Rivers Government applies for stay of execution of judgement
The Rivers State High Court on Monday ordered the state government to reinstate the suspended Chairman, Timothy Nsirim, and councilors of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
Justice Adanma Iyayi-Laminaka, while delivering judgement on the suit brought by the council cabinet challenging their suspension by the Rivers State House of Assembly in April, held that the action was flawed and unconstitutional.
In a swift reaction, the Rivers State Government said it had filed for a stay of execution of the judgement, which it said was an abuse of court process.
A statement by the state Commissioner of Information and Communication, Ibim Semenitari, on Monday, said though as a responsible government, it would abide by the pronouncement of the court, the trial judge acted in total disregard of the Court of Appeal, which was still entertaining the case.
Mr. Nsirim, his deputy, Solomon Eke, and 17 councillors of the council, were suspended by the House upon the recommendation of its eight-member committee on Local Government Affairs, which investigated the allegations of abuse of public funds and breach of security against the cabinet.
The House also froze the account of the council and directed the state government to appoint a caretaker committee.
Following the directive, the governor, Chubuike Amaechi, appointed a caretaker committee headed by Chikordi Dike. Both the state government and the committee were joined in the suit as 5th and 11th defendants.
The action of the legislature sparked off the current political crisis in the state, which pitted the governor, Chibuike Amaechi, against the supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, who himself was two-time Chairman of the Council. Mr. Wike is believed to be sympathetic to the embattled cabinet of the council.
The statement by the government on Monday said the judge failed to adhere to the principles upon which the rule of law drew inspiration and strength.
“As a responsible Government, which respects the rule of law, we have noted the ruling and in our usual manner would abide by the pronouncement,” it said.
“However, we are constrained to note that the trial judge acted in total disregard of the Court of Appeal, which at the moment is entertaining an appeal in respect of the matter.
“We are aware that under the rules of court, where there is a subsisting ruling essentially from the court above, lower courts are as a rule expected to stay action pending the determination of the appeal.
“In this instance, we wish to state without equivocation that the trial judge erred in law when she failed to adhere to age-long principles upon which the rule of law draws inspiration and strength.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Rivers State Government has filed an appeal for a stay of execution of the judgment while the ongoing matter that is being heard by the court above is billed for Thursday, the 28th of November, 2013.”
The government appealed to the people of the state, particularly the people of Obio-Akpor to remain calm and law-abiding, adding “We wish to assure our people that we shall pursue the cause of justice through constitutional and judicial means until the people secure justice.”