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APC chides Fubara over Rivers Assembly crisis

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has vehemently criticized Governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara over his recent comment on 27 Members of House of Assembly who switched their allegiance from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to APC.

Addressing newsmen at a press briefing on Friday, the Spokesman of the party, Barr. Felix Morka described Fubara’s conduct as a threat to the constitutional order of Nigeria.

Recall that Fubara has recently declared  the Rivers State House of Assembly non-existent, a statement which has stirred significant unrest in many quarters across the country.

Reacting to the development, Morka said 

Fubara’s attack on the House of Assembly and its leadership is undemocratic and unconstitutional.

“The PDP tendered a hogwash argument that by Section 109 of the Constitution, the 27 House of Assembly members who defected from PDP to APC have forfeited their seats, and echoed  the Governor’s declaration that the Rivers State House of Assembly is non-existent. 

“Contrary to PDP’s assertions, it is not APC that is calling for the impeachment of Governor Fubara.  Rather, by his egregious actions, conduct and infantile comments, Fubara is actively and vehemently precipitating his own impeachment.  

“Governor Fubara’s declaration that the Rivers State House of Assembly does not exist is not only reckless, it is a direct affront to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The House of Assembly is a creation of the Constitution, and vested with the legislative authority of the state. The members of the Assembly were elected by the good people of Rivers state in the same manner that Fubara was elected Governor. 

“The Assembly does not exist at the Governor’s pleasure or fanciful whims. The legislature is at the core of the idea of democracy. It is co-equal with the executive and judicial arms of government. The constitutionally entrenched principle of separation of powers among the three arms of government guarantees essential checks and balances required to ensure observance of the rule of law. The rule of law is indispensable to democracy and constitutional order,” the Spokesperson said.

The APC dissected the legal intricacies surrounding the defection of 27 House of Assembly members from the PDP to the APC, challenging Fubara’s interpretation of Section 109 of the Constitution. The party argued that the section does not automatically strip members of their seats upon defection, highlighting the need for a judicial determination in such cases.

“If his declaration that the House of Assembly is nonexistent is based on the fact that the 27 members who decamped from PDP to APC have lost their seats, then Governor Fubara is sorely misled. 

“To be clear, the 27 Assembly members did not lose their membership of the Assembly by virtue of their decampment. There is nothing homeostatic about Section 109(1)(g) of the Constitution. It is not self-executing. The Proviso to the said Section 109(1) (g) established exceptional grounds to the applicability of Section 109(1)(g)

“Section 109(1) states: A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if – 

(S.109(1)(g) – being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before expiration of the period for which that House was elected:

“Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.”

“Therefore, only a properly constituted court of law can make a determination as to whether a member of the House of Assembly has vacated his seat in accordance with that provision of the Constitution. As no such judicial determination has been made, the 27 APC members of the House of Assembly remain the constitutionally recognized and authorized members of the Rivers State House of Assembly. 

“The Governor’s declaration flies in the face of a matter pending in court as instituted by some elders of the state on the very question of the legal status of the 27 members that decamped from PDP to APC.  The court ruled that the plaintiffs in the matter lacked necessary _locus standi_ to bring the action. 

“An appeal against that ruling remains pending in the Court of Appeal. Governor Fubara is a party to that suit. And there is the subsisting order of injunction issued by a Federal High Court restraining the Governor and his agents from impeding or frustrating the House of Assembly under the leadership of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule,” he clarified.

Moreover, the APC condemned Governor Fubara’s aggressive tactics, including the demolition of the Rivers State House of Assembly complex and a recent invasion of the Assembly quarters. These actions, they asserted, amount to a violation of court orders, a disregard for democratic institutions, and a display of executive overreach.

“We strongly counsel Governor Fubara to submit himself to the dictates of the Constitution and the rule of law. In any and all contests  between Governor Fubara and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Constitution shall prevail, always. The good people of Rivers state deserve so much more than the seemingly unending chicanery of Governor Fubara.” Morka noted.

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