Court Rules in Favor of Pro-Wike Lawmakers in Rivers Assembly Dispute

Emma Bulletin
3 Min Read
Court Rules in Favor of Pro-Wike Lawmakers in Rivers Assembly Dispute

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has overturned the expulsion of a former Speaker of the Rivers House of Assembly, Martin Amaewhule, and 24 other lawmakers, restoring their positions in the state assembly.

In May, the Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt barred these lawmakers from parading themselves as members of the assembly following their defection from the PDP to the APC. The affected lawmakers are supported by the immediate past governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who is currently serving as the FCT Minister. Mr. Wike is embroiled in a prolonged political conflict with Governor Siminalayi Fubara over the control of the state’s political structure.

Since the initial court ruling, three lawmakers loyal to Governor Fubara have been managing the affairs of the Rivers State Assembly.

Reinstatement Order

Delivering the judgment on Thursday, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal ruled that the lower court lacked the jurisdiction to issue the exparte order. According to Channels TV, the appeal court cited Section 272(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which grants the Federal High Court the authority to determine whether a House of Assembly member’s seat has become vacant. This section explicitly gives the Federal High Court exclusive jurisdiction in such matters, thereby excluding state high courts.

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The court declared the exparte order null and void, stating that it was issued without proper jurisdiction.

Impact on Legislative Activities

While acting as assembly members, the reinstated pro-Wike lawmakers passed several laws by overriding Governor Fubara’s veto. One significant bill they passed amended the Local Government Administration Law, removing the governor’s power to appoint caretaker committees for local government councils and extending the tenure of elected council officials by six months.

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This ruling is expected to have a considerable impact on the political landscape in Rivers State, particularly in the ongoing power struggle between Wike and Governor Fubara.

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