Court Issues New Order on INEC, Rivers Assembly Over 27 Pro-Wike Lawmakers’ Vacant Seats

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Court Extends Order as INEC and Rivers Assembly Face Challenge Over Defected Lawmakers’ Seats.


In a legal battle with far-reaching political implications, a Federal High Court in Abuja has extended its order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Rivers State House of Assembly from declaring the seats of 27 lawmakers, who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), vacant and conducting fresh elections.


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The order, initially granted on December 15, continues to be in force, emphasizing the complexity of the case.

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Justice Donatus Okorowo extended the order on Thursday, December 28, following an unopposed application by Steve Adehi (SAN), the lawyer representing the defecting lawmakers. This move was supported by Ken Njemanze (SAN), who represented the Rivers House of Assembly.

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The court rejected objections raised by Adeyemi Ajibade (SAN), the lawyer to the PDP, affirming the discretionary power of the court to grant such extensions in the interest of justice under Order 26, Rule 10 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules.

Justice Okorowo stated, “Application for the extension of the lifespan of the ex-parte order pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice is hereby granted,” adjourning the case until January 24 for the hearing of pending applications.

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The initial orders were granted in response to an ex-parte motion filed by the 27 lawmakers on December 15, challenging the threat by five members of the Rivers Assembly to declare their seats vacant and invite INEC to conduct fresh elections. The defendants in the suit include INEC, the PDP, Rivers State House of Assembly, Clerk of the House, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), and the Department of State Services (DSS).


During the proceedings, Adehi informed the court of a motion on notice, seeking an adjournment to respond to filings from the PDP and other defendants. Njemanze, replacing Lukman Fagbemi (SAN) for the House of Assembly, requested an adjournment to allow him to file processes and respond to the developments in the case.

The PDP’s legal adviser, Adeyemi Ajibade, raised objections challenging the competence of the suit and the court’s jurisdiction. He expressed agreement with the application for adjournment, allowing him to sort out processes and respond to the plaintiffs’ filings.

The case, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1681/2023, remains a focal point of legal and political scrutiny, with the adjournment signaling a potential turning point in the unfolding drama surrounding the defected lawmakers and the power dynamics within the Rivers State Assembly.



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