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Rivers Lawmakers’ Defection: Appeal Court Ruling Semblance of Black-market Procurement, Says Development Dangerous for Democracy

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The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has vehemently condemned the recent Appeal Court ruling on Rivers State Assembly lawmakers’ defection, saying that the judgement has a semblance of a verdict procured from the black-market “meant to destabilise the state, leading to a parallel State House of Assembly, which is a very dangerous development for Nigeria’s democracy.”  

The umbrella association of all registered political parties and political associations in the country expressed concerns and called for “an end to politically influenced court verdict in Nigeria if our democracy must survive.” 

According to a statement signed by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Comrade James Ezema, the CNPP noted that “though the Appeal nullified the ruling of the state High Court on account of lack of jurisdiction, the court of appeal did not declare null and void the declaration of the seats of the defected lawmakers vacant by the Rivers State House of Assembly. 

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“This is unambiguous as the former Speaker Edison Ehi led Rivers State House of Assembly’s votes and proceedings that declared their seats vacant are yet to be declared null and void by any court. 

“Therefore, the actions of the Hon. Ehi led House in declaring the seat vacant and remained valid and until the court declared otherwise, the defecting lawmakers lost their seats thereafter and attempt to reconeve is most injurious to the rule of law and dangerous to democracy. 

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“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ought to have conducted a bye-election to replace the defected lawmakers. 

“This is because in the eyes of the law, the defected lawmakers ceased to be elected representatives of the people having breached section 109 (g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). 

“We believe that the Supreme Court will not allow itself to be used as a tool to plunge the country into political unrest and will certainly resolve this matter on appeal promptly. 

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“We advocate for judicial reforms that enhance transparency, accountability, and adherence to established legal procedures to enable the judiciary to uphold its role as a pillar of democracy.

“The CNPP will engage citizens, civil society organizations, and the media to raise awareness about the implications of this ruling because an informed public is essential for safeguarding democratic values, especially with the current parallel Assembly in Rivers State.

“We therefore stand united in demanding justice and respect for the rule of law and we urge all stakeholders to prioritize the interests of the people of Rivers State and uphold the principles of democracy”, the CNPP stated.

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