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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Rivers: Court voids sack of pro-Wike lawmakers parading as Assembly members

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja has overturned the High Court of Rivers State’s order prohibiting the 25 members of the Rivers House of Assembly who allegedly defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from further acting as Assembly members and conducting legislative business.

On Thursday, July 4, a three-member panel of the appeal court ruled unanimously that the Rivers State High Court lacked the authority/jurisdiction to hear the case, which centred on whether the seats of the politicians who reportedly defected were empty or had their mandates expired.

It decided that under Section 273(3) of the Constitution, only the Federal High Court has the authority to assess whether a lawmaker’s seat is vacant or his term of office has expired.

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In the main decision, Justice Jimi Bada found that giving the broad injunction prohibiting the lawmakers from further participating as members of the Assembly without hearing from the appellants constituted a deprivation of their right to a fair hearing.

Justice Bada ruled that the Rivers State High Court’s ex-parte ruling was not justified since there was no urgency.

Bada said: “The trial court ought to have listened to both sides before coming to a decision prejudicial to the appellants.”

The judgment was based on the appeal CA/PH/198/2024 brought by Martin Chike Amaewhule and 24 others, with Victor Oko Jumbo (Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly) as the respondent.

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