The newly elected Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Honourable Ndudi Elumelu has expressed shock over the alleged suspension passed on him and some other party members by the National Working Committee (NWC) of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), describing it as hasty and a negation of the principle of fair hearing as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
The NWC of the PDP, under the leadership of the party’s national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, had on Friday, July 5, suspended Hon. Ndudi Elumelu and 6 other members of the party, hinging its decision on the alleged refusal of Elumelu and the other PDP lawmakers listed, to appear before the committee on Friday morning at the Wadata House.
The other PDP reps that were also suspended are: member representing Oriade/Obokun Federal Constituency of Osun State, Wole Oke; member representing Onitsha North and Onitsha South Federal constituency, Anambra State, Lynda Ikpeazu; member representing Ezza North/Ishielu federal constituency, Ebonyi State, Anayo Edwin; member representing Kaura Federal Constituency, Kaduna State, Gideon Gwani; member representing Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency of Enugu State, Toby Okechukwu and member representing Ijebu-North/Ijebu-East / Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency, Ogun State, Adekoya Abdul-Majid.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, during a media briefing in Abuja, July 5, had said the suspension was one of the outcomes of the meeting of the PDP National Working Committee over the crisis surrounding the Minority Leadership of the House of Representatives.
But in a prompt response to suspension, the Minority Leader of the House of Reps, Hon. Elumelu said he and his colleagues got the invitation to appear before the party late Thursday, 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.
Even at that, Elumelu 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.
Hon Elumelu said he and his colleagues selected to lead the opposition parties in the House of Representatives didn’t contravene the laws regulating the selection of members into leadership positions and wondered why his party suspended them from the party they have strengthened over the years.
The Minority Leader noted that 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.
He said: “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. We therefore call on the NWC to rescind its decision of suspending us, in the interest of the PDP, the National Assembly and Nigeria as a whole,” he advised.
Recall that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had on Thursday, July 4, while announcing the composition of Principal officers endorsed by the House and contrary to an earlier letter written by the PDP leadership alone, named Hons. Ndudi Elumelu as Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu as Minority Leader, Gideon Gwani as Minority Whip and Adesegun Adekoya as Deputy Minority Whip, allegedly in deference to a more comprehensive and inclusive letter written to him by the larger Minority Caucus of the House of Reps, comprising elected members of all the other opposition parties in the House, including the PDP.