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No price too big for peace in Rivers —Fubara

Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State, yesterday, said no price was too big to ensure peace in the state.

Fubara spoke as stakeholders rejected the truce brokered between him and Chief Nyesom Wike, his immediate predecessor, and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, minister, to end the political crisis in the state, less than 24 hours after the agreement was signed.

Amid claims and counter-claims that Fubara did not sign the eight-point agreement, elders and political leaders of the state led by former Governor Rufus Ada-George, yesterday, rejected the resolution terms.

Elders kick, vow to resist Presidents directives

Rising from an emergency meeting at which they reviewed the “President’s directives for the resolution of the political impasse in Rivers State,” the elders in a communique read by Chief Ada-George, said the agreement “unilaterally suspended the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue of an attempt to reverse a court order recognizing  

Edison Ehie as the speaker and directing that the remainder of members of the House of Assembly constituted the quorum for legislative business.”

They said the directive also contravened the doctrine and practice of separation of powers as it affect the responsibility of the judiciary and wondered if the president or Executive arm could overrule the decisions of courts of competent jurisdiction, saying “this portends executive rascality which undermines our constitutional democracy, rule of law and good governance.”

The elders insisted that Amaewhule had ceased to be speaker by the decision of Rivers State High Court, and ceased to be a legislator by virtue of his defection to another party. They also averred that the lawmakers cannot decide where to hold their sittings because “it is the duty of the Executive arm of Government to provide accommodation for legislators in a constitutional democracy as exemplified by the FCT Minister with respect to the National Assembly.”

Continuing, they said “the directive to re-present the budget passed and signed into law is a clear attempt to ridicule and denigrate the office of the Governor and the good people of Rivers State including the Judiciary.”

They declared that “any resolution or directive that intends to undermine the principle of separation of powers and the rule of law is unacceptable, null and void and will be resisted, using all constitutional means at our disposal.” 

The elders “enjoined all responsible citizens of Rivers State to rise up in this our moment of truth, to salvage the soul of Rivers State. Our fathers fought for the creation of Rivers State, we will stand to defend it. “When injustice and criminality become law and a way of life in the polity, resistance becomes a duty”.

The terms of agreement brokered by President Tinubu include: “Impeachment moves against Fubara should be dropped; all matters in courts by Fubara and his team should be withdrawn; G27 lawmakers who defected from the PDP to APC are back with their leader, Martin Amaewhule, recognised as speaker; Governor Fubara to represent 2024 budget to Assembly; Remunerations, benefits of all lawmakers reinstated; House to choose where to sit; Names of commissioners, who resigned to be re-submitted to House; and dissolution of LG administrations are nullified.

Among those who pooh-poohed the agreement, which they dismissed as unacceptable are the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Elder statesman, Chief EK Clark; the Ijaw Nation, a faction of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Rivers State; Human Rights Advocate and lawyer, Festus Ogwuche; and United States of America chapter of the National democratic Coalition, NADECO.

No price too big for peace in Rivers — Fubara

Following concerns that he had left his teeming supporters in rude shock, Fubara said he was committed to ensuring peace in the state and among its people, so as to foster development.

Speaking at the 3rd Convocation and 6th Founders Day ceremonies of the PAMO University of Medical Sciences in Iriebe Town, Obio-Akpor Local Government Area of the state, he said: “There is no price that will be too big to pay to ensure that peace prevails.”

The governor assured that he was prepared and will continue to pay the necessary price that will guarantee peace.

Governor Fubara assured that the provision of a quality education system and affordable public healthcare services would remain two vital priorities of his administration that are driven to achieve universal access for all Rivers people.

“While some progress has been made, it is obvious that a lot still needs to be done to achieve our collective aspirations for universal access to quality education and healthcare for our people. I need not say that no society can progress without educated and healthy people.”

Fubara noted the giant strides achieved within six years of PAMO University founded by Dr. Peter Odili, to become Nigeria’s most outstanding private medical institution.

The governor announced that his administration has increased the number of students from 100 to 150, who can now benefit from the state’s yearly scholarship in the institution.

“I assure you that we have no choice as a government, but to continue to offer tangible material support to enable the university to widen the scope and quality of medical education and services it provides in our state.”

INEC must conduct fresh polls for 25 vacant Assembly seats —PDP 

Speaking on the issue, the National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP, after an emergency meeting in Abuja, insisted that fresh elections must be conducted to fill the 25 seats allegedly vacated by 25 of its lawmakers in the Assembly. 

Last Monday, 27 PDP lawmakers announced their defection to the APC. However, two of the 27 returned to the party before the Ebison Ehie-led four-man House of Assembly declared their seats vacant. 

Acting National Chairman of the PDP, Amb. Umar Damagum, who told journalists that the emergency meeting was convened to discuss unfolding political developments in Rivers State, advised the “25 former members” of the party to prepare for fresh polls if they were still  interested in returning to the legislature because there “is no remedy for them.”

He said: “The PDP asserts that there is no remedy for the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, who by virtue of Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) vacated and lost their seats by reason of defection from the PDP, the party platform upon which they were elected into the House of Assembly.

“Our party insists that having now vacated and lost their seats, the only option available for the former lawmakers, if they wish to return to the House of Assembly, is to seek fresh nomination and re-election on the platform of any political party of their choice in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.

“The 25 former Rivers lawmakers freely and without any cause vacated their seats, being fully aware of the consequences of defection from the party upon which they were elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly without the conditions stipulated by the 1999 Constitution.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no division in the PDP at the national or any other level for that matter to justify the defection of the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from the party. 

“They, therefore, vacated their seats for reasons best known to them and cannot return to the House of Assembly without passing through a fresh electoral process in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.

“Moreover, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Ehie Edison, officially declared the seat of the defected now former members vacant in line with Section 109 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). 

“The Rivers State House of Assembly, having become Functus Officio on the matter, cannot re-admit the former lawmakers unless through the channel of a fresh election.

“Our party, therefore, counsels the former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly not to be deceived by anybody giving them the false hope and impracticable assurances in Abuja that they can return to the Rivers State House of Assembly without a fresh election or that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, can be stopped from conducting fresh election into the 25 Rivers State Constituencies where vacancies have occurred by reason of their defection.

“For emphasis, Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022 is clear in providing that no courts have powers to stop INEC from conducting elections wherever and whenever a vacancy occurs in any electoral constituency.

“The PDP demands that INEC should, in line with Section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 84 (15) of the Electoral Act, 2022, fix a date for the conduct of fresh election into the 25 State Constituencies in Rivers State, where vacancies have occurred by reason of the defection of the now former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, pending the determination of any suit in any court.

“The national leadership of the PDP charges all members of our great party in Rivers State to remain united and resolute in the defence of Constitutional democracy and Rule of Law in Rivers State.”

Aide  to the Governor narrates what transpired at the Villa

An aide  to the Governor’s narrating what transpired at the Villa said, “On reaching there, they were all asked to sign an attendance form, which every one of them signed. 

“Tinubu had a private meeting with Governor Sim Fubara and Dr Peter Odili. He told the governor to his face that he has done no wrong, so, has got no problem. Only for Tinubu to read out those conditions/directives at the larger meeting before everyone.

“Governor Fubara didn’t agree to any of those conditions, likewise Dr. Odili. He wasn’t consulted before putting out those directives. Shetima, Wike and Gbajabiamila had prepared those conditions and had given to Tinubu to read. Like he was directing one primary school kid.

“After reading everything, Governor Fubara and Dr Odili left without signing anything. But to make their forgery authentic before newsmen, they decided to harvest the governor’s signature from the attendance sheet and transfer it to the agreement, like a signed document.

“Like Tinubu gave him a directive and he agreed and signed. It’s all fake, fake, fake. Rivers people will resist this with their lives. Ijaw will fight this even inside the Atlantic Ocean.

“Edison Ehie remains the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly and the refugee former speaker and his team remain defeated and sacked, their seats declared vacant.

“No commissioner that have resigned will come back, Rivers youths will take over their positions, we need fresh blood,” he stated.

INC rejects Tinubu’s peace accord, says Fubara signed his death warrant

The Ijaw ethnic nationality under the aegis of Ijaw National Congress, INC, also rejected the peace accord.

The INC, a socio-political organisation which is the mouth-piece of Ijaw people, said there was nothing in the meeting organised by the President that can enhance a lasting peace in the state.

The President of the INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, said: “A proper dialogue has to be organised by the President for peace in the state. We were shocked to see that the governor even signed that document. He signed his death warrant. We need a proper dialogue. There is no protection for the governor in that document.”

Okaba wondered why 27 lawmakers, who defected from the PDP that brought them to power to the APC should be allowed by the President to return to the House even when “The House had declared their seats vacant.

“It is even more worrisome that the President said they have the right to decide where they want to sit for their legislative business. It means that tomorrow, they may just wake up and impeach the governor,” he added.

Of the nine commissioners who resigned their appointments, the INC President also wondered how people who resigned voluntarily would have the face to return to the cabinet, asking: “The commissioners gave reasons for their resignation. Why are you returning them back?”

We are yet to recognize G27 Rivers legislators — ASAF

Meanwhile, the APC States Assembly Forum, ASAF, the umbrella body of APC state Assembly members has declared that it was yet to recognise the 27 Rivers State House of Assembly members who recently dumped the PDP for the APC.

ASAF’s decision came at the end of an emergency meeting yesterday in Abuja, where it among others deliberated on the status of the newly defected lawmakers

Speaking at the end of the meeting, Director General of the forum, Ambassador Fubara Dagogo, said that the forum deliberated much on the development in Rivers State House of Assembly and agreed that it would not be in a hurry to admit the defected lawmakers as members since their defection is still being challenged in court

Ambassador Dagogo, who, however, welcomed the decision of the lawmakers to embrace the APC, said that ASAF would be ready to accept them as well as other defectors from other states, but insisted that it must be done under a credible and transparent situation.

President has further entrapped Fubara — Eze

Also speaking, the erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party, nPDP, and a chieftain of the APC, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze said the terms of settlement proffered by President Tinubu were “callous, demeaning and to say the least, embarrassing to the sensibilities of the lettered Rivers public.”

Eze said the President acted to further entrap Fubara into the bondage which he has been fighting to liberate the state and her people from, noting that “The 8-point agreement is anti-democratic and self-serving having failed to address the origin of the crisis,” which he traced to Wike.

Clark threatens legal action against Tinubu

Describing the agreements as dictatorial and unacceptable, Chief Edwin Clark threatened to take legal action against President Tinubu, saying that with his actions, he had really shown his dislike and disdain for the Ijaw people.

The elder statesman added that Tinubu’s eight-point resolution was undemocratic, dictatorial, one-sided, and geared towards handing over the political leadership of Rivers State to Wike.

He disagreed with all the points of the resolution apart from dropping impeachment moves against Fubara.

Clark also criticised Fubara for signing the agreement, saying by doing so he had betrayed Rivers’ people, who stood by him.

He also said that it was illegal for the 25 PDP lawmakers, who defected to the APC to return to the House.

According to the elderstatesman, strong indications emerged that from the terms of settlement, it was obvious that President Tinubu sees his role as a mediator, to once again, show gratitude to Wike for “delivering” Rivers State to him during the past presidential election.

He urged President Tinubu to respect the constitution under which he swore an oath, just as he called on Governor Fubara to disown the purported agreement and speak out to Nigerians that he did not sign the agreement

Clark said that he observed that the composition of the attendees of the meeting was one-sided in favour of Wike “because while Martins Amaewhule, a former Speaker (because he has automatically lost his seat the very moment he decamped to another political party), was present at the meeting, it would have only been equitable and expedient, for Edison Ehie, the Speaker as affirmed by constitutional provisions and by the granting of the court, to be in the meeting, if there were sincerity of purpose.”

The South-South leader said that the eight resolutions reached “are the most unconstitutional, absurd and obnoxious resolutions at settling feuding parties that I have ever witnessed in my life. As a matter of fact, some media captured it very well when they described it as directives. And for the fact that such a thing was done at the Villa, the seat of the Federal Government.

“It is obvious that Governor Fubara was ambushed and intimidated into submission. President Tinubu should know that with all the powers he possesses, he cannot override the Constitution. From all that transpired at the meeting, the laws of the land have not been obeyed.”

According to him, President Tinubu simply sat over a meeting where the Constitution, which is the fulcrum of his office as President and which he swore to uphold and abide by, was truncated and desecrated. The 27 or so members (because the figure is not certain), of the Rivers State House of Assembly left the political party on which platform they were elected. 

“We will advise Governor Fubara to disown the purported agreement. He should speak out to Nigerians that he did not sign that agreement. He is not owing anybody any obligation.”

Clark’s statement read in part: “As at today and going by the Constitution, the Rivers State House of Assembly has four members, who are recognised by the laws of the land Therefore, on what premise is Mr. President saying that the 27 decamped members should go back to the House? Under what political party, the PDP or the APC. 

“The directives of Mr. President are absurd and cannot hold water. Mr. President should be aware that Siminialayi Fubara, today, is the elected Governor of Rivers State in the same manner Bola Tinubu is the elected President of the country. And as a governor, Mr. Fubara possesses all the powers as conferred on him by the Constitution.

“Another “directive” of Mr. President that the names of the commissioners, who were nominated by Nyesom Wike and who resigned on their volition, and who have lost their trust in Governor Fubara, should be represented to the Rivers State House of Assembly for clearance to become Commissioners again, is ridiculous. 

“Who is nominating them to become Commissioners again? Is it Mr. President? Was Mr. President thinking that he was mediating a matter between Nyesom Wike and employees in Nyesom Wike’s private company?”

On the resolution of re-presentation of a budget already signed and passed into law, Clark described it as unthinkable, saying: “Another unthinkable directive of Mr. President is that a budget which had been passed into law, should be represented. It is absolutely ridiculous and unconstitutional.

“By the actions of President Tinubu, he has really shown his dislike and disdain for the Ijaw people. and confirms his hatred for them. And as the leader of the Ijaws, we will resist it.”

On members of the House of Assembly choosing where they will sit to carry out their legislative duties, Clark who noted that it was ridiculous and unconstitutional, said: “It is the duty of the executive to provide legislative accommodation for the Houses of Assembly, including the National Assembly, and not the members of the House of Assembly to choose a place to meet. It is in this vein that President Tinubu, in presenting his budget to the National Assembly, recognised the FCT Minister, Nyesome Nwike, as the landlord, because he is of the executive arm of government.”

Reject agreement, NADECO USA tells Rivers people

Also faulting the eight-point agreement, the NADECO USA, yesterday, urged Rivers people to reject it outright

A statement by the group’s Publicity Secretary, Mr. David Adenakan,  condemned Wike’s interference with the state’s democratic process, even after his tenure ended.

Adenakan, who stated that political agreements of that nature were capable of destroying the nation’s democracy, noted that President Tinubu was not “a court of law where political parties can resolve their differences. By implication, Tinubu has overruled a subsisting injunction issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in Port Harcourt. Stakeholders and the public must voice their concerns and opinions to uphold transparency and accountability in this matter.

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