Court Voids Section Of The Law Passed By Amaewhule-Led Rivers Assembly

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt on Tuesday nullified Section 3 of the Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission Law as amended by the Martin Amaewhule-led Assembly.

The recently amendment law was enacted after the Assembly had vetoed the State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara.

That section 3 had sought to strip the Governor of the constitutional power to appoint the Chairman and Members of the Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission.

By the amended law, the Speaker of the Assembly would have the power to appoint the chairman and members of the commission.

But in his ruling, the presiding judge of the court, Justice Mrs Kariba Dagogo Jack, said the amendment law no 3, 2024, was inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, and as such null and void.

The suit was filed by the Association of Legal Legislative Drafting and Advocacy Practitioners, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)
that felt concerned about that significant change.

It was to the effect that the NGO sought the court’s interpretation of the amendment in line with the Nigerian Constitution.

Justice Dagogo-Jack ruled that the amendment violated sections 5, 176, 197, and 198 of the Nigerian Constitution.

The judge clarified that the Nigerian Constitution grants the exclusive right to appoint members of boards, commissions, and institutions, including the States Assembly Service Commission, to the executive governors of the states, which must be confirmed by the States Houses of Assembly.

She said the amendment that shifted the power to constitute the House of Assembly Service Commission to the Speaker, contravene the doctrine of separation of powers which guarantees the right of the various arms of government to operate independently of each other.

The presiding Judge further stated that the Rivers State House of Assembly is not authorized by law to exercise executive powers which includes the constitution of the Rivers State House of Assembly Commission, which is among bodies described in part two of the third schedule of the Constitution whose membership are to be constituted by the Governor.

She described the actions of the Martin Amaewhule-led House of Assembly as an attempt by legislators to usurp the responsibilities of the executive in clear violations to the principle of separation of powers.

Consequently, Justice Dagogo-Jack issued an order striking down section three of the law and imposed a perpetual injunction preventing the enforcement of that section.

The lead counsel for the NGO, Association of Legal Legislative Drafting and Advocacy Practitioners, Barr. Boma Owunabo, spoke to journalists after the ruling.

He said the suit was instituted in public interest to challenge the usurpation of executive powers by the Amaewhule-led Rivers State Assembly through the amendment.

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