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Appeal Court Adjourns Rivers State’s Tenure Elongation Hearing Till July 4

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An Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, has adjourned till July 4 2024 to continue hearing on the matter brought before it by the outgone chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area on the elongation of the council leadership tenure.

This was as President Bola Tinubu was on Friday, advised not to listen to the anti-democratic forces prodding him to declare a state of emergency in Rivers State following the ongoing political crisis.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Adolphus Wabara, gave the advice on Friday, in a phone chat with journalists in Umuahia.

Equally, an erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People Democratic Party (nPDP) and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, stated that the call for emergency rule in the state was dead on arrival.

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The outgone chairman of Opobo/Nkoro, Enyiada Cookey-Gam and six others had filed the suit at the appellate court, seeking the court to quash the amendment on Local Government Law made by the Martin Amaewhule led Rivers State House of Assembly, which extended the tenure of the outgone chairmen of the 23 LGAs to six months.

Cookey-Gam and others in the matter registered in suit No: CA/PH/145M/2024 against the governor of the state and others wants the court to disregard the law which was solely consented by Amaewhule-led Assembly after they passed it into law following the political crisis in the state.

When the matter was mentioned on Friday on virtual sitting, the three-man panel of Justice Jimi Olukayode Bada, Justice Hama Akawu Barka and Justice Balkisu Bello Aliyu, adjourned till July 4 for continued hearing.

Meanwhile, Wabara also advised the President not allow himself to fall into the temptation of taking a regrettable political decision being orchestrated by “self-seeking anti-democratic forces stoking the embers of war in Rivers State”.

“I have keenly watched the political developments in Rivers State, and want to place it on record that PDP and the law-abiding citizens of this country will not tolerate any attempt to derail democracy in the state,” he said.

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The former Senate President insisted that “there is nothing happening in the state that warrants the call for state of emergency as being demanded by these fake apostles of peace,”,adding that any rash action by the President could plunge Rivers into anarchy.

“I, therefore, call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, not to allow greedy and self-overrated power drunks to push him into taking steps that could portray him as a despot, and ultimately plunge the country into avoidable upheaval,” he said.

Wabara specifically warned that any action to undermine democracy or dismantle a democratically elected government of Governor Siminalayi Fubara could spark a chain reaction that won’t augur well for the entire nation.

He said: “We won’t allow anti-democratic forces and insatiable elements hijack power through the back door in their desperation to hang on to power and hold the state to the jugular.

“Any attempt to scuttle the democratically elected PDP-led Government in Rivers is a recipe to a political unrest capable of consuming the entire country.”

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The political crisis in Rivers rose to frightening temperature when council chairmen defied the state governor and refused to leave office at the expiration of their tenure.

Wabara decried the police takeover of the headquarters of all the 23 local governments of the state after angry youths had stormed the council headquarters and forced out the chairmen who refused to vacate office. 

He expressed dismay over the on-going political developments in the oil-rich Rivers State, arguing that there was no constitutional basis for the council chairmen to stay put after completing their terms of office.

In a related development, Eze, an APC chieftain, said the target by some detractors of the state government to create an unhealthy and crisis ridden environment in the state will be defended by lovers of peace who appreciate the developmental strides of Governor Fubara’s administration.

He also called on Tinubu to disregard the call by the Caretaker Committee Chairman in the state, Tony Okocha, for emergency rule, saying that the “motives are in sharp contrast to the administrative precepts of President Tinubu and Governor Siminalaye Fubara who is committed to realign Rivers on the path of progress.”                                  

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Eze, in a statement made available to journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, dismissed the alleged report that the former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, led the massive borrowings from China that has put Nigeria in a dungeon.

Exonerating Amaechi further, Eze said “the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning works with the MDAs under whose portfolio a proposed loan falls and also with the Debt Management Office. Thereafter, the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is sought.

“It is only after the approval by FEC that the President requests for the approval of the National Assembly (NASS) as required by Section 41 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007. More importantly, it is only after the approval of NASS that the loans are taken and Nigeria begins to draw down on the loans.”

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo and Blessing Ibunge

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