Court Voids Rivers N800bn Budget Passed By Five Lawmakers

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A Federal High Court sitting Abuja has declared as illegal, the N800 billion budget passed by five members of the Rivers State House of Assembly led by the Edison Ehie-led faction.

The presiding judge, Justice James Omotosho, in a judgement delivered on Monday, January 22, 2024, declared that the presentation of the appropriation bill by Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, on December 13, 2023, and its passage by the lawmakers amounted to nullity following an interim order made by the court on November 30, 2023.

Justice Omotosho, who made an order of injunction restraining Fubara and other defendants from interfering with the Assembly led by Martin Amaewhule, held that the passage of the bill into law was a willful breach of the court order.

The judge also stopped the governor or any members of the state executive arm from appointing or reposting any person as a clerk or deputy clerk of the Assembly in contravention of the laws governing the Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission.

He further made an order restraining the National Assembly from taking over the State Assembly.

Justice Omotosho held that the decision of the court was premised on the earlier order made on November 30 and the facts that Fubara, who was the 11th defendant in the case, withdrew his processes in opposition to the plaintiffs’ originating motion.

Having withdrawn his counter affidavit and other processes in this case, the judge said it was deemed that the governor had admitted the facts in the motion since it was not challenged.

It was gathered that the Assembly passed a resolution urging Fubara to re-present the 2024 budget and the medium-term expenditure framework for consideration.

Governor Fubara had, on December 13, presented a budget of N800 billion for 2024 to a five-man House of Assembly for approval.

He presented the budget after the Rivers State Government demolished the Assembly complex in Port Harcourt.

The governor also signed the budget into law on December 14, barely 24 hours after it was presented to the lawmakers.

However, under the peace accord facilitated by President Bola Tinubu, Fubara was expected to re-present the budget as part of the conditions to end the political crisis in the state.

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