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“Fubara has no authority to dictate location of Legislature’s meetings” — Falana

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Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has criticized Governor Simi Fubara of Rivers State for instructing state assembly members to convene at the Government House.

Falana expressed his disapproval of the governor’s directive to the state assembly members, instructing them to hold their sessions at the Government House.

Femi Falana

Falana emphasized the importance of maintaining the independence of the legislature from the executive branch.

Falana spoke on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, explaining that since both arms of government are independent, Fubara cannot change the sitting venue of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

“I would like to assume that the governor issued that executive order before the intervention of the High Court in Rivers State,” Falana said on the show.

“The house is independent of the executive. So the governor cannot tell the house where to sit.”

Fubara had on Friday issued an executive order for the immediate and temporary relocation of the sitting of the Rivers State Assembly to the Auditorium, Admin Block of the Government House, Port Harcourt.

In an official Gazette, Executive Order of the Rivers State Government 001-2023, Fubara cited the unsafe state of the House of Assembly complex.

NOW THEREFORE, I SIR SIMINALAYI FUBARA GSSRS, the Governor of Rivers State this 30th day of October 2023, Pursuant to the powers vested in me under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) hereby ISSUE, ORDER, AND DIRECT that all proceedings and business of Rivers State House of Assembly shall temporarily take place at the Auditorium, Admin Block, Government House, Port Harcourt until the repairs, renovation or reconstruction of the chambers of the Rivers State House of Assembly are completed,” part of the gazette read.

But Falana insisted that Fubara was wrong to move the sitting venue of the Rivers State House of Assembly, and referenced an impeachment of a governor done outside the premises of the House of Assembly which was nullified by the Supreme Court.

“This was very clear in the Oyo State case which led to the impeachment of Governor Ladoja whereby under the influence of the late Chief Lamidi Adedibu, the House was alleged to have sat in a hotel and the Supreme Court made that point abundantly clear that an impeachment carried out in a hotel deviates clearly from the Constitution,” the human rights lawyer said.

“So any sitting of the House outside the premise of the House of Assembly complex will not be known to law; will not be recognized by law.”

He said if there is a need for a sitting elsewhere, the members of the House of Assembly, properly constituted, will have to decide where to carry out their meeting.

“There is a separation of powers under the Constitution and each organ of the government must recognise its own powers and limitations,” he said.

Falana equally said having defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the lawmakers have lost their position.

“The 25 lawmakers who defected have lost their seats. They have lost their rights to remain members of the assembly,” he said.

“In the case of Adetunde and the Labour Party, the Supreme Court made it clear that you cannot decamp and then remain a member of a legislative house in Nigeria unless you can show that there is a division in your party. Today, the PDP is one.”

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