A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has issued an order instructing both factions within the Rivers State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo ante bellum and refrain from further deliberations until the legal matter is resolved.
The request for the court’s intervention came from Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie, a factional Speaker of the House, through a suit (No: FHC/PH/CS/240/2023) presented before Hon. Justice Phoebe Ayua. In the suit, Ehie sought to prevent Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule and other lawmakers from presiding over legislative activities in the state.
The plaintiffs in the case are the Rivers State House of Assembly and Speaker Barr. Ehie Ogerenye Edison. The defendants include factional Speaker Martins Chike Amaewhule, former Deputy Speaker Dumle Maol, the Inspector-General of Police, the Director of the Department of State Security Services in Rivers State, and the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State.
In her ruling on the motion filed in the suit, Justice Phoebe Ayua ordered all parties involved to refrain from taking any actions on the matter and to respect the court’s jurisdiction.
The order specified, “That an Order is made directing the Plaintiffs/applicants to put the Respondents on Notice forthwith. That an Order is, however, made, directing that all parties on record respect the Court and should not take any step concerning the subject matter, since the matter is already before this Court – Sub judice – pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.”
The suit sought a declaration that the former speaker and his former deputy, having been removed and suspended from the House, are not entitled to interfere with the legislative proceedings and duties of the new speaker. The plaintiffs also sought an order restraining the former two principal officers from participating in the functions of the House of Assembly.
The court has scheduled the hearing for the motion on notice for November 27, 2023. The ongoing crisis originated from a faction’s attempt to impeach the State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, led by Martin Amaewhule, loyal to Nyesom Wike, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. The two factions have been conducting separate sittings.