Ebonyi: Court Reinstates Sacked Deputy Speaker, Two Other Lawmakers

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of Obasi Odefa as a member and also as the deputy speaker of Ebonyi House of Assembly.

The court also restored the seats of two other lawmakers, Ngọzi Eziụlọ (PDP-Afikpo North East) and Oliver Osi (PDP-Ivo).

The court order followed an ex-parte motion, dated February 24, 2022, filed by the three lawmakers, challenging the declaration of their seats vacant and the removal of Mr Odefa as the deputy speaker last month.

The court barred the House, its speaker, and the clerk from carrying out any action that would affect the membership of the three lawmakers.

Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered all parties in the matter to maintain the status quo that hitherto existed before the House took the controversial decisions against the trio.

The Judge said: “An Interim Order of this Honourable Court restraining the defendants, especially the 5th to 8th defendants, ether by themselves, their servants, assigns or privies or otherwise howsoever from taking any other or further steps as it relates to the entire circumstances of this matter and or from disturbing the plaintiffs’ membership of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, pending the hearing and final determination of the motion on notice.

“An order of this Honourable Court directing parties in this suit to maintain the status quo ante bellum that existed on the 18th day of February 2022 pending the hearing and final determination of the motion on notice already pending before this Honourable Court.”

The House, under controversial circumstances, last month declared Mr Odefa’s seat and that of the two other lawmakers vacant.

The Speaker of the Assembly, Francis Nwifuru said Mr Odefa wrote a letter in which he resigned his membership of the House, a claim Mr Odefa denied.

The House, after removing Mr Odefa, elected Ogbonnaya Ịkọrọ as the new deputy speaker.

The House said it declared the seats of the other two lawmakers vacant because of their alleged resignation from their party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The lawmakers refuted the resignation allegation.

The Ebonyi House of Assembly, the speaker, and the clerk were joined as respondents in the suit.

Other respondents include the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector General of Police, and the State Security Services.

The court ordered for substituted service on the 5th to 8th respondents and adjoined the matter to March 16 for hearing.

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