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Rivers Crisis: Assembly heads to S’Court to challenge verdict on pro-Wike lawmakers

Rivers State Government

BY AMAKA AGBU

Sequel to the Appeal Court verdict on Thursday reinstating the sacked 25 pro-Wike lawmakers, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, has confirmed the filing of an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the judgement of the Appealate Court.

Rt. Hon. 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 made the clarification when he addressed lawmakers during plenary at the temporary facility used for Legislative businesses in Port Harcourt on Friday.

He declared that he (Oko-Jumbo) remained the authentic Speaker because there could not be two Houses of Assembly in Rivers State.

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

“On the 13th Day of December, 2023, Rt. Hon. 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 restraining order against Martin Ameawhule and the 24 others when they continued to parade themselves 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,” he continued.

Rt. Hon. 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, in spite of 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 Rivers State House of Assembly.

“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, opened debate, and moved them through first reading.

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

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Ihesiulo Grace

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