The All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied claim by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that former House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara had defected to the ruling party.
Dogara, who was re-elected to the House of Representatives at the last general election on the platform of the PDP, reportedly defected to the APC last year.
The APC’s denial is contained in a counter-affidavit it filed against a suit by the PDP, seeking Dagara’s sack for allegedly abandoning, unlawfully, the party on which platform he rode to the House of Reps.
The Head of Legal Department of the APC, Dare Oketade, was quoted, in the party’s counter-affidavit, to have claimed that he was not aware that Dogara had defected from the PDP.
Oketade said he checked the membership register of the APC and that he did not find Dogara’s name in it.
In fact, the fifth defendant (the APC) has not received an application for membership from the first defendant (Dogara) or any other person acting under the instruction of the first defendant; neither the fifth defendant has issued any membership card to the first defendant.
“Recording the name of the first defendant as member of the fifth defendant in the membership register of the fifth defendant and the subsequent issuance of APC’s membership card to the first defendant confers first defendant the membership of the fifth defendant,” the APC said.
The party described the PDP’s suit as speculative and one instituted in bad faith.
It prayed the court to dismiss all the claims of the plaintiffs in the interest of justice.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday granted the plaintiffs’ application for an abridgment of the time to hear the matter.
The application, which was moved by plaintiffs’ lawyer, Jibrin S. Jibrin, was not opposed by the defendants, following which Justice Abang adjourned till February 4, 2021 for hearing.
Defendants in the suit are: Dogara, the House of Representatives Speaker, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC.
The PDP and its Bauchi State Chairman Hamza Koshe Akuyam are listed as plaintiffs in the suit.
The main opposition claimed that Dogara, representing Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro Federal Constituency of Bauchi State, defected from the APC to the PDP before the last general election and won a re-election to the House on the platform of the PDP.
t added that Dogara, on July 24, 2020, abandoned the PDP for the APC when he submitted his resignation letter to PDP Chairman in Bogoro ‘C’ Ward in Bauchi State.
The plaintiffs are contending, among others, that by virtue of Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution, Dogara ought to vacate the seat for defecting from the party that sponsored him to the Ninth National Assembly before the expiration of his tenure.