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 Court nullifies Rivers state’s 2024 budget

Court nullifies Rivers state’s 2024 budget

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has nullified the 2024 Appropriation Bill of Rivers State.

The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice James Omotosho, on Monday, held that the budget was invalid as it was not properly presented before the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The court, which recognised Martin Amaewhule as the authentic Speaker of the Rivers State Assembly, faulted Governor Fubara for meddling in the affairs of the state’s legislative organ.

It held that Governor Fubara acted unconstitutionally when he redeployed the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the Rivers State Assembly.

Justice Omotosho stressed that the governor lacked the statutory rights to interfere with the operations of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Besides, the court held that the conditions listed in Section 11 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which would allow the National Assembly to take over the legislative affairs of Rivers State, have not occurred.

It, therefore, issued an order of injunction, restraining Governor Fubara from impeding or frustrating the operations of the Assembly under Amaewhule’s leadership as its speaker.

The court issued an order of injunction, restraining the defendants from entertaining any request from Governor Fubara to take over the performance of the functions of the Rivers State Assembly, including its role to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Rivers in respect of matters that are within its constitutional and legislative competence.

It barred Governor Fubara from proceeding with his plan to demolish the Rivers State House of Assembly complex, even as it ordered the release of all funds standing to the credit of the Assembly.

Cited as defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1613/2023 were the National Assembly, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Minority Leader, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Deputy Speaker, the House Majority Leader, the House Minority Leader, as well as the Clerk to the National Assembly.

Others were the governor of Rivers State, Attorney-General of Rivers, Commissioner of Finance, Accountant-General of Rivers, Rivers State Civil Service Commission, Inspector-General of Police, and Edison Ehie.

It will be recalled that a frosty relationship between Governor Fubara and his predecessor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Nyesom Wike, fractionalized the Rivers State House of Assembly.

In the heat of the fracas, Governor Fubara sidelined the Amaewhule-led faction of the House, which was loyal to Wike, and presented the Rivers State 2024 Appropriation Bill before the Ehie-led faction, which was loyal to him.

However, following the intervention of President Bola Tinubu, both Fubara and Wike signed a peace pact that included the recognition of Amaewhule as the rightful Speaker of the Assembly.

Even though Governor Fubara pledged to abide by the terms of the peace deal, he had yet to accede to a request by the Amaewhule-led members of the House of Assembly for the 2024 appropriation bill of the state to be re-presented before them for approval.(VANGUARD NEWS)

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