As the political debacle in Rivers State rages, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has extended an interim order to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from taking action against the 26 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected to the All Progressives Congress
As the political debacle in Rivers State rages, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has extended an interim order to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from taking action against the 26 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Justice Donatus Okorowo of the High Court ruled for the extension of the order following the application by the counsels representing the lawmakers, Steve Adehi (SAN) and Ken Njemanze (SAN), on Thursday. They asked the court to further uphold its position on the defected lawmakers that INEC must not conduct another election to replace them, nor should their seats be declared vacant as believed to be intended by the PDP.
Recall that on November 11, 2023, 27 members of the state house of assembly who are loyal to the former governor of the state, Nysome Wike, defected from the PDP to the APC, following an alleged feud between Governor Fubara and his predecessor.
Despite a President Tinubu’s brokered truce between the two camps the PDP is insisting on the removal of the defected lawmakers from the House, citing the provisions of the constitution as the reason why they should lose their seats following their defection to another party. The party also requested that the INEC hold a new election to replace the defected lawmakers.
To solidify its proposition, the speaker of the house, Edison Ehie had declared their seats vacant. However, in the suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/1681/2023/, filed on December 13, the lawmakers approached the court for reprieve, naming the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police, INEC, PDP, the State House of Assembly, the clerk of the assembly, and the Department of State Service (DSS) as the first to sixth defendants, respectively. The court granted their prayers on December 15.
The court extended the interim ruling based on Order 26, Rule 10 of the FHC, which stated that the court had the discretionary power to grant the plea in the interest of justice.
Tje Judge held that he was convinced by the arguments of Adehi and Njemanze that extending the order would be in the best interests of justice.
Okorowo, who adjourned the matter until January 24 for hearing of the applications, said: “application for the extension of the order of the lifespan of the ex-parte order pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice is hereby granted.”
PDP’s lawyer, Adeyemi Ajibade, SAN, however opposed the application for the extension of the order.