• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Rivers’ crisis: Fubara group declares seats vacant as they head to Supreme Court

Pro-Wike lawmakers give Fubara 7 days to represent budget

The group loyal to Gov Sim Fubara has declared vacant the seats of the 27 allegedly defected lawmakers in the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The group is also holding on to the position of Speaker of the House despite the ruling of the Appeal Court the previous day. The group has also announced they have gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the lower court.

At a sitting Friday morning, July 6, 2024, at their new venue, the faction of the Assembly led as Speaker by Victor Oko-Jumbo, confirmed the filing of an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the judgment of the Appeal Court.

Oko-Jumbo clarified that the action was necessitated by the fact that the Assembly “strongly believes that the Court of Appeal was in error when it held that the Rivers State High Court lacked the Jurisdiction to hear and determine Suit No. PHC/1512/CS/2024”.

Oko-Jumbo declared that he remains the authentic Speaker because there cannot be two Houses of Assembly in Rivers State.

He reiterated that the seats of Martin Amaewhule and 24 other lawmakers remain vacant as declared by the then speaker,  Edison Ehie, on 13th December 2023, following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the 11th day of December 2023.

He said: “There cannot be two Houses of Assembly in Rivers State or indeed any State in Nigeria. This House of Assembly, with me as the Speaker, is the only House of Assembly in Rivers State.

“As the whole world knows, on the 11th day of December 2023, Martin Amaewhule and his 24 friends defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressive Congress.

“On the 13th Day of December, 2023, Edison Ehie, as the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, declared the seats of Martin Amaewhule and 24 others in the RSHA vacant. That declaration by Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie has not been set aside by any court in Nigeria.”

Oko-Jumbo explained that the legitimate members of the Rivers State House of Assembly secured a restraining order against Martin Ameawhule and the 24 others when they continued to parade as members of the RSHA despite their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party to the APC and their seats declared vacant.

He said that because they felt dissatisfied with the rulings of the Rivers State High Court in Suit No. PHC/1512/CS/2024, Martin Amaewhule & 24 ORS had filed an Appeal No. CA/PH/198/2024 at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division.

Oko-Jumbo stated: “Yesterday, the 4th of July, 2024, the Court of Appeal, in its lead Judgement, allowed the Appeal by Martin Ameawhule & 24 ORS on the ground that the Rivers State High Court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine the case.

“Accordingly, the Court of Appeal struck out Suit No. PHC/1512/CS/2024 and nothing more. The Court of Appeal did not make any declaration that Martin Amaewhule & 24 ORS did not defect from the PDP to APC.

“The Court of Appeal also did not make any declaration that Martin Amaewhule and 24 ORS are still members of the RSHA.”

Oko-Jumbo emphasised: “We strongly believe that the Court of Appeal was in error when it held that the Rivers State High Court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine SUIT NO PHC/1512/CS/2024.

“Accordingly, we have instructed our lawyers and they have filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria challenging the judgement of the Court of Appeal delivered on the 4th Day of July 2024.

“Martin Amaewhule & 24 ORS, despite all their pretences, are no longer members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, and they remain so until a court of competent jurisdiction says otherwise.

“Once again, we the legitimate members of the RSHA hereby call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to promptly conduct a bye-election to fill the vacant seats in the RSHA.

“We strongly urge the general public to ignore Martin Amaewhule & 24 ORS in their pretence that they are members of the RSHA,” he added.

During the plenary, the House considered two bills, open debate, and moved them through first reading.

The bills included the Rivers State Emergency Management Agency Bill, 2024 which was presented by the Leader of the House, Hon Sokari Goodboy, while the second one is the Rivers State Transport Company Reform Bill, 2024, which was sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon Adolphus Orubienimigha.