By Sylvanus Okpe
The factional Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, has expressed shock over his suspension from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
The PDP on Friday evening in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, also announced the suspension of some members loyal to Mr Elumelu.
Other members suspended were Wole Oke, Lynda Ikpeazu, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
Mr Elumelu and three other suspended members were announced by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, as minority leaders, against the choices sent in by the party.
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, with members breaking into a fight.
The PDP summoned Mr Elumelu and the other lawmakers, but none of them was available for the meeting.
In a statement by his office, the lawmaker said he and his colleagues got the invitation to appear before the party late yesterday ”by which time, he, the Deputy Minority Leader, the Minority Whip, the Deputy Minority Whip and all other lawmakers invited had travelled out of Abuja”.
He said, out of the respect he has for the party, he instructed his special assistant to notify the party in writing, conveying their inability to honour the party’s invitation as directed.
“However, as obedient and loyal party members, the Minority Leader said they had asked the NWC for another date to appear before it only for the party to hastily suspend them, in flagrant contravention of the principles of fair hearing.”
He said their ‘selection’ to lead the opposition parties in the House of Representatives did not contravene the laws regulating the selection of members into leadership positions.
He wondered why his party suspended them from the party they had strengthened over the years.
He also said their selection as leaders by their colleagues of the minority parties was in strict compliance with Order 7, Rule 8 of the House of Representatives.
“As loyal party members, we had thought that the PDP NWC would have availed us the opportunity of fair hearing, robust and constructive engagements before taking such drastic action on elected representatives who have over years, strengthened and protected the corporate interest of the party and Nigeria in general. We have become good ambassadors of the PDP, and we don’t deserve this kind of treatment.
“Our alleged suspension negates the spirit and letter of fair hearing, which is at the heart of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution and extant laws of the land.
“We love PDP, and we are ready to meet with the party leadership as we have no other party to call our own than the PDP,” the statement read.