Rivers crisis: NJC asked to probe high court

Rivers crisis: NJC asked to probe high court
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Gov Sim Fubara and Hon. Martin Amaewhule. [Facebook]

The constitution requires that defecting lawmakers vacate their seats, which led to the election of a new speaker in the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has been urgently called upon to investigate the Rivers State High Court following a judgment that reinstated dismissed lawmakers in the State House of Assembly.

The Coalition for Justice and Accountability (CJA), led by its President, Comrade Dada Segun Akin, criticised the court’s decision that allowed 27 lawmakers to return to the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The coalition vehemently denounced the ruling by the Rivers State High Court, which stated that the 27 members who switched from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) remain members of both the PDP and the Rivers State House of Assembly, a decision they deemed as a clear violation of the constitutional requirement.

According to the group, this judgment can only be celebrated by those who oppose the judiciary, Rivers State, and Nigeria.

Background

In December 2023, 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, led by then-Speaker Martin Amawhule, switched from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

According to the constitutional requirement that defecting legislators must vacate their seats, a Rivers State High Court barred these lawmakers from acting as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly. Following this restraining order, Hon Victor Oko-Jumbo was elected as the new Speaker.

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In a recent judgement, a Rivers State High Court judge, after addressing a preliminary objection, ruled that the defected members remain part of the PDP. The group expressed surprise at the judgement, stating, “We are shocked that the judge concluded that the defected members were still part of the PDP despite the members themselves providing reasons for their defection.

“In the letter of defection submitted by Martins Amaewhule and 25 others on the floor of the Rivers State House of Assembly on December 18th, 2023, the members cited division in the PDP as the reason for their defection.

“Same evidence were placed before the court, and the judge still went ahead to rule that the defected members are still PDP members, and therefore still members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.”

The coalition said it had revealed and warned of the plot to obtain a favourable judgment and return the pro-Wike lawmakers to the parliament last week.

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