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Appeal Court Nullifies Pro-Wike Rivers Lawmakers’ Expulsion

THE Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has nullified the expulsion of 25 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly by the State High Court.

The Appeal Court made the declaration in a judgement delivered by a three-member panel on Thursday, July 4, 2024.

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The appellate court held that the High Court lacked the jurisdiction to grant the exparte order.

The court held that Section 272(3) of the Constitution gives the Federal High Court powers to determine whether the seat of a House of Assembly member has become vacant.

It held that the Federal High Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to determine if the seats have become vacant.

The Appeal Court stated that the express mention of the Federal High Court in Section 272 (3) of the Constitution automatically excludes all State High Courts from having the jurisdiction.

The appellate court held that the exparte order having been made without jurisdiction was null and void.

The High Court in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, had on May 30, declared the seats of the 25 lawmakers who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) vacant.

The lawmakers’ seats were declared vacant by presiding judge Justice Charles Wali, pending the determination of a suit.

Justice Wali gave the order in Suit No PHC/1512/CS/2024, filed by the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Victor Jumbo; Sokari Sokari and Orubienimigha Timothy on the current crises rocking the House.

The judge also ordered factional Speaker Martin Amaewhule to stop parading himself as the Speaker of the House.

Justice Wali equally barred the 24 defected lawmakers from posing as lawmakers in Rivers State.

The lawmakers are loyalists of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike.

Wike, the immediate past governor of Rivers State, has since been in a rift with his successor, Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

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