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Rivers State Political Crisis Deepens As Lawmakers Loyal To Fubara Elect Victor Oko-Jumbo as Speaker

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Rivers State Political Crisis Deepens As Lawmakers Loyal To Fubara Elect Victor Oko-Jumbo as Speaker

Afor Kenneth

The political turmoil in Rivers State has escalated as members of the State House of Assembly loyal to Governor Siminalayi Fubara have elected Victor Oko-Jumbo, representing Bonny constituency, as their Speaker.

Oko-Jumbo’s election took place during Wednesday’s plenary session at 10 am, adhering to the House’s Standing Order. He is reportedly recognized as the Speaker for the entire 32-member Assembly.

Initially, four lawmakers loyal to Fubara had elected Edison Ehie as Speaker during the crisis. However, Ehie later resigned from the Assembly and assumed the role of Chief of Staff to the Governor.

READ ALSO: Fubara Threatens Assembly Members: Claims Authority to Revoke Legislative Status Amidst Tensions

The exact number of lawmakers present during Oko-Jumbo’s election as Speaker remains unclear.

Oko-Jumbo was escorted to the plenary session with the original mace of the Rivers State House of Assembly by Sergeant-at-Arms David Wariboko, who oversaw the last sitting of the Martin Amaewhule-led Assembly.

In his acceptance speech, Oko-Jumbo expressed gratitude to the members for electing him following Ehie’s resignation. He urged the Executive, Judiciary, and the public to disregard any laws purportedly enacted by the Amaewhule-led Assembly, dismissing them as futile.

“You will agree with me that after the House last sat on the 13th of December, 2023, and adjourned sine dine, there has been an avalanche of legislative rascality perpetrated by the 25 former members of the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly, led by the former Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Chike Amaewhule.

“These former members, being fully aware of the provisions of Section 109(1)(g) of the CFRN 1999, defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Party (APC) on the 11th of December, 2023.

“Consequently, the Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie-led Assembly, on the 13th of December, 2023, wrote to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declaring the seats of the 25 lawmakers vacant in line with Section 109(1)(g) and (2) of the CFRN 1999.

“My distinguished colleagues, there are a plethora of cases pending in our courts further to the defection of the former lawmakers,” he said.

“All laws, plenary sessions and actions taken by the illegal House members are hereby declared void and a nullity in the eyes of the law by virtue of the judgment of Lord Denning in the celebrated case of MacFoy v UAC (1961) 3 All ER 1169.” Oko-Jumbo emphasised.

He said, “Furthermore, this House would want to most respectfully urge and call on His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, DSSRS, to desist forthwith from further dealings with the 25 former lawmakers, in whatever guise.

“Those members are merely floating and do not have any landing ground or anywhere to berth their ship since their defection to the All Progressives Congress on the 11th of December, 2023.

“This House is the legally and constitutionally recognised House of Assembly by virtue of the defection of the other members, and is ready to receive correspondences from and work with His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara. Distinguished colleagues, let me thank you once again.

“I know I can count on your unalloyed and unwavering support as we work with His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara in moving our dear Rivers State forward in promoting the progress and welfare of the State.”

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