Appeal Court reserves judgement on Rivers Assembly crisis

The Court of Appeal has postponed its judgment on the appeal submitted by Martin Amaewhule, a former Speaker of the River State House of Assembly, and 24 others against the current Speaker, Victor Oko-Jumbo, and five additional respondents.

The appellate court decided to reserve its judgment after all parties involved in the case presented their briefs during a virtual session on Thursday.

Amaewhule and his colleagues are requesting the appellate court to halt the enforcement of a high court decision that removed them from office. They are also seeking to nullify any actions taken by Jumbo during his tenure and are pushing for a swift resolution, arguing that the original court’s order was issued without proper jurisdiction.

In response, Oko-Jumbo and the other respondents have called for the dismissal of the appeal, labeling it as meritless due to alleged procedural issues with the records submitted for the appeal.

After considering the arguments from both sides, the three-judge panel, led by Justice Jimi Olukayode-Bada, decided to reserve judgment. The date for the judgment will be communicated to the parties involved.

Previously, on June 14, the appellate court had issued an order mandating that all parties maintain the status quo and refrain from any hostile actions until a decision is made. This order followed a motion ex parte filed by the appellants, which sought to overturn the high court ruling that declared their legislative seats vacant.

The appellate court also prohibited the State High Court or any other court from addressing the matter further until the appeal is resolved.

The conflict originated on May 10, 2024, when a Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt ruled that Martin Amaewhule should cease identifying himself as the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. This decision was made following a motion by the new Speaker, Victor Jumbo, and two others, asserting that Amaewhule’s seat had been declared vacant.

Justice Charles Wali, who presided over the ex parte motion, also prohibited 24 other Assembly members from entering the legislative complex or performing any duties under the Assembly’s name.

Dissatisfied with the State High Court’s ruling, Amaewhule and his co-appellants have taken their case to the Court of Appeal.

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