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Falana: Rivers lawmakers who defected to APC are no longer assembly members

Femi Falana Femi Falana

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says members of the Rivers state house of assembly who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) have lost their seats.

Speaking in an interview with Channels Television on Sunday, Falana said lawmakers cannot decamp and remain members of the legislative house.

The human rights lawyer argued that the decamped lawmakers will have to show that there is division in their previous party — the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“The 25 lawmakers who defected have lost their seats. They have lost their rights to remain members of the assembly. That is the law,” he said.

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“In the case of Adetunde and the Labour Party, the supreme court made it clear that you cannot decamp and then remain a member of a legislative house in Nigeria unless you can show that there is division in your party. Today, the PDP is one.”

BACKGROUND

The Rivers assembly has been engulfed in crisis since 2023,  following the rift between Siminalayi Fubara, governor of the state, and Nyesom Wike, minister of the federal capital territory (FCT).

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In December 2023, at least 25 lawmakers of the assembly who are loyal to Wike, defected from the PDP to APC.

The Rivers assembly has 32 seats. One of the lawmakers, Dinebari Loolo, died in September 2023.

In October 2023, Ehie Edison was elected speaker of the factional assembly after his removal as house leader, amid the plot to impeach Fubara.

Edison later resigned as lawmaker to become chief of staff to the governor.

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The lawmakers who are loyal to Wike are led by Martin Amaewhule, the factional speaker.

Last Monday, Fubara said members of the house of assembly owe their existence to him.

Days later, Victor Jumbo, the lawmaker representing Bonny constituency, was elected speaker by lawmakers loyal to Fubara.

Only three lawmakers are in the Jumbo-led faction, including the factional speaker.

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Last Thursday, Amaewhule alleged that Fubara was planning to demolish the assembly quarters after a visit by the governor.

The assembly quarters serve as the hallowed chamber and official residence of lawmakers in the Amaewhule-led faction.

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