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Court stops INEC from conducting fresh election into 26 defected Rivers lawmakers’ seats

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A Federal High Court in Abuja, has restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting fresh election to fill the seats of the 26 Rivers House of Assembly members who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice Donatus Okorowo, who gave the ruling in an ex-parte motion moved by counsel to the defected lawmakers, Peter Onuh, also restrained the INEC, PDP and the house of assembly from declaring their seats vacant and withdrawing their respective Certificate of Returns pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

Justice Okorowo equally gave “an interim order of injunction restraining all the defendants from interfering with or impeding in any way or attempting to interfere with or impede in any way the performance of the applicants’ official and legislative functions as the speaker, the deputy speaker and members, respectively, of the Rivers State House of Assembly, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

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“An order of interim injunction is hereby granted restraining the defendants/respondents, jointly and or severally, by themselves or their agents, from interfering with or impeding in any way or attempting to interfere with or impede in any way the full enjoyment of the official rights and privileges of the plaintiffs/applicants as the speaker, the deputy speaker and members, respectively, of the Rivers State House of Assembly, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

“An order of interim injunction is hereby granted restraining the 5th and 6th defendant (I-G and DSS), by themselves, officers, subordinates, servants or agents from denying or refusing to provide security for the plaintiffs or howsoever withdrawing their security details or personnel or failing to provide details or personnel or failing to provide adequate security for the plaintiffs/applicants for the purpose of enabling them to continue with the performance of their constitutional legislative and oversight functions pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”

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The judge, who granted the reliefs on Dec. 15 (Friday) but a certified true copy (CTC) of the ruling sighted by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Sunday night, ordered the applicants to undertake damages in the sum of N250 million.

Okorowo adjourned the matter until Dec  28 for hearing the motion on notice.

NAN reports that the 26 lawmakers had, in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1681/2023/ dated Dec  13 and filed Dec  15, sued INEC, PDP, the assembly, clerk of the assembly, Inspector-General (I-G) of Police and Department of State Service (DSS) as 1st to 6th defendants respectively.

The motion, which was deposed to by the factional Speaker of the assembly, Mr Martins Chike-Amaewhule, sought five reliefs.

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