Appeal Court’s Refusal To Grant Stay Of Execution To Sacked Rivers Lawmakers In Interest Of Democracy — G60

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Sacked Rivers State Assembly members have faced another setback as the Appeal Court has rejected their request to stay execution of the order barring them from parading themselves as Lawmakers after their sack.

The Court of Appeal, Port-Harcourt Division, at a virtual hearing on Friday via Zoom gave its ruling on two Motions filed by Martins Amaewhule and the other former lawmakers, challenging the order of injunction granted by the Rivers State High Court restraining them from parading themselves as members of Rivers State House of Assembly.

The Court in its ruling as read by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, on the first Motion, granted the Appellants’ prayers for leave to compile and transmit the Records of Appeal, deeming the Appellants’ Brief of Argument as filed, accelerated hearing and a stay of further proceedings at the High Court.

The Court of Appeal, however, refused to grant the prayer for stay of execution and setting aside the interim order of the Lower Court as there is a presumption of correctness of an order of a Court. It held that granting same would be tantamount to determining the appeal at this stage. The Court went on to order that the present status quo should be maintained pending the hearing of the appeal.

Ruling on the 2nd Motion which was brought to set aside the interlocutory injunction of the Lower Court, the Court of Appeal also refused the prayer, and reiterated that the present status quo should be maintained. The Respondents are to file their Briefs within 72 hours of being served. The case has been adjourned to June 20, 2024, for hearing of the Appeal.

Justice Barka said, “I have looked at the peculiar nature of the instant case, and do agree that guided by the decisions of Ediru vs. Tijjani (2024) SNWLR (pt. 1931) 393 @ 416, and pursuant to the stipulations of Order 4 Rule 4, it is just that parties halt hostilities until the determination of the Appeal before this court. In consequence therefore, all parties are ordered to maintain the present status quo pending the
determination of the appeal before the court. I have equally studied prayers 6, 8 — 11, prayed for by the Applicants. A critical study of the prayers deals with the substance of the issues on appeal, and dealing or granting the same will be tantamount to determining the issues on appeal at this interlocutory stage, which this court will decline to do.
The conclusion Is that the application succeeds in part. Prayers 1, 2, 3, 4.and 7 are granted, while all other prayers stand not granted. I make no order on costs.”

Reacting to the court judgement, the Spokesperson of Opposition Federal Lawmakers known as the G60, Hon. Ikenga Ugochinyere, hailed the judiciary, saying that the judgement was in the interest of democracy and justice.

He said the ruling will help maintain peace, stability and stop the endless attempt by the sacked Rivers Lawmakers to undermine democracy.

He added that the ruling was a good defeat to the several attempts to rape democracy norms.

Ugochinyere said, “I commend the court of appeal for this ruling today, this is the CTC document, the court refused to grant the prayers by the sacked lawmakers. So by the decision of the appeal today, Oke Jumbo remains the speaker and the actions taken is valid. The Appeal Court was very clear today, former speaker martins and his cohorts cannot parade themselves as principal officers of river state house of assembly. Their seats have been declared vacant and those decisions are still valid.

“Come Monday the tenure of local government chairmen is expiring and that’s end of story, illegality cannot become legal. They should go for fresh election and if they win fine and good.”