Rivers elders reject 8-point directive on political crisis

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Elders of Rivers State comprising former governors, traditional rulers, academia and technocrats have rejected the eight-point resolution reached at a reconciliation meeting between Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, and Rivers State Governor, Similanayi Fubara. The reconciliation meeting was presided over by President Bola Tinubu on Monday evening.

The group in a communique issued at the end of its meeting, which extended into the wee hours of Wednesday, said the directives, reportedly given by the President, contravened the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The group stated that the directives unilaterally suspended the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue of an attempt to reverse a court order recognising Edison Ehie as the Speaker and directing that the members of the House of Assembly who dumped the Peoples Democratic Party for the All Progressives Congress constituted the quorum for legislative business.

The communique stated, “That the directive also contravenes the hallowed doctrine and practice of separation of powers, particularly as it affect the responsibility of the judiciary. Can Mr President or the executive arm of government overrule the decision of courts of competent jurisdiction? This portends executive rascality which undermines our constitutional democracy, rule of law and good governance.

“The directives to the parties were one-sided in favour of Chief Nyesom Wike, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and at the detriment of the governor, Siminialayi Fubara, and the good people of Rivers State. In the eyes of the law and due process, as evidenced by the Rivers State High Court decision, the Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule and his team have ceased to exist in the state House of Assembly having defected to another political party, and therefore cannot be reinstated and remunerated through the back door.

“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. It is, therefore, hypocritical to suggest that the Rivers State House of Assembly under Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule could sit anywhere of their choice, whereas in Abuja, it is the FCT Minister, on behalf of the executive arm, that provides accommodation for federal legislators. The very reason why the FCT Minister was referred to as the ‘Landlord Of Abuja’ by Mr President at the presentation of the 2024 budget.”

The communique also stressed that the directive to re-present the budget passed and signed into law was a clear attempt to ridicule and denigrate the office of the governor and the good people of Rivers State, including the judiciary.

“In public administration parlance, a person can exit service either by resignation, sack, voluntarily retirement or death. It is therefore preposterous for the President to direct that the people who have exited service for personal reasons be re-absorbed,” it added.

The group enjoined all responsible citizens of Rivers State to rise up “in this our moment of truth, to salvage the soul of Rivers State”.