Rivers crisis: I didn’t beg Tinubu to intervene – Wike

The Minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Nyesom Wike, has said he was not the one that went to President Bola Tinubu seeking intervention in the crisis rocking Rivers State.

He, however, said that the President should be appreciated for intervening in the political situation in the oil rich state.

Wike spoke during the 20th wedding Anniversary/Thanksgiving of Hon Dr & Dr (Mrs) George-Kelly D.A. Alabo at the Kings Assembly Church, on Sunday.

The former Rivers State governor said it was strange that the same people who went to beg Tinubu to intervene in the crisis are the ones now saying he lacks the constitutional power to do so.

He said, “We must thank Mr President for interfering and intervening, but I was not even the one who went to the President to seek for his intervention.

“They were saying “President intervene, President intervene”, and President intervened, they are now saying Mr President has no constitutional power to have intervened.

“But they were the same people who sought the President’s intervention and he has intervened to bring peace. They are now turning around to say no, the President does not have the constitutional power.”

(Daily Post)

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Rivers police kill wanted kidnapper, rescue four victims

The Rivers State Police Command said its men gunned down two notorious kidnappers, including a gang leader nicknamed ‘Occasion’ during a shootout in a forest in Emuoha Local Government Area of the state.

The command also said four persons blindfolded and found in the kidnappers den were rescued.

Spokesperson for the command, Grace Iringe-Koko, disclosed this in a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.

Iringe-Koko said the kidnap victims were rescued after operatives subdued the hoodlums during an exchange of gun fire.

Meanwhile, one of the victims, a commercial driver, who spoke with newsmen in Port Harcourt on condition of anonymity, said he was on a trip back to Port Harcourt when he noticed an obstruction on the road caused by a huge tree trunk blocking the road.

He said while driving a Sienna, an Audi car was in front of him, and as he was contemplating reversing, some men came out from the bush and fired bullets at the tyres of his vehicle and that of the Audi.

He stated, “The men, numbering six, asked us  to lie on the ground and later grabbed us  and took us  through  bush paths as they noticed a police van approaching. The police shot several times, but we were taken too deep into the forest.”

He said  the kidnappers tortured them and extracted funds from them via their Automated Teller Machine cards and from their families.

The driver added, “They removed N800, 000 from one of the victims’ accounts and N1.9 million from another.

“Throughout our stay, the kidnappers only gave us tiny pieces of bread and sachet water.”

He added that the kidnappers blindfolded him and the three others all through their stay in captivity.

The police statement read,  “In the early hours of Wednesday, December 14, 2023, gunshots rang out as four blindfolded men scrambled in confusion.

“When the gunshots ceased, the four men were eased off their blindfolds and realised that they had been rescued by the police from an ordeal in which they had lost hope after spending 48 hours in the den of a notorious kidnap kingpin.

“The policemen, while searching for the victims, discovered the camp of the kidnappers on the third day.

“They proceeded to conduct prompt but thorough surveillance to eliminate the incidence of collateral damage before engaging the criminals.

“In the confrontation that ensued, two of the kidnappers were killed, including the leader of the gang, Sunday Amadi, aka ‘Occasion’, who had had a N2 million bounty on him by the Chairman of Emohua LGA.”

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, commended the men of the command for their professionalism and persistence in fighting crime and criminality.

Disu said the command under his watch would stop at nothing to rid the state of criminal elements.

(Punch)

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Rivers crisis: Wike defies threats, lands in Port Harcourt

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike landed in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Saturday.

Wike entered the city despite warnings and threats from some loyalists of Governor Siminalayi Fubara not to step into the state.

DAILY POST reported earlier that Honourable Boma Goodhead, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Akuku/Asari Toru Federal Constituency and other protesters had dared Wike to step into Rivers State again.

They vowed never to fold their hands and watch the former Governor pocket Rivers State.

“We are here to tell Ahmed Bola Tinubu to call Wike to order because the next time he comes into Rivers State to disturb the peace of the state we’ll not fold our hands and watch.

“Wike should come to Rivers State and we’ll show him what it means to hold Rivers State. We dare you, come back to Rivers State again if you’re a man,” Goodhead had warned.

However, Wike landed in Rivers State in company of Senator Barry Mpigi, Senator Allwell Onyesoh, Minister of State, Petroleum, Heineken Lokpobiri, Rivers Assembly members and some local government area chairmen.

(Daily Post)

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Rivers crisis: Labour Party drops petition against Fubara, pledges support

The Labour Party, LP, has dropped its petition against the election of Rivers State Governor, Sim Fubara.

Fubara was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2023 gubernatorial poll in Rivers State.

Beatrice Itubo, the LP’s governorship candidate in the state, revealed the withdrawal of the petition in an interview with Channels Television on Saturday.

Itubo also pledged her support for Fubara’s government for the progress of Rivers State.

DAILY POST recalls that the LP had challenged Fubara’s victory but the Appeal Court sitting in Lagos dismissed its petition and upheld the PDP candidate’s election.

The alignment between Fubara and Itubo is the latest development in the political crisis rocking Rivers State, following a face-off between Fubara and his predecessor, Federal Capital Terrritory, FCT, Minister Nyesom Wike.

(Daily Post)

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Kogi, Lagos, Rivers most expensive states in Nigeria as inflation rises to 28% – NBS

Kogi, Lagos, and Rivers are the most expensive states in Nigeria, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

NBS’s November latest Consumer Price Index disclosed that the All-Items Inflation rate is the highest in the three states.

Accordingly, the report stated that Kogi (33.28 per cent), Lagos (32.30 per cent), and Rivers (32.25 per cent) states recorded the prices on a year-on-year basis.

Meanwhile, Borno (22.47 per cent), Katsina (24.91 per cent), and Plateau (25.53 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in Headline inflation on a Year-on-Year basis.

On a month-on-month basis, however, November 2023 recorded the highest increases in Kano (3.55 per cent), Kebbi (3.34 per cent), Borno (3.24 per cent), while Taraba (0.74 per cent), Anambra (1.00 per cent) and Enugu (1.18 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in Month-on-Month inflation.

Narrowing the analysis to food inflation in November 2023, on a Year-on-Year basis, Kogi was highest (41.29 per cent), Kwara (40.72 per cent) and Rivers (40.22 per cent), while Bauchi (26.14 per cent), Borno (27.34 per cent) and Jigawa
(27.63 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in food inflation on a Year-on-Year basis.

On a Month-on-Month basis, however, in November 2023, food inflation was highest in Cross River (4.37 per cent), Edo (3.95 per cent) and Rivers (3.91 per cent), while Anambra (0.63 per cent), Oyo (0.91 per cent) and Bauchi (1.00 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in inflation on a Month-on-Month basis.

DAILY POST reports that Nigeria’s inflation in November rose to 28.20 per cent.

(Daily Post)

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Revealed: How Fubara’s rift with Wike started

Ex-gov imposed commissioners, advisers, others on successor

Federal lawmakers protest, ask Tinubu to intervene, why N’Assembly can’t act yet – Reps spokesman

The list of commissioners, special advisers and other key aides as well as their portfolios was handed over to the Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, by his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, Saturday PUNCH gathered.

A close aide of the governor, who disclosed this exclusively to Saturday PUNCH, said Fubara had no input into the appointments as his predecessor was solely responsible for their selection and appointment.

The source said the resignation of some of the commissioners was a confirmation that they were not the governor’s choices, but were rather imposed by Wike, who installed Fubara as his successor.

The aide stated, “Yes, the resignation of the commissioners has shown that they were not appointed by the governor. They were never his nominees. The list of the commissioners and advisers was handed over to the governor by the former governor with instructions on portfolios and offices to occupy. Even security agents were handed over to the governor with clear instructions on where to post them.

“Is there a way the governor can appoint commissioners, advisers and others and they will be resigning this way? It is not possible. Don’t forget that we are just about seven months in office. Commissioners appointed by the governor won’t leave.”

Responding to the claim by the FCT minister that the governor and all elected officials in Rivers State did not buy nomination forms from their pockets, the source said, “Yes, the former governor was correct to say he bought the forms for everyone. But pray, with which money? You know the salary of a governor and you know the cost of nomination and expression of interest forms for the Peoples Democratic Party.

“Let those who want to go leave and the governor will assemble members of his team, and not moles planted to spy on the administration.”

More commissioners resign

The gale of resignation from the Rivers State Executive Council continued on Friday with three more commissioners joining the fray.

They are the commissioners for Transport, Dr Jacobson Nbina; Housing, Dr Gift Worlu; and Environment, Austen Ben-Chioma.

Their resignations were contained in separate letters cited by one of our correspondents and addressed to the governor through the Secretary to the State Government.

Both Nbina and Austen-Ben Chioma were also commissioners under Wike.

This brings to nine the commissioners who have so far resigned their appointments.

Nbina, who confirmed his resignation to Saturday PUNCH on Friday via the telephone said, “Yes, I resigned yesterday (Thursday).”

Asked the reason for his action, he stated, “The reason is personal to me and my family commitments. I don’t have any issue with the governor. It is very personal.”

There were reports that their action was preparing the ground for them to officially defect to the APC, though this had yet to be confirmed.

Earlier, Prof Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN (Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice); Dr Des George-Kelly ((Works); Emeka Woke (Special Duties); Mrs Inime Aguma (Social Welfare and Rehabilitation); Isaac Kamalu (Finance); and Prof Chinedu Mmom (Education), had resigned from Fubara’s cabinet

Mmom, Adangor, Aguma, George-Kelly, Nbina and Kamalu all served as commissioners under the immediate past administration of Wike and before being reappointed by Fubara.

On his part, Emeka Woke, who also resigned from Fubara’s cabinet as special duties commissioner, was Wike’s chief of staff for eight years.

Speaking to our correspondent on Wednesday, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the APC in Rivers State, Chief Tony Okocha, said a formal launch of the new APC in the state was scheduled for this weekend, adding, “You will see the tsunami that will happen that day.”

Assembly demolition continues

Meanwhile, the demolition of the state House of Assembly complex continued on Friday with the hallowed chambers completely pulled down.

One of our correspondents, who visited the complex around 10am, reported that there were four bulldozers inside the complex pulling down other adjoining buildings.

The Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joe Johnson, had told journalists that the decision of the state government to demolish the complex built during the administration of Dr Peter Odili was because, after the visit of the governor to assess the damage caused by the October 29, 2023 explosion, he contacted a firm that reported that the building had integrity issues and was unfit for legislative business.

“So, the government will rebuild the complex. But for the meantime, the state has provided a place for the lawmakers to be sitting pending when the building is completed,” Johnson had stated.

A team of policemen in a patrol van was stationed at the Assembly entrance, while both ends of the Moscow Road leading into the complex had security blockades though human and vehicular restrictions had been relaxed.

‘Why NASS can’t intervene’

The House of Representatives has given reasons why it will not take up the functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly, which is currently embroiled in a crisis owing to the feud between Fubara and Wike.

Fubara, the political godson of the Federal Capital Territory minister, has literally parted ways with the former governor in what has been described as the battle for the soul of the oil-rich state.

Earlier in the week, 27 lawmakers believed to be loyalists of Wike defected to the All Progressives Congress, and Fubara, who appears ready to damn the consequences, wasted no time in demolishing the state House of Assembly complex, a move seen as a masterstroke to nullify whatever decisions the lawmakers are likely to take against him.

Things have since moved very fast with a couple of top government functionaries resigning their positions in a replay of the Godwin Obaseki/Adams Oshiomhole feud a few years ago.

The tension in Rivers State has led to suggestions of possible intervention by the National Assembly to restore order by taking over the role of the state lawmakers until the return of normalcy in line with the provision of Section 11 (4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Subsection (4) provides, “At any time when any House of Assembly of a state is unable to perform its functions because of the situation prevailing in that state, the National Assembly may make such laws for the peace, order and good government of that state concerning matters on which a House of Assembly may make laws as may appear.”

Subsection (5) reads, “For the purposes of subsection (4) of this section, a House of Assembly shall not be deemed to be unable to perform its functions as long as the House of Assembly can hold a meeting and transact business.”

In an exclusive conversation with Saturday PUNCH, the deputy spokesman of the House of Representatives, Phillip Agbese, said the ongoing political turbulence in Rivers State had yet to be tabled before the Green Chamber, noting that until that was done, there could be little or no intervention in the interim.

Agbese stated, “It is true that there is a constitutional backing for the National Assembly to intervene where there are established instances of crisis in a state House of Assembly that is unable to perform its functions.

“The 10th House has not been notified of any crisis. If it is not formally aware, there is nothing much we can do by way of intervention in the crisis, but it is our wish that the matter will be resolved amicably so that Rivers lawmakers can go about the business they were elected to do by their people. This is all I can say for now.”

Protests against crisis

The political crisis in the state took a new twist on Friday as two members of the National Assembly from Rivers State and the National President of the Ijaw National Congress led separate groups to Port Harcourt to protest against the happenings in the state and registered their solidarity with the governor.

The two National Assembly members are Awaji-Inombek Abiante, who represents the Andoni/Opopo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, and Boma Goodhead, the representative of the Asari-Toru/Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency, both in the House of Representatives.

In a solidarity rally, the lawmakers led hundreds of youths who sang and marched from the popular UTC junction through Azikiwe Road, passed in front of the Government House and terminated at the entrance to the Rivers State House of Assembly complex.

Addressing the crowd, Abiante said the Rivers people were not slaves and the state was not a conquered territory.

In a veiled reference to the FCT minister, he said his local government area of Andoni did not witness any development while Wike held sway in the state despite his claims of touching every council area, and slammed him for orchestrating the planned impeachment of Fubara.

He also urged President Bola Tinubu to practice what he preaches by ensuring that good governance prevailed in Rivers State, pointing out that good governance was synonymous with respect for the rule of law.

The federal lawmaker said, “There are slaves who are always happy in chains. But if you go through the history of Rivers State, if you go through the evolution and the abolition of slavery worldwide, you will hear names from Rivers State.

“We are not slaves. We are not part of those slaves who are happy in their chains. I want to appreciate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for telling the entire world and affirming that indeed one ingredient that can stop a violent takeover of government and that can stop the violence of humans is good governance.

“He preached it and is the chair of the Heads of Government of the West African nations. We implore him to preach the same in his country. You cannot sell what you don’t have. We cannot become a laughing stock in the comity of nations in the West African sub-region.

“I’m a member of the ECOWAS Parliament and I know that we deserve to have that respect, and he (Tinubu) has preached it. If there has to be good governance, Rivers State is a test case.

“Good governance hinges on respect for the rule of law. Some people, who we elected, have offered to vacate their seats. That is what the law says. A lawmaker should not be seen to be breaking the law.”

While taking a swipe at the members of the state House of Assembly who defected to the APC for their action, Abiante said the law stipulated that they would lose their privileges.

He added, “They should be courageous enough to park their things out of the official quarters allocated to members of the Rivers State House of Assembly. They are no longer members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

“They should also stop being in contempt of court as the court has declared. And on their own volition, they have abandoned the responsibility given to them.

“As you leave here, go back home and begin to select those who will represent you in the House of Assembly. I have somebody who is supposed to be representing me and I saw him shamelessly saying he signed for the impeachment of the governor given to us by God.

“What does he want to impeach Fubara for? Is it the fact that for eight good years, not even a toilet was inaugurated in the life of the immediate past administration of Rivers State in Andoni?

“Not even a toilet was inaugurated and the pride is I have done everything in all the local government areas. I challenge anyone to come and tell me what was done in Andoni. Less than six months, we now have a good road to the headquarters of Andoni LGA and somebody that we elected to represent us is telling us that he wants to impeach that governor. Can that ever work?

“So, we have just sent a message to Mr President to entrench good governance and begin from Rivers State. I want to tell the Inspector-General of Police again. I stood on the floor of the House and condemned the attempted assassination of the Rivers State governor and the IG told me that it was fake news.

“How can he tell me it was fake news, something that was watched all over the world? We will forgive him. Otherwise, we would have said that a character like that is not qualified for the position. But we have forgiven him. It should not happen again.

“Governance led by Sim Fubara is for Rivers people. Any of the person or group of persons parading whatever, they are not sent by us.”

On his part, the INC President, Prof Benjamin Okaba, led many Ijaw youths to the Government House in solidarity with Fubara, whom he described as a true Ijaw son.

Amid singing and dancing, the youth displayed placards with several inscriptions to drive home their message.

Some of the inscriptions read, ‘Rivers must be from impunity and tyranny’, ‘Rivers and Ijaw people are in support of Governor Fubara’, ‘The governor must be allowed to govern’, and ‘Let’s end godfatherism’ among others.

Addressing journalists on the sidelines, Okaba stated, “These are Ijaw people gathered here on this fateful day. We are from seven states of the South-South. As we speak, over two million Ijaw youths are in Port Harcourt.

“We have decided to embark on this symbolic solidarity march to the Government House, Port Harcourt. Ijaw men and women are coming from Bayelsa, Edo State, Ondo State, from Lagos and Akwa Ibom states. If need be, we shall bring Ijaw people from all the coastal regions to show our solidarity for our son, the legitimately elected governor of Rivers State.

“The purpose of this rally is to call on President Tinubu to advise his minister to take his knees off the neck of the governor of Rivers State.”

He expressed dismay that even after the intervention of the President, the PDP governors, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, elders and many democrats across the country, “Wike is still hell bent on cutting short the tenure of Fubara. We are here to resist any attempt to scuttle the process.

“We are here as Ijaw people to say that Wike has won a lot of battles, but this is a war against the Ijaw people. Let him go to the history of the Ijaw nation. The Ijaw nation has never been conquered since pre-colonial times. And we shall never be conquered.

“Wike has dared the Ijaw people. Wike has declared war against the Ijaw people and we are ready for him.”

The INC boss emphasized that Tinubu’s refusal to call caution the minister showed that he was supporting him to cause a crisis in Rivers State.

Okaba added that the Ijaw nation had suffered marginalisation for too long despite hosting oil resources and installations that sustain the country, noting that the people of the Niger Delta could no longer guarantee the safety of oil facilities in the region.

He stated that for the President to remain quiet while Wike was causing embarrassment in his own state showed that he was supporting the minister.

He added, “We are already angered that the government of President Bola Tinubu has marginalised the Ijaw people. In Delta State, where three persons were picked for federal appointments, none of them is from the Ijaw nation.

“Meanwhile, in that state, the Ijaws are the most economically viable. We are noting all of this. But for him to keep quiet and allow Wike to misbehave shows that there is some tacit support. And we shall not take that.

“As we speak our people are so angered; our people are so frustrated to the extent that we can no longer guarantee if things continue in this way the safety of the oil installations in Ijaw land and in our region.

“And if you (President) are taking us for granted; continue. A day shall tell whether the Ijaw people are still Ijaw people who will say a thing and make it come to pass.

“Since 1958, the Nigerian nation has been surviving on the oil that comes from Ijaw land. Till today, we are crying about marginalisation and we are crying over environmental degradation.

“When you talk of climate change and all that, the Ijaw nation is most affected. But daily, we are treated as if we are not humans. This must stop.

“Forty million Ijaw people are angered and aggrieved. And they are saying that a slap on Governor Fubara is a slap on the entire Ijaw nation. Any attempt to further close up the political space to remove Siminalayi Fubara from office is a call for fire.”

(Punch)

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Revealed: How Fubara’s rift with Wike started

Ex-gov imposed commissioners, advisers, others on successor

Federal lawmakers protest, ask Tinubu to intervene, why N’Assembly can’t act yet – Reps spokesman

The list of commissioners, special advisers and other key aides as well as their portfolios was handed over to the Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, by his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, Saturday PUNCH gathered.

A close aide of the governor, who disclosed this exclusively to Saturday PUNCH, said Fubara had no input into the appointments as his predecessor was solely responsible for their selection and appointment.

The source said the resignation of some of the commissioners was a confirmation that they were not the governor’s choices, but were rather imposed by Wike, who installed Fubara as his successor.

The aide stated, “Yes, the resignation of the commissioners has shown that they were not appointed by the governor. They were never his nominees. The list of the commissioners and advisers was handed over to the governor by the former governor with instructions on portfolios and offices to occupy. Even security agents were handed over to the governor with clear instructions on where to post them.

“Is there a way the governor can appoint commissioners, advisers and others and they will be resigning this way? It is not possible. Don’t forget that we are just about seven months in office. Commissioners appointed by the governor won’t leave.”

Responding to the claim by the FCT minister that the governor and all elected officials in Rivers State did not buy nomination forms from their pockets, the source said, “Yes, the former governor was correct to say he bought the forms for everyone. But pray, with which money? You know the salary of a governor and you know the cost of nomination and expression of interest forms for the Peoples Democratic Party.

“Let those who want to go leave and the governor will assemble members of his team, and not moles planted to spy on the administration.”

More commissioners resign

The gale of resignation from the Rivers State Executive Council continued on Friday with three more commissioners joining the fray.

They are the commissioners for Transport, Dr Jacobson Nbina; Housing, Dr Gift Worlu; and Environment, Austen Ben-Chioma.

Their resignations were contained in separate letters cited by one of our correspondents and addressed to the governor through the Secretary to the State Government.

Both Nbina and Austen-Ben Chioma were also commissioners under Wike.

This brings to nine the commissioners who have so far resigned their appointments.

Nbina, who confirmed his resignation to Saturday PUNCH on Friday via the telephone said, “Yes, I resigned yesterday (Thursday).”

Asked the reason for his action, he stated, “The reason is personal to me and my family commitments. I don’t have any issue with the governor. It is very personal.”

There were reports that their action was preparing the ground for them to officially defect to the APC, though this had yet to be confirmed.

Earlier, Prof Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN (Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice); Dr Des George-Kelly ((Works); Emeka Woke (Special Duties); Mrs Inime Aguma (Social Welfare and Rehabilitation); Isaac Kamalu (Finance); and Prof Chinedu Mmom (Education), had resigned from Fubara’s cabinet

Mmom, Adangor, Aguma, George-Kelly, Nbina and Kamalu all served as commissioners under the immediate past administration of Wike and before being reappointed by Fubara.

On his part, Emeka Woke, who also resigned from Fubara’s cabinet as special duties commissioner, was Wike’s chief of staff for eight years.

Speaking to our correspondent on Wednesday, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the APC in Rivers State, Chief Tony Okocha, said a formal launch of the new APC in the state was scheduled for this weekend, adding, “You will see the tsunami that will happen that day.”

Assembly demolition continues

Meanwhile, the demolition of the state House of Assembly complex continued on Friday with the hallowed chambers completely pulled down.

One of our correspondents, who visited the complex around 10am, reported that there were four bulldozers inside the complex pulling down other adjoining buildings.

The Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joe Johnson, had told journalists that the decision of the state government to demolish the complex built during the administration of Dr Peter Odili was because, after the visit of the governor to assess the damage caused by the October 29, 2023 explosion, he contacted a firm that reported that the building had integrity issues and was unfit for legislative business.

“So, the government will rebuild the complex. But for the meantime, the state has provided a place for the lawmakers to be sitting pending when the building is completed,” Johnson had stated.

A team of policemen in a patrol van was stationed at the Assembly entrance, while both ends of the Moscow Road leading into the complex had security blockades though human and vehicular restrictions had been relaxed.

‘Why NASS can’t intervene’

The House of Representatives has given reasons why it will not take up the functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly, which is currently embroiled in a crisis owing to the feud between Fubara and Wike.

Fubara, the political godson of the Federal Capital Territory minister, has literally parted ways with the former governor in what has been described as the battle for the soul of the oil-rich state.

Earlier in the week, 27 lawmakers believed to be loyalists of Wike defected to the All Progressives Congress, and Fubara, who appears ready to damn the consequences, wasted no time in demolishing the state House of Assembly complex, a move seen as a masterstroke to nullify whatever decisions the lawmakers are likely to take against him.

Things have since moved very fast with a couple of top government functionaries resigning their positions in a replay of the Godwin Obaseki/Adams Oshiomhole feud a few years ago.

The tension in Rivers State has led to suggestions of possible intervention by the National Assembly to restore order by taking over the role of the state lawmakers until the return of normalcy in line with the provision of Section 11 (4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Subsection (4) provides, “At any time when any House of Assembly of a state is unable to perform its functions because of the situation prevailing in that state, the National Assembly may make such laws for the peace, order and good government of that state concerning matters on which a House of Assembly may make laws as may appear.”

Subsection (5) reads, “For the purposes of subsection (4) of this section, a House of Assembly shall not be deemed to be unable to perform its functions as long as the House of Assembly can hold a meeting and transact business.”

In an exclusive conversation with Saturday PUNCH, the deputy spokesman of the House of Representatives, Phillip Agbese, said the ongoing political turbulence in Rivers State had yet to be tabled before the Green Chamber, noting that until that was done, there could be little or no intervention in the interim.

Agbese stated, “It is true that there is a constitutional backing for the National Assembly to intervene where there are established instances of crisis in a state House of Assembly that is unable to perform its functions.

“The 10th House has not been notified of any crisis. If it is not formally aware, there is nothing much we can do by way of intervention in the crisis, but it is our wish that the matter will be resolved amicably so that Rivers lawmakers can go about the business they were elected to do by their people. This is all I can say for now.”

Protests against crisis

The political crisis in the state took a new twist on Friday as two members of the National Assembly from Rivers State and the National President of the Ijaw National Congress led separate groups to Port Harcourt to protest against the happenings in the state and registered their solidarity with the governor.

The two National Assembly members are Awaji-Inombek Abiante, who represents the Andoni/Opopo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, and Boma Goodhead, the representative of the Asari-Toru/Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency, both in the House of Representatives.

In a solidarity rally, the lawmakers led hundreds of youths who sang and marched from the popular UTC junction through Azikiwe Road, passed in front of the Government House and terminated at the entrance to the Rivers State House of Assembly complex.

Addressing the crowd, Abiante said the Rivers people were not slaves and the state was not a conquered territory.

In a veiled reference to the FCT minister, he said his local government area of Andoni did not witness any development while Wike held sway in the state despite his claims of touching every council area, and slammed him for orchestrating the planned impeachment of Fubara.

He also urged President Bola Tinubu to practice what he preaches by ensuring that good governance prevailed in Rivers State, pointing out that good governance was synonymous with respect for the rule of law.

The federal lawmaker said, “There are slaves who are always happy in chains. But if you go through the history of Rivers State, if you go through the evolution and the abolition of slavery worldwide, you will hear names from Rivers State.

“We are not slaves. We are not part of those slaves who are happy in their chains. I want to appreciate President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for telling the entire world and affirming that indeed one ingredient that can stop a violent takeover of government and that can stop the violence of humans is good governance.

“He preached it and is the chair of the Heads of Government of the West African nations. We implore him to preach the same in his country. You cannot sell what you don’t have. We cannot become a laughing stock in the comity of nations in the West African sub-region.

“I’m a member of the ECOWAS Parliament and I know that we deserve to have that respect, and he (Tinubu) has preached it. If there has to be good governance, Rivers State is a test case.

“Good governance hinges on respect for the rule of law. Some people, who we elected, have offered to vacate their seats. That is what the law says. A lawmaker should not be seen to be breaking the law.”

While taking a swipe at the members of the state House of Assembly who defected to the APC for their action, Abiante said the law stipulated that they would lose their privileges.

He added, “They should be courageous enough to park their things out of the official quarters allocated to members of the Rivers State House of Assembly. They are no longer members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

“They should also stop being in contempt of court as the court has declared. And on their own volition, they have abandoned the responsibility given to them.

“As you leave here, go back home and begin to select those who will represent you in the House of Assembly. I have somebody who is supposed to be representing me and I saw him shamelessly saying he signed for the impeachment of the governor given to us by God.

“What does he want to impeach Fubara for? Is it the fact that for eight good years, not even a toilet was inaugurated in the life of the immediate past administration of Rivers State in Andoni?

“Not even a toilet was inaugurated and the pride is I have done everything in all the local government areas. I challenge anyone to come and tell me what was done in Andoni. Less than six months, we now have a good road to the headquarters of Andoni LGA and somebody that we elected to represent us is telling us that he wants to impeach that governor. Can that ever work?

“So, we have just sent a message to Mr President to entrench good governance and begin from Rivers State. I want to tell the Inspector-General of Police again. I stood on the floor of the House and condemned the attempted assassination of the Rivers State governor and the IG told me that it was fake news.

“How can he tell me it was fake news, something that was watched all over the world? We will forgive him. Otherwise, we would have said that a character like that is not qualified for the position. But we have forgiven him. It should not happen again.

“Governance led by Sim Fubara is for Rivers people. Any of the person or group of persons parading whatever, they are not sent by us.”

On his part, the INC President, Prof Benjamin Okaba, led many Ijaw youths to the Government House in solidarity with Fubara, whom he described as a true Ijaw son.

Amid singing and dancing, the youth displayed placards with several inscriptions to drive home their message.

Some of the inscriptions read, ‘Rivers must be from impunity and tyranny’, ‘Rivers and Ijaw people are in support of Governor Fubara’, ‘The governor must be allowed to govern’, and ‘Let’s end godfatherism’ among others.

Addressing journalists on the sidelines, Okaba stated, “These are Ijaw people gathered here on this fateful day. We are from seven states of the South-South. As we speak, over two million Ijaw youths are in Port Harcourt.

“We have decided to embark on this symbolic solidarity march to the Government House, Port Harcourt. Ijaw men and women are coming from Bayelsa, Edo State, Ondo State, from Lagos and Akwa Ibom states. If need be, we shall bring Ijaw people from all the coastal regions to show our solidarity for our son, the legitimately elected governor of Rivers State.

“The purpose of this rally is to call on President Tinubu to advise his minister to take his knees off the neck of the governor of Rivers State.”

He expressed dismay that even after the intervention of the President, the PDP governors, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, elders and many democrats across the country, “Wike is still hell bent on cutting short the tenure of Fubara. We are here to resist any attempt to scuttle the process.

“We are here as Ijaw people to say that Wike has won a lot of battles, but this is a war against the Ijaw people. Let him go to the history of the Ijaw nation. The Ijaw nation has never been conquered since pre-colonial times. And we shall never be conquered.

“Wike has dared the Ijaw people. Wike has declared war against the Ijaw people and we are ready for him.”

The INC boss emphasized that Tinubu’s refusal to call caution the minister showed that he was supporting him to cause a crisis in Rivers State.

Okaba added that the Ijaw nation had suffered marginalisation for too long despite hosting oil resources and installations that sustain the country, noting that the people of the Niger Delta could no longer guarantee the safety of oil facilities in the region.

He stated that for the President to remain quiet while Wike was causing embarrassment in his own state showed that he was supporting the minister.

He added, “We are already angered that the government of President Bola Tinubu has marginalised the Ijaw people. In Delta State, where three persons were picked for federal appointments, none of them is from the Ijaw nation.

“Meanwhile, in that state, the Ijaws are the most economically viable. We are noting all of this. But for him to keep quiet and allow Wike to misbehave shows that there is some tacit support. And we shall not take that.

“As we speak our people are so angered; our people are so frustrated to the extent that we can no longer guarantee if things continue in this way the safety of the oil installations in Ijaw land and in our region.

“And if you (President) are taking us for granted; continue. A day shall tell whether the Ijaw people are still Ijaw people who will say a thing and make it come to pass.

“Since 1958, the Nigerian nation has been surviving on the oil that comes from Ijaw land. Till today, we are crying about marginalisation and we are crying over environmental degradation.

“When you talk of climate change and all that, the Ijaw nation is most affected. But daily, we are treated as if we are not humans. This must stop.

“Forty million Ijaw people are angered and aggrieved. And they are saying that a slap on Governor Fubara is a slap on the entire Ijaw nation. Any attempt to further close up the political space to remove Siminalayi Fubara from office is a call for fire.”

(Punch)

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Rivers Crisis: Lawmaker Goodhead, others dare Wike to step foot in state

The lawmaker representing Akuku/ Asari Toru Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Boma Goodhead, and other protesters have dared the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike to return to Rivers State.

Goodhead and the others also called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to call the former Governor of Rivers State to order, vowing never to fold their hands and watch the FCT Minister pocket Rivers State.

In a protest led by the lawmaker, Wike was warned not to return to the state he governed for eight years.

Wike was also warned to keep his goons in check.

“I want to send a clear message to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Goodhead said.

“Tinubu believes that Wike delivered Rivers State to him but even Wike failed in his unit. He failed in his ward and even in his LGA.

“We are here to tell Ahmed Bola Tinubu to call Wike to order because the next time he comes into Rivers State to disturb the peace of the state we’ll not fold our hands and watch.

“Wike should come to Rivers State and we’ll show him what it means to hold Rivers State. We dare you, to come back to Rivers State again if you’re a man.”

(Daily Post)

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Rivers Crisis: ‘Dey your dey’ – Fubara launches own live band

Governor Sim Fubara of Rivers State has launched a live band like his predecessor, Nyesom Wike.

The band came alive shortly after Gov Fubara’s speech during the flag-off of the construction of 20,000 Housing units in the Ikwere area of the state.

The live band was heard singing, “Dey your day make I dey my dey, nobody worry nobody, ” to the excitement of the crowd.

The new live band is coming on the heels of the political tension ravaging the state.

Wike, who is the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, has been at loggerheads with the current Governor, Fubara over the control of the state.

27 state lawmakers loyal to Wike had defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, due to the face-off with Fubara.

In its alleged response to the defections, the state government pulled down the state Assembly complex with the excuse that the structural integrity was compromised.

So far, about seven Commissioners have resigned from Fubara’s state executive council.

(Daily Post)

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Rivers crisis: Six commissioners resign, Assembly factions hold parallel sittings

The Rivers State political crisis deepened further on Thursday as six commissioners loyal to ex-governor Nyesom Wike resigned from the cabinet of Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

This was as the two factions of the split state House of Assembly held separate sittings on Thursday.

The commissioners, who tendered their resignation were the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice,  Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor (SAN); Commissioner for Works, Dr Des George-Kelly; Commissioner for Special Duties, Emeka Woke; Commissioner for Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Mrs Inime Aguma;  the Commissioner for Finance, Isaac Kamalu; and the  Commissioner for Education, Prof. Chinedu Mmom.

Of the six commissioners, five served under Wike’s administration in the same capacity, while Woke was Wike’s Chief of Staff for eight years.

All the five commissioners confirmed their resignation to The PUNCH on the telephone.

The Commissioner for Works, George-Kelly, said he resigned because “my conscience will not allow me to stay.”

The social welfare commissioner, Mrs Aguma, said, “I have other commitments.”

The AGF, Adangor, on his part,  said the resignation was based on “personal principles.”

Woke and Kamalu simply asked our reporter to look out for their letters of resignation to see their reasons.

Meanwhile, the education commissioner, in his resignation letter dated December 14, 2023 addressed to the Governor through the Secretary to the State Government, said, “I hereby resign my appointment as the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Rivers State for personal reasons.

“I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the opportunity given to me to serve in your administration and wish you the best as you carry on with the governance of the state.”

Our correspondent learnt that six other commissioners had also tendered their resignations but could not confirm the claim.

Meanwhile, the two factions of the state House of Assembly held parallel sitting at different locations on Thursday.

The Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, who leads 27 pro-Wike lawmakers, sat at the Assembly quarters along Aba Road Port Harcourt.

On the other hand, the Edison Ehie-led faction, which is loyal to Fubara, reportedly held plenary at Government House, Port Harcourt.

The PUNCH reports that the state governor on Wednesday sent bulldozers to demolish the state Assembly complex, while the four pro-Fubara lawmakers declared the seats of the 27 pro-Wike lawmakers vacant following their defection to the All  Progressives Congress.

Fubara, on Wednesday, presented the state’s 2024 budget to the Ehie faction.

He signed the N800bn budget into law on Thursday, pledging full implementation.

Fubara stated, “This budget shows that we have a plan for our dear state. One of the reasons why our budget is in the volume of N800bn is that we intend, not just by desiring, to ensure that one key request of our dear state is met. God being our helper, we will commence immediately, by next year, flagging off the actual and main Trans-Kalabari road project Phase 2.

“We have also, in our budget, provided to take care of the Elele-Omoku road project, a road that cuts through Ikwerre, Emohua and Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local Government Areas. We are also taking that project as one of our cardinal achievements of this administration. We are not going back on it.”

The governor said no efforts would be spared in implementing to the full the planned quality projects and services itemised in the 2024 budget.

“I want to assure you that this administration has the best interest of our people. It is an administration that wants everyone to have hope.

“We have keyed into the Renewed Hope Agenda of our dear President Bola Tinubu to continue to assure our people of hope. The best of us will be seen by everyone.

“We will continue to protect the interest of our people, do the best for everyone, not minding your position or class.

“Our government is a responsive and inclusive government. Our eyes and ears are open to the needs of our people. We will not disappoint you,” Fubara said.

In his speech, the factional Speaker, Ehie assured Fubara of the continued support of the lawmakers to ensure the success for the administration.

Meanwhile, the pro-Wike faction, during their sitting at the auditorium of the  House of Assembly Quarters on Aba Road, Port Harcourt, “resolved to adopt and convert the Auditorium of the House of Assembly Quarters to its hallowed chamber.”

According to a statement they issued on Thursday, the lawmakers condemned “in unequivocal terms”  what they described as “heartless and brazen demolition of the House of Assembly complex by Governor Siminialayi Fubara, without the approval and knowledge of the House.”

The House, in a motion sponsored by 26 members and moved by Ofiks Kabang, representing Andoni Constituency, drew the attention of the Federal Government, the Inspector-General of Police and the international community, to the constant attack by Fubara on the Rivers State legislature.

Also, the Chairman of the  All Progressives Congress Caretaker Commitee in the state, Chief Tony Okocha, in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Thursday, said the demolition of the House of Assembly by Fubara would not stop pro-Wike lawmakers from sitting.

Okocha confirmed that the lawmakers who defected from the PDP to the APC on Tuesday, met on Thursday.

He said, “The House of Assembly can be moved to anywhere. It is not necessarily tied down to a building. Provided the mace is present there, members can sit anywhere. As of this morning, the 27 lawmakers met and even signed some resolutions.”

Meanwhile, the pro-Fubara Speaker, on Thursday wrote the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, informing the electoral body of the 25 vacancies in the Assembly following the defection of the pro-Wike lawmakers.

Also, some constituents from the four local government areas of Ogoni land in Ribers State said they  had commenced a process to recall the four lawmakers representing the areas in the state Assembly.

They named the four lawmakers as those who joined their colleagues to sign the impeachment notice on Fubara.

The name the lawmakers as Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Dumle Maol, Hon..Barile Nwakor, representing Khana Constituency 1, Hon. Aforji Igwe representing Eleme and Hon Bernard Ngba, representing Tai Constituency.

The Convener of Ogoni Development Drive, Solomon Lenu, said this while speaking to newsmen at the official opening of the recall register in Port Harcourt on Thursday.

Lenu said, “The errant lawmakers left the core responsibility for which they were elected to go on a political jamboree with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.

“We have equally obtained the comprehensive voters’ register of all voters in the four LGAs and constituencies.

“We have also created an electronic capture form to make the petition process easier for students at various campuses.”

The ODD convener stated that the commencement of the recall process began after the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum given to the four lawmakers from Ogoni to apologise to Fubara and the Ogoni people who voted for them.

 “We will follow the process of their recall to its logical conclusion no matter how long the process may take.

While insisting they will go ahead with the recall process, he added, “We don’t want to be caught in the political snare.

“We are continuing with the recall process until the highest court has declared their seat vacant that is when we will stop.”

(Punch)

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