Defected 25 Lawmakers Of Rivers Assembly Still PDP Members – Court


A High Court of Rivers State sitting in Port Harcourt on Monday, June 10, 2024 dismissed the suit seeking to declare vacant the seats of 25 Rivers House of Assembly members.

The 25 members of the House of Assembly loyal to the immediate past governor of the State and present Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on December 18, 2023 following the political crisis between Governor Sim Fubara and his predecessor in office.

The 25 legislators stated in their letter of detection dated December 18, 2023 and read on the floor of the Assembly, that their defection was as a result of the division in their party and lack of interest of the PDP leadership in resolving the matter in Rivers State.

But, in a curious judgement delivered by Justice Okogbule Gbasam, the Court held that the 25 lawmakers are still members of the PDP since the claimants failed to provide proof as required by law that the defendants are members of the APC.

The court also declared that defection from a political party cannot be proven through media reports, including newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, or online news stories, rather required more substantial evidence.

Justice Gbasam further held that a lawmaker’s defection from a political party can only be established through official party records, specifically, the party membership register and a valid membership card in fulfilment of all membership requirements, as stipulated by the party.

The Court specifically held that any other means, including media reports, are insufficient to prove defection.

The High Court had on Friday, May 30, 2024 declared the seats of the 25 lawmakers vacant pending the determination of the suit before it and ordered Hon. Martin Amaewhule, to stop parading himself as the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and also barred the 24 other lawmakers, known to be anti-Governor Fubara, from parading themselves as lawmakers of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

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