8 Jun 2015

Rivers State House of Assembly declares local government election illegal

Rivers State House of Assembly has declared as illegal, the local government election conducted on May 23 by the immediate past administration in the state.

The state lawmakers therefore, on Monday, unanimously empowered Governor Nyesom Wike to dissolve the State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) and the State Judicial Service Commission (RSJSC).

This followed the adoption of a resolution to that effect by 29 lawmakers at the sitting of the state legislature, following the appearance of officials of the bodies before the lawmakers.

It would be recalled that the lawmakers had, at the weekend, summoned chairman of RISIEC, Professor Augustine Ahiazu and his commissioners to appear before the House on Monday.

The summon was in connection with the state local government election conducted on May 23, a few days to the expiration of the last administration in the state.

Also summoned were the chairman and all commissioners serving in the Rivers State Judicial Service Commission (RSJSC) who were to appear before the state House of Assembly same day (Monday).

At the sitting, on Monday, House Leader, Martin Amaewhule, called on his colleagues to direct the governor to dissolve the two commisions, arguing that their activities contradicted their oath of office and were against the interest of the people of Rivers State.

He argued that the actions of the members of both RISIEC and RSJSC contravened Section 207 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 4 subsection 1 of the RSIEC Law and submitted that members of the two bodies do not deserved to remain in office.

Responding to questions from lawmakers earlier, Mr Joseph Ikeka, a legal practitioner and member of RSJSC, said the commission decided to direct judiciary staff workers not to obey any directive from an administrative judge because no correspondence was received from the National Judiciary Commission (NJC) on the subject matter.

He also argued that the commission was working under prevailing circumstances in the state as the judiciary was affected by the political crisis, adding that Section 203 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) empowered the commission to sit even in the absence of a chief judge.

He however called on the lawmakers to amend the section of the State High Court Law that empowered the Chief Registrar to assign cases, blaming the previous amendment on the lawmakers of the seventh assembly.

Credit: Dapo Falade/Nigerian Tribune

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