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Federal High Court Halts Fresh Election For Defected Rivers Lawmakers’ Seats

In a recent development, the Federal High Court in Abuja has issued an injunction preventing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting fresh elections to fill the seats of 27 Rivers House of Assembly members who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice Donatus Okorowo granted the ruling in response to an ex-parte motion moved by the counsel representing the defected lawmakers, Peter Onuh.

The court order also restrains INEC, PDP, and the house of assembly from declaring the seats vacant and withdrawing the Certificate of Returns pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

Furthermore, Justice Okorowo issued an interim order of injunction preventing any interference with or impeding the official and legislative functions of the defected lawmakers, including the speaker, deputy speaker, and other members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The judge explicitly directed the Inspector-General of Police and the Department of State Service (DSS) not to deny or refuse to provide security for the plaintiffs, specifying that adequate security must be maintained for the lawmakers to carry out their constitutional legislative and oversight functions.

The ruling, dated Dec. 15, also mandates the applicants to undertake damages in the sum of N250 million.

A certified true copy (CTC) of the ruling, obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reveals the comprehensive nature of the court’s decision.

The 26 lawmakers, led by the factional Speaker of the assembly, Mr Martins Chike-Amaewhule, initiated the motion ex-parte, suing INEC, PDP, the assembly, clerk of the assembly, Inspector-General of Police, and the Department of State Service as the defendants.

The court has scheduled the hearing of the motion on notice for Dec. 28, allowing for a thorough examination of the issues raised in the case.

This legal development adds a layer of complexity to the political dynamics surrounding the defection of lawmakers, emphasizing the significance of judicial intervention in electoral matters.

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