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Court Nullifies N800bn Rivers Budget Passed By Pro-Fubara Lawmakers



Justice James of the Federal High Court Abuja has nullified the N800 billion budget passed by the Edison Ehie-led group of the Rivers State House of Assembly and signed into law by the Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara.

The court also upheld the suit filed by the Assembly and Speaker Martin Amaewhule, against Fubara, which sought an order of injunction restraining the governor from frustrating the Assembly under his leadership as speaker, among others.

On December 13, 2023, in the heat of the protracted political crisis rocking the oil-rich state and the demolition of the Assembly Complex, Fubara presented the 2024 budget proposal of N800bn to five members of the State Assembly led by Edison Ehie.

The presentation was done at the Government House in Port Harcourt, following the demolition of the Assembly Complex by the state government and after a court restrained Ehie’s contender, Martins Amaewhule, from using the Assembly Complex.

Ehie and the other pro-Fubara lawmakers passed the budget estimates and the governor signed the bill into law, saying it is aimed at promoting economic development through inclusive growth and addressing socio-economic inequality in the state.

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Ehie would later resign from the House and Amaewhule was restored as the Assembly’s Speaker after both sides met with President Bola Tinubu in Abuja.

Amaewhule and 25 other lawmakers loyal to ex-Governor Nyesom Wike subsequently demanded that Fubara presented the 2024 budget estimates to the Assembly afresh and the matter was taken to court.

On Monday, Ken Njemanze who is counsel for Amaewhule, accused the governor of interfering with the performance and functions of the state lawmakers contrary to the doctrine of the separation of powers.

He, therefore, 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”.

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