Court To Fubara: By Withdrawing All Suits, You’ve Admitted Wrong and Liability

Date:

Jan 23,2024.

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A Federal High Court sitting Abuja, on Monday, told the Rivers State governor, Siminalayi Fubara, that by withdrawing all the processes he filed in the suit before it, he had admitted to all the allegations against him and was, consequently, deemed liable.

The court voided the presentation of the 2024 Appropriation Bill by Fubara before a four-member legislature led by Edison Ehie. It also declared invalid the reposting and redeployment of the clerk and deputy clerk of the state House of Assembly.

Justice James Omotosho, who ruled in the matter, subsequently, declared that the governor was not entitled to invite the National Assembly (NASS) to take over the Rivers State House of Assembly and that NASS also lacked the powers to do so in the instant case.

Omotosho made an order restraining the National Assembly from accepting, entertaining or dealing with the request from Fubara to take over the legislative function of the state Assembly.

He further issued an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Inspector General of Police to protect and provide adequate security and protection to the Speaker and other members of the state assembly.

The court also restrained Fubara and the state government from invading, interfering or stopping the lawmakers from holding meetings, or accessing the Rivers State House of Assembly complex.

In arriving at the decisions, the court observed that Fubara had by withdrawing all the processes he filed in the suit admitted all the allegations against him and was, thus, deemed liable.

Omotosho, who voided the presentation of the budget, said the governor acted in violation of the court’s order, dated November 30, 2023, which had ordered parties to maintain status quo as at November 29, 2023.

The judge made “an order restraining the governor from making any further presentation, except to the leadership of the second plaintiff (Martin Amaewhule).”

He stated that an order of court not set aside remained valid and binding, and the sitting of the four members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, believed to be loyal to Fubara, in violation of a court order, was a nullity.

The court held that the passage of the 2024 Appropriation Bill by the four lawmakers and every other action taken by them amounted to a void act.

In five months of taking over leadership in Rivers State, Fubara had run into trouble with his sponsor and benefactor, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and immediate past governor of the state, Mr Nyesom Wike.

The disagreement led to a division in the state assembly, with a faction of 26 lawmakers said to be loyal to Wike threatening to impeach the governor, who was accused of inviting the National Assembly to intervene and take over the state’s legislative function.

The 26 lawmakers, led by Martin Amaewhule, had defected from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the platform with which they came into office as legislators, to All Progressives Congress (APC).

Following their defection, a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt recognised the faction led by Ehie, a basis for the presentation of the appropriation bill before the four-member legislature.

Delivering judgement in the suit filed by the Rivers State House of Assembly and Amaewhule, Omotosho held that the four-member faction before whom the budget was presented was not the authentic leadership of the Rivers Assembly by law.

The judge said, “The presentation of the bill is void and deemed not to have been presented, passed into law” since it was presented to an unconstitutional six out of the 31 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, in flagrant disobedience of an order of court.”

The state assembly and Amaewhule had, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1613/2023, challenged an alleged plan by the National Assembly to take over their legislative duties in the state.

They had specifically accused Fubara of inviting the National Assembly to take over the state’s legislative functions in a bid to stop his impeachment by the lawmakers.

In its judgement, the court observed that the National Assembly had the power to take over the legislative functions of a state assembly, if there was evidence that the assembly could no longer sit or carry out its duties due to some prevailing circumstances.

Omotosho, however, held that the taking over must be based on an order of court.

Observing that there was no evidence before the court to show that the Rivers Assembly could no longer sit or carry out its legislative duties, the judge described as an academic exercise the issue of action notice raised by the appellants.

On the removal of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the Assembly, the court stated that Section 93 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, subjected the appointment of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk to laws enacted by the House of Assembly. It added that Section 10 of the constitution provided that the Clerk and Deputy Clerk shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly.

The court held that to that extent, the reposting and redeployment of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the Rivers State House of Assembly by the Head of Service of Rivers State was void, because it had no base to stand upon.

“The purported reposting and redeployment is hereby declared invalid and strip of any potency in law,” Omotosho ruled.

On the issue of salaries and allowances of the legislators, the court held that the governor did not have the powers to tamper with the funds credited to the lawmakers.

“Any attempt by a governor to withhold the funds credited to the legislators is tantamount to tyranny and dictatorial tendencies,” Omotosho said. He added that the executive was bound by the law and should not take action against the law.

The judge, therefore, ordered the governor to release forthwith the salaries, allowances and all fringe benefits accruing to the 26 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, loyal to Wike.

The court also dismissed the case of Ehie, who had applied to be joined as an interested party, on the grounds that since he resigned as Speaker and member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, he had lost the capacity to be heard.

President Bola Tinubu had while intervening in the Rivers State crisis, directed all parties to withdraw all court proceedings and said the governor should recognise the Amaewhule leadership of the Assembly and represent the 2024 budget before them.

Tinubu added that the aggrieved lawmakers should also abandon their planned impeachment of the governor.

Based on the agreement, Ehie, who led the faction recognised by the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, became Speaker. But he later resigned from the state assembly.

Meanwhile, the state chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) lauded the Federal High Court in Abuja for its decision on the N800 billion budget passed by the Ehie-led Assembly and signed into law by Fubara.

Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt on the development, the state chairman of APC, Tony Okocha, commended the judiciary for its decision.

Okocha emphasised that the budget was never presented because the Ehie-led group did not meet the one-third statutory requirement for forming a quorum in the Assembly.(www.naija247news.com)

Peter Okafor
Peter Okaforhttp://Naija247news.com
Peter Okafor Financial Journalist | Editor | Contributor Overview: Peter Okafor is a seasoned Financial Journalist, astute Editor, and valued Contributor at Naija247news Media Group. With an unwavering passion for dissecting complex financial landscapes, Peter has become a trusted name in delivering incisive and insightful coverage of economic events, market trends, and corporate dynamics. Professional Journey Peter's journey in financial journalism has been marked by a commitment to excellence. Joining the ranks of Naija247news, he has consistently demonstrated a keen understanding of the intricate interplay between finance and the global socio-economic fabric. Expertise: Specializing in financial markets, economic analyses, and business developments, Peter Okafor has honed his expertise over the years. His ability to unravel intricate financial narratives and present them in a comprehensible manner sets him apart in the world of financial journalism. Contributions As an Editor and Contributor, Peter has played a pivotal role in shaping the narrative of Naija247news. His contributions extend to thought-provoking articles, in-depth market analyses, and coverage of key events that impact the financial landscape. Educational Background: Peter holds a degree in Journalism, complemented by specialized courses in Finance and Business Reporting. His educational foundation has provided him with the tools to navigate the intricate world of financial journalism. Innovation and Adaptability: In an era of evolving media landscapes, Peter Okafor exemplifies innovation and adaptability. Leveraging digital platforms and emerging technologies, he ensures that financial insights reach a diverse audience, fostering financial literacy and awareness. Awards and Recognition: Peter's commitment to journalistic excellence has not gone unnoticed. He has been the recipient of several awards, recognizing his outstanding contributions to the field of financial journalism. Vision for the Future: Looking ahead, Peter Okafor envisions a future where financial journalism continues to empower individuals, shape economic policies, and drive positive change. His dedication to staying at the forefront of financial news underscores his commitment to this vision. Connect with Peter Okafor: - LinkedIn: [Peter Okafor](#) - Twitter: [@PeterOkafor_N247](#) In the dynamic realm of financial journalism, Peter Okafor stands as a stalwart, combining experience, expertise, and a forward-looking vision to illuminate the path of financial understanding for a global audience.

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