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Rivers State civil society organisation’s lawsuit against lawmakers adjourned amid defection dispute

Federal High Court Delays Hearing to June 3, 2024, in Case Challenging Legitimacy of Defected Members in State Assembly

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A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has deferred until June 3, 2024, the hearing for a lawsuit filed by members of the Rivers State Civil Society Organisation (CSO) seeking to unseat 27 lawmakers of the State House of Assembly. The adjournment, attributed to the indisposition of Judge Justice Stephen Daylop Pam, prolongs the legal battle over the legislators’ status following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress.

The CSO’s petition, centered on the interpretation of Section 109 of the 1999 Constitution, questions the continued eligibility of the defected lawmakers to hold office. Led by Rivers State Chairman Enefaa Georgewill, the CSO seeks clarity on whether the defectors maintain legal standing as representatives of their constituencies.

Additionally, the CSO aims to prevent Governor Siminalayi Fubara from presenting the 2024 budget to the lawmakers who switched allegiance.

Expressing disappointment over the delay, Georgewill voiced concerns regarding what he perceives as stalling tactics by the lawmakers’ legal counsel, led by Martin Amaewhule. Despite the setback, Georgewill remained resolute, emphasizing the pursuit of justice despite bureaucratic hurdles.

“They (counsel to the lawmakers) now have one month plus for a matter they have failed to respond to for the past two months. It is quite unfortunate and we know they are just buying time,” Georgewill asserted. “But like we always say, justice will always be delayed but it cannot be denied.”

Georgewill underscored the importance of judicial resolution in determining the lawmakers’ status, urging the defendants to engage in the legal process rather than rely on media rhetoric. With confidence in the legitimacy of their case, Georgewill reiterated the CSO’s commitment to seeking resolution through the courts, buoyed by previous legal precedents.

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