Court sets aside N800bn Rivers budget signed by Governor Fubara, declares it illegal

A Federal High Court, Abuja, has set aside the N800 billion budget passed by five members of the Rivers State House of Assembly led by the Edison Ehie-led faction and signed into law by Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

Justice James Omotosho in a judgment on Monday, also upheld the suit filed by the Assembly and Speaker Martin Amaewhule, against Fubara and restrained the governor from frustrating the Assembly under his leadership as speaker, among others.

In addition, the court decided that the Fubara state budget, which was approved by parliament on December 13, 2023, was void due to an interim ruling it had issued on November 30, 2023.

The judge also stopped the governor or any members of the state executive arm from appointing or reposting any person as a clerk or deputy clerk of the assembly in contravention with the laws governing the Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission.

He further made an order restraining the National Assembly from taking over the state’s assembly.

The Rivers House of Assembly and Amaewhule are 1st and 2nd plaintiffs in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1613/2023.

In the amended originating summons dated Dec. 7, 2023 but filed Dec. 11, 2023 by their team of lawyers including Ken Njemanze, SAN, Ferdinand Orbih, SAN, among others, the plaintiffs sued the NASS, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.

Also joined in the suit include House of Representatives Speaker, House Deputy Speaker, House Majority Leader, House Minority Leader, Clerk to NASS as 6th to 10th defendants.

They also sued the Governor of Rivers, Attorney-General of Rivers, Commissioner of Finance, Accountant-General of Rivers, Rivers State Civil Service Commission, Inspector-General (I-G) of Police and Rt. Honourable Edison Ehie, who is also listed as Rivers Assembly’s Speaker in the suit, as 11th to 17th defendants respectively.

The plaintiffs sought an order directing all parties to maintain status quo as at Nov. 29, 202

They also a sought an order of injunction restraining the 1st to 10th defendants (NASS) from entertaining any request from the 11th defendant (Fubara) to take over the performance of the functions of Rivers Assembly, including its role to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Rivers in respect of matters that are within its constitutional and legislative competence.

“AN ORDER OF MANDATORY INJUNCTION compelling the Inspector General of Police (whether by himself or by officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force under his command) to provide and continue to provide adequate Security and protection for the 1* Plaintiff under the leadership of the 2” Plaintiff as the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly for the purpose of transacting the business of the 1% Plaintiff.

They sought an order of injunction restraining Gov. Fubara from impeding or frustrating the assembly under Amaewhule’s leadership as its speaker.

They equally sought an order restraining Fubara including the 12th, 13th and 14th defendants from withholding any amount standing to the credit of Rivers Assembly in the state’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, including salaries and emoluments due and payable to the speaker, deputy speaker and other members of the house as well as to the clerk, deputy clerk and other members of staff of the assembly.

Alternatively, they sought an order of injunction restraining them from denying the assembly of the due funds for running its affairs including the payment of salaries, allowances, emoluments and meeting its financial obligations no matter how described, among other 11 reliefs.

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