Rivers Crisis: PDP Disowns 27 Lawmakers, Counters Court Ruling


The Rivers Stare chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has officially stated that the 27 members of the State House of Assembly, led by Martin Ameawhule, are no longer affiliated with the party.

This development follows the ongoing conflict between the state governor, Siminalayi Fubara, and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike. In December 2023, the 27 lawmakers defeated from the PDP to the All progressive Congress (APC), aligning themselves with Wike, who is currently the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Their defection occurred amid efforts to impeach the governor.

In response to the political crisis, Governor Fubara declared on May 6, 2024, that the Amaewhule-led group of lawmakers “no longer exist in the eyes of 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 record,” Fubara stated.

The governor and other stakeholders have argued that the lawmakers’ defection was illegal, emphasizing that there was no internal crisis within the PDP to justify their departure.

On May 9, Chukwudi Nelson, the spokesperson for Governor Fubara, 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 27 lawmakers led by Martins Amaewhule, asserting that only the Oko-Jumbo-led faction is legally recognized.

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

The court 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.

Presiding Judge, Justice Okogbule Gbasam, ruled that Nartin Amaewhule and the 26 other lawmakers are still members of the PDP. Justice Gbasam noted that the claimants failed to prove that the 27 lawmyhad defected to the APC, as such a defection cannot be established through newspaper publications, radio announcements, or online reports.

In an interview on Tuesday, Sydney Gbara, the Rivers PDP spokesman , reiterated that the 27 lawmakers are no longer members of the party.

He said, “ They are no longer members of the PDO. 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 in social media. They were duly received by the APC caretaker chairs, 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 in 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 how the party would respond if the lawmakers decide to return to the PDP, Gbara said, “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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