✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live
SPONSOR AD

Rivers: Pro-Wike assembly renews feud with Fubara

The intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the reported resolutions reached by Governor Similanayi Fubara and his predecessor and erstwhile political benefactor, Nyesom Wike,…

The intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the reported resolutions reached by Governor Similanayi Fubara and his predecessor and erstwhile political benefactor, Nyesom Wike, seems to have done little to douse the political tension in the state, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.

 

While the two political leaders pledged commitment to the letters of the resolutions, recent actions indicate that all is not yet well and a full blown crisis might just be days away.

The cold war between the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Wike and Fubara seems to have been shifted to the Rivers State House of Assembly as pro-Wike lawmakers are locked in a faceoff with the governor.

The assembly, last week overrode the assent of the governor to four bills, which were earlier passed and sent to him for assent. The House took the decision to override the governor after he withheld his assent to the four bills via letters, stating that such amendments would create confusion and breach constitutional provisions.

Speaking on the Rivers State House of Assembly Fund Management Bill, which was re-presented by the Majority Leader, Major Jack, and debated by members, the Speaker, Martin Chike Amaewhule, cited section 100(5) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which he said empowered the House to override the governor where he withholds his assent to a bill. The Speaker put the matter to vote and the 24 members present unanimously agreed to override the governor.

In a like manner, the Rivers State Local Government Law (amendment) Bill, the Rivers State Traditional Rulers’ Law (amendment) Bill, and the Rivers State Advertisement and Use of State-owned Property Prohibition (repeal) Bill were all re-presented, debated and voted on, after which the House unanimously agreed to override the governor’s earlier rejection of the bills.

Commenting, Amaewhule described the amendment to the Rivers State Traditional Rulers’ Law as innocuous and wondered why the governor declined assent, adding that the House amended the law to include a resolution in the recognition, de-recognition or suspension of traditional rulers in the state to curb arbitrariness.

On the repeal of the Rivers State Advertisement and Use of State-owned Property (Prohibition) Law number 7 of 2022, the Speaker remarked that the House decided to repeal the law so as not to financially overburden the people of the state and impede their access to the use of state-owned facilities, but regretted that the governor withheld assent to all these people-oriented bills.

However, political observers noted that the bills were targeted at whittling down the political power and influence of the governor in the state as they were all part of the instruments Wike used to assert himself as governor. They argued that while serving as governor, Wike was known for suspending local council chairmen and appointing caretaker committees. They noted that the appointment of caretaker committees at the expiration of the tenure of the current council officials would have served as an opportunity for the governor to appoint his loyalists at the grassroots.

Observers also noted that the repealed Rivers State Advertisement and Use of State-owned Property (Prohibition) Law number 7 of 2022 was used by the Wike-led administration to gag the activities of oppositions in the state, including withdrawing the approval for the venue of the rally of the then presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the Rivers State House of Assembly, penultimate week had also voided the appointment of Goodlife Ben as the acting chairman of the Local Government Service Commission, Mrs Ine Briggs as the acting director- general of the Bureau for Public Procurement, and Tonte Davies as the acting administrator of the New Cities Development Authority.

The House expressed its displeasure when Majority Leader Major Jack called its attention to government’s special announcement in that regard.

Speaking on the governor’s appointees, Amaewhule said that the actions of the governor in appointing someone to act as the administrator of the New Cities Development Authority, a body he said was not backed by any legislation in the state, was condemnable.

Amaewhule further said the appointment of an acting chairman of the Local Government Service Commission and an acting director-general of the Bureau for Public Procurement were acts inconsistent with the provisions of the relevant establishment laws of the commission and the bureau.

IGP asked to arrest Fubara’s chief of staff, loyalists

The faceoff between the governor and the House has further deteriorated amid an order by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordering the police to arrest a former factional Speaker, Edison Ehie and five others over alleged arson and attempted murder.

Edision Ehie, who replaced Chidi Amadi, a kinsman of the FCT minister as the new chief of staff to the governor, was accused by the Amaehwule-led House of Assembly of instigating the burning down of the complex last year.

An Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Emeka Nwite granted an ex-parte application by the Inspector General of Police seeking Ehie’s arrest over his alleged involvement in the fire incident that razed part of the Assembly complex.

But a Port Harcourt division of the Rivers State High Court also gave an ex-parte order restraining the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies from arresting or detaining Ehie.

The order was said to have followed a motion ex-parte instituted by Ehie against moves by security agencies to arrest him as a suspect in the burning of the Rivers State House of Assembly last year.

The presiding Judge, Sika Aprioku granted the request while adjourning the case to February 6 for hearing of the main suit.

‘Assembly setting stage to impeach Fubara’

Observers of political developments in the state are of the opinion that the faceoff between the governor and the Assembly signals a dangerous time that can propel an impeachment process. They argued that the governor played to Wike’s hands by recognising the Amaehwule-led Assembly despite the lawmakers announcing their defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

An elder statesman, Chief Anabs Sara Igbe, said the actions of the state lawmakers were gradually setting the stage for the impeachment of the governor.

He said the governor was ignorant of the fact that the Assembly members, who he said were loyal to the FCT minister, may well be out to undo him.

“First of all, what is happening now is a signal to the governor that what an elder sees sitting down, a young man that stands up will not see it. These were the things we saw and raised the alarm. It is like a lamb meant to be slaughtered. He (the governor) has been following the Assembly members, thinking that he would get attention from them,” he said

Chief Igbe opined that Fubara’s willingness to accept the eight-point resolutions initiated by the president remained a threat to his continued stay as the governor of the state.

“We have said that you cannot keep your enemies as your guards. If you do that, one day they will assassinate you. So if Mr Governor refuses to take our advice, they (lawmakers) are just giving him a warning.

“What it shows is that they can even impeach him and heaven will not fall.

“The consolation is that we are still asking for the interpretation of the directives in the court, and should we win in our quest to get interpretation, definitely, we will succeed. The governor has not seen the wisdom in supporting us in that very aspect,” he said.

Similarly, the executive director of the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, said the faceoff between the governor and the Assembly members would continue until the governor mends fences with the FCT minister.

Fyneface, however, said those bills overriding the assent of the governor could not stand in the face of the law. He said the bills should have been re-presented from first reading to the final stage of passage in the state Assembly before they could be passed by the Assembly to become law without the governor’s assent.

A Port Harcourt-based social commentator, Princewill Nmadu, said the actions taken by the lawmakers paved the way for the impeachment of the governor.

“The Assembly has become a torn in the flesh of the governor. They are monitoring his action, not for the good of the state but to find a way to indict him,” he said.

But the chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the APC in Rivers State, Tony Okocha, an ally of Wike, said it would amount to barefaced disobedience for Fubara not to follow to the letter, all the eight indices in the resolution brokered by President Tinubu in response to the Rivers State political crisis.

Okocha said the governor’s continued refusal to present the Rivers State 2024 budget to a properly constituted House of Assembly under Amaewhule as captured in item (sic) of the resolution and the flagrant cold feet in the conduct of local government elections smacked of disrespect for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The APC in Rivers stoutly condemns this act of disobedience perpetrated by Gov Fubara, and warns against the likely concomitant fallouts,” he said.

Observers said that with the latest developments, both sides are now locked in another gaze of “who blinks first,” and it is left to be seen, how everything would pan out.

Join Daily Trust WhatsApp Community For Quick Access To News and Happenings Around You.

UPDATE: Nigerians in Nigeria and those in diaspora can now be paid in US Dollars. Premium domains can earn you as much as $17,000 (₦27 million).


Click here to start earning.