Rivers Crisis: Appeal Court Adjourns Hearing Of Pro-Wike Lawmakers’ Pleas To June 20, Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

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Media had reported that Rivers State High Court Judge, Justice Okogbule Gbasam, ruled that Amaewhule and the other 26 lawmakers were still members of the PDP.

An Appeal Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital has ordered the 27 Rivers State House of Assembly members loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, to maintain status quo.

The appellate court gave the order at a virtual ruling held via Zoom on Friday on two Motions filed by Pro-Wike’s embattled Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Martins Amaewhule and 26 other lawmakers who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in December 2023.

The lawmakers had filed an appeal challenging the order of injunction granted by the Rivers State High Court, restraining them from parading themselves as lawmakers and that their acclaimed defection was invalid.

Media had reported that Rivers State High Court Judge, Justice Okogbule Gbasam, ruled that Amaewhule and the other 26 lawmakers were still members of the PDP.

The judge ruled that the claimants failed to provide evidence of the defection, stating that party membership can only be proven through listing on the party’s register or a membership card.

Justice Gbasam emphasized that mere TV ceremonies and verbal declarations are insufficient to establish defection.

Since the lawmakers’ names remain on the PDP’s membership register, they are still considered PDP members, the court ruled.

But the Rivers State Government denied reports that the 27 lawmakers led by Amaewhule were still members of the PDP as ordered by court, saying such an assertion was misleading and false.

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The government’s position was stated by the Attorney-General of the state and Commissioner for Justice, Dagogo Israel Iboroma.

According to him, the suit before the court did not seek to declare the seats of Amaewhule and 26 others vacant.

On Friday, the appeal court in a ruling on the first motion, granted the Appellants’ prayers for leave to compile and transmit the Records of Appeal, deeming the Appellants’ Brief of Argument as filed, accelerated hearing and a stay of further proceedings at the High Court.

However, the Appellate Court refused to grant the Appellants’ prayer for stay of execution and the setting aside of the interim order of the State High Court.

The court held that granting the Appellants’ prayer for stay of execution of the lower court order would amount to determining the appeal at this stage.

The court therefore ordered that the Appellants must maintain the present status quo pending the hearing of the appeal.

The court ordered that the Respondents are to file their briefs within 72 hours of being served.

It thereafter adjourned the hearing of the appeal to June 20.

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