Rivers Assembly crisis worsens as Oko-Jumbo emerges factional Speaker

Oko-Jumbo

The political crisis rocking Rivers deepened on Wednesday with the emergence of Victor Oko-Jumbo representing Bonny State Constituency as a factional Speaker of the State Assembly.

Oko-Jumbo was one of the four lawmakers of Rivers Assembly loyal to Governor Siminalayi Fubara after the House was factionalized following a move to impeach the governor late last year.

The other faction led by Martin Amaewhule with 27 lawmakers in its camp was loyal to Fubara’s successor, Nyesom Wike.

However, Ehie later resigned and was appointed the Chief of Staff to the Governor while the faction cease to exist as a result of the peace deal brokered between Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike. However,

But Oko-Jumbo was said to have been elected as Speaker of the House at 10am during plenary on Wednesday, in line with the Standing Order of the Assembly.

His first action in office was to declare all actions taken by the members of the factional Assembly led by Hon. Martin Amaewhule as void in the eyes of the law.

The factional Speaker further called on Gov. Fubara to stop dealing with the Amaewhule led faction as he claimed that the lawmakers in the camp had lost their seats following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the platform on which they were elected to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

While addressing the house, Oko-Jumbo said his emergence was in pursuant to the resignation of Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenya Ehie and in line with section 92(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

He thanked his colleagues for the confidence reposed in him assuring that he will continue to work with them to move the state forward.

The Speaker noted that after the House last sat on December 13, 2023 and adjourned sine dine, there has been an avalanche of legislative rascality perpetrated by the 25 former members of the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly, led by the former Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Chike Amaewhule.

Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo emphasised that the former members were aware of the provisions of section 109(1)(g) of the CFRN 1999, and following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on December 11, 2023, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie who then became the Speaker on December 13, 2023 wrote to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declaring the seats of the 25 lawmakers vacant in line with section 109(1)(g) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, stressing that there are numerous pending cases in the courts over the defection of the former lawmakers.

He therefore stated that, “All laws, plenary sessions and actions taken by the illegal House are hereby declared void and a nullity in the eyes of the law by virtue of the judgment of Lord Denning in the celebrated case of MacFoy v UAC (1961) 3 All ER 1169, which held that “you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand.”

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Oko-Jumbo quoted further, “If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity. It is not only bad, but incurably bad. There is no need for an order of court to set it aside. It is automatically null and void without more ado, though it is sometimes more convenient to have the court declare it to be so. And every proceeding which is founded on it is also bad and incurably bad. You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse.”

The Speaker directed the Executive arm, the Judiciary and general public to disregard every law purportedly enacted by the illegal Assembly as they all amount to nothing but an exercise in futility.

“Furthermore, this House would want to most respectfully urge and call on His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminilayi Fubara, to stop dealing with the 25 former lawmakers, in whatever guise.”

“Those members are merely floating and do not have any landing ground or anywhere to berth their ship since their defection to the All Progressive Congress on the 11th of December, 2023. This House is the legally and Constitutionally recognised House by virtue of the defection, and is ready to receive correspondences from and work with His Excellency.”

He assured of the house unalloyed and unwavering support to work with Governor Siminalayi Fubara in moving Rivers State forward and in promoting the progress and welfare of the State.

Addressing newsmen after the sitting which held at 10:00am, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo called on all Rivers people to join and support the government of Sir Siminalayi Fubara as the house is ready to give its best for the service of the state

On his part the Chairman of the Business Committee of the House, Hon. Sokari Goodboy, assured of the house commitment to the advancement of the state and are ready to support the speaker. He urged Governor Siminalayi Fubara not to have anything to do with the former members of the house in order not to attract the wrath of the house.

Also in a twist, the Assembly Sergeant-at-arms, Mr. David Wariboko whom Martin Amaewhule-led factional Assembly allegedly suspended was seen performing his duties with the Assembly under Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo.

SEE THE SPEECH BY NEW SPEAKER

OKO-JUMBO EMERGES NEW RIVERS ASSEMBLY SPEAKER, SOKARI AS LEADER

.Promise Transparency In Legislative Duties

The member representing Bonny State Constituency, Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, has emerged as the new Speaker of the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly.

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He was elected on Wednesday at 10am during plenary, in line with the Standing Order of the House.

In his acceptance speech, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, thanked the members for electing him as the new Speaker sequel to the resignation of the former Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Oko-Jumbo said: “This is in line with Section 92(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (CFRN 1999) as Amended.

“You will agree with me that after the House last sat on the 13th of December, 2023, and adjourned sine dine, there has been an avalanche of legislative rascality perpetrated by the 25 former members of the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly, led by the former Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Chike Amaewhule.

“These former members, being fully aware of the provisions of Section 109(1)(g) of the CFRN 1999, defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Party (APC) on the 11th of December, 2023.

“Consequently, the Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie-led Assembly, on the 13th of December, 2023, wrote to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declaring the seats of the 25 lawmakers vacant in line with Section 109(1)(g) and (2) of the CFRN 1999.

“My distinguished colleagues, there are a plethora of cases pending in our courts further to the defection of the former lawmakers.”

Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo emphasised: “All laws, plenary sessions and actions taken by the illegal House members are hereby declared void and a nullity in the eyes of the law by virtue of the judgment of Lord Denning in the celebrated case of MacFoy v UAC (1961) 3 All ER 1169.

“Lord Denning held in that case that you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. Particularly, Lord Denning stated: ‘If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity. It is not only bad, but incurably bad. There is no need for an order of court to set it aside.

“‘It is automatically null and void without more ado, though it is sometimes more convenient to have the court declare it to be so’.”

Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo stated further, that every proceeding which was founded on the activities of the former lawmakers had become ‘bad and incurably bad’.

“You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse”, he added.

The new speaker called on the Executive arm, the Judiciary and the general public to disregard every law purportedly enacted by the illegal Assembly members because they all amount to nothing but an exercise in futility.

He said, “Furthermore, this House would want to most respectfully urge and call on His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, DSSRS, to desist forthwith from further dealings with the 25 former lawmakers, in whatever guise.

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“Those members are merely floating and do not have any landing ground or anywhere to berth their ship since their defection to the All Progressives Congress on the 11th of December, 2023.

“This House is the legally and constitutionally recognised House of Assembly by virtue of the defection of the other members, and is ready to receive correspondences from and work with His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara. Distinguished colleagues, let me thank you once again.

“I know I can count on your unalloyed and unwavering support as we work with His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara in moving our dear Rivers State forward in promoting the progress and welfare of the State.”

Speaking to newsmen after the 10am sitting of the House, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, said he will stay true to his constitutional duties and work assiduously for the growth and development of Rivers people and the State.

“We will sit again, and communicate our proceedings to the public and make sure that we are doing what we ought to do to ensure there is transparency and clarity of leadership of the 10th Legislative Assembly.”

Also speaking, the newly elected Leader of the House, Hon. Sokari Goodboy Sokari said: “As the chairman of the government business in the 10th Assembly, as you’ve heard our speaker say, we will work in line with set goals to achieve synergy with the Executive.

“But away from that, we want to further warn that if His Excellency, the Governor ever have any dealing with those former members, we, the original members of the 10th Assembly, who by the provisions of the Constitution, form the quorum to address legislative business of the day, will have no choice than to raise the gavel, which is to commence impeachment proceeedings against him.”

He, therefore, urged the Governor of the State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, to cooperate and work in tandem with the legitimate members of the 10th Assembly to ensure the delivery of good governance and quality dividends of democracy to Rivers people, who have bestowed their trust and mandate on them at this time.

Meanwhile, the new Speaker was led to the plenary with the original mace of the Rivers State House of Assembly by the Sergeant-at-Arms, David Wariboko, who managed the last sitting of the Amaewhule-led Assembly in the same position.

Signed:

Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo
Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly
Port Harcourt.

Dr. G. M. Gillis-West
Clerk of the 10th Assembly

Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

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