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Lawyers differ on Rivers’ speakership tussle

Lawyers have weighed in on the political crisis in Rivers State, which they believe has been complicated by the judgment of the appeal court that…

Lawyers have weighed in on the political crisis in Rivers State, which they believe has been complicated by the judgment of the appeal court that set aside the order sacking of the state’s lawmakers loyal to the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike.

In response to the judgment, the 24 pro-Wike lawmakers, led by Rt Hon. Martin Chike Amaewhule, convened on Monday to initiate impeachment proceedings against Governor Sir Siminalayi Fubara.

Simultaneously, the three lawmakers loyal to the governor, led by Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, held their own session, screening and confirming Barrister Emmanuel Onengiye-Ofori Frank-Fubara as commissioner.

Barrister Chukwudi Igwe expressed concern over the appellate court’s order, stating that it created confusion regarding the status of the 24 decamping lawmakers. He suggested that pro-Fubara lawmakers should file a fresh application at the Federal High Court or maintain their appeal at the Supreme Court to obtain a stay of the Court of Appeal’s order.

Henry Ekine argued that, according to Section 90 of the Nigerian Constitution, Rivers State had only one House of Assembly led by Oko-Jumbo. He noted that the December 11, 2023, defection of the Amaewhule-led lawmakers from the PDP to the APC indicated they had ceased to be assembly members.

Conversely, Frank Tietie, Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), stated that the Court of Appeal’s order did not indicate that the 24 pro-Wike lawmakers lost their seats or authority in the assembly.

Rufus Godwins supported the view, affirming that Amaewhule was the rightful speaker of the House of Assembly as per the Court of Appeal’s judgment.

He added that the high court’s order barring the chief judge from receiving any impeachment notice from the Amaewhule-led assembly members constituted contempt punishable by law.

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