rt reinstates Odefa as Ebonyi deputy speaker
By Nweze Anaga, Abakaliki
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has ordered a return to the status quo prior to the decision of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly against three lawmakers.
The court on Tuesday reinstated Mr. Odefa Obasi Odefa as a member and also the deputy speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly against the decision of the house few weeks ago.
The Court also restored the seats of Odefa and two other lawmakers, Ngọzi Eziụlọ (Afikpo North East) and Oliver Osi (Ivo).
The court order followed a motion ex parte dated 24th February, 2022 and filled 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, the Speaker, Mr. Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru, and the Clerk from carrying out any action that will affect the membership of the three lawmakers.
Recall that they House had last month declared the seats of Odefa and the two other lawmakers vacant alleging that thet resigned their membership.
The Assembly claimed Odefa wrote a letter resigning His membership of the House, an allegation Odefa denied.
The House also elected Ogbonnaya Ikọrọ as the new deputy speaker.
The House said that it declared the seats of the two other lawmakers vacant for their alleged resignation from their party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and defecting to the APC.
The lawmakers denied resigning their seats.
The three lawmakers therefore headed to the Abuja division of the high court to reclaim their seats and position which they said was 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 5th to 8th respondents.
Other respondents include the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector General of Police and the Department of State 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 5th to 8th defendants, ether 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 ordered for substituted service on the 5th to 8th respondents and adjoined the matter to 16th March for further hearing of the matter.