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Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday extended the order that restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Rivers State House of Assembly from declaring 27 seats vacant.

The order was based on an application by the lawyer to the lawmakers, Steve Adehi (SAN).


Recall that the court had barred the commission from conducting an election to fill the seats of the 27 members, who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The judge rejected the objection raised by the lawyer to the PDP, Adeyemi Ajibade (SAN), and upheld the argument by Adehi.

He agreed that the court, under Order 26, Rule 10 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, had the discretionary power to grant such extension in the interest of justice.

Justice Okorowo held:
“Application for the extension of the lifespan of the ex-parte order pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice is hereby granted.”

He adjourned until January 24 for a hearing of pending applications.

The judge had granted the earlier orders while ruling on December 15 on an ex-parte motion filed by the 27 lawmakers along with a substantive suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/1681/2023.


They are challenging the propriety of the threat by five members of the Rivers Assembly to declare their seats vacant and invite INEC to conduct a fresh election.

INEC, the PDP, Rivers State House of Assembly, the Clerk of the House, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Department of State Services (DSS) are the defendants.

Adehi told the court that he had a motion on notice which is for hearing.

He noted that given the withdrawal of Lukman Fagbemi (SAN) (for the House of Assembly) and a new lawyer replacing him, it may be impossible for the court to proceed.

He sought an adjournment to also allow him to reply to what the PDP and other defendants filed and served on him.

Adehi said: “In any case, I ask that the matter be further adjourned to enable us to serve the third and fourth defendants (the Assembly and its Clerk) and to also enable us to reply on points of law to the process served on us by the counsel to the second defendant.”

Njemanze, who replaced Fagbemi, said had the instruction of the third defendant to handle the case on its behalf and that he had filed a memorandum of appearance.

He said he was not yet served with what the PDP filed to enable him, adding that he also planned to respond to what the plaintiffs filed.

Njemanze said: “Without prejudice to the political solution brokered by Mr President, I need to get my client’s reaction to this and then report back to this honourable court.“
In the circumstance, we pray for an adjournment to enable me to file my processes.”

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