The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday declared the N800bn 2024 budget of Rivers State illegal, after it was passed by only four lawmakers loyal to Governor Simi Fubara.
The court ruled that the presentation and passage of the budget by the pro-Fubara faction of the state House of Assembly was null and void, as it violated the constitutional and legislative competence of the Assembly.
The court also upheld the suit filed by the Assembly and Speaker Martin Amaewhule, who leads the majority of 27 lawmakers opposed to Fubara’s administration.
The four names of the lawmakers included Edison Ehie, who was the leader of the pro-Fubara faction and the speaker of the House of Assembly at the time. He later resigned from the House and was replaced by Martin Amaewhule.
Michael Chinda, who was the deputy speaker of the House of Assembly under Ehie.
Kelechi Nwogu, who was the chief whip of the House of Assembly under Ehie.
Martins Mannah, who was the only member of the House of Assembly from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to support Fubara.
However, their action was nullified by the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, January 22, 2024.
The court therefore ordered Fubara to re-present the budget to the legally constituted House of Assembly under Amaewhule’s leadership.
The Rivers Assembly had been embroiled in a political crisis since December, when Fubara presented the budget proposal to the four lawmakers at the Government House, following the demolition of the Assembly Complex and the defection of 25 lawmakers to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
These four lawmakers were loyal to Governor Simi Fubara and passed the N800bn 2024 budget in December 2023, despite the opposition from the majority of 27 lawmakers aligned with ex-Governor Nyesom Wike.