Rivers State Of Contradictions

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Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has faulted Monday’s sitting of the Martin Amaewhule-led Assembly.

On Monday, the Martin Amaewhule-led Assembly held a sitting at the State Assembly official quarters along Aba Road, Port Harcourt.

Gbagi Burial Poster

The house leader, Major Jack, displayed copies of last week’s Appeal Court judgment and that of Justice Omotosho, which ruled in their favor in January, recognizing Mr. Amaehule as the speaker.

They issued a seven-day ultimatum to Governor Siminalayi Fubara to present the 2024 budget to them. Mr. Amaewhule read a letter that they plan to send to the governor.

In the letter dated 8 July, they barred the government from spending from the state’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

They accused the governor of breaching some sections of the 1999 Constitution and the Rivers State Local Government Amended Law 2023, among others.

They said the governor’s dealings with and recognition of the Assembly, made up of the said suspended lawmakers, constituted gross misconduct and abuse of office.

But Mr. Falana said Amaewhule and his colleagues were no longer lawmakers in Rivers State following their defection last year.

The lawyer said they can only return as lawmakers if reelected.

“Twenty-five of them, if they claim they are legislators and they pass any bill, anybody can go to court and challenge it, unless they want to have some political solutions and the political solution will mean that those who have left should go back to the electorate for renewal of their mandate.

“Once you decamp, you automatically lose your seat, you have to go and test your popularity before the electorate,” Falana said. “Are they saying they are still members of PDP or what?”

Mr. Falana also said the Court of Appeal only ruled on the jurisdiction of the State High Court and not on the status of Martin Amaewhule and others.

He said the Appeal Court ruling does not mean they could now carry out their legislative duties as lawmakers.

“The Court of Appeal did not say that they remain lawmakers; because they had left their seats, it’s automatic,”

Mr. Falana asserted. “The Court of Appeal simply said the State High Court had no jurisdiction in the matter and the case was struck out.

“The court did not say, ‘You will hereby remain legislators in Rivers State’. No! That Judgement did not say, ‘You are, hereby, restored.’

The Court of Appeal couldn’t have done that because the matter of their membership of the House was not before the Court of Appeal.

Unless they can get a Judgment from the Federal High Court, saying you ‘remain Legislators’, they have gone!”

Monday’s sitting followed last Wednesday’s ruling of the Court of Appeal, which dismissed a State High Court ruling that sacked them as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Recall that Mr. Amaewhule and 25 others defected from the PDP to the APC on 11 December 2023, citing division in the PDP as a reason.
But the PDP said there was no division.

Three cases are in court seeking the court to interpret Section 109, Subsection G, of the Nigerian Constitution, which states that lawmakers lose their seats when they defect.

No court has ruled on their status so far. One of the cases is due to be heard on 17 July.

Credit: Nigeria Info FM except headline

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