Court extends order against INEC, PDP over defected Rivers lawmakers

Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday extended the December 15 interim order stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from taking any action against the 26 Rivers House of Assembly members for defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

The lawmakers led by Martin Amaewhule and loyal to former governor of the state Nyesom Wike had defected to APC in October amid the political crises rocking Rivers.

The Speaker of the rival faction, Edison Ehie had consequently declared their seats vacant while calling on INEC to conduct fresh elections into their constituencies.

However, the lawmakers ran to court and obtained the 15 December order to stop INEC and the PDP from moving against them.

On Thursday, the court further extended the order following an application by Steve Adehii, SAN, counsel for the lawmakers

Adehi’s application was supported by Ken Njemanze, SAN, who appeared for the Rivers House of Assembly.

PDP’s counsel, Adeyemi Kamaldeen Ajibade, SAN, opposed the extension.

But Justice Okorowo overruled stating that based on Order 26, Rule 10 of the Federal High Court, he had the discretionary power to grant the plea in the interest of justice.

The judge said that he was persuaded by the reasons given by Adehi and Njemanze that granting the order is in the interest of justice.

Consequently,the judge adjourned the matter until January 24, 2024, for hearing of other applications on notice.

The court had, on December 15, restrained INEC from conducting fresh elections to fill the seats of the 26 lawmakers.

The Court It also stopped the House of Assembly from declaring their seats vacant and withdrawing their respective Certificate of Returns pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

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