March 2, 2024

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit that sought to prevent Governor Siminalayi Fubara from re-presenting the ₦800 billion 2024 budget of Rivers State.

Justice Joyce Abdulmalik, in her ruling, also set aside an interim order made on January 22, 2024, which had directed the parties involved to maintain a status quo pending the hearing of the substantive suit.

On Tuesday, January 30, Justice Abdulmalik highlighted that a similar suit related to the matter had already been decided by a sister court on the very day the interim order was granted.

She further noted that the plaintiffs’ counsel, David Maduka, missed the opportunity to address the court on the appropriateness of the instant suit in light of the judgment already delivered in a similar case.

The legal dispute originated from the Rivers House of Assembly, led by then factional Speaker Edison Ehie, passing the ₦800 billion 2024 budget on December 13, 2023.

Governor Fubara assented to the bill on December 14, 2023. However, Justice James Omotosho, in a judgment on January 22, set aside the budget, restraining Governor Fubara from interfering in the legislative functions of the house under Martin Amaewhule’s leadership.

Earlier on the same day, Justice Abdulmalik granted an ex-parte order filed by six elders of the state, including Hon Victor Okon Jumbo and Senator Bennett Birabi, who were plaintiffs in the suit.

The order directed the parties not to take further steps pending the determination of the application to stop Governor Fubara from re-presenting the budget.

The plaintiffs, through their lawyer Kayode Ajulo, SAN, also sought an order declaring the seats of the 27 lawmakers who switched from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) vacant.

They questioned the constitutionality of a peace agreement allegedly made by President Tinubu with Governor Fubara and former Governor Nyesom Wike.

Justice Abdulmalik scheduled February 28 to hear the application and directed the defendants, including President Bola Tinubu, to respond to the allegations.

However, in a subsequent motion, the plaintiffs sought an accelerated hearing, and an order abridging the time for the defendants to file their processes.

During the recent court proceedings, Maduka, representing the plaintiffs, faced challenges when Justice Abdulmalik pointed out the earlier judgment by Justice Omotosho.

Despite Maduka’s request to stand down the matter to obtain and review the judgment, the court held that the plaintiffs were privy to the judgment and dismissed the suit in its entirety.

Pulse NG

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