Opposition lawmakers urge sacked Rivers lawmakers to respect court decision

The spokesperson for the group, Rep. Ikenga Ugochinyere (PDP-Imo) made the call while addressing newsmen in Abuja. He reacted to the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal on the 25 members of the Rivers House of Assembly who defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and their seats were declared vacant in line with provisions of the Constitution.

Ugochinyere said that the grand norm is very clear when it says, that an elected member shall vacate his seat if he defects to another party against the laid down conditions of the Constitution.

The lawmaker said that the conditions for defecting and remaining in office are when there is a division in a party or a merger of two or more parties. He said that the 28 former members of the state assembly defected against the provisions of the law and they remained sacked from the assembly unless a judgment of a competent court decides otherwise.

We are saying that we cannot continue to keep quiet, constitutional crisis over time has led to the collapse of our democracy.

“So all these crises and more pressure they are putting on the judiciary to interpret what is clear to all of you is not necessary.

“Section 109 (1G) is automatic, it goes into effect at the very moment you move when there was no division; you can go to court to prove that there was a division but they not doing that and there is no judgment or ruling in that aspect,” he said.

The lawmaker said that Local Government Chairmen in the state whose tenure had expired and wanted to remain in office should vacate their offices in the interest of peace. He said that the tenure of a Local Government Chairman is clearly stated in the Constitution and cannot be extended by any other law or policy unless the Constitution is amended.

Ugochinyere urged residents of Rivers to be vigilant and not to allow former lawmakers or former Local Government Chairmen to parade themselves as serving government officials. He said discussions in the country should focus on security, food prices and other environmental issues and not a few politicians.

NAN reports that the appeal court sitting in Abuja on Thursday vacated the order that sacked 25 members of the Rivers House of Assembly who defected to the ruling of the APC.

The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel of Justices, on Thursday, held that the Rivers State High Court, which issued the order, lacked the requisite jurisdiction to do so. It upheld the appeal that was lodged before it by the lawmakers who were led by the embattled Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Martin Amaewhule.

It will be recalled that Justice Charles Wali of the Rivers State High Court had on May 10, issued an interim injunction that restrained the embattled lawmakers loyal to the immediate past Governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, from parading themselves as members of the assembly, having defected from the political party that sponsored their elections.

The court order followed a suit that was filed by Victor Oko-Jumbo who subsequently emerged as the Speaker of the Assembly. The litigants, who are loyal to the incumbent governor of the state in their suit, contended that Amaewhule and the 24 other defected lawmakers ceased to be members of the Rivers State House of Assembly since December 13, 2023, when their seats were declared vacant.

While upholding the case of the plaintiffs, Justice Wali barred the pro-Wike lawmakers from accessing the Assembly complex or carrying out any legislative assignment in the name of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

However, dissatisfied with the verdict, Amaewhule and his colleagues approached the appellate court to set it aside. They argued that the state high court acted beyond its jurisdiction when it issued the restraining order against them.

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