Fresh impeachment move: Fubara, Rivers APC flex muscles, Clark writes IGP over danger 

 The wind of political discord blowing across Rivers state is far from abating as the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) renewed the ‘war’ following the  APC’s directive to the 27-member House of Assembly to impeach the governor, Siminalayi Fubara, from office.

The opposition party specifically directed those lawmakers loyal to Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Nyesom Wike to immediately commence the impeachment move to oust the governor or face sanction from the party.

While the PDP-led government insisted the APC lacked the order to give such directive, an elder statesman and leader of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Edwin Clarke, called on the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to step in to avert the looming danger that might result from the planned move.

…APC’s ground

Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt Tuesday on the reason for his party’s decision, the state APC caretaker committee chairman, Tony Okocha,  said the governor was not respecting the terms of Abuja truce.

Okocha said the governor was not respecting  President Bola Ahmed Tinubu by refusing to implement all the eight-point peace agreement reached in Abuja on the political crisis in the state.

“A state as crucial and all-important as Rivers State churned out a dunderhead. We cannot accept that. Our charge to the Assembly is to immediately commence an impeachment process against the Governor.

“And if they don’t do that there is what they call party discipline. We shall invoke the relevant section of the constitution,” he said.

The APC leader said the move was necessary because the governor “has insulted the sensibility” of Tinubu whose intervention, he said, calmed frayed nerves at the height of the political crisis.  

 …RVSG replies

 Rejecting the move, however,  the Rivers state government Tuesday said the House lacks the moral standing to impeach the governor.

The state’s Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, noted that the 27 lawmakers in the state house of assembly lacked the moral standing to impeach the sitting governor of the state.

He said Okocha, as a non-lawmaker, lacked the moral right to talk about the state government and also call for such action.

Johnson said: “It is not going to be an easy journey. They should not imagine embarking on it because Rivers people will resist them. Rivers people will resist them because it is even baseless to think of it. They are not fighting with legitimacy; they are only fighting for their own survival. On what plank will you put that? The law says you can’t put legality on illegality.

“As far as we are concerned, they do not even have the locus standi to do that. They should not even bother to start it because Section 109(g) has settled the case. It says if an assembly member defects from his own party that brought him to power, you automatically lose your seat. They have done that, and it is settled. Our constitution is the grand norm. 

“The court, the Supreme Court, is there to look at these elementary issues. There is also a subsisting judgement on this, so we don’t need a second opinion on whether we should respect them as assembly members or not. The Supreme Court has already declared those seats vacant. 

“Tony Okocha was just yesterday declared as not being a member of APC by a former chairman of the party, Sokonte Davies. He is a factional chairman. We want the faction led by Chief Emeka Beke to say the same thing. Okocha is standing on one leg. His call is an empty call. His advice to impeach the governor is a journey that leads nowhere, and they will not succeed. The lawmakers are not existent, and they are not seen in law.

Factional assembly non-existent – Fubara

Also, Fubara had, while receiving a delegation of traditional rulers and opinion leaders from Bayelsa state Monday, led by  a former governor, Senator Seriake Dickson, declared the Martin Amaewhule-led House of Assembly as floating and non -existent’

He said the faction has no valid potency to take binding legislative decisions on the state.

The governor said he accepted the presidential peace accord to keep them floating as the agreement has no constitutional basis, but a political solution to a problem.

“I accepted it because these were people that have eaten in my house and I have assisted in paying their children’s school fee even when I have not become the governor.

“We may have our disagreement, but I believe that one day we could also come together. That was the reason I did it. But it was time I make a statement on this so that they understand that they are not existing,” Fubara said.

The governor said he made more sacrifices in the course of the crisis to ensure peace, adding that even with the peace deal, his supporters were being harassed and intimidated with arrest every day. 

While saying he continued to show restraint as a mature leader to allow for meaningful development, the governor said: “And because our intention for Rivers state is to build on the foundation laid by our past leaders, it will be wrong for me to take the path of crisis. And that is why we are still seeing and recording the development that you are witnessing in the state.”

While acknowledging the gains of his visit to the governor of Bayelsa state, Senator Douye Diri, sometime ago, Fubara said he was working virtually with enemies in his cabinet as commissioners including his attorney-general who resigned recently.

Fubara said most information being hidden from him was given to him by Governor Diri.

 …Clarke warns of imminent danger

Weighing in, the Ijaw national leader, Chief Clark warmed against looming danger in the state if the crisis is not quickly nipped in the bud.

Clark made the position known in an open letter to IGP Egbetokun whom he asked to wade in to forestall anarchy.

 He explained that under Section 109 (1g) 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the 27 lawmakers ceased to be members of the Rivers State Assembly following their announced decamping to the APC.

The section states: “Being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected; 2, The Speaker of the House of Assembly shall give effect to subsection (1) of this section, so however that the Speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of the members.

“I have decided to address this letter to you as a senior citizen and Elder Statesman and I have served my country for over 70 years and I will be 97 on the 25th of May. It is therefore my duty to pray to the almighty God at all times for the peace and stability of our great country. We owe it as an obligation to support President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government which will be one year on the 29th of May.

“We must therefore condemn and prevent any action by any individual or group of individuals that would threaten the peace, stability, and unity of this country.

 “We have no other country to go to if there is any uncontrollable crisis in the country and this is the main reason why I have been involved in the looming crisis in Rivers State between the former Governor Barr Nyesom Wike who is now the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and the current Governor, His Excellency, Siminalayi Fubara which is spreading like wildfire and every attempt by Mr President to resolve it amicably has not succeeded,” said the Ijaw leader.

Continuing, the former federal commissioner said: “The recent unprovoked announcement by the Speaker and 26 former Members of the Rivers State House of Assembly might cause a breakdown of law and order in Rivers State and the consequences of such crisis will not only affect Rivers state politically, socially and economically but will also affect the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large. We have enough of such crises of all dimensions in nearly all parts of this country already and we therefore prevent any more of such crisis.

 “I had earlier advised and appealed to our President, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu to call his Minister Nyesom Wike to order to avoid this looming crisis and that the interest of the entire country should supersede the interest of an individual or a small group of people otherwise the consequences will be disastrous.

 “It is in this spirit I am addressing this letter to you as the Inspector General of Police who is in charge of the peace and stability of this country. You are therefore fully aware of the dangerous precarious situation we are facing today in this country whereby the people are no longer safe to move around, to go to their farms to feed themselves; I seriously warn that if the sanctity of the country’s constitution is not obeyed by its citizens, the consequences that will follow will be anarchy.

“The 27 former Members of the Rivers State House of Assembly have automatically forfeited their seats in accordance with section 109 (1g) 2 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, which states; “g, being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another part before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected; 2, The Speaker of the House of Assembly shall give effect to subsection (1) of this section, so however that the Speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of the member.”

“Above all, section 1 of our Supreme Law i.e. the constitution states, “Sub1, this Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

“You also have to protect the constitution of Nigeria without which there will be no Nigeria.

“Mr Inspector General of Police, it is even more disturbing that these former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly are carrying out their illegal activities under the cover of policemen in uniform on whom rest a primary duty to enforce the law. This must be very disturbing to you as it is to all responsible Nigerians.

“Finally, I sincerely appeal to you to use your office as head of the Law enforcement arm of the country to advise Mr President and other members of the National Security Council of which you are the centre, to bring this show of shame to an end and spare Nigeria from being a laughing stock to the entire world.

“This is more so as Mr President and all of you swore to protect and defend the constitution of Nigeria, which now appears to be overlooked despite the glaring infringement being openly carried out in favour of one individual and his followers,” Clark further warned.

About Dennis Essang, Port Harcourt and Kehinde Osasona, Abuja 

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