Ebonyi Assembly declares 3 more seats vacant despite sack
By Ruth Oginyi
Despite the federal high court judgment sacking the speaker of Ebonyi State House Assembly Hon. Ogbonnaya Nwifuru the house Tuesday declared the seats of three more lawmakers vacant.
A federal high court sitting in Abuja had last Tuesday sacked the speaker’s seat and 15 other members of the house for defecting to the APC.
But the embattled speaker still presides as the speaker in the house.
The three members of the Assembly were elected under the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) vacant.
The development at the house followed letters of resignation purported to have been written by the three lawmakers resigning from their seats.
Speaker of the House, Ogbonnaya Nwifuru read the letters during an emergency sitting of the House on Tuesday.
The three lawmakers are members representing Ishielu North state constituency Hon. Ali Okechukwu, Hon. Franca Okpo (Abakaliki North) and Hon. Victor Aleke (Ebonyi North West).
At the seating, Hon. Chinedu Onah (Ohaukwu South) moved the motion for the declaration of their seats vacant which was seconded by Chukwuma Igwe representing Onicha West.
The three Lawmakers and their other five PDP colleagues were not present at the sitting.
But the sacked 15 All Progressive Party(APC) Lawmakers attended the sitting.
The Speaker also ordered the clerk to write to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) notifying the commission of the development and the need to conduct fresh elections in the affected constituencies.
The House thereafter embarked on a three months recess.
But in a reaction, the PDP faction of the House maintained that the three lawmakers are still members of the House of Assembly.
In a statement signed by one of the three Lawmakers, Victor Aleke, the PDP Lawmakers said the action of their APC colleagues did amount to contempt of court.
Aleke argued that the 15 APC lawmakers having been sacked by a Federal High Court ruling, lack the locus to sit and declare their seats vacant.
The statement reads: “This is to inform the general public to disregard the concocted information circulating on social media that the seat of the three PDP Ebonyi State House of Assembly members: Hon Victor Aleke, Hon Mrs. Franca Okpo, and Hon Okechukwu Ali were declared vacant”.
‘Recall that on 8th March 2022, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja in a declaratory judgment sacked the Ebonyi State Speaker and 15 Lawmakers for defecting to APC and that judgment still stands”.
“All these actions of the sacked members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly Members are total abuse to the rule of law and contempt of Court Judgement which is tantamount to arrest”.
“Ebonyi people should disregard such information as it holds no water and it cannot stand”.
“We hereby urge all constituents of these members whose seats were purportedly declared vacant to remain calm and peaceful as the court pronouncement that sacked the 16 Ebonyi State House of Assembly members still stands until they get a stay of execution or get a favorable judgment from the appellate court”.
“For your information, as it stands now, Ebonyi State House of Assembly Members are made of Hon Chris Usulor, Hon Victor A leke, Hon Chidi Ejem, Hon Engr. Humphrey Nwuruku, Hon Dr. Oliver Osi, Hon Mrs. Franka Okpo, Hon Okechukwu Ali, Hon Mrs. Lilian Ezulor.
“Presently, these are the members of the state House of Assembly until a court of competent jurisdiction says otherwise or fresh elections conducted after 90 days according to Justice Inya Ekpo Declaratory Judgment”, the statement read.
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