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(Just In) Rivers Crisis: Court Orders Fubara’s Loyalist, Ehie, To Preside Over Assembly Proceedings

A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt has ordered the factional Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie, loyal to Governor Siminalayi Fubari, to preside over the activities of the legislative arm of the state pending the determination of a motion before it.

Justice M.W Danagogo gave the order on Tuesday, in an experte motion, suit no. PHC/3030/CS/2023 in which Rivers State House of Assembly is the first claimant and Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie, (Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly) as second claimant; and Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule, as first defendant while Rt. Hon. Dumle Maol, is the second defendant.

In the process which was prepared by D.I Iboroma (SAN), and others, Edison wants the court to order Amaewhule and others to stop entering the state House of Assembly complex until the burnt hallowed chamber is fully renovated by the government.

Edison also wants the court to order that he lawfully takes over the speakership of the state assembly until the matter before its dispensed, praying that Amaewhule should be stopped from conducting himself as the Speaker of the House.

However, the court, in an interim order, granted the requests of the applicant, urging Amaewhule and others to stop using the Assembly premises following the directive of the Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, that the facility was under renovation.

The order threatened that the second claimant, Edison, would pay the sum of N50,000,000.00 as damages if the application before the court turned out to be frivolous, but ordered the claimants to serve the interim order, the motion on notice already filed, the originating process and other processes in this suit on the defendants on or before December 13, 2023.

The court granted leave to the claimants to serve all the processes by substituted means by publication in two national newspapers or by posting at a conspicuous part of the last known address of the defendants and adjourned till December 21 for motion on notice.

The court, however, entered the following orders: “AN ORDER OF INTERIM INJUNCTION restraining the Defendants and the 2nd Claimant/Applicant either acting by themselves or through their agents, servants, privies, assigns or any person(s) acting in whatsoever manner and howsoever called or described, from further use of armed thugs accompanied by police personnel in riot gear to gain access to the Rivers State House of Assembly complex at Moscow Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers State which was burnt, destroyed, damaged and rendered uninhabitable as a result of the fire that engulfed the Assembly Complex on the 2nd day of October, 2023, contrary to the order of the executive Governor of Rivers State relocating the sitting of the 1st Claimant to a secure and more conducive venue to ensure that the activities and meetings of the House are not disrupted during the period of the renovation of the burnt building, pending the determination of the motion on notice already filed.

“AN ORDER OF INTERIM INJUNCTION restraining the Defendants whether by themselves, their agents, servants, privies and representatives in whatsoever and howsoever manner from preventing, disrupting and interfering with the smooth and regular operation, management and administration of the 1 Claimant/Applicant pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice already filed in this suit.”

APC: we’ll petition NJC over frivolous court orders

Meanwhile, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of APC in Rivers, Chief Tony Okocha, said that the experte order was aimed at intimidating 27 PDP members that defected to the APC in the state.

Chief Okocha in a press briefing in Port Harcourt on Tuesday said that the party would be left with no other option but to petition Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC) on what he called frivolous experte orders.

He said that the NJC had in the past sanctioned judges who flouted NJC directives on experte orders, saying that the party would petition the NJC to look into the matter.

“We wish to intimate Nigerians of the recent judgement in Rivers State. Today Rivers State people woke up to hear about the judgement the Rivers State high court granted with impunity; an experte order to one Hon. Edision Ehie recognizing him as Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly.

“It would be recalled that the same Hon. Edision had approached a federal high court in Rivers State seeking to be declared as the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly in the case argument has been taken and judgement reserved for January, 2024.

“Surprisingly, today (Tuesday) on the same subject matter, Justice Danagogo granted an experte order purporting to recognize Hon. Edision as Speaker of the State House of Assembly. This is a fragrant abuse of court processes.

“The judge claimed that the case which was filed by Edision on the 30th of October, 2023 and assigned to him in the first of November, 2023 for all this length of time. If the subject matter was urgent, why did the judge wait till today, December 12, to declare an experte?

“It’s in public glare the 27 Assembly members who were elected under the PDP platform crossed over to the APC citing irreconcilable differences in the PDP – a move supported by Section 109 of the Constitution of Nigeria. The defectors were received by APC Rivers yesterday (Monday). It’s because of the defection that brought about the court order from Justice Danagogo

“The judge has contravened the NJC order on frivorious experte orders and has sanctioned judges that defiled the orders. He said the reason for the judgement is to allow Governor Fubara present his budget to the Assembly.”

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