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Coalition asks NJC to probe court over refusal to declare seats of pro-Wike lawmakers vacant

Rivers house of assembly Rivers house of assembly

The Coalition for Justice and Accountability (CJA) has asked the National Judicial Council (NJC) to review the decision of a Rivers state high court, which refused to declare the seats of 27 members of the state assembly vacant.

Delivering judgment on Monday, Okogbule Gbasam, the presiding judge, held that the claimants failed to prove that Martin Amaewhule, speaker of the Rivers assembly, and the 26 lawmakers had defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Gbasam noted that defection cannot be established through newspaper publications, radio announcements, or online publications, as tendered by the claimants.

The judge held that membership in a party is only proven by being listed on its register or by a membership card, and such members must fulfil all requirements of their membership in the party.

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In a statement shortly after the judgment, CJA, through its president, Dada Akin, faulted the ruling of the court.

“In the letter of defection submitted by Martins Amaewhule and 25 others on the floor of the Rivers State House of Assembly on December 18th, 2023, the members cited division in the PDP as the reason for their defection,” the statement reads.

“Same evidence was placed before the court, and the judge still went ahead to rule that the defected members are still PDP members and therefore still members of the Rivers state house of assembly.

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“It is unfortunate that this sad day for our judiciary is before us.

“We, however, wish to state that the judgment is unacceptable and the matter must be pursued by the plaintiffs to a logical conclusion.

“Finally, we call on the National Judicial Commission (NJC) to immediately wade into this issue at the Rivers state high court, Degema, because the judgment will cause further damage to the already battered image of the judiciary.”

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