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Appeal Court Voids Order Restraining Pro-Wike Lawmakers From Parading Selves As Rivers Assembly Members

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has set aside the order made by the High Court of Rivers State restraining the 25 members of the Rivers House of Assembly, who allegedly defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from further parading themselves as members of the Assembly and conducting legislative businesses.

In a unanimous judgment on Thursday, July 4, a three-member panel of the appellate court held that the Rivers State High Court lacked the power/jurisdiction to hear the case which bordered on whether or not the seats of the lawmakers, who allegedly defected, were vacant or their terms had ceased.

It held that, by the provision of Section 273(3) of the Constitution, it is only the Federal High Court that has the jurisdiction to determine whether or not the seat of a lawmaker is vacant or his term of office has ceased.

In the lead judgment, Justice Jimi Bada held that by granting the far reaching order, restraining the lawmakers from further acting as members of the Assembly without hearing from the appellants amounted to a denial of their right to a fair hearing.

Justice Bada held that no urgency warranted the grant of the ex-parte order by the Rivers State High Court.

Justice Bada said: “The trial court ought to have listened to both sides before coming to a decision prejudicial to the appellants.

”The judgment was on the appeal marked: CA/PH/198/2024 filed by Martin Chike Amaewhule and 24 others, with Victor Oko Jumbo (Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly) as respondent.

Other members of the Court of Appeal panel, Justice Hamma Barka and Bilikisu Aliyu agreed with the lead judgment.

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