Rivers: Court Dismisses Suit Seeking To Declare 25 PDP Lawmakers Seats Vacant

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt on Monday, dismissed the suit seeking to declare the seats of 25 Rivers House of Assembly Lawmakers vacant.

The 25 assembly members, who are loyal to FCT minister Nyesom Wike, had defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the heat of the political crisis in the oil rich state.

In their letter of detection read on the floor of the Assembly, on the 18th of December, 2023. They cited the division in their party and lack of interest of the PDP leadership in resolving the matter in Rivers state as the reason for their defection.

However, delivering judgement on the suit, today, 10th of June, Justice Okogbule Gbasam held that the lawmakers are still members of the PDP after the claimants failed to provide proof as required by law that the defendants are members of the APC.

The court held that defection from a political party cannot be proven through media reports, including newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, or online news stories, but rather requires more substantial evidence.

The court ruled that a lawmaker’s defection from a political party can only be established through official party records, specifically: the party membership register and a valid membership card in fulfillment of all membership requirements, as stipulated by the party.

“Any other means, including media reports, are insufficient to prove defection,” the judge ruled.

Recall that a Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt on Friday, May 30, declared the seats of the 25 lawmakers vacant pending the determination of a suit before it.

The court, however, ordered the Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule, to stop parading as the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and barred the 24 lawmakers, who are all Anti-Siminalayi Fubara, the governor of the state, from posing as lawmakers in the state.