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Rivers crisis: Court stops PDP, INEC from declaring defected lawmakers seats vacant

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Wike, Fubara and President Bola Tinubu

A Federal High Court (FHC) sitting in Abuja has extended the December 15 interim order stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from taking any action against the 26 Rivers House of Assembly members who defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The court, presided by Justice Donatus Okorowo, extended the order on Thursday, following an application by counsel for the embattled lawmakers, Steve Adehi (SAN).

The application was supported by Ken Njemanze (SAN), who appeared for the Rivers House of Assembly.

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Although PDP’s counsel , Adeyemi Kamaldeen Ajibade (SAN), opposed the application, the judge held that based on Order 26, Rule 10 of the Federal High Court, he has the discretionary power to grant the plea in the interest of justice.

Justice Okorowo said that he was persuaded by the reasons given by Adehi and Njemanze that granting the order is in the interest of justice.

After granting the extension, the judge adjourned the matter until January 24, 2024, for hearing of other applications on notice.

Justice Okorowo had, on December 15, granted the ex-parte motion filed by the 26 lawmakers who dumped PDP for APC.

The court restrained INEC from conducting fresh election to fill the seats of the 26 lawmakers and also restrained INEC, PDP and the House of Assembly from declaring their seats vacant and withdrawing their respective Certificate of Returns pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

The plaintiffs had in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1681/2023/, dated and filed December 13, sued INEC, PDP, the House of Assembly, Clerk of the Assembly, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, and the Department of State Service, DSS, as 1st to 6th defendants, respectively.

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