The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), has described the position of the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (PDP) in respect of the Governor of Zamfara State, Mr. Bello Matawale, as absolutely illogical.
Keyamo, in a statement that was issued yesterday’s night, said that the PDP’s argument is baseless and mischievous without any constitutional backing.
He spoke in reaction to a statement credited to the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, that cautioned banks and other financial institutions to be wary of financial transactions with Governor Matawalle who was alleged to have ‘vacated’ the office of the governor of Zamfara State following his defection to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Keyamo said that the PDP also stated in very clear terms that the Deputy Governor, Mr. Mahdi Aliyu Gusau, now holds the Zamfara State’s governorship mandate and ought to be accorded the protection and privileges due the office of governor as the formal process for his official declaration as substantive governor of Zamfara State has commenced at the Federal High Court.
He argued that the PDP erroneously relied on Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as well as the judgment of the Supreme Court in Faleke v. INEC.
He said: “Unfortunately for the PDP, the Supreme Court decision in Faleke v. INEC does not relate to the consequence of the defection of a governor from one political party to the other. A more apt instance will be the Atiku Abubakar scenario wherein Atiku Abubakar as Vice President, elected under the PDP, defected to the then Action Congress.
“President Olusegun Obasanjo attempted to declare his office vacant in circumstances similar to the Zamfara scenario and the dispute ended in the court.
“The position of the Supreme Court was reported as Attorney General of the Federation V. Abubakar (2007) 10 NWLR (part 1041) 1. At page 124 of the report, Justice Onnoghen set down the position thus:
“There is nowhere in the 1999 Constitution where it is stated that the President or Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be removed or is removable from that office if he defects from the political party on whose platform he was elected to that office and joins another political party.”
Keyamo said that Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution does not avail the PDP any protection and is not remotely applicable to the present situation in Zamfara State, adding that Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution merely deals with the prohibition of political activities by associations other than political parties.