A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, gave an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) from withdrawing the security details attached to the Martin Amaewhule-led Rivers House of Assembly.
Justice Donatus Okorowo made the order in a ruling on a motion on notice moved by Steve Adehi, SAN, and which was not opposed by the defence counsel including Adeyemi Ajibade, SAN, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s National Legal Adviser.
Justice Okorowo directed the police and DSS to provide them with adequate security in carrying out their legislative functions.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the motion on notice, dated and filed on Dec 13, 2023, sought five orders of interlocutory injunctions.
The 26 lawmakers had, in the motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1681/2023/, sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), PDP, the assembly, clerk of the assembly, I-G and DSS as 1st to 6th defendants respectively.
The motion was deposed to by Amaewhule, the Speaker of the assembly.
Upon resumed hearing, Adehi informed the court of the pending application and went ahead to move the motion, which was not opposed by other lawyers.
Responding, Ajibade said though he would not object to the application, he said the PDP was preparing for trial and would file its pleading in the next adjourned date.
He insisted that the 26 lawmakers would have to vacate their seats, having dumped the party for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in disregard to the provisions of the law
Ken Njemanze, SAN, who appeared for the house of assembly (3rd defendant) and Ferdinand Orbih, SAN, who represented the clerk of the assembly (4th defendant), did not oppose Adehi’s application.
Delivering the ruling, Justice Okorowo made an order of interlocutory injunction restraining INEC and the house of assembly from declaring vacant ot taking any step to declare vacant the seats of the lawmakers pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
The judge also made an order of interlocutory injunction restraining INEC from withdrawing their certificates of return or conducting fresh elections to fill their seats pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
He made an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants jointly and severally from interfering with the official rights and privileges of the speaker, deputy speaker and members of the assembly.
Justice Okorowo adjourned the matter until Feb. 16 for mention.
NAN earlier reported that the judge had, on Dec. 17, 2023, gave an interim order restraining all the defendants from taking any action over the defection of the lawmakers until the substantive suit is determined.
Okorowo gave the ruling in an ex-parte motion moved by counsel who appeared for the defected lawmakers, Peter Onuh.
Besides, a brother judge, Justice James Omotosho, on Monday, set aside the N800 billion 2024 budget passed by five members of the house led by its factional Speaker, Edison Ehie, and signed into law by Gov. Siminalayi Fubara on Dec. 14, 2023.
Justice Omotosho, in a judgment, also barred the National Assembly from taking over the assembly’s function, among others.
However, Justice J. O. Abdulmalik of a FHC, in her ruling on Monday, directed the parties not to take further steps pending the hearing and determination of the suit brought before the court by six elders of the state.
Abdulmalik ordered all the parties to maintain status quo and adjourned until Feb. 28 for hearing.(NAN)