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Fubara relocates Rivers Assembly sitting to government house as court stops pro-Wike lawmakers from holding meetings

Rivers Governor Siminalayi Fubara has directed that the state’s Assembly sitting be relocated to the auditorium in the admin block of the Government House in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

The relocation order is contained in the state’s official Gazette, Executive Order of the Rivers State Government 001-2023.

The order came about 24 hours after Victor Oko-Jumbo, a lawmaker loyal to the governor emerged as a new factional speaker of the assembly and a few hours after hours after a High Court in the state barred the pro-Wike speaker and 24 other lawmakers from parading themselves as members of the assembly.

The order also came a few days after Mr Fubara declared that Rivers State had no House of Assembly and a day after the governor visited the legislative quarters where the pro-Wike lawmakers were holding sitting.

The complex which housed the Rivers assembly was demolished last year after a section of it was set ablaze in the aftermath of a failed attempt to remove the governor from office.

The gazette reads, “That on 29 October 2023, a fire incident occasioned by unknown persons burnt and damaged the hallowed chambers of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

“That the Hallowed Chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly in its present state is unsafe and constitutes a threat to the lives of the staff and the Honourable members of Rivers State House of Assembly and thus not conducive for the business and proceeding of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

“That it is expedient to carry out urgent repairs, renovation, and reconstruction of the burnt and damaged chambers of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

“That it is further reasonable to ensure that the business and proceedings of the Rivers State House of Assembly are not impeded and frustrated.

Now therefore, I, Mr Fubara the Governor of Rivers State this 30th day of October 2023, Pursuant to the powers vested in me under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) hereby issue, order, and direct that all proceedings and business of Rivers State House of Assembly shall temporarily take place at the Auditorium, Admin Block, Government House, Port Harcourt until the repairs, renovation or reconstruction of the chambers of the Rivers State House of Assembly are completed.”

The relocation and other related events that happened before it have further worsened the already hostile relationship between Mr Fubara and the pro-Wike lawmakers.

The lawmakers have been at loggerheads with Mr Fubara after the governor fell out with Mr Wike last year.

Mr Wike, the immediate-past governor of the oil-rich Rivers, was instrumental to the emergence of Mr Fubara as governor but the duo fell out shortly after Mr Fubara assumed office as a result of the battle over the control of their party’s structure in the state.

The feud deteriorated despite the intervention of President Bola Tinubu who brokered a peace deal between Messrs Wike and Fubara after the seats of Mr Wike-backed lawmakers were declared vacant following their defection to the APC.

Meanwhile, A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has barred members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, including its Speaker, all of whom are loyalists of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Nyesom Wike, from parading themselves as members of the Assembly.

Justice Charles Nwali, who gave the interim order on Friday in a motion ex-parte brought before him, also gave an order restraining the defendants from dealing with, interfacing, accepting any resolutions, bills as members of the House of Assembly pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

In the suit number PHC/1512/CS/2024, filed by Mr. Victor Oko Jumbo (Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly); Sokari Goodboy, Orubienimigha Timothy, as members of the Assembly, asked the court to restrain the defendants from parading themselves as members of the House of Assembly, since their seats had been declared vacant with effect from December 13, 2023.

After hearing from Sammie A. Somiari (SAN) with B. N. Owunabo, K. O. Ogunjobi and others for the claimants/applicants, entered that Amaewhule and the others should stop acting as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Amaewhule and 24 of his colleagues had defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on which platform they were elected to the Assembly to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In addition, Justice Wali also ordered that the Rivers State government should stop dealing with the affected lawmakers since their seats were vacant after they defected from the PDP that nominated them for election.

Justice Wali Said: It is hereby ordered as follows: “An Order of interim injunction is granted restraining the 1 to 25th Defendants from parading and holding out themselves as members of Rivers State House of Assembly and/ or meeting/sitting at the Auditorium of the House of Assembly Quarters located at off Aba Road, Port Harcourt or any other place whatsoever to purport to carry out the legislative business of the Rivers State House of Assembly, their legislative seats having been declared vacant pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

“An Order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the 26th to 28th Defendants from dealing with, interfacing, accepting any resolutions, bills and/or howsoever interacting with the 1 to 25th Defendants in their purported capacities as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, their legislative seats having been declared vacant with effect from 13th December, 2023 pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

“It is further ordered that this order, the Motion on Notice and the writ and other processes in this case be served on the 1 to 25th Defendants/Respondents within seven (7) days from date by substituted means to wit: by pasting at the entrance gate of the Rivers State House of Assembly Legislative Quarters, Off Aba Road, Port Harcourt and for such service to be deemed good and proper.

 

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