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Rivers Assembly confirms Iboroma as commissioner

A legal luminary, Dagogo Israel Iboroma, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN has been screened and confirmed as Commissioner-designate in Rivers State.

 

The Rivers State House of Assembly faction loyal to Governor Siminalayi Fubara led by Speaker Victor Oko Jumbo conducted the screening at the Chambers inside Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt.

Iboroma  is expected to be sworn into office by Governor Fubara as the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, the office vacated by Professor Zaccheus Adangor SAN, who resigned when he was redeployed to the Ministry to Special Duties, (Governor’s office), two weeks ago.

Iboroma was on Sunday reportedly invited vide a letter signed by Dr. G.M. Gills-West, the Clerk of the House to come for screening as the Commissioner nominee as a member of the Rivers State Executive Council on today 13th May 2024 at 10:00am at Hallowed Chambers, Rivers State House of Assembly, Auditorium, Admin Block, Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt.

Recall that a factional Speaker loyal to Governor Fubara Hon. Victor Oko Jumbo was elected last week after Governor Fubara declared that in eyes of the law, the Martin Amaewhule-led lawmakers loyal to Nyesom Wike Minister of Federal Capital, are no more Rivers State lawmakers after defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Observers believe that Governor Fubara may have moved on to get the wheels of governance rolling as more Commissioner nominees will be screened into the State cabinet by the Victor Oko Jumbo-led three-man Lawmakers.

However, our Correspondent reports that the invitation for screening is already generating controversies.

In a Facebook page post by a lawyer, Oraye St Franklyn, he raised some legal issues.

He said: “I am happy that our dear brother and friend Dagogo Iboroma SAN, understands the implication of violating the enclosed Justice Omotosho judgment that has neither been appealed nor set aside.

“I am happy that as Senior Advocate of Nigeria he also knows that the Rivers State High Court lacks jurisdiction to rule on the validity of the tenure of Governor, Deputy Governor or State Assembly Members and the VACANCY of their seats based on Section 272(3) of the CFRN 1999 as amended.

“I am hoping we don’t get to a point where even a new wig, fresh out of law school, would raise an objection challenging the legality of the appointment and subsequent assumption of office of an Attorney General in violation of the law.

“We certainly do not wish to get to the point where a fresh graduate of law school will legitimately call out the said Attorney General as an impostor in open court, relying on the position of the law.

He also cautioned that “we really do not need to get to the point where the high office of Attorney General would be rubbished, and lawfully so, by a new wig correcting an impostor in open court. That would hurt the legal profession, even as it upholds the law. This is not about persons, but the rule of law and the question of the legality of the actions of the Government of Rivers State as led by Sim Fubara”, Franklyn stated.

In a swift reaction, Sogbeye Eli, a Port Harcourt based Lawyer disagrees with Franklyn and cited various sections of the Constitution and points of law.

For instance, Sogbeye Eli, in Facebook page pointed out that “Rivers State gets set to receive her new Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, my highly respected senior Dagogo Iboroma, Esq, SAN, from his screening at the Rivers State House of Assembly this morning…

“To those still questioning the propriety or otherwise of the emergence of Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo as Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly last week, a quick guide on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended)”

He asserted that from the day Martins Amaewhule, defected to the APC with 26 other members of the State Assembly, he did not only lose his seat per automatic invocation of the provisions of Section 109(1)(g) of the Constitution, but he also ceased to be the Speaker.

According to him the Constitution is clear at Section 92 (2)(a).

The Lawyer said that for the avoidance of doubt, Section 92 of the Constitution provides as follows:

  1. (1) There shall be a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of a House of Assembly who shall be elected by the members of the House from among themselves.

(2) The Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly shall vacate his office –

(a) if he ceases to be a member of the House of Assembly otherwise than by reason of the dissolution of the House.

(b) When the House first sits after any dissolution of House; or

(c) if he is removed from office by a resolution of the House of Assembly by the votes of not less than two-third majority of the members of the House.

He said: “The applicable law in the case of Amaewhule and his deputy, Dumle Maol, is Section 92(2)(a) by force of their breach of Section 109(1)(g) of the Constitution as decided by the Supreme Court in the famous case of Ifedayo Abegunde v. Ondo State House of Assembly & Ors. The point has been sufficiently made elsewhere that subsequent judgments of our Courts on similar transgression of the Constitution by State lawmakers have been bound by the precedent in Abegunde’s case.

“Moving further to the Section of the Constitution providing for presiding at sittings, we have Section 95(2) as our guide:

  1. (1) At any sitting of a House of Assembly, the Speaker of that House shall preside, and in his absence the Deputy Speaker shall preside.

(2) In the absence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House, such member of the House as the House may elect for that purpose shall preside.

“So, following the resignation of Edison Ehie as Speaker of the legitimate, legal and constitutional Rivers State House of Assembly of four members, the election of Victor Oko-Jumbo and the other principal officers aptly fulfils the expediency envisaged under Section 95(2) of the Constitution. Until the INEC deems it fit to conduct elections to fill the existing vacancies, the State Legislature is to run on those three members without any legal encumbrance.

“Let me out of abundance of caution also add this. Those advancing the argument that until the Speaker of the House gives effect to Section 109(2) of the Constitution by declaring the seats of defectors vacant the latter still retain their seats are not seeing what the Constitution has provided. Those seats are vacant once you defect where one of the proviso in the Section is not the grounds for the defection in the first place.

“In the present case of the Rivers State House of Assembly v. Amaewhule and co, those who argue that Edison Ehie was in no position to declare the 27 seats vacant miss the point by miles. Besides the current Chief of Staff acting on a sound legal footing i.e. in firm obedience of a valid Order of the High Court of Rivers State at the material time, our law forbids, prohibits and abhors anyone being a judge in his own case. The legal maxim is “Nemo Judex in Causa Sua”. Meaning, you cannot be a Judge in your own case. Applied to the case of Amaewhule or Maol who were Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively, they were in no position by law to declare anyone’s seat or theirs vacant having fallen foul of the same constitutional provision at Section 109(1)(g)”.

Harping in the realm of sarcasm he stated “We do not know whether to write these provisions of the Constitution in Ikwerre, Kalabari, Ogoni, Okrika, Etche, Ekpeye, Abua and other Rivers languages and dialects before people will understand these elementary provisions of the law. Our Courts are already overburdened with cases and crisis entrepreneurs seeking to buy time to cover their crimes and constitutional infractions should not increase the workload on the judicial docket.”

Dagogo Israel Iboroma, SAN, hails from Okrika in Okrika local government area of the state.

 

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