The Federal High Court in Abuja has extended the interim order stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission from conducting by-elections to replace the 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress.
Recall that the Rivers PDP declared the seats of the 27 lawmakers vacant after they defected to the APC on December 11 amid the power play between Governor Siminilayi Fubara and his estranged political godfather and former governor, Nyesom Wike.
The 27 lawmakers, who are loyal to Wike, filed the suit, marked FHC/AB3/CS/1681/23, and prayed to the court to restrain INEC, the PDP and other respondents from taking any action against them following their defection to the APC.
The other defendants in the suit are the Rivers State House of Assembly; the Clerk Rivers State House of Assembly; the Inspector General of Police, and the Department of State Services.
Justice Donatus Okorowo had, on December 15, restrained INEC from conducting fresh elections to fill the seats of the 27 lawmakers, pending the determination of their substantive suit.
At the proceedings on Thursday, the court extended the order following an application by counsel for the embattled lawmaker, Steve Adehi (SAN).
But PDP’s counsel, Adeyemi Ajibade (SAN), opposed the application.
However, the judge held that based on Order 26, Rule 10 of the Federal High Court, he had the discretionary power to grant the plea in the interest of justice.
Justice Okorowo said he was persuaded by the reasons given by Adehi and Njemanze that granting the order was in the interest of justice.
He subsequently adjourned the matter till January 24, 2024, for hearing of other applications on notice.
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