* Apologise to Rivers people, APC reprimands Wike, lawmakers
By Egufe Yafugborhi, PORT HARCOURT
GOVERNOR Nyesom Wike has signed a legislative instrument passed by Rivers State House of Assembly revoking earlier statutory recognition and rewards to 2007 deposed governor, Sir Celestine Omehia, as former governor of the state.
The new legislative order signed by Wike Friday at the Government House, Port Harcourt, also demands embattled Omehia to refund N695.5Million state privileges he had benefitted while his status as former governor lasted with further benefits halted forthwith.
The governor who was handed the instrument by the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Prof Zacchaeus Adangor, said he has always respected resolutions from the State Assembly, never having any reason to disagree with the legislative arm of his administration.
He said, “Yesterday, I received a resolution from the Assembly de-recognising Sir Celestine Omehia who had enjoyed the privileges of a former governor of the State. You will recollect some time in 2007/2008, my predecessor, His Excellency Chibuike Amaechi did not recongnise Sir Omehia as a former governor of the State.
“When we came on board, there were issues and the Assembly felt that having served as governor, he should enjoy the status of a former governor. I’ve always respected the resolutions of the Assembly. I’ve never one day disagreed with anything the Assembly has sent to me.
“The leader of the house said they have better facts. The facts are the Supreme Court judgment categorically stated that Sir Omehia was never a governor, because he never stood for any election and that it will be inappropriate for their (assembly) legacy that they didn’t respect the judgement of the Supreme Court.”
“In this part of our country, people will praise you when it suits them, but when you do the uncommon thing, people will not praise you. I had to call the Attorney General to give me his legal opinion as regards the resolution of the Assembly, and rightly Attorney General said they (the assembly) are right.
“That in the first instance, the recognition was extra-judicial, that the Assembly has no power to change the judgment of any court, not to talk about the Supreme Court. So, people should understand and not to begin to play politics.”
Governor Wike explained as untrue, insinuation in the media that Sir Celestine Omehia was derecognised because he had ceased to be his ally, and is now a member of the presidential campaign council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Remember, last time, the National Assembly, when they were making the amendment of the Electoral Act, everybody said they should include the card reader and that was in 2018/2019.
“The National Assembly did not do it, particularly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) members and people told them what they were doing will hunt them. Posterity will not forgive you if you do not allow democracy to thrive.
“In the new Electoral Amendment Act, because they knew they did not do the right thing, they had to include it and you can see that members of the National Assembly are happy that they have done the right thing”, he analysed.
He further pointed, “If this did not happen, nobody will even know that the State government has been coughing out such amount of money to pay as benefits. I’m sure, they must have told you that no benefits and all entitlements were never paid, that is what you hear everywhere.
“But yesterday, when it was revealed that the State government coughed out such amount of money to pay as benefits as recommended by the Assembly and now, they have sent the resolution to me, I thank God. Today, without looking back, I have signed it as instrument and it will be gazetted for record purposes.”
Apologise to Rivers people, APC demands
Meanwhile, All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers has asked Governor Wike and the State Assembly to apologise to Rivers people for recanting according to Sir Omehia the status and privileges as former governor against the decision of the Supreme Court.
Darlington Nwauju, Rivers APC Spokesperson, in a statement on the development, noted as, “One example of legislative brigandage wherein the Rivers Assembly brazenly committed an affront on the 25th of October 2007 judgement of the Supreme Court of Nigeria which declared that in the eyes of the law, Sir Celestine Omehia was never a Governor of Rivers State.
“Back in 2015, it was politically correct to recognise Omehia but with the political realities of today, it’s no longer expedient. A State Assembly maliciously disregarded the letters and spirit of the October 25 2007 judgement, only to turn around to shamelessly demand that the privileges Omehia enjoyed as a result of its infantile rascality in 2015, be refunded within 7days.
“Should the Rivers State House of Assembly not be apologizing to Rivers people by now for poor representation? A Greek gift offered by Sir Omehia to spite former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, was today effortlessly retrieved.
“The deployment of political might in Rivers State and the obvious abuse of such powers is a dangerous signal to the growth of democracy in the State.
“How can a State House of Assembly which should ordinarily should serve as the bastion of democracy, the voice and conscience of Rivers people, be reduced to the Governor’s lackey and attack dog against the Governor’s perceived political enemies? Let Rivers people judge.”