The member representing Bonny State Constituency, Victor Oko-Jumbo, has emerged as a factional Speaker of the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly.

Oko-Jumbo promised to be transparent in the discharge of legislative duties.

He was elected on Wednesday at 10 am during plenary, in line with the Standing Order of the House.

Jumbo stated this in a statement he jointly signed with the new Clerk of the House, Dr. G. M. Gillis-West, issued in Port Harcourt on Wednesday and made available to newsmen.

In his acceptance speech, Oko-Jumbo thanked the members for electing him as the new Speaker sequel to the resignation of the former Speaker, Edison Ehie.

Oko-Jumbo accused the Martin Amaewhule-led lawmakers of legislative rascality since the political crisis that plagued the state started and declared that all laws and actions enacted and taken by what he termed illegal House have been voided.

The factional speaker also called on Governor Siminalayi Fubara to henceforth discontinue any dealings with the 25 lawmakers.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Oko-Jumbo said, “This is in line with Section 92(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (CFRN 1999) as Amended.

“You will agree with me that after the House last sat on the 13th of December, 2023, and adjourned sine die, there has been an avalanche of legislative rascality perpetrated by the 25 former members of the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly, led by the former Speaker, Martin Chike Amaewhule.

“These former members, being fully aware of the provisions of Section 109(1)(g) of the CFRN 1999, defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Party (APC) on the 11th of December, 2023.

“Consequently, the Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie-led Assembly, on the 13th of December, 2023, wrote to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declaring the seats of the 25 lawmakers vacant in line with Section 109(1)(g) and (2) of the CFRN 1999.”

He noted that there are a plethora of cases pending in courts further to the defection of the lawmakers.

Oko-Jumbo added, “All laws, plenary sessions and actions taken by the illegal House members are hereby declared void and a nullity in the eyes of the law by virtue of the judgment of Lord Denning in the celebrated case of MacFoy v UAC (1961) 3 All ER 1169.

“Lord Denning held in that case that you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. Particularly, Lord Denning stated: ‘If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity. It is not only bad but incurably bad. There is no need for an order of court to set it aside.

“‘It is automatically null and void without more ado, though it is sometimes more convenient to have the court declare it to be so’.”

He stated further that every proceeding which was founded on the activities of the lawmakers had become ‘bad and incurably bad’.

“You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse,” he added.

He called on the Executive arm, the Judiciary and the general public to disregard every law purportedly enacted by members of the other faction.

He added, “Furthermore, this House would want to most respectfully urge and call on His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, to desist forthwith from further dealings with the 25 former lawmakers, in whatever guise.

“Those members are merely floating and do not have any landing ground or anywhere to berth their ship since their defection to the All Progressives Congress on the 11th of December, 2023.

“This House is the legally and constitutionally recognised House of Assembly by virtue of the defection of the other members and is ready to receive correspondences from and work with His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara. Distinguished colleagues, let me thank you once again.”
Speaking to journalists after the sitting of the House, Oko-Jumbo said he would stay true to his constitutional duties and work assiduously for the growth and development of Rivers people and the state.

“We will sit again, and communicate our proceedings to the public and make sure that we are doing what we ought to do to ensure there is transparency and clarity of leadership of the 10th Legislative Assembly,” he said.

Also speaking, a factional Leader of the House, Sokari Goodboy Sokari said, “As the chairman of the government business in the 10th Assembly, as you’ve heard our Speaker say, we will work in line with set goals to achieve synergy with the Executive.

“But away from that, we want to further warn that if His Excellency, the governor ever have any dealing with those former members, we, the original members of the 10th Assembly, who by the provisions of the Constitution, form the quorum to address the legislative business of the day, will have no choice than to raise the gavel, which is to commence impeachment proceedings against him.”

He, therefore, urged Fubara to cooperate and work in tandem with the legitimate members of the 10th Assembly to ensure the delivery of good governance and quality dividends of democracy to the people.

Meanwhile, the new Speaker was led to the plenary with the original mace of the Rivers State House of Assembly by the Sergeant-at-Arms, David Wariboko, who managed the last sitting of the Amaewhule-led Assembly in the same position.