Rivers Crisis: A’Court Orders Amaewhule, 24 Lawmakers to Appear in Court

Rivers Crisis: A’Court Orders Amaewhule, 24 Lawmakers to Appear in Court

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

The Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt, has ordered the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, Martins Amaewhule and 24 other members of the House to appear in court on subsequent sitting dates, following a motion filed before it by some elders of the state.

Ten members of the Rivers Elders Forum approached the court, seeking a leave to serve the lawmakers court processes on a suit they filed, questioning the lawmakers rights to remain in office after defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The lawmakers had defected from PDP to APC following a recent political altercation between the state governor, Siminalayi Fubara and the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike.

Not comfortable with the actions of the lawmakers who are loyal to the former governor, Wike, the elders insisted that their interest are no longer protected with the 25 lawmakers still occupying their officers, hence they approached the court for interpretation of their actions.

First, the elders approached the State High Court in Port Harcourt, to grant them an exparte order of subsistence service to the lawmakers, but the trial judge, Justice Chinwendu Nwogu struck out the motion, even before parties’ appearance in court.

Yesterday, the matter was filed before an Appeal Court in Port Harcourt, presided by a three man panel of judges led by Justice Oluwayemisi Williams-Dawodu, the court agreed that Amaewhule and 24 other lawmakers be served through subsistence means or WhatsApp.

The lead counsel for the applicants, Wilcox Abereton, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) had informed the court that it had been difficult and life threatening to serve the Speaker and the Assembly, as a result of tight security details around them occasioned by the political tension in the State.

The SAN also informed the court on how the bailiff of court who went to serve the respondents, was allegedly warned and threatened not to come to serve any further process, but that he can paste it if he has the order of court to do so.

Amongst the other prayers granted by the court, include an order of accelerated hearing of the appeal. The court however, adjourned the matter till April 8, 2024 for accelerated hearing.

Speaking with journalists outside the courtroom immediately after the Court order, one of the counsel for the applicants, Emmanuel Erukari, said:  “Before now, the purported House of Assembly members defected from PDP to APC or wherever, and so we have gone to court on behalf of our clients to say no, that they do not longer have such powers to run the state House of Assembly.

“We went to the court with our clients who said their interest is no longer protected if they continue to allow Martins Amaewhule to continue to oversee the affairs of the Assembly. So as Rivers people they felt their interest should be protected, that is why they approached the court”.

One of the parties in the matter, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe expressed satisfaction at the proceedings of the court, saying that “Rivers people are very interested in and want justice to be done”.

He said Nigerians should be on the alert on the natter to know if the country has a constitution that embraces rights, equality and justice.

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