Barely one month after the breath-taking state and National Assembly rerun elections in Rivers State, the state House of Assembly on Thursday refused to swear in the All Progressives Congress (APC) female lawmaker-elect, Engr. Victoria Nyeche.
Nyeche failed the litmus test to be sworn-in as a member of the Eighth Assembly of the Rivers State House of Assembly following a case of alleged impersonation.
Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Dabotorudima Adam, announced on the floor of the House that he received a court order restraining the House from administering an oath of office on Nyeche, pending the decision of the court on a matter of impersonation leveled against her.
The Petitioner, Livingstone Wechie, who is also a human rights activist in the state had earlier filed an interlocutory order of court against the lawmaker-elect, which was granted by Justice Adolphus Enebeli of the Rivers state High Court.
The Court therefore stopped the swearing-in of the defendant who represents Port Harcourt City Local Government Area (PHALGA) Constituency 1, for impersonation, wherein she wrote a petition to the Chief Judge of Nigeria (CJN) against the Assembly’s confirmation of Chief Judge of the State, using the letter head of the Assembly.
Wechie, in his petition, alleged that the defendant addressed herself as member of the Assembly, even when she had not been administered oath of office or sworn in.
The order was granted on April 20, 2016, thereby stopping her from being sworn-in along 11 others.
The trial judge adjourned the case till April 28, 2016, for hearing of substantive motion.
However, the embattled lawmaker-elect, who was among the 25 staunch supporters of the former Governor Rotimi Amaechi in the Seventh Assembly, has flayed the decision of the court and that of the Assembly.
Engr. Nyeche expressed surprise at the order, saying that what played out was a clear indication of a lawless state, stressing that she has not received any order to that effect.
According to her, “I feel very saddened for what has happened today. It is an indication that Rivers State is not governed by law. I am surprised that the Speaker said he had a court order. I have not been served the court order.
“This is to show you that the State is not governed by law. It is a calculated plan to stop me from serving my people. I have my Certificate-of-Return issued by INEC and it is surprising that the decision of a lower court could overrule the decision of Court of Appeal that upheld my victory”, Nyeche told newsmen.
The embattled lawmaker-elect said she would approach her party, APC, for the next step to take.
Nyeche’s victory at the April 11, 2015, House of Assembly election, was upheld by the Election Petition Tribunal and Court of Appeal , which threw out Jones Ogbonda of PDP.
Ten members of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP were among the 12 lawmakers that took oath of office on Thursday.
Those sworn in included Manna Martins (Ahoada East Constituency 1), Inye Edison (Ahoada East Constituency 2), Major Jack (Akuku-Toru Constituency 1), Samuel Ogeh (Emohua Constituency), Martins Amaewhule (Obio/Akpor Constituency 1), Michael Chinda (Obio/Akpor Constituency 2), Christian Ahiakwor (ONELGA Constituency), Kelechi Nworgu (Omuma Constituency) and Tonye Smart (PHALGA Constituency 2).
The last were members of APC, who were, Benibo Anabraba representing Akuku-Toru Constituency 2 and Andrew Miller, Opobo/Nkoro Constituency.
In a related development, the House of Assembly has confirmed the appointment of the President of Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Christy Nwankwo.
The confirmation followed a letter from the State Governor, Nyesom Wike, requesting the lawmakers’ approval to make her substantive president of the Customary Court of Appeal.