An Owerri Federal High Court presided over by Hon Justice M.A Onyetenu has in Suit No. FHC/OW/CS/52/2021, between Hon Uche S. Ogbuagu, Hon. Nwosu Anyadike Romanus, Hon. Dominic Ugochukwu Ezerioha as Plaintiffs and Imo State House of Assembly, Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, of Imo State, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal, Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation as defendants, ordered in a Motion Exparte filed on July 16, 2021 but came before the Honourable Court on July 23, 2021 ordered that the 6 members of the Imo State House of Assembly who were questionably suspended by the leadership of the house for what they termed unparliamentary conduct be reinstated without further delay to assume their duties without let or hindrance.
According to the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the order of the Honourable Court signed by the Court Registrar, Osuji Chioma, and dated July 23, 2021, the court gave an order restraining the first, second and third defendants from refusing, obstructing or denying the plaintiffs entrance into the Imo State House of Assembly or under any circumstances frustrating, denying or excluding them from participating in the activities of the assembly on the basis of the purported suspension “pending as maybe otherwise directed by this court”.
The order directed all parties in the suit to maintain the status quo which existed prior to the purported suspension of the plaintiffs from the Imo State House of Assembly.
It also granted the plaintiffs/applicants in the suit leave to serve the first, second, third and fourth defendants out of jurisdiction and additional service on them by substituted means through publishing the processes in at least two newspapers circulating in Owerri, Imo State.
The court further ordered that, “the plaintiffs are also granted leave to serve the 5th– 7th defendants of the court processes outside the jurisdiction of this court at Abuja Federal Capital Territory. The case was adjourned to October 5, 2021 for hearing.
A human rights lawyer, activist, social crusader, and arrowhead of Rights for All International (RAI), a human rights advocacy, legal and corporate consultant, Barr Kingdom Okere in a release he signed and issued yesterday, captioned, “Executive Order 10 and financial autonomy for Imo House of Assembly: A case of 6 suspended members of the Imo State House of Assembly” said, “we have been briefed by the six suspended members of the Imo State House of Assembly to commence legal action on their behalf over the impunity going on in the Imo State House of Assembly. Our law firm was properly brief through one of the suspended members and paid to commence this legal action.
Firstly, we commend the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for granting total financial autonomy to the States Houses of Assembly and Judiciary through the legal instrument of EXECUTIVE ORDER 10. The financial autonomy will indeed make the State Legislature truly independent to carry out their legislative deities and oversight functions to checkmate the excesses State Governors who are now Emperors in their various states.
We want to bring the attention of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the Imo State government, acting through the puppets who are the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly is openly working against the Presidential Executive order 10 which aims at granting total financial autonomy to the State Legislature and Judiciary.
For more than ten months, members of the House of Assembly have not been paid their salaries and allowances as approved by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission in accordance with section 111 of the 1999 Constitution, and thereby leaving them in sordid poverty, misery, hunger, squalid and squalor conditions.
Consequently, our clients expressed dismay over the nonpayment of their salaries other issues displeasing them in the WhatsApp platform of the members of Imo State House of Assembly.
It must be emphasized that clients have the constitutional rights to freely express their displeasure over the nonpayment of their legitimate entitlements and also express displeasure over the poor leadership of the Imo State house of Assembly. And it was in exercise of this constitutional rights of freedom of expression that our clients expressed their displeasure over the nonpayment of their salaries and other allowances in the said WhatsApp platform”.