Chaos erupts in Rivers

A political volcano erupted in Rivers State, yesterday, as the upwelling crisis in the state spilt over. Sections of the state House of Assembly were burnt as 24 lawmakers made moves to impeach Governor Siminalayi Fubara, who said he escaped an assassination attempt from police gunshots.

Amid the dust, 26 members of the Assembly suspended the Speaker, Martins Amaehwule. and three others; and elected, and inaugurated the leader of the House, Edison Ehie, as the new Speaker.

This came following a crisis that rocked the Assembly, on Monday morning, over moves by some of the lawmakers to impeach Governor Fubara.

The development started from the burning down of the hallowed chambers of the legislative arm of the government, on Sunday night.

There were gunshots and firing of teargas within the House of Assembly Complex as some lawmakers sat to begin an impeachment process on Fubara.

Following the crisis, the Assembly premises were cordoned off by fully armed security personnel with Police saying full-scale investigation had commenced and the perpetrators would be brought to book.

Unconfirmed reports said that the House of Assembly has suspended the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Chibuzor Amadi; and that the chairmen of the 12 local councils of the state, some commissioners, the Chief of Staff and Chief Security Officer to the governor had been axed. Efforts to confirm the issues were yet to bear fruit as of the time of filing this report.

Fubara tasks 24 legislators to list his offences

In a rare show of guts, Governor Fubara asked the 24 state lawmakers that commenced a process to impeach him, who are said to be loyal to former Governor Nyesom Wike, to show justification for their actions.

This was as the governor alleged assassination attempt on him yesterday by some compromised police officers, who allegedly shot live bullets at him to kill as he visited to assess the extent of damage caused by the Sunday night bombing of the Assembly complex by some hoodlums.

Fubara, while addressing thousands of youths at the Government House gate described as null and void the attempt to impeach him by the lawmakers, adding that it is an illegal legislative action.

The Governor commended the youths for standing up to protect the interest of Rivers State and said he is not scared about impeachment but such action had to be properly explained and justified.

Unjustified impeachment will be resisted

His words: “Let it be on record, whoever masterminded the attack at the assembly is trying to divert attention. If Siminalayi Fubara is impeached, I won’t be the first, neither will I be the last. But what is important is that any attempt that is not justified will be resisted. Let them come out and tell Rivers people the offence that I have committed to warrant impeachment.

“But my happiness this morning is that the people of Rivers State, represented by all of you here, are with us. I can go home and sleep. Let me assure Rivers people that we will continue to defend them, protect them and ensure that they will enjoy the dividends of democracy.”

Bombing of Assembly unfortunate

Fubara, who had visited the complex, accompanied by Rivers youths, on Monday, described as unfortunate the attempt by some disgruntled persons to forcefully take over the assembly and condemned the burning of sections of the building.

“The truth is that, everybody who knows me knows that I am a peaceful person. I can never ever, even if I am aware that there is a plot to impeach me for whatever reason, be part of such destruction.

“I am worried that a facility like this that we used taxpayers’ money to build will be destroyed for selfish reasons just to please somebody. From what I have seen, even the security is compromised because they were shooting at me directly. The DC operations were shooting at me.”

Ehie becomes new Speaker, asks aggrieved colleagues to go to court

Following the attempt to impeach the Governor, a new leadership has emerged in the House. Currently the 32-member Assembly has 31 members following the death of a lawmaker recently.

Although 24 of them were said to have signed an impeachment notice against Fubara, 26 of them later suspended Speaker Martins Amaehwule and three others. They, thereafter elected and inaugurated the leader of the House, Hon. Edison Ehie, as their new speaker.

Addressing newsmen after a brief plenary of the house at a chamber within the Government House, Port Harcourt, Speaker Edison promised to ensure justice and fairness in the process of legislation.

He said: “The House just rose from plenary, and with all humility, I must thank my colleagues, 26 Assembly members, who have just elected me as the new Speaker of the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly.

“My commitment to Rivers people is that I will be just and fair to all and sundry. And I will ensure that the rule of law takes its course.

“I will not betray my colleagues and Rivers people and I will not betray my constituency. I will also ensure that the independence of the Rivers State House of Assembly is adhered to, with mutual respect to the judiciary and executive arms.

“Everything due my colleagues as honourable members constitutionally will be given to them. The honourable members that have been suspended will also be given fair hearing.

“The Committee on Information will publish the names of those suspended. The House has also urged the Committee on Petitions to give them fair hearing.

Adjourns sine die

“The House has adjourned sine die because the Parliamentary Association of Nigeria has served us a notice of indefinite strike from Abuja. So, we cannot sit again. It means any sitting can’t hold water. The court is there, if you are aggrieved, approach the court.”

Police command launches investigation

Meanwhile, the Rivers State Police Command has launched a full-scale investigation into the fire that burnt down the House of Assembly.

Public Relations Officer of the Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, a Superintendent of Police, disclosed this in Port Harcourt, in a statement.

Iringe-Koko said police were on top of the situation in the state, adding that efforts have commenced to unravel those behind the act and bring them to book.

She said: “The Rivers State Police Command is on top of the security situation that occurred at the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex.

“Consequently, a full-scale investigation has been launched to unravel the circumstances surrounding the situations and take immediate policing actions against anyone found wanting.”

Former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct new People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, condemned attempts to impeach Fubara.

Expressing disappointment over the development, Eze said the ongoing crisis confirms Wike as an “avaricious, characterless, unrefined and incorrigible political bigot whose existence threatens democracy and good governance and thus, does not deserve a place in the present day Nigeria political playground.”

Eze urged the people of Rivers State to rally around the Governor and save the state from the hands of “an emperor who thought that he had conquered Rivers State and her people.

PDP governors summon emergency meeting

Disturbed by the development, the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Governors’ Forum, PDPGF, has summoned an emergency meeting scheduled to hold in Abuja, today.

It was gathered in Abuja, on Monday that the main item on the agenda is the ongoing political crisis in Rivers State .

The meeting is expected to take place at the Akwa Ibom State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, by 3pm.

A member of the PDPGF, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said, the emergency session “is not unconnected with the crisis playing out in Rivers State, in which the State Governor, Mr Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor, Barrister Nyeson Wike are at loggerheads.”

Even though Wike is the current Minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT serving under an All Progressives Congress, APC, government, he and Fubara, his successor in Rivers State, are still members of the PDP.

“This emergency meeting has become imperative because we can not afford to close our eyes while things are going wrong. As a Forum (PDP-GF), we must act fast to ensure that this crisis doesn’t go out of hand as such will not be to the benefit of anybody,” the source said.

The source further disclosed that the forthcoming off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states and other issues of national importance will also be discussed at the meeting.

Fubara, Rivers PDP elders in close door meeting over peace

Meanwhile, elders of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Rivers State also yesterday met with Governor Fubara at Government House, Port Harcourt, over the situation.

Persons at the meeting included leader of PDP Elders Forum, Ferdinand Alabaraba, Chief Sergeant Awuse, chairman of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, OCJ Okocha, SAN, and Bro Felix Obuah, the Campaign Director of PDP/Fubara for the 2023 election.

Although the purpose of the meeting was not disclosed, but a source said the elders were in Government House to intervene in the unfolding crisis in the state.

The source, who did not want his name mentioned, said the elders had pleaded with Fubara to shelve further action to allow the team consult all parties involved to bring in peace.

Call Wike, security agencies to order, Clark urges Tinubu

Speaking on the issue, which he said has great implications for Nigeria’s democracy, elder statesman and leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, has urged President Bola Tinubu to call the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Nyesom Wike and the security forces in Rivers State to order.

Chief Clark made the call at a media briefing in Abuja, yesterday.

He said: “I have been greatly disturbed by the reported developments in Rivers State in the last 24 hours. I have been reliably informed that there is a plot to unlawfully remove the Governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara, who has spent only about five months in office.

“I understand the sad episode is being orchestrated by the immediate past governor of Rivers State and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Nyesom Wike. And that the intention is to remove the Governor, force his deputy, Professor Ngozi Odu to resign, and install the Speaker of the House of Assembly, another Ikwerre person as the governor of the state.

Let me warn strongly, we won’t allow that to happen!

“President Bola Tinubu must call Nyesom Wike and the security agencies in Rivers State to order, to avert any untold crisis in Rivers State.

“Last night, the hallowed chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly was burnt, in what apparently is part of the plot to destabilize the state.

“The Governor was tear-gassed and was even threatened with being shot at when he visited the Assembly Complex after the incident, to assess the level of damage.

“We are not in a barbaric state where people can do whatever they like; we are in a democracy and the tenets of constitutional democracy must be upheld by all.”

Crisis will not favour Rivers State — Semenitari

Reacting to the development, former acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Dame Ibim Semenitari, condemned attempts by some political actors to plunge Rivers State into another round of violence which she described as “unnecessary and avoidable.”

‘Noting that crisis at this or any other time would be of no benefit to the state, Semenitari called for an immediate stop to the crisis because Rivers State has had too many political crises, and at no time was Rivers State the ultimate beneficiary.

“This state has had too many political crises and was at no time the ultimate winner. At each time, the economy and the people suffered. We cannot continue to whirl in this sad cesspool while other states move up the political and economic ladder”, she added.

Semenitari, who frowned on both the motive and its execution, noted that it was outrageous that only six months into the administration, anyone would consider the impeachment of the governor.

Semenitari condemned the crisis in the Rivers State House of Assembly, noting that the independence and smooth running of the legislative arm are pivotal to the stability of the state.

“We must beware of elements whose sole interest is to cause mayhem in the Rivers State House of Assembly as this would only profit anti-democratic forces and leave the state starved of critical development.

‘’The state legislature must be allowed to fulfil its constitutional role of driving critical development in the state via sound and tested legislation. To attempt to use the state House of Assembly to sabotage an elected executive is destructive to the good conscience and well-being of Rivers State,” she added.

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