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Courts Annuls Passage of Rivers Budget



A Federal High Court in Abuja, has annulled the N800 billion budget passed by the five-member defunct Edison Ehie faction of the Rivers State House of Assembly and signed by the Governor Siminalaye Fubara on December 13, 2023


The decision was delivered in a. Suit filed by Martin Amaewhule led Rivers House of Assembly, seeking among other things, an order of injunction restraining the governor from undermining the assembly


Joined in the suit were the National Assembly, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Senate Majority Leader, and Senate Minority Leader over fears that the governor may involve the National Assembly to take over the functions of Rivers Assembly,


Others were the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Deputy Speaker, House Majority Leader, House Minority Leader and Clerk to the National Assembly


The counsel for the plaintiffs Ken Njemanze, had accused the governor of interfering with the performance and functions of the state legislature in violation of the constitution


Presiding Judge, Justice James Omotosho first affirmed the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case, dismissing the preliminary objection raised by the some of the defendants.


The judge observed that the factional speaker Edison Ehie, having resigned from his position as confirmed by his lawyer, Oluwole Aladedoye, cannot be joined in the suit as he is no longer the speaker or a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly


Justice Omotosho subsequently held that the purported sitting of Ehie and four other lawmakers to pass the N800 billion budget of the state is null and void.


The court also interpreted the position of the constitution on powers to make laws, affirming that it involves both the legislature and the executive


On the issue of the National Assembly taking over the functions of the state assembly, the Justice Omotosho held that such can only happen when the state legislature can no longer sit to transact business as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and other relevant laws.


The court also declared null and void the removal of the clerk of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Emeka Amadi who was redeployed by the Rivers State Head of Service, holding that the constitution is clear that the appointment of a clerk and deputy clerk is done by the Rivers State Speaker and is subject to confirmation by the lawmakers


The judge said the first plaintiff is entitled to funds or amount standing to the credit of Rivers Assembly in the state’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, including salaries and emoluments and that same cannot be stopped by anyone including the governor and barred the governor from taking any steps aimed at interfering into the affairs of the House of Assembly, the Speaker, in the performance of their duties.

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