If feelers from the meeting of All Progressives Congress (APC) senators last night become a reality, the Senate is set for a stormy session today over the stalled defection of 11 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the former.
The APC senators met in Abuja yesterday to fine-tune their strategy on how to unlock the logjam in the defection issue. They were at the residence of the Minority Leader, Senator George Akume where the lawmakers plotted their response to the stalled defection of Senator Bukola Saraki and 10 other lawmakers. They also discussed on-going registration of new members for APC and the 2014 budget which has passed Second Reading.
There were hints that as the Senate resumes plenary today, Sen. Saraki and his colleagues risk losing their rights to speak in the chamber if they follow through their threat to sit with the APC senators.
Only the Senate President, in conjunction with the Chief Whip determine where senators sit in the chamber. In the case of a senator moving from one party to the another, the Chief Whip is then in charge. Upon a conclusive defection, the Chief Whip instructs the Serjeant-At-Arms on where the defecting member would sit.
Reports at the weekend quoted one of the defecting senators as saying that having declared for the APC in his constituency and had been duly registered, he would no longer sit with his PDP colleagues in the chamber.
But speaking with reporters on the condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the house, a member of the Senate leadership disclosed yesterday that any defecting senator who chooses to cross the aisle without “properly submitting a letter that would be read on the floor should know the consequences of his/her actions.
“Any defecting senator can choose to sit anywhere but the sitting arrangement is quite clear in the Senate unlike what obtains in the House of Representatives where after the ranking order is respected, the floor is open for any member to sit anywhere.
“Yes, we also read the report and he can sit with the opposition but he should also know that if the proper thing is not done, he would never be recognized to speak on the floor because when every member came in in 2011, each senator was assigned a seat. Any alteration in the chamber must follow due process”, he said.
Pressed further on the panacea to the stalemate over the planned defection of the PDP senators, he gave  two options: “There are two likely solutions really: One is to await the decision of the court on the suits filed or withdraw the cases in court and in doing that, untie the hands of the Senate President with regards to reading the notice of defection letter . But in doing so, each defecting senator should present his/her own letter and never as a group. We’ve already told them it won’t work that way.
“We have also said it times without number that, what obtains in the House of Representatives doesn’t necessarily work in the Senate. Members are advised to read Order 1 (a&b) of the Senate Standing Orders (2011, as amended),” he warned.



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