Rivers crisis: They’re no longer our members – PDP counters court, disowns 27 lawmakers



The Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party
(PDP) has declared that the 27 members of the state House of Assembly, led by
Martin Amaewhule, are no longer members of the party.


Recall that following the face-off between the
state governor, Siminalayi Fubara, and his immediate predecessor, Nyesom Wike,
the 27 lawmakers dumped the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in
December 2023.



The defection of the lawmakers loyal to Wike, the current
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), came amidst the plot to
impeach Governor Fubara.


Following the lingering political crisis, Governor Fubara
declared on May 6, 2024, that the Amaewhule-led group of lawmakers “do not
exist anymore in the eyes of the law.”



“Let me say it here, those groups of men who claim that they
are assembly members, they do not exist. I want it to be on the record,” Fubara



The governor and other stakeholders argued that the
defection of the lawmakers was illegal, stressing that there was no crisis in
the PDP to warrant their exit.


On May 9, the spokesperson to Governor Fubara, Chukwudi
Nelson, announced the emergence of Victor Oko-Jumbo, a member representing
Bonny State Constituency, as the factional speaker of the assembly.



Subsequently, the governor dismissed the Amaewhule-led 27
lawmakers, insisting that only the Oko-Jumbo-led faction is legally recognized.



However, a Rivers State High Court on Monday ruled that the
embattled lawmakers are still members of the PDP, stressing that their seats
cannot be declared vacant.


The Court, in its ruling, struck out a suit filed by Wosa
Amadi and three others seeking to declare the seats of the 27 lawmakers vacant
following their defection to the APC.



In his judgment, the Presiding Judge, Justice Okogbule
Gbasam, ruled that Martin Amaewhule and the 26 other lawmakers are still
members of the party.


Justice Gbasam also ruled that the claimants failed to prove
to the court that the 27 lawmakers truly defected to the APC, noting that the
said defection cannot be established through newspaper publications, radio
announcements, or online publications.



However, in an interview on Tuesday, Sydney
Gbara, Rivers PDP Spokesman, denied the membership of the 27 lawmakers, saying
they are no longer members of the party.



According to him, “they are no longer members of the PDP.
These are people who had already announced on the floor of the assembly during
a plenary that they have left the PDP for the APC and they did a public show to
that effect.


“It was a function covered by national television and it is
everywhere on social media. They were duly received by the APC caretaker
chairman, Tony Okocha, who welcomed them into the party and ever since then,
the lawmakers have been participating in all APC activities.



“How did they now turn around overnight and claim that they
are still PDP members? They have left our party long ago and we have moved on
without them.


“We are not talking about whether they have records or they
don’t have records in the PDP. Somebody voluntarily declared that he is no
longer a member of a political party and has been participating in the
activities of another party, what else do you want to hear?”



When asked what the party would do if the lawmakers decide
to return to the PDP, Gbara stated that “if they want to join the PDP again,
they should apply to the party and then we will look at it and do the necessary
things required.”



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