Rivers Assembly: Court Fixes Date To Hear Petition Seeking To Remove Amaewhule, 24 Others

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The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has fixed a hearing for June 28 on various motions in a case seeking the removal of Speaker Martins Amaewhule and other House of Assembly members following their widely publicized defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Despite a petition by Amaewhule to Chief Judge John Tsoho requesting a transfer of the case to another court, the presiding judge, Justice Steven Dalyop Pam, decided to proceed with the hearing.

The BOOT Party and other plaintiffs, in suit number FHC/PHC/269/2024, are asking the court to declare the seats of Amaewhule and 24 other legislators vacant due to their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC.

The suit has been ongoing since December, with both the PDP and the APC seeking to join the legal proceedings, resulting in prolonged legal battles between the parties involved.

But the court was confronted on Monday with a petition signed by Martin Amaewhule and addressed to Justice John Tsoho, seeking the reassignment of the case to another court.

Justice Pam, who read the petition in the open court, noted that the petitioner, Amaewhule, prayed to the CJ of the High Court, to stop the hearing process and transfer the case to another court

Pam noted that the petitioner claimed in the petition that the court refused to allow other interested parties to join the suit.

But the lawyer to the BOOT party, Reuben Wanogho, told the court that the petition was aimed at arresting the ongoing case and urged the court to discountenance it.

Wanogho averred that the petition that was not served on the parties was impudent and said: “I urge your Lordship to discountenance the petition as it is targeted at arresting the proceeding.

“If your Lordship bows to this letter, then you have allowed the litigants to determine pending applications before the court even before they are heard.

“It is not part of our jurisprudence that the determination of motions for joinder will form the bases for the transfer of cases. The application is a slap to the temple of justice and all of us who are workers in that temple.”

The National Legal Adviser of the PDP, Adeyemi Ajibade, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, insisted that there was no intention by the court to shut out anyone from joining in the suit, adding that the petition was ill-intended.

However, the lawyer to the 1st to 25th defendants in the suit, Ferdinand Orbi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, denied knowledge of the petition by his client.

He prayed the court to adhere to the petition and stop further proceedings if the letter was addressed to the CJ of the court.

Orbi said: “I know nothing about the petition, even though it was written by the 15th defendant. Be that as it may, my lord, if the letter is addressed to your Lordship, then there may be grounds to consider the submissions.

If it is not addressed to you, then you have no grounds to discountenance it. It will be wise to await the decision, of the Honourable Chief Judge, of the Federal High Court to whom the letter was addressed. We don’t know if the CJ will ask you to go on or stop the hearing.”

In response to the Judge’s, Pam’s stand that the defence had not filled counter-affidavits to the originating summon, Orbi, noted that he had yet to file affidavits on the suit, adding that he had not been served any of the motions for joinder.

Orbi said: “We haven’t filed our counter affidavit to the originating summons. However, there is a reason for that my Lord. Because at the point of filing the counter affidavit, the application for joinder came in. I am not within time to file the counter affidavit. We are not within time to file.”

But the presiding judge, Pam, noted that in the first instance, the petitioner (Amaewhule) had no motion, or counter affidavit before him and that he was not yet known in the case.

Pam in his ruling noted that the petitioner had not copied his petition on the plaintiffs, adding the court would have no other option than to discount the petition and move on with hearing of motions for joinder.

The judge adjourned till Friday, 28th June, for a hearing of pending motions.

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