• Thursday, April 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Rivers crisis deepens as House of Assembly vetoes Fubara on LG chairmen’s tenure

Fubara reveals plans to make Rivers new medical tourism hub

…Opposition lawmakers in NASS kick, warn of anarchy

Anarchy may be brewing in Rivers as 27 members of the State House of Assembly, believed to be backed by the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, have overridden the signature of the state Governor, Sim Fubara, to amend the Local Council Law and have gone ahead to enact the House of Assembly Service Law.

The lawmakers on Friday ruled against Fubara to enact the Rivers State House of Assembly (RSHA) Service Commission Law. The House ruled against Fubara after convening an emergency sitting.

This is the second time the state lawmakers will override Fubara’s assent on bills.

In January, the House ruled against the governor’s assent to four Bills that were earlier passed and sent to him for assent.

The House decided to override the Governor’s assent during its 99th legislative sitting at the Assembly quarters.

This was contained in a statement issued by Martins Wachukwu, media aide to the Speaker of the State Assembly, Martins Amaewhule, and made available to the media.

The statement said that the lawmakers decided after the Governor withheld his assent to the four Bills.

In like manner, the Rivers State Local Government Law (Amendment) Bill, the Rivers State Traditional Rulers’ Law (Amendment) Bill, and the Rivers State Advertisement and Use of State-owned Property Prohibition (Repeal) Bill were all represented, debated, and voted upon with a unanimous decision to override the Governor’s assent.

Rumbles in NASS:

The action in the Rivers State House of Assembly (RSHA) has however, caused reaction at the National Assembly (NASS) where some opposition lawmakers have kicked against what they termed illegal extension of Rivers local councils. They have begun to mobilise for NASS takeover, and a lawsuit to stop what they called legislative rascality.

The members of the opposition parties in the House of Representatives under the aegis of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) on Friday vehemently kicked against what they saw as the level of impunity allegedly being perpetrated by some lawmakers who defected from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The NASS group (CUPP) said the lawmakers were defectors who have turned round to illegally extend the tenure of the 23 chairmen of local councils whose tenure is expected to end in a few weeks (middle of June 2024).

The CUPP spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere from Ideato federal constituency in Imo State, who spoke on behalf of the federal lawmakers during a press briefing held in Abuja, condemned the action of the Rivers’ lawmakers.

Ugochinyere, who described the passage of controversial legislation as a recipe for chaos and lawlessness, argued that the purported tenure elongation of the Rivers State Local Government chairmen amounted to “legislative rascality and a coup against democracy that is dead on arrival.”

While condemning the alleged abuse of the legislative process that he said cannot be enforced, the CUPP spokesman maintained that the ugly development is an “attempt to sabotage the presidential peace accord signed by the embattled lawmakers with legitimacy questions.”

Ugochinyere, who reiterated the CUPP stance against the development, urged the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately conduct a bye-election for the replacement of the lawmakers who defected from the PDP to the APC in breach of the provisions of the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

He further said: “Assuming without conceding that the Rivers House of Assembly sent the law to the Governor, the Governor has 30 days within which to assent to the law or withhold his assent, and it can only be at the expiration of the 30 days that the House of Assembly can adjudge that the Governor has withheld assent and not earlier.”

He further said: “Illegally extending the tenure of local government chairmen just a few weeks to the expiration of their tenure is an abuse of the legislative process that cannot be enforced. It is the height of legislative rascality and a coup against democracy that is dead on arrival.”

The opposition parties’ spokesperson further said that the plot was a deliberate invitation to anarchy and an inglorious attempt by the Rivers lawmakers to sabotage the Presidential Peace Accord.

“These Rivers Assembly men are truly acting like people who do not hold the sacred mandate of the people. Otherwise, they should have known that this plot was a deliberate invitation to anarchy and an inglorious attempt to sabotage the Presidential Peace Accord. We hereby call on the President to call them in order to avert a total breakdown of law and order in the state.”

He recalled that some two months ago, the same group of members purported to have amended the same local government law. Less than two months later, they are purporting to amend it again. “They are now clearly playing Ping-Pong with Rivers State laws.”

Ikenga Ugochinyere further questioned, “How could the agenda of people who call themselves lawmakers in a state be to strip the Executive Governor of their state of all executive powers, and they are comfortable with it? If they attach any value to the lives of the people of Rivers State, they would support the governor of Rivers State to succeed, for the benefit of the people, rather than support anything that would undermine him and set him up for failure, including instigating anarchy.

“Every reasonable and right-thinking citizen of Rivers State should rally around the governor to ensure he succeeds and bring the dividends of democracy to the people. The rate at which the Martin Amaehwule-led House of Assembly is moving and trying to ignite violence in Rivers State should tell the police that these are most likely the persons who set the House of Assembly Complex ablaze, and because they got out of it, are now willing to set the entire state on fire,” he noted.

While acknowledging that the ongoing legislative crises rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly have created constitutional crises, he disclosed that CUPP is already mobilising towards the National Assembly to take over the activities of the Rivers State House of Assembly in line with extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).