• Friday, July 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Judicial solution on Rivers LGs’ crisis not in sight

Court reserves judgement on six-year old Offa robbery case

…As Appeal Court moves ruling indefinitely

…IG orders continued seal off of Council secretariats

All hope that judicial verdict would come out Thursday, June 20, 2024 on who should man the 23 local council areas in Rivers State, was quashed when the Court of Appeal resolved to move the verdict indefinitely.

Police squads have also continued to mount at the various local government areas as the Inspector-General of Police was said to have ordered a continued seal-off.

By this, the Nyesom Wike-backed (former) council chairmen are waiting to win and move back, while the Sim Fubara-backed caretaker committees resumed Wednesday, June 19, 2024, waiting in the wings too.

The winning camp based on what the Appeal Court would rule, would be allowed by the police to take over, hoping violence would not erupt.

The Court of Appeal has thus, sitting in Port Harcourt, reserved ruling in the case between Martin Amaewhule and 24 others (for Wike camp) against Victor Oko-Jumbo and others (for Fubara camp).

The court, last Thursday, resolved to deliver its ruling on a later date.

The three-man panel of Justices (Jimi Olukayode Bada, Hama Barka, and Balkisu Aliyu) made this decision during its sitting on appeal number CA/PHC/198/2024, monitored virtually last Thursday.

Amaewhule and 24 others are challenging the interlocutory injunction of the justice, Charles Wali, of the Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, which validated the declaration of their seats in the Rivers State House of Assembly vacant, pending the determination of the suit before it.

The high court had also ordered Amaewhule and others to stop parading themselves as members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Rivers State House of Assembly until the conclusion of the matter before it

Amaewhule and others who were disturbed by the decision of the high court, however, approached the Court of Appeal for a stay of execution and subsequent invalidation of the ruling.

When the court sat on June 14, it urged the parties in the appeal to maintain the status quo and advised the appellants to serve all the processes on the defendant.

Amaewhule, in the suit, is seeking a stay of the interlocutory orders of the High Court and challenging the jurisdiction of the lower court to entertain the matter.

But the court resolved to deliver its decision on the subject matter on a later date to be communicated to the parties.

IG adamant

On the streets, both camps have been kept off the secretariats in all the 23 LGAs. The Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, said his men would continue to barricade all local government secretariats in Rivers State amidst the ongoing political tension.

Egbetokun made this known Thursday in Abuja while addressing journalists on the sidelines of a meeting with Commissioners of Police and other senior officers.

He disclosed that policemen would not leave the headquarters until a court judgment on the controversy over the tenure of local government council chairmen in the state.

Egbetokun said the presence of the police officers was to ensure peace and order and not to intimidate anyone.

The police boss also reiterated the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force on the need for preemptive measures to forestall any escalation of violence.

“As soon as the court makes its pronouncement, we will remove the barricade. Thank you,” he said.

A policeman and a member of a local security outfit were killed during a clash between supporters of both camps at Eberi-Omuma in the Omuma Local Government Area of the state.

Speaking with journalists on the development, the state Commissioner for Police, Olatunji Disu, said the LG council headquarters would remain shut for the time being due to the clash between the feuding parties.

Caretaker chairmen move fast, dissolve existing structures

Meanwhile, the Caretaker Committee Chairmen for the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State have moved fast after swearing in to take control of the structures. They have dissolved all standing committees.

Also, the chairmen dissolved all task forces set up by the ousted council chairmen, even as they pledged to pay all outstanding salaries owed to their predecessors.

Obio/Akpor: Chijioke Ihunwo

The Rivers State chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Chijioke Ihunwo, who took the mantle of leadership in Wike’s hometown, Obio/Akpor, moved fast and dissolved all committees working in the council and has already reconstituted some of them.

He has also received advice on the way to go from well-meaning citizens. An entrepreneur, Mayor of Housing, My-ACE China, has commended his appointment and advised him to marshal youth-friendly policies and programmes right away.

Ogu-Bolo LGA: Evans Bipi

Speaking after swearing in his members adjacent to the council secretariat in Ogu, the CTC Chairman of Ogu/Bolo LGA, Evans Bipi, said his administration would focus on human capital development, economic empowerment, and employment generation to improve the quality of life of the people.

He also promised to embark on massive stomach infrastructure to reduce hunger and poverty as well as provide grants for small and medium-scale enterprises to boost the household economy in the area while urging his committee members to be dedicated to the discharge of their duties.

“There will be human capital development, we will support women and men doing business because infrastructure without food in your stomach is zero,” he said.

To the committee members, he said, “Be firm and honest while discharging your duties. None of you should be deterred or intimidated,” he said.

He called on his predecessor and his team to return all government property in their possession.

“All council properties in the custody of the precious administration by anyone, be it power generating set, pen, and others should be returned because I will pursue you to the letter. I hereby, dissolve all standing committees. If you are a standing committee, you stand dissolved,” he said.

Eleme LGA: Brain Gokpa

In Eleme LGA, the CTC Chairman, Brain Gokpa, after swearing in his members said he would prioritise security and promised everybody along in the scheme of things.

“Many people have expressed fears that nobody can control Brain (himself), Brain is not a stupid person, he is a politician who knows that collectively we can achieve our aim because I know I cannot do it alone. We will carry our stakeholders and everybody along. So, nobody should be scared.

“Fundamentally we will not play with security and no act of indiscipline. I have been active in the security of Eleme since 2015 so I know the dynamics of security in Eleme.”

While condemning the destruction of property in the council secretariat by hoodlums, he announced the dissolution of some youth councils and standing committees.

“All standing local government committees are hereby dissolved. The revenue director should take charge of all revenues pending the appointment of committees.”

Khana LGA: Marvin Yobana

In Khana LGA, the newly sworn-in CTC Chairman, Marvin Yorbana, promised to run an all-inclusive government where young people, the elderly, and women will be empowered.

Yorbana, shortly after swearing-in members charged them to work together to build the LGA, saying, “For our members let us work together as a team, collaborate, put ideas together even with the leaders of Khana both at the community and government levels, women and youths to make us succeed,

“This government is one of empowerment. We want to build the capacity of our people and attract businesses to Khana.”

He promised to immediately execute the directives of the Governor to pay the salaries of workers and announced the dissolution of all former appointees in the area.

“All committees, both standing and whatever remain suspended from today, and anybody going on behalf of Khana LG to collect revenue from anybody or on behalf of the council should stop forthwith. Immediately we will ensure that salaries are paid, even the outgone LG chairmen and councilors,” he said.