Rivers State Chief of Staff Challenges Legislative Amendment as Unconstitutional

Ehie Edison

The Chief of Staff to Governor Siminalayi Fubara, Ehie Edison, has raised objections to the recently passed Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2024, labeling it as ‘null and void.’

This bill, which nullified the previous Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Law, No. 3 of 2006, and made further amendments to the Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission Law of 1999, was enacted by the state’s legislators, led by Martin Amaewhule. Governor Siminalayi Fubara declined to assent to it within the statutory 30-day period.

Edison Ehie, in a published opinion piece, criticized the new law, arguing that it strips the Governor of the power to appoint the Chairman and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly Service Commission, transferring this authority to the lawmakers themselves.

The Chief of Staff contended that such a transfer of power is beyond the legal authority of the legislators and constitutes a violation of Nigeria’s constitution.

He cited the landmark case of MacFoy v UAC (1961) 3 All ER 1169, where the court ruled that an act that is void is automatically null and void in the eyes of the law, without the need for a court order to set it aside.

Edison emphasized the principle articulated by Lord Denning in the MacFoy case, stating that attempting to establish something on a foundation of nothing is inherently unsustainable and destined to collapse.

In light of these legal arguments, the Chief of Staff challenged the constitutionality of the amended law, asserting that it cannot stand legally and renders any proceedings based on it similarly invalid.

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