Rivers Political Crisis:  Ajulo Clears Air On Case Before Court

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr Olukayode Ajulo, has cleared the air on the political crisis in Rivers State and the case before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

In a press statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, the senior advocate said contrary to the information in circulation, the case in suit number SUIT NO FHC/ABJ/CS/1718/2023 between VICTOR OKON JUMBO and 5 ORS V THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA and 5 ORS was filed at the Federal High Court Abuja and currently before Justice Joyce Abdumalik and not before Rivers State High Court.

According to the learned silk in the statement he personally signed, false information are being peddled around as regards the true position and situation of things on the matter before the court.

He explained: “Some of the various publications circulating in the social media space are riddled with half-truths, others complete fabrication from the feverish, febrile imagination of the makers. We wish to make it categorically clear that the contents of the said publications are absolutely false.

“To put the record straight, the above captioned suit was filed at the Federal High Court sitting at the Federal Capital Territory (F.C.T.), Abuja and not at the Rivers State High Court, sitting at Port-Harcourt as has been falsely published on various social media platforms.

“The aforesaid suit first came up on Monday the 22nd of January, 2024, before Court 7 of the Federal High Court, sitting at the Federal Capital Territory (F.C.T.), Abuja, presided by Hon. Justice J. O. Abdulmalik.

“On the said Monday the 22nd of January, 2024, we moved two (2) respective Exparte applications for substituted service on the Defendants and for Interim Injunctions against the Defendants. After hearing our applications and considering same, his Lordship made an Order for the substituted service of the Originating Court processes of the said suit on the Defendants.

“Also, the court ordered all the Parties in the suit to maintain status quo ante bellum, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice in the suit. The matter was then adjourned to the 28th of February, 2024 for hearing.

“The legal implication of the Court’s Order is that all the Parties in the suit should maintain the status/position in the matter as it was before the subsisting conflict arose between the parties in the suit. In the case of Ojukwu v. Gov. of Lagos State (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt. 18) 621, the Supreme Court explained status quo ante bellum as “the state before the war”. Meaning that parties must keep the peace pending when the Court decides in favour of one party or the other.

“To reiterate, there was absolutely no time that the Federal High Court sitting at the Federal Capital Territory (F.C.T.), Abuja, presided by Hon. Justice J. O. Abdulmalik ever struck out the aforesaid suit. The said suit is still life and is pending before Court 7 of the Federal High Court sitting at the F.C.T., Abuja and same will come up for hearing on the 28th February, 2024. Also, the said Hon. Justice J. O. Abdulmalik did not at any point of her Rulings on the said Plaintiffs’ applications ever decline jurisdiction to hear the Plaintiffs’ applications or the substantive suit and never cited any Judgment or Ruling of Hon. Justice James Omotoshoof the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja as fallaciously stated in some of the aforementioned publications on social media.

“Hence, we urge the general public to utterly disregard the mendacious news making the rounds on main and social media regarding the captioned matter as the information as stated in this Press Release/Conference is the true and reliable state of affairs as regards the suit between Hon. Victor Okon Jumbo & 5 Ors. vs. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & 5 Ors., with Suit No.: FHC/ABJ/CS/1718/2023.”

On Monday, the court, in a ruling that delivered by Justice Abdulmalik, directed parties not to take further steps, pending the determination of an application that is seeking to stop Governor Siminilayi Fubara from re-presenting the already passed 2024 budget of the state before the legislative house.

Justice Abdulmalik fixed February 28 to hear the application which was brought before the court by six elders of the state.

The plaintiffs in the matter, led by a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly representing Bonny State Constituency, Hon. Victor Okon Jumbo, are; Senator Bennett Birabi, Senator Andrew Uchendu, Rear Admiral O.P. Fingesi, Ann Kio Briggs and Emmanuel Deinma.

They had through their team of lawyers led by Mr. Ajulo, approached the court, praying it to declare seats of 27 lawmakers in the state that defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, vacant.

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