Court Nullifies  Passage of Rivers State 2024 Budget, Bars Fubara from frustrating House of Assembly

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By Kenneth Atavti

The presentation and passage of the Rivers State 2024 Budget by the four member Ehie Edison led House of Assembly was on Monday described as an aberation and was voided and set aside by a Federal High Court in Abuja on ground of illegality and unconstitutionality.

The Court in a judgment, the court restored the leadership Hon Martin Amaewhule, leader of the 25 legislators loyal to the former governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, as the lawful and authentic Speaker of the House of Assembly.

In the judgment in a suit instituted against the National Assembly, Governor Siminalaye Fubara and others, Justice James Omotosho held that Fubara acted like a tyrant in the ways and manners the House of Assembly was demolished and its funds from the Consolidated Account withheld.

Among others, Justice Omotoso ordered the governor Fubara to represent the budget to the legally constituted House of Assembly under Speaker Martin Amaewhule.

The Judge held that the meeting of the four legislators where the budget was purportedly passed as a nullity and of no effect whatsoever.

Justice Omotosho said that the presentation of the budget by the governor to the four lawmakers was a contempt to his order issued against him from taking any action on the House of Assembly because of the pendency of the suit.

He quashed the withholding of the House of Assembly fund by governor Fubara on the ground that he has no Constitutional power to do so and ordered him to immediately release the funds to Martin Amaewhule leadership.

The court restrained Governor Fubara from frustrating House of Assembly under Amaewhule from sitting or interfering in the affairs of the House.

Justice Omotosho faulted the redeployment of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk out of the House of Assembly done by the Governor as an affront to the principle of separation of power and was declared null and void and set aside.

Justice Omotoso ordered the Clerk and the Deputy Clerk to resume office in the House of Assembly immediately and unhindered.

The Judge who resolved all issues in dispute against governor Fubara having not challenged the allegations against him, issued some injunctive orders against him and other defendants.

Among others, Governor Fubara was barred from disturbing, frustrating or interfering with the affairs of the State House of Assembly and State Legislators.

The Inspector General of Police and his agents were ordered to immediately give adequate security to the Speaker and legislators loyal to former Governor Nyesom Wike.

The National Assembly was barred from taking over the Rivers State House of Assembly or accept or treat any request from Governor Fubara to any effect.

Governor Fubara was also ordered to release immediately, all monies standing in the credit of the House of Assembly to Martin Amaewhule led House of Assembly.

The Rivers House of Assembly and its Speaker, Martin Amaewhule as 1st and 2nd plaintiffs had instituted the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1613/2023.

In the amended originating summons filed on 11 December 2023 by their team of lawyers including Ken Njemanze, James Ogwu Onoja,
Ferdinand Orbih and Moses Ebute, all
Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), the plaintiffs sued the National Assembly, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Senate Majority Leader, and Senate Minority Leader as the 1st to the 5th defendants,respectively.

The House of Representatives Speaker, House Deputy Speaker, House Majority Leader, House Minority Leader, Clerk to the National Assembly were also sued as the 6th to the 10th defendants, respectively.

They also sued the Governor of Rivers State, Attorney-General of Rivers, Commissioner of Finance, Accountant-General of Rivers, Rivers State Civil Service Commission, Inspector-General of Police and Edison Ehie, who was also listed as Rivers State House of Assembly’s Speaker in the suit, as the 11th to the 17th defendants, respectively.

The plaintiffs sought an order of injunction restraining the 1st to the 10th defendants from entertaining any request from the 11th defendant (Governor Fubara) to take over the performance of the functions of Rivers State Assembly, including its role to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Rivers in respect of matters that are within its constitutional and legislative competence.

They sought an order of injunction restraining Governor Fubara from impeding or frustrating the assembly under Amaewhule’s leadership as its speaker.

They equally sought an order restraining Mr Fubara as well as the 12th, 13th and 14th defendants from withholding any amount standing to the credit of the Rivers State House of Assembly in the state’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, including salaries and emoluments due and payable to the speaker, deputy speaker and other members of the house as well as to the clerk, deputy clerk and other members of staff of the assembly.

Alternatively, they sought an order of injunction restraining them from denying the Assembly of the due funds for running its affairs including the payment of salaries, allowances, emoluments and meeting its financial obligations no matter how described, among other 11 reliefs.