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Rivers crisis: Pro-Fubara Lawmakers Head to Supreme Court, Want INEC to Conduct By-election to Fill Vacant Seats

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The members of the Rivers State House of Assembly (RSHA) loyal to Governor Siminialayi Fubara have disclosed that they have appealed the Court of Appeal judgement that voided the State High Court decision that gave them power to serve as Speaker and members of the state legislature.

They called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately conduct a bye-election to fill the vacant seats in the RSHA.

Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, who made this public while addressing lawmakers during their plenary at the temporary facility used for Legislative businesses in Port Harcourt on Friday, said they were already at the Supreme Court challenging the judgement of the Appeal Court delivered which held that Justice Charles Wali of the State High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter of the state legislature.

The Court of Appeal on Thursday in suit CA/PH/198/2024 filled by Amaewhule and others declared the High Court order that barred them from parading as speaker and lawmakers null and void.

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Hon. Jumbo clarified that the action was necessitated by the fact that they strongly believe that the Court of Appeal erred when it held that the State High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine Suit No. PHC/1512/CS/2024.

According to Jumbo, he remained the authentic speaker because there cannot be two Houses of Assembly in the state, reiterating that the seats of Hon. Martin Amaewhule and 24 other former lawmakers remained vacant as declared by the then speaker, Hon Edison Ehie, on 13th December, 2023.

He said fact was 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 (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC).

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“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.”

Jumbo maintained that the legitimate members of the Assembly secured restraining order against Martin Ameawhule and the 24 others when they continued to parade as members of the RSHA despite their defection to APC and their seats declared vacant.

He 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.

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

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