Court reinstates Odefa as Ebonyi deputy speaker

The Abuja Division of the Federal Court, on Wednesday, reinstated Hon. Odefa Obasi Odefa, as a member and also the Deputy Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly.

The Court also restored the seats of Odefa and two other Lawmakers, Ngọzi Eziụlọ (Afikpo North/East) and Oliver Osi (Ivo).

The court’s order followed a motion ex parte dated 24th February 2022 and filed by the trio as plaintiffs challenging the declaration of their seats vacant and removal of Mr Odefa as Deputy Speaker by the State House of Assembly, last month.

It further barred the House of Assembly Speaker and the Clerk from carrying out any action that will affect the membership of the three lawmakers.

The House, had, last month, declared the seats of Odefa and the two other lawmakers vacant.

The Assembly claimed Odefa wrote a letter resigning his membership of the House. Odefa had denied the allegation.

The House also elected Ogbonnaya Ịkọrọ as the new Deputy Speaker.

The House said it declared the seats of the two other Lawmakers vacant for their alleged resignation from their party, Peoples Democratic Party, and defecting to the All Progressives Congress.

The Lawmakers denied resigning their seats.

The three lawmakers, therefore, headed to the Abuja division of the High Court to reclaim their seats and positions, which they said were wrongly taken away from them.

The Ebonyi House of Assembly, the Speaker of the Assembly, the Clerk and Mr Ịkọrọ were joined in the suit as fifth to eigth respondents.

Other respondents include the Independent National Electoral Commission; Attorney General of the Federation; Inspector General of Police; and the Department of States Security, as 1st to 4th respondents.

According to court records, the Judge barred the defendants from effecting any change to the status of the trio pending the determination of the motion on notice.

The Court, presided by Justice I. E. Ekwo, ordered all parties in the matter to maintain the status quo that hitherto existed before the House took the controversial decisions against the trio, last month.

The Judge said: “An Interim Order of this Honourable Court restraining the defendants, especially the fifth to eigth defendants, either by themselves, their servants, assigns or privies or otherwise howsoever from taking any other or further steps as it relates to the entire circumstances of this matter and or from disturbing the plaintiffs’ membership of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, pending the hearing and final determination of the motion on notice”

“An order of this Honourable Court directing parties in this suit to maintain the status quo ante bellum that existed on the 18th day of February 2022 pending the hearing and final determination of the motion on notice already pending before this Honourable Court”, Justice Ekwo further ordered.”

The court equally ordered substituted service on the fifth to eigth respondents and adjoined the matter to 16th March for hearing.

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