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Legal fireworks in PH over defected lawmakers: Rivers State govt rejects PH high court ruling, says fate of defected lawmakers is in Fed High Court Abuja

Legal fireworks in PH over defected lawmakers: Rivers State govt rejects PH high court ruling, says fate of defected lawmakers is in Fed High Court Abuja

As legal fireworks begin in Port Harcourt and Abuja, a high court in Port Harcourt has ruled that the 27 defected R from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress in December 2023 are still PDP members.

The Rivers State government has however reacted saying the fate of the defected lawmakers is in the Federal High Court Abuja, not in the high court in Port Harcourt.

The Port Harcourt high court had held Monday morning June 10, 2024, that the claimants failed to prove that Martins Amaewhule and 26 other lawmakers, had defected to the APC.

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Okogbule Gbasam further held that membership of a party is only proven by being listed on the party’s register, or by membership card, adding that television ceremonies and or verbal statements, were not enough to show the same.

Interestingly, the PDP had filed a motion to be joined in the case and was added as the fourth defendant.

Gbasam further held that the Rivers State government is bound to obey all laws passed by the Assembly, as they are still members of the PDP hence, their names are still in the PDP’s membership register as provided by the party.

He further posited that the state government is bound by the laws made by the Assembly, as they are still members of the PDP, and as such, haven’t lost their seats.

Fed High Court Abuja will decide:

Reacting, the newly appointed Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice who is the 3rd defendant in the suit (No. DHC/20/CS/2024) said the suit did not seek to declare the seat of Martins Amaewhule and 26 others in Rivers State House of Assembly vacant, meaning that the judgment rendered what was not sought.

He said the suit of the claimants was struck out for want of locus standi and jurisdiction and also for being an abuse of court process which he said robbed the trial court of jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.

The SAN thus said the news on the judgment was misleading by claiming that Amaewhule & 26 others are members of the PDP and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

He gave a striking hint, saying the idea of lack of evidence of defection was funny because the said lawmakers had sworn in court papers that they defected as contained in affidavit evidence deposed to by Amaewhule for himself and on behalf of 26 others in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/1681/CS/2023 before the Justice, Donatus Okorowo, of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division.

The Attorney-General said the suit is still pending in court. “By Section 272(3) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, it is only the Federal High Court that can determine whether Martins Amaewhule and 26 others are still members of the Peoples Democratic Party and also members of the Rivers State House of Assembly. This much was held by the trial court.

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“However, you will recall that there is a subsisting order of interlocutory injunction in Suit No. PHC/512/CS/2024 restraining Martins Amaewhule and his co-travellers from further parading or presenting themselves as lawmakers in Rivers State pending the determination of the substantive suit, which has not been appealed against to date.

“We urge the public to disregard the news presently making rounds in social, print, and electronic media to the effect that Martins Amaewhule and 26 others have been declared as members of the PDP and the Rivers State House of Assembly.”