Court Nullifies Amendment To Rivers Assembly Service Commission Law

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A Rivers State High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, nullified the amendment of Section 3 of the Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission (RSHASC) Law.

The section was amended by the Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule-led faction of the House to strip the state governor of the constitutional power to appoint RSHASC chairman and members.

A non-governmental organisation, the
Association of Legal Legislative Drafting and Advocacy Practitioners, had dragged the House of Assembly to court over the amendment of the section of the RSHASC Law.

Delivering judgement on the matter, the presiding judge, Justice Kariba Dagogo-Jack, said the amended law No. 3, 2024, was inconsistent with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, and as such null and void.

Dagogo-Jack stated that the Constitution unambiguously states that the governor should constitute the House of Assembly Service Commission and some other commissions, boards and Institutes, but based on the confirmation of the Assembly.

The court declared that the amendment which shifted the power to constitute the House of Assembly Service Commission to the Speaker, contravenes the doctrine of separation of powers which guarantees the right of the various arms of government to operate independently of each other.

The presiding Judge further stated that the Rivers State House of Assembly was not authorised by law to exercise executive powers which include the constitution of the Rivers State House of Assembly Commission, which is among bodies described in part two of the third schedule of the 1999 Constitution whose membership are to be constituted by the governor.

Speaking with journalists shortly after the judgement, lead counsel for the NGO, Barrister Boma Owunabo, said the suit was instituted in public interest to challenge the usurpation of executive powers by the Amaewhule-led Rivers State Assembly through the amendment.

Owunabo said the NGO was dedicated to ensuring that every legislation in the country is in tandem with the provisions of the Constitution.

He commended the presiding Judge for her forthrightness, due assessment and evaluation of evidence before delivering the judgment, stating that the judgement was a victory for good governance and the rule of law.

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