The Rivers State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Dagogo Iboroma, has addressed recent reports concerning Martin Amaewhule and 26 others’ membership status in the Rivers State House of Assembly and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

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Iboroma clarified that the suit, numbered DHC/20/CS/204, did not seek to declare the lawmakers’ seats vacant. Instead, the case was dismissed due to lack of locus standi, jurisdictional issues, and an abuse of court process. The trial court lacked the authority to adjudicate the matter.

Martin Amaewhule, formerly the speaker of the Pro-Nyesom Wike lawmakers, and his 26 colleagues defected from the PDP to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) on December 11, 2023. This defection is documented in an affidavit filed by Amaewhule and his colleagues in suit number FHC/ABJ/1681/CS/2023 before Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The suit, which contains Amaewhule’s affidavit, is still pending in the Federal High Court. According to Section 272(3) of the 1999 Constitution, only the Federal High Court has the authority to determine whether the lawmakers remain PDP members and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Despite the pending suit, an interlocutory injunction (suit number PHC/1512/CS/2024) restrains Martin Amaewhule and his colleagues from acting as lawmakers in Rivers State until the substantive suit is resolved. Importantly, this injunction has not been appealed against.

In a separate ruling, the Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt affirmed that Amaewhule and the 26 other assembly members are still PDP members. Justice Okogbule Gbasam held that the claimants failed to prove their defection to the APC. Membership, the court emphasized, is established through party registration or membership cards—not mere verbal statements or television ceremonies.

Interestingly, the PDP filed a motion to be joined in the case and was added as the fourth defendant. The court further emphasized that the Rivers state government remains bound by laws passed by the Assembly, as the lawmakers’ names are still in the PDP’s membership register.

The recent court decisions clarify the status of Martin Amaewhule and his colleagues, emphasizing the importance of legal processes and party membership documentation.