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Rivers govt debunks court ruling affirming Amaewhule, 26 lawmakers as PDP members

The Rivers State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Dagogo Iboroma, SAN, has refuted reports that a High Court in Port Harcourt, affirmed Martin Amaewhule and 26 others, as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

At a press briefing in Port Harcourt, Iboroma clarified that the suit, numbered DHC/20/CS/204, did not seek to declare their seats vacant.

He explained that the case was dismissed due to lack of locus standi and jurisdiction, as well as abuse of court process, which robbed the trial court of the jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter.

Iboroma asserted that Martin Amaewhule, who had been the speaker of the Pro-Nyesom Wike lawmakers, along with his 26 colleagues, had defected from the PDP to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), on December 11, 2023.

According to him, the defection is documented in an affidavit deposed to by Amaewhule for himself and his colleagues, in suit number FHC/ABJ/1681/CS/2023 before Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The Rivers State Attorney General explained that the suit which documented Amaewhule’s affidavit, is still pending in the Federal High Court.

He argued that according to Section 272(3) of the 1999 Constitution, only the Federal High Court has the authority to determine whether the lawmakers are still members of the PDP and the Rivers State House of Assembly

He, however, maintained that there is a substituting order of interlocutory injunction in suit number PHC/1512/CS/2024 restraining Martin Amaewhule, and his 26 colleagues from acting as lawmakers in Rivers State, pending the determination of the substantive suit, which he said has not been appealed against.

He, therefore, urged the public to disregard reports that Martin Amaewhule and 26 others have been validated, as members of the Peoples Democratic Party, as well as, the Rivers State House of Assembly.

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, had earlier affirmed that Amaewhule and the 26 other members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, are still members of the PDP.

Delivering judgement in Port Harcourt earlier on Monday, Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the Rivers State High Court, held that the claimants failed to prove that Amaewhule and the other lawmakers, had defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice Gbasam further held that membership of a party is only proven by being listed on the party’s register, or by membership card, adding that television ceremonies and or verbal statements, were not enough to show the same.

Interestingly, the PDP had filed a motion to be joined in the case, and was added as the fourth defendant.

Justice Gbasam further held that the Rivers state government is bound to obey all laws passed by the Assembly, as they are still members of the PDP hence, their names are still in the PDP’s membership register as provided by the party.

He further posited that the state government is bound by the laws made by the Assembly, as they are still members of the PDP, and as such, haven’t lost their seats.