RIVERS: Abuja court stops INEC from conducting bye-elections to fill 27 vacant Assembly seats

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Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has barred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from organising by-elections to replace 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly whose seats were declared vacant.

Justice Okorowo also barred the defendants in the case from interfering with the 27-member camp of the Rivers State House of Assembly from conducting their legislative duties as speaker, deputy speaker, and members of the parliament.

The Judge restrained the Inspector-General of Police and the State Security Service (SSS) “from denying or refusing to provide security to the 27 Lawmakers or withdrawing their security details”.

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He subsequently adjourned the suit to December 28 for hearing.

A group of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Edison Ehie, had last Wednesday declared vacant the seats of 27 lawmakers who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

While Mr Ehie is being backed by Governor Siminalayi Fubara, the 27-member group led by Martin Amaewhule is loyal to Nyesom Wike, a former governor and current minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Mr Ehie had secured an interim order through an ex-parte application from the Rivers State High Court in Port-Harcourt, enabling him and three of his colleagues who are loyal to Governor Fubara to do legislative businesses without interference from the Amaewhule-led faction.

However, in a bid to forestall any by-elections from being held to fill their seats, the group of 27 lawmakers through their lawyer, Peter Onuh, in an ex-parte request filed on 13 December, urged the Federal High Court in Abuja to restrain, the Rivers State House of Assembly, INEC, and the PDP from taking actions that could undermine their rights.

Also, Mr Amaewhule and his group who are the applicants in the suit, prayed the court to restrain the SSS, the Inspector General of Police, and the Clerk of the Rivers State House of Assembly from depriving them of their rights as lawmakers, including withdrawal of police security.


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