Rivers: At Appeal Court, Pro-Wike lawmakers lose bid to halt sack

A Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt on Friday ruled against the appeal filed by the 26 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to stay execution of the order barring them from parading as Lawmakers after their defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Court of Appeal, Port-Harcourt at a virtual hearing on Friday via Zoom gave its ruling on two motions filed by Martins Amaewhule and the other defected lawmakers challenging the order of injunction granted by the Rivers State High Court restraining them from acting as lawmakers.

The court in ruling on the first motion, granted the appellants’ prayers for leave to compile and transmit the records of appeal, deeming the appellants’ brief of argument as filed, accelerated hearing and a stay of further proceedings at the High Court.

The Court of Appeal, however, refused to grant the prayer for a stay of execution and setting aside the interim order of the lower 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 second motion which was brought to set aside the interlocutory injunction of the Lower Court, the Court of Appeal also refused the prayer, and reiterated that the ‘present’ status quo should be maintained.

The respondents are to filed their briefs within 72 hours of being served. The case has been adjourned to 20/6/24 for hearing of the appeal.

The presiding Judge, Justice Hamma Akawu Barka stated that: “I have looked at the peculiar nature of the instant case, and do agree that guided by the decisions of Ediru vs. Tijjani (2024) SNWLR (pt. 1931) 393 at 416, and pursuant to the stipulations of Order 4 Rule 4, it is just that parties halt hostilities until the determination of the Appeal before this court.

“In consequence therefore, all parties are ordered to maintain the present status quo pending the determination of the appeal before the court.

“I have equally studied prayers 6, 8 — 11, prayed for by the applicants.

“A critical study of the prayers deals with the substance of the issues on appeal, and dealing or granting the same will be tantamount to determining the issues on appeal at this interlocutory stage, which this court will decline to do.

“The conclusion is that the application succeeds in part. Prayers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 are granted, while all other prayers stand not granted. I make no order on costs.”

The appeal by the applicants according to the court, was brought on the grounds that: “On the 10 of May, 2024, the Rivers State High Court sitting at Port Harcourt coram; Honourable Justice C. N. Wali wherein it granted exparte orders of injunction in suit no: PHC/1512/CS/2024 between Rt. Hon. Victor Oko Jumbo and Ors. V. Hon. Martin Chike Amaewhule and Ors.

“In the ruling referred to in paragraph (i) above, the learned trial judge inter-alia restrained the appellants from parading themselves as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly. The appellants have lodged an appeal against the ruling of the Rivers State High Court to this honourable Court.

“The Appellants/Applicants contend inter alia in this appeal that the said exparte orders of interim injunction in the ruling appealed against were made without jurisdiction on part of the trial court being appealed on Is correct until the contrary is proved. See, Martins vs. Nicannar Food Company Ltd (1988) 2NWLR (pt. 74) 75. Applicant must also establish that the balance of convenience weighs in his favour. See, NNPC vs. Famfa Oil Ltd (2009) 17NWLR (pt. 1328) 148.”

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