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Why Four Lawmakers Can’t Conduct Legislative Business – According to Legal Experts

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The NATION reports that legal experts, including SANs Robert Clarke and Wahab Shittu, have questioned the legitimacy of Governor Siminalayi Fubara’s budget presentation before the Rivers State House of Assembly. The question at hand is whether the assembly, which is made up of just four lawmakers out of the thirty-two members, can form a quorum in accordance with Section 96 (1) (2) of the 1999 Constitution.

Pictured: Governor Fubara delivering the 2024 budget to four legislators from the Rivers State House of Assembly

The House of Assembly requires a minimum of one-third of its members to form a quorum, as stated in Section 96 (1) (2). According to senior attorneys, any activity that is undertaken, including the budget presentation, could be invalidated because the attendance of only four lawmakers does not meet the constitutional criteria.

The presentation before them is incorrect and, consequently, illegal, according to Senior Advocate Ige Asemudara, who stresses that a quorum cannot be created with only four members. He brings up the fact that the present makeup of the assembly does not satisfy the constitutional requirement that a quorum be comprised of at least one-third of the total members.

An other worry expressed by law professor Wahab Shittu is that a simple majority is required for legislative decisions, as stated in Section 98(2) of the Constitution. In his view, if the other members’ seats have not been officially proclaimed empty, then proceedings with only four members may be invalid. To prevent a collapse into anarchy, Shittu cautions that Rivers State could experience a constitutional crisis and calls for adherence to constitutionalism, legality, and due process.

According to Dr. Fassy Yusuf, this incident serves as a sobering reminder of the carelessness displayed by many political figures. He is sceptical of the reasons for the legal move to issue an ex-parte ruling permitting the four lawmakers to sit, and he questions their objectives. Yusuf brings attention to the fact that ex-parte orders are only in effect for a limited time and implies that the judiciary is being used for political purposes, which makes the legal system look foolish.

All of the lawyers are worried about what this could mean, and they want the problem resolved in a way that respects the constitution and follows due process. In his call for resistance to what he calls “rascality,” Robert Clarke stresses that ignoring these problems could lead to a never-ending cycle of political instability.

Chuks The Constitution is vague about what happens when lawmakers cross-carpet or defect, and Uguru concedes that this leaves room for interpretation when it comes to the loss of seats. The decline of political events in Rivers State has him pleading for moderation. Uguru argues that such significant decisions ought to ideally incorporate participation from each side through an equitable legal procedure, and he criticises the ex-parte ruling for doing so.

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