N800b Budget: “Take no further step” – Court Tells Fubara, Rivers Assembly

The Federal High Court in Abuja, has ordered all the parties to maintain status quo, owing to the political crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly.

In a ruling that was delivered by Justice Joyce Abdulmalik, the Court directed the parties not to take further steps, pending the determination of an application that is seeking to stop Governor Siminilaya Fubara from re-presenting before the legislative house, the already passed 2024 budget of the State.

The plaintiffs in the matter, led by a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly representing Bonny State Constituency, Victor Oko Jumbo, are; Senator Bennett Birabi, Senator Andrew Uchendu, Rear Admiral O.P. Fingesi, Ankkio Briggs and Emmanuel Deinma.

Their counsel, Olukayode Ajulo, SAN, has approached the Court, praying it to declare vacant, the seats of the 27 lawmakers in the State House of Assembly who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023.

They also alleged that the 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly moved out of the Rivers State House of Assembly complex and began to hold their proceedings at a different location.

The plaintiffs approached the court challenging the constitutionality of a peace agreement they alleged that President Bola Tinubu compelled Governor Fubara to enter into with the immediate past governor of the state and current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Nyesom Wike.

The plaintiffs maintained that the said agreement that was signed on December 18, 2023, was not only illegal, but amounted to nullification of the extant relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

They therefore prayed the Court to among other things determine whether President Tinubu, Governor Fubara and the Rivers State House of Assembly, have the rights and are entitled to enter into any agreement that has the effect of nullifying or undermining the constitution, particularly the provisions of Section 109 (I) (g) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The defendants in the suit are President Tinubu, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Governor Fubara, Rivers State House of Assembly, Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

Meanwhile, Justice Abdulmalik ordered substituted service of the Court processes on the defendants, stressing that in view of the circumstances surrounding the case, they should be put on notice and fixed February 28, 2024 to hear the application.