning party leaders, particularly those with legislative experience, to intervene in order for the matter to be laid to rest so as not to affect the fortunes of the party in the future.
The lawmaker commended the National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, for a great job of piloting the affairs of the party that had seen its fortune rise in the last few years.