- House approves caretaker c’ttee
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital has dissolved the 22 local government chairmen elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, six days to the exit of immediate past governor, Rotimi Amaechi from office on May 29, 2015.
In a ruling yesterday, Justice Lambo Akanbi, described the decision of the administration of Amaechi to conduct the election, in contravention of the court order that the parties should maintain the status quo as a “flagrant abuse of a court processes and disregard for the rule of law.”
Nigerian Pilot recalls that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in suit No. FHC/PH/CS/84/2015, had prayed the court to declare the conduct of the local government election ultra licitum. The respondents in the suit were the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, RSIEC, Amaechi and four others.
In a swift reaction, Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on Media and Publicity, Sir Opunabo Inko-Tariah, stated that, “the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, headed by Justice Lambo Akanbi, granted the prayers of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, by setting aside the sham called local government election conducted by the Prof. Augustine Ahiauzu-led Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission.”
He restated the fact that Amaechi held many wondering at the rationale for “conducting a local government election six days to his exit as governor of Rivers State when for close to two years, he administered the councils through caretaker committees”
Opunabo noted that, “It is irrefutable therefore, that the conduct of the election was only a decoy to steal more money from the system and also cover up for the ones stolen.
“What many find difficult to come to terms with is the decision to spend billions of naira on an illegal election that breached all procedural obligations such as the setting up of an election petition tribunal where aggrieved persons can ventilate their grievances and the mandatory notice that must be given before such elections can be conducted amongst others; when civil servants, pensioners, contractors and a host of others are being owed for months. Ministries stopped receiving monthly overheads since September last year.”
But Special Adviser to the state APC Chairman, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, who acknowledged the court ruling, said: “It is true that a Federal High Court dissolved a well-constituted local government council that was duly elected by Rivers people barely a month ago. It is very sad and unfortunate.
“This notwithstanding, we will study this unfortunate development and unholy judgement against the people of Rivers.”
Meanwhile, the Rivers State House of Assembly has screened and cleared caretaker committee chairmen and members into 22 of the 23 councils in the state.
The screening, which commenced at about 4.30pm, came a few hours after Justice Akanbi nullified the election on the grounds that it was an abuse of court processes and order.
The House had gone into a closed-door session for over four hours before reconvening for the screening.
The Speaker, Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, informed the lawmakers of a request from Governor Wike of the House to screen and confirm the nominees.
In their submissions after the screening, House Leader, Hon. Martin Amaewhule and Deputy Speaker, Hon. Stanley Marshall Uwom, called on the House to approve the screening.
According to Uwom, Rivers people were in dire need of good governance at the grassroots, pointing out that governance at the local level had been in shambles since 2006.
In his ruling, Ibani said governance does not allow for a vacuum. The 29 lawmakers present at the sitting voted unanimously to clear the nominees.
Onelga is the only council not dissolved as the tenure of the leadership which will end next year.