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Politics

Confusion In Rivers As Fubara, Wike Supporters Disagree Over Appeal Court Ruling

L R Hon. Martins Chike Amaewhule and Rt. Hon. Victor Oko Jumbo

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A recent ruling by the Court of Appeal in Rivers State has sparked confusion and differing interpretations from supporters of Governor Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike.

The ruling, which ordered the maintenance of the “status quo” on two motions filed by Martin Amaewhule-led Rivers lawmakers in case number CA/PH/198/2024, has been claimed as a victory by both sides.

The pro-Wike camp argues that the ruling recognizes Amaewhule as the authentic Speaker of the Rivers House of Assembly, while Fubara’s loyalists claim it acknowledges Oko Jumbo as the leader of the three-man Assembly.

The state government, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, confirmed the Court of Appeal’s ruling and clarified that the status quo refers to the current situation, which recognizes Oko Jumbo as the leader of the Assembly.

“Court of Appeal refused to grant the prayer to set aside the various actions of Rt. Hon Victor Oko-jumbo as their presumption of correctness of an order of a Court. It held that granting same would be tantamount to determining the appeal at this stage. The Court went on to order that the present status quo should be maintained pending the hearing of the Appeal.

“Ruling on the 2nd Motion which was brought to set aside the Order of interlocutory injunction of the Lower Court, the Court of Appeal refused and dismissed the motion on notice to set aside the Order of Interlocutory Injunction by Honourable Justice C.N Wali decreed on the 29th day of May 2024 and reiterated that the ‘present’ status quo should be maintained contrary to the status quo before the filing of the Suit that was sought by the Appellants.

“The Respondents are to file their Briefs within 72 hours of being served. The case has been adjourned to 20/6/24 for Hearing of the Appeal,” the Commissioner for Information said.

However, Oraye St Franklyn, a lawyer and supporter of Nyesom Wike, countered that status quo means the position of things before the crisis, which was Amaewhule’s speakership.

“Status quo means the position prevailing when the defendant embarked upon the activity sought to be restrained,” Franklyn said citing Fellowes v. Fisher (1976) Q.B.122. at 141B per Sir John Pennycuick, per ANTHONY IKECHUKWU IGUH, JSC (Pp 21 – 21 Paras F – G) Ayorinde v AG of Oyo State SC 1996 to back his claim.

He added: “The Court of Appeal today said Status Quo should remain, meaning the position of things before Amaewhule was taken to court should remain as is.

“Oko Jumbo cannot therefore be seen in public to be presenting himself as Speaker as that immediately amounts to contempt of court.

“He cannot be recognized at State functions and not in brochures. It also means the illegal withholding of salaries of members of the Rivers State House of Assembly ceases forthwith.

“This is what Status Quo means. If they do not comply, they would be in contempt.”

The Court of Appeal has adjourned the case until June 20, 2024, for the hearing of the appeal, and ordered the respondents to file their briefs within 72 hours.

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