A Federal high court in Abuja has voided and set aside the presentation and passage of the Rivers state 2024 budget.
In the judgment delivered on Monday, James Omotoso, presiding judge, ordered Siminalayi Fubara, Rivers governor, to re-present the budget to the legally constituted house of assembly under Martin Amaewhule, speaker of the assembly.
Fubara presented the budget titled: ‘Budget of Renewed Hope, Consolidation and Continuity’ of N800 billion to five out of the over 30 lawmakers of the state house of assembly in December 2023.
The development came after 25 of the lawmakers in the assembly defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with their seats declared vacant.
FUBARA BARRED FROM INTERFERING
In the judgment, Omotoso ordered Fubara to release all funds accruable to the Rivers house of assembly and barred the governor from interfering with activities of the assembly.
The court also nullified the redeployment of the clerk and deputy clerk of the state assembly by the state’s head of civil service.
The judge held that the appointment of a clerk and deputy clerk is the responsibility of the speaker, as contained in the Rivers State Assembly Service Commission law.
The court further ruled that the inspector-general of police and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) are duty bound to continue to provide security for all Rivers citizens, including members of the state assembly.
The court also ordered a pause on the planned demolition and reconstruction of the Rivers state assembly complex.
The national assembly was barred from taking over the Rivers assembly or accepting or treating any request from the state governor.
By Bolanle Olabimtan
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