Senate President Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday blocked an attempt by Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan to stop All Progressives Congress (APC) Senators from dumping the party.
Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) and a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade, led the defectors.
Others are Senators Abdullahi Ibrahim Danbaba (Sokoto South), Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Ubali Shittu (Jigawa North-East), Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South), Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North), Isa Misau (Bauchi Central), Monsurat Sunmonu (Oyo Central).
Senators Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano Central), Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North), Olanrewaju Tejuosho (Ogun Central) Usman Nafada (Gombe North) and Abdulaziz Nyako (Adamawa Central) were also among.
Their defection was contained in a letter Saraki read at plenary.
It read: “Dear Senate President, after due consultation with our constituents and stakeholders in our constituencies, in proper recognition of Section 68(1G) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and with the fact that our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), is hereby enmeshed in factions.
“We hereby inform the Senate that we the undersigned are changing our political affiliation from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“We thank you for your exemplary leadership.”
In a swift reaction, Lawan raised an observation and was allowed to speak.
The lawmaker insisted that the defection was unnecessary, noting that “The APC, our party, certainly has its own internal challenges.
“But Mr. President, as a political party, we all know how much effort by so many stakeholders to address the issues that bedevil this party.
“The disagreements do not translate into factionalisation. ‘I therefore feel that our senators of the APC stock do not have to move to any other party.
“I also believe that because the issues are under serious discussions by major stakeholders of this party, I will urge that the announcement be quarantined and contained and address the issues.
“Very seriously, this matter should be stepped down until we exhaust all the opportunities.”
Overruling Lawan, Saraki replied: “As you know and have seen, the seat beside you is vacant. As we speak, the Deputy Senate President cannot get out of his house.
“He is under siege. This morning, I could not also leave my street as well, all being efforts by some people that believe that today’s sitting must not hold because some members want to move or defect.
“It is not something that started today; it will not end today; people have gone, they’ve come back.
“This kind of action does not allow for what you are saying. You are speaking as the leader of the Senate, who has been here for many years.”
Meanwhile, Lawan had stated that the APC still had majority seats in the Senate.
He spoke to journalists after a close-door meeting with the APC National Working Committee (NWC) led by the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole at the Party’s National Secretariat on Tuesday evening.
He said: “Even though we have lost some of our colleagues to the PDP and other parties, the APC still retains the position of No. 1 party with more seats. Presently we (APC) have 53 Senators, PDP has 49, African Democratic Congress (ADC) has 3, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has 2 and we have 2 vacancies.
“We lost our colleagues in Kaduna and Bauchi State; those were APC seats, very safe seats indeed. In August bye-elections will be held and by the Grace of God, the APC will reclaim the seats and the majority of the APC will increase.”
Lawan also provided a list where he read the names of the 52 senators he claimed to be in APC.
They include; Adamu Aliero (Kebbi), Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi), Bala Ibn Na’Allah (Kebbi), Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto), Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto), Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara), Kabir Marafa (Zamfara), Tijjani Kaura(Zamfara), Abu Ibrahim (Katsina), Umar Kurfi (Katsina), Kabir Gaya (Kano), Barau Jibrin (Kano), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa), Sabo Mohammed (Jigawa), Shehu Sani (Kaduna), Ahmed Lawan(Yobe), Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe), Ali Ndume (Borno), Abu Kyari (Borno), Baba Kaka Garbai (Borno).
Others are; Sabi Abdullahi (Niger), David Umar (Niger), Mustapha Muhammed (Niger), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), George Akume (Benue), Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Francis Alimikhena (Edo), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers), Magnus Abe (Rivers), Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta), John Enoh (Cross River), Nelson Effiong (Akwa Ibom), Andy Uba (Anambra), Sonni Ogbuoji (Ebonyi), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Ben Uwajimogu (Imo), Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa), Ahmed Abubakar (Adamawa), Yusuf A. Yusuf (Taraba).
Also mentioned are; Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos), Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos), Solomon Adeola (Lagos), Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo), Gbolahan Dada (Ogun), Soji Akanbi (Oyo), Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo), Yele Omogunwa (Ondo), Abdulfatai Buhari (Oyo), Babajide Omoworare (Osun), Sola Adeyeye (Osun), Fatimat Raji-Rasaki (Ekiti).