A Fair Summary Of The 04/July/2024 Judgement Of The Court Of Appeal In Martins Amaewhule V. Victor Oko-Jumbo (Appeal No: Ca/Ph/198/2024)- By The Reality Ministry (TRM)

We’ve carefully read the judgement of the Court of Appeal, delivered on 04 July 2024. Three points are worthy of note:

(1). The appeal is absolutely on the jurisdiction of the Rivers State High Court to entertain Suit No: PHC/1512/CD/2024, filed by Hon Oko-Jumbo & others, as well as on breach of the appellants’ right to a fair hearing in that the order by the SHC was made ex parte.

(2). The appeal has absolutely nothing to do with the merit of the controversy regarding whether the 25 members have actually defected, whether their seats have become vacant and whether the other group may carry on with the functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly. There are 06 grounds of appeal; 05 are on jurisdiction while 01 is on breach of fair hearing.

(3). We think the following represents a fair summary of the entire judgement of the Court of Appeal, as contained in the lead judgment of His Lordship, Jimi Olukayode Bada, JCA:

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(a). All preliminary objections challenging the competence of the appeal and the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to hear the appeal were considered and dismissed as lacking in merit.

(b). Held that the Rivers State High Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the lawsuit because, by virtue of section 272(3) CFRN, 1999, the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine cases pertaining to whether the seat of a member of the State House of Assembly has become vacant;

(c). The Ex Parte Order granted against the appellants was wrong, because there was no situation of urgency to warrant the order made ex parte. The cause of action had arisen since December 2023. The Respondents having waiting over 140 days before coming to Court, the Court should have heard all parties before making any order as there wasn’t any urgency.

(d). It was wrong for the Rivers State High Court to have made orders ex parte against the appellants without granting them a fair hearing.

(e) Based on the aforesaid, this appeal has merit. The Lawsuit (SUIT NO: PHC/1512/CS/2024) filed at the Rivers State High Court is accordingly struck out because the SHC has no jurisdiction to have entertained it.

(f). While the lead judgement of His Lordship, Hon Justice JIMI OLUKAYODE BADA, JCA, and the 2nd concurrent judgement of His Lordship, Hon JUSTICE BALKISU BELLO ALIU, JCA, merely struck out the lawsuit filed at the Rivers SHC for want of jurisdiction, without making any order as to restoration of the status quo ante, the 1st concurrent judgement of His Lordship, Hon Justice HAMMA AKAWU BARKA, JCA granted an order of restoration of the status quo ante and vacation of all actions taken pursuant to the ex parte order of the Rivers SHC, which, according to His Lordship, are null, void since the Rivers SHC had made the orders without jurisdiction.
▪️Long live the rule of law!
Sylvester Udemezue (udems),
The Reality Ministry (TRM).

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