Fubara, Wike Feud: Tinubu, PDP Governors Mediate

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday intervened in the political crisis rocking Rivers State.

Feuding Governor Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, met and exchanged pleasantries at Aso Villa, 24 hours after their disagreement boiled over in Port Harcourt.

Both men, dressed in white, shook hands before the meeting of the Police Council, which they attended.

It was learnt that the President met with them after the meeting to ensure an end to their face-off.

While brokering peace, sources said the President urged Fubrara and Wike to reconcile and work for peace and security in their state.

Governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), their party, also waded into the imbroglio.

Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, who is the chair of the PDP Governors’ Forum, told reporters that the governors were pleased with the President’s intervention and would cooperate with him to end the crisis in Rivers.

The PDP governors left the meeting venue at Aso Villa for another meeting at Oyo State House, at the end of which Governor Mohammed briefed reporters on the outcome.

According to the communiqué read by Mohammed, the PDP governors said: “The PDP governors were alarmed at the recent developments in Rivers State and welcome the intervention of Mr. President to bring the crises to an end.

“The meeting urged all parties to the Rivers crises to sheathe their sword and resort to peaceful means of resolution. The Forum further offers its platform for a quick and just containment of the issues involved.

“The meeting noted the recent judgment of the Supreme Court on the 2023 Presidential Election and believes that this brings an end to the Presidential election cycle as there must be an end to litigation.

“As a Forum, we believe and re-state our faith and confidence in the judiciary to do justice in political and other cases before the courts.

“We are concerned that while the Supreme Court has laid down precedents on pre-election issues, PDP candidates in Plateau State are being disqualified on the same grounds.

“We urge the judiciary at the apex level to ensure that our jurisprudence is not distorted. We remain vigilant in the struggle for democracy and good governance in the country.

“The meeting vowed to reposition and strengthen PDP as a viable opposition political party ready and willing to play its role as the vanguard of the Nigerian people for democracy, good governance and accountability.

“On the national economy, the meeting urgently requested the patriotic intervention of the Federal Government to stabilise the Naira, control inflation, stem the unemployment crises, and bring more succour to Nigerians.

“The PDP Governors congratulated the host, Governor Seyi Makinde for his hospitality in hosting of the meeting.”

Governor Fubara attended the meeting.

Other governors in attendance were Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta), Ademola Adeleke (Osun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Agbu Kefas (Taraba), Dauda Lawal (Zamfara), and Enugu State Deputy Governor Ifeanyi Ossai.

PDP governors laud President on Judicial freedom

Speaking at the Villa, Muhammed said: “The governors of the PDP, on their behalf, I spoke and extolled the leadership qualities of the President, congratulated him, expressing appreciation that all the PDP governors who had gone through the tribunals have emerged victorious. We know that is leadership.

“There was professionalism in the conduct, the way and manner the judiciary is working under his leadership and he has shown that he’s a President for everybody; a President for PDP, a President for APC.

“By intervening today and bringing succour and solace to the people of Rivers and Nigeria, he did not use his big hammer and biro to extricate and emasculate us as opposition.

“We find this to be very good and going forward, we pledge that we’re going to work with him to bring good governance to the people of Nigeria.”

At the home front, Rivers elders also appealed to the House of Assembly to shelve impeachment proceedings against the governor.

Former Governor Ada George, former federal legislator Dr. Dakuku Peterside and former Information commissioner, Ibim Semenitari sued for peace in the interest of the state.

But, other South-South leaders threw their weight behind Fubara, urging him to assert himself and take charge of his government.

A crisis hit the state on Sunday when suspected arsonists bombed the House of Assembly complex.

On Monday, the crisis escalated following the decision of the House of Assembly, led by Speaker Martin Amaehule, to impeach the governor.

There was confusion as the pro-Fubara lawmakers, led by the sacked Majority Leader, Edison Ehie, made him Speaker.

The governor, who had stormed the Assembly complex, alleged a security breach against him as chief security officer of the state.

Rivers: Fubara didn’t sack aides

The Rivers Government denied reports that Fubara had sacked some of his aides and local government chairmen.

The Commissioner for Information and Communication, Warisenibo Johnson, said in a statement that the report was false.

He said: “This is to clarify that His Excellency has not given me such directive as the official spokesman of the state government as of today Tuesday, October 31, 2023.

“Our dear governor is a technocrat, with a robust civil service background, kind-hearted and a very humane person who does things according to laid down rules and with the fear of God.

“We, therefore, ask Rivers people and the general public to jettison such unconfirmed reports as the public will be properly informed of who may have been removed by His Excellency at the appropriate time.”

The commissioner also said Fubara has not suspended the ring road project in Port-Harcourt, the state capital.

He said: “The attention of Rivers State Government has been drawn to news being circulated that the flagship project of Gov. Siminalayi Fubara, GSSRS, the 50.15km Dual Carriage Ring Road has been suspended.

“We wish to inform Rivers people and the general public to disregard such information as false.

“The project is for the advancement of our state and the improvement of the economy of our dear state, therefore nothing whatsoever can stop it at this stage.

“For the avoidance of doubt, 77 per cent of the contract sum has been paid and the construction firm is making frantic efforts to complete the job within schedule.

“Please, let’s be guided as we seek information and news managers should always verify their stories before going to the public space.”

Fubara recognises new Speaker

However, Fubara vowed to resist any attempt to disrupt governance in the state under the cover of impeachment.

The governor, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant, Media, Boniface Onyedi, also recognised Ehie as the new Speaker.

He insisted that persons planning his impeachment must come clean and list his offences.

The governor said: “If Siminalayi Fubara is impeached, I am not the first, neither will I be the last. But what is important is 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.”

Fubara acknowledged the massive turnout of Rivers people in solidarity as an indication that they were willing to protect the interest of the state.

He added: “Let me assure Rivers people that I will continue to defend Rivers State, protect the people and make sure that you all enjoy the dividends of democracy.”

Fubara urged Ehie, who represents Ahoada East Constituency II, to uphold the sanctity of the law and legislature.

Ijaw youths condemn impeachment plot

Members of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide vowed to ‘fight’ to thwart the impeachment plot.

In a statement by the group’s spokesman, Princewill Binebai, the NYC described the move as an attempt to remove the Ijaws from the governance of the state.

It called on President Tinubu and Inspector-General Egbetokun Olukayode to redeploy the Rivers State Commissioner of Police.

The group alleged that the CP took sides in the matter involving the governor and the lawmakers following a “display of impunity from security officials firing teargas, gunshots and the spraying of hot water targeted at the governor”.

It added: “As a council, we are warning that the proponents of this undemocratic act in Rivers State must refrain forthwith from such plot as the IYC Worldwide will fight with all they have to protect the governor, an illustrious Ijaw son.”

Rivers elders move to halt impeachment

Rivers elders, including former Governor Peter Odili; Chairman, Rivers Traditional Rulers Council, Ohna Seargent Awuse; Chairman of Rivers Elders Forum, Ferdinand Anabrara; former federal legislator, Ken Chikere and former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) OCJ Okocha (SAN), yesterday moved to reconcile the warring gladiators.

Awuse, Anabrara, Okocha and Chikere held a meeting with Fubara at the Government House on how to end the crisis.

Although details of the meeting were not disclosed, the elders urged both camps to sheathe their swords.

Some youths kept vigil at the main gate of the Government House and continued to barricade the area yesterday.

Former Acting Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dame Ibim Semenitari, warned that political crisis would not favour the state.

She said: “the unnecessary and avoidable” development would be of no benefit to the state, advising political actors to apply the brakes.

Semenitari, who noted that Rivers had gone through many crises, said at no time was the state the ultimate beneficiary.

She said: “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 condemned the moves to impeach the governor, saying it was outrageous that only six months into the administration, some people would consider such action.

Semenitari, who also served as Commissioner for Information and Communication, said she was particularly concerned about the role of the security personnel in the saga.

She called on law enforcement agencies to decipher between loyalty to Nigerian taxpayers and political actors.

She said: “Our law enforcement agencies should always draw the line between loyalty to Nigerian taxpayers and political actors.

“It was bizarre to see Nigeria Police personnel let loose their water canon and teargas canisters on the Rivers State Governor. I condemn it in very clear terms.”

Chief Rufus Ada George condemned the crisis that led to the bombing of the hallowed chamber of the House of Assembly.

George in a statement, sued for peace and advised those he described as the dramatis personae in the crisis to seek a quick resolution.

He said the crisis can lead to violence with unimaginable consequences.

He also urged the police and other security agencies to deploy men and officers to the flashpoints to de-escalate the crisis and maintain the peace in the state.

Peterside said the once peaceful Rivers should not be turned into a theatre of the absurd by desperate political actors.

He said: “I also completely condemn the unwarranted disruption of normal governmental activities by politically motivated interest.

“All people of goodwill who love our dear State and democracy must condemn this in no mean measure.

“In good conscience, impeachment issues cannot arise in less than five months of incumbency. It sends the wrong signal that our state is a land of theatrics.

“Nothing in the political landscape has shown that the executive governor has compromised the state’s interest or put our state in a severe security quagmire.

“I have always said that no pursuit of personal interest or ambition can override the interest of Rivers and its people. We, political leaders, must always watch our actions and tame our excesses.

“I appeal to all political actors to allow time and space for the governor to do his job. Only one governor can function at a time.

“I also appeal to members of RSHA to focus on the business of law-making and get less distracted by the pursuit of personal ego or narrow pecuniary interest.

“I appeal to all leaders in Rivers to intervene in measured terms with the overall interest of our state in mind. Posterity will judge all of us. Let us allow reason to prevail.”

Youths arrested over attack on Speaker’s residence

Scores of Ijaw youths were arrested, following their attack on the official reaidence of Speaker Amaewhule.

The angry youths had invaded Amaewhule’s private residence at the Old GRA in Port Harcourt, but that they were repelled by security operatives, who rushed to the area.

The youths tried to pull down the gate and gain entry into the compound.

In a video, the Chairman of the Nigeria Youth Council, Rivers State chapter, Amb. Ihunwo Chijioke, who led the protest, was heard referring to Amaehule as a former speaker.

He threatened that the youths would burn down the house if he failed to vacate the residence within two hours.

Chijioke said Amaewhule had been removed as the speaker and had no business occupying the building.

He said: “Greatest Rivers youths, we are here because the former Speaker, Martins Amaewhule, has been impeached. We are here as Rivers youths to tell him to vacate his official residence because he has been impeached.

“If not, we are going to destroy this building because it was built by Rivers State money. He has been suspended and he should go back to his house.

“We have a new speaker, Edison Ehie. I appeal to everybody to remain calm because they must leave.”

While trying to stop them from burning the house, the police operatives were said to have shot in different directions, leading to chaos that injured many of them.

Many of them were arrested for disturbing public peace.

Youths mainly from the Ijaw extraction have been occupying the main gate of the Rivers Government House in Port Harcourt.

The spokesman of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, Bedford Benjamin, who confirmed the development, said the youths had no intention of attacking Amaewhule’s residence.

He said the aggrieved youths only went there on a peaceful protest and condemned the decision of security agents to open fire.

Benjamin said there was an unconfirmed report that someone was killed by the bullets, adding that many of the protesters sustained injuries.

He said one of the youths and Chairman, the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Rivers State chapter, Chijioke Ihunwo and many others were arrested and thrown into a cell.

Bedford said: “We condemn in strong terms the sporadic shooting at peaceful protesters at the factional speaker’s residential area in Rivers state.

“One person is feared dead from the shooting; many others sustained gun wounds and other degrees of injuries.

“We demand the unconditional release of the chairman of Rivers State Youth Council and the numerous Ijaw youths who are being arrested and detained unlawfully.

“Peaceful protests are backed by law, and anybody who is bent on usurping the will of the people will be resisted by the people.

“We urge those saddled with the responsibility of maintaining peace and stability in the state not to play politics in the discharge of their duty as that can lead to further dangerous outcomes.

“The IYC calls on the Federal Government to step in immediately before the outcome disrupts the economy of the state and by extension the nation.

“We can not afford this level of civil criminality in a democratic system.”

The Rivers Police command was yet to release an official statement on the development.