Thursday, December 12, 2013

Take-over of Rivers Assembly by NASS illegal, says court

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has declared as unconstitutional, null and void, the decision of the National Assembly to takeover the functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed who delivered judgment on the matter accordingly stopped the Senate, its president, the House of Assembly and its speaker from assuming the law making functions of the Rivers Assembly.

The suit which was instituted by two lawyers, Tamunoteim Asobari and John Kpakol, had as defendants, the Senate, its president, the House of Assembly and its speaker, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Senator Kabiru Gaya (chairman, Senate Committee on States and Local Government).


The attorney general of Rivers State, Rivers House of Assembly and its speaker later applied to be joined and were made defendants by an order of the court made on October 9.
Justice Mohammed also faulted the directive by the National Assembly, directing the IGP to redeploy the state’s commissioner of police.

He specifically declared that by the provisions of Sections 11(4) and (5) of the constitution, the Senate, its president, the House of Assembly and its speaker could not assume the law making functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly when there were no facts that the House of Assembly was unable to carry out its functions.

The judge further stated that there were no facts placed before him that the Rivers Assembly was unable to discharge its functions as provided under the constitution.

The court agreed with the submissions canvassed by the plaintiffs that after the July 9 fracas in the Rivers Assembly, the House reconvened under the former speaker and passed the states 2013 budget.
The judge held that his decision to believe the claim that the House still conducted some businesses after the purported impeachment of the Assembly’s speaker which resulted in the fracas, because the defendants failed to specifically deny the claim.

Justice Mohammed, in faulting the redeployment of the Rivers’ commissioner of police, declared that by the provisions of Sections 215(2) and (3) of the constitution, the  Senate, its  president, the House of Assembly and its speaker did not have the power to direct the IGP to redeploy the Rivers’ commissioner of police or any officer under the command of the Nigeria Police Force.

The judge also declared unconstitutional, the resolution passed by the Senate, mandating the Senate Committee on States and Local Government Areas to investigate the sticky situation between the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi and the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State, Joseph Mbu and the crisis in the state’s Assembly.

Justice Mohammed dismissed the objections raised against the suit by the defendants on the ground that they lacked merit.

The plaintiffs asked the court to determine among others whether the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the exercise of their oversight functions as provided for in Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) could conduct an investigation into the manner in which the state Commissioner of Police discharge his official duties.

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