In a dramatic turn of events, the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly has shifted its sittings to a new complex within the Government House, Port Harcourt, amidst demolition, a series of legal battles and political upheavals.
The lawmakers, led by Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie transitioned to the new location following the ongoing demolition of the Assembly building on Moscow Road, Port Harcourt.
This move came after a State High Court order allowed Edison to remain the Speaker until the court resolves the matter.
However, Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt on Tuesday granted an order for the factional Speaker, Edison Ehie, to preside over the legislative activities until a final resolution.
Justice M.W. Danagogo emphasized, “Edison will pay N50 million as damages if the application before the court turns out to be frivolous.”
The court also restrained Amaewhule from entering the state assembly complex until the renovation was complete.
Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie stated, “We have temporarily moved our sittings to ensure the continuity of legislative activities during this transition.”
Meanwhile, In their first sitting at the new location, the lawmakers elected Hon. Adolphus T. Orubienimigha as the new majority leader of the assembly.
APC Protests Court Order
The Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) protested the court order, calling it an act of impunity. Chief Tony Okocha, the APC Chairman in the state, deemed the order a “flagrant abuse of court process” and hinted at a possible petition to the National Judicial Council.
Speaker Declares Seats Vacant
Speaker Edison Ehie has declared the seats of 27 lawmakers vacant. This move comes after 27 Rivers Assembly lawmakers, led by Matthew Amaewhule, defected to the APC. The court recognized Edison as the authentic Speaker.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had earlier directed the Speaker to declare the seats vacant, and the court order aligned with their request.
Demolition Sparks Controversy
The demolition of the Assembly complex, led by Governor Siminalayi Fubara, raised questions. Commissioner for Information, Joe Johnson, explained it was advised by consultants due to the recent fire incident and the overall need for restructuring. Governor Fubara led the exercise at 6:45 am, coinciding with the budget presentation at the Government House.
The situation remains dynamic, with political, legal, and infrastructural developments intertwining in the unfolding Rivers Assembly crisis.