The ranks of the Peoples Democratic Party in the House of Representatives further depleted on Wednesday as eight more members defected from the majority party.
Four of the defectors joined the rival All Progressives Congress, giving indications that the leading opposition party had gained the control of the House as the majority party.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance gained two of the defectors, while the Peoples Democratic Movement and the Social Democratic Party each gained one, bringing to eight the total PDP defectors on Wednesday.
All the defected legislators either cited dissatisfaction with the conduct of the party’s last primaries or divisions in its fold as reasons for their decision to abandon the PDP.
The four who defected to the APC were Garba Ulma, Zakari Ibrahim, Ibrahim Kamba and Abdulmalik Cheche.
Wilson Nathaniel joined the SDP, while Tony Madwatte and Nwogbo defected to PDM and APGA respectively.
Another member, Mr. Benjamin Aboho, defected to APGA, while Mr. Forte Dike left APGA for the APC.
Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Victor Ogene, also made his defection from APGA to the APC official on Wednesday.
By Ogene’s defection, both the chairman of the House committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, and his deputy are now members of the APC.
The APC alone gained six out of the total of 10 lawmakers who changed political parties on Wednesday.
A National Assembly official told The PUNCH that the series of defections hitting the PDP lately had raised the numerical strength of the APC to 179 members, giving it the upper hand over the former.
The official said, “As it stands today, the APC has taken over as the majority party. There are now 179 APC members, while PDP has 162. The small parties together have 19 members.
“Ten of the members belong to the SDP.”
When The PUNCH sought the reaction of the Deputy House Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, he neither denied nor confirmed the figures.
Ogor merely described the loss of his party’s membership as “inconsequential.”
He reminded our correspondent that the issue of defections in the House was still before the courts.
“This issue is inconsequential because the PDP is clearly in control. The courts have said status quo should remain.
“So, we are not bothered as we are in control. Even if it is only Leo Ogor who remains in the PDP, we are in control, so long as the courts have not decided on the issue of defections”, he said.
The SDP has jumped to the third largest party in the House with 10 members.
Labour Party has about three members, APGA has three, PDM has two members and Accord Party, one.
Meanwhile, the House further amended the Electoral Act 2010 on Wednesday to make a provision to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons would vote at elections held during emergencies.
The amendment to the Act, which passed third reading on Wednesday, was a response to INEC’s stance that there was no legal backing for it to guarantee voting opportunities for the IDPs during next month’s general elections.
The amendment added a new clause to the existing Section 26 of the Principal Act, giving INEC powers to make provision for the voting rights of the IDPs.
It was proposed by a PDP lawmaker from Taraba State, Mr. Albert Tsam-Tsokwa.
The amendment received unanimous approval by members and was passed along with the new Electoral Act.
However, the House and the Senate will still meet in conference to harmonise any differences that may appear in their respective versions of the new law.