•Nobody can intimidate me, impeachment not a coup, FCT minister insists
•Crisis will be resolved, says Fubara, PDP govs plan Port Harcourt meeting
A Rivers State High Court sitting in Isiokpo, on Wednesday, issued an interim order restraining the Rivers State House of Assembly from proceeding with the planned impeachment of Governor Siminalayi Fubara.
The court restrained the Speaker of the House, Martin Amaewhule, Deputy Speaker, Dumle Mao, the Clerk of the House, and the State Chief Judge, Justice Simeon Chibuzor-Amadi.
Justice O. Ben-Whyte issued the restraining order after Fubara’s lawyer, Damian Okoro, argued before him an ex parte application marked IHC/230/CS/2023.
The judge, in his ruling, held that: “It is hereby ordered that the parties in the case maintain the status quo in the case by the applicant as the Governor of Rivers State pending the application of the Motion on Notice.
“The case is hereby adjourned till the 14th of November, 2023 for the argument of the Motion on Notice.”
The court injunction is the latest in the unfolding political drama in Rivers State, which began on Monday night with the bombing of the state Assembly complex over the plot by the lawmakers to remove the governor. The lawmakers’ action is at the instance of Fubara’s predecessor, Nyesom Wike, who is now the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
Wike, on Wednesday, refused all entreaties to resolve the political feud with Fubara despite the intervention of President Bola Tinubu and the Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum.
At a meeting with PDP governors in Abuja on Wednesday, Wike justified the impeachment plot against Fubara as constitutional.
He also warned Fubara against any alliance with his political enemies to undermine him.
But undeterred by the minister’s belligerence, Fubara at a forum in Port Harcourt, hinted that the crisis would be resolved, describing his relationship with Wike as that of a father and son.
The PUNCH reports that moves by 24 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly loyal to Wike to impeach Fubara had resulted in turbulence in the state on Monday, as the governor’s loyalists stormed the assembly complex in protest against the plot.
In a bid to resolve the spat between the two men, the President held a meeting with Wike and Fubara on Tuesday while the PDP governors led by their Chairman and Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, also met with the minister 24 hours later.
Governors who attended the meeting included Governors Ahmadu Fintri (Adamawa), Caleb Muftwang (Plateau) and Agbu Kefas of Taraba State.
Addressing journalists after the meeting that lasted about 25 minutes, the Bauchi State governor described Wike as ‘a jolly good fellow who is dispensing national service to Nigeria as a minister of the FCT.’
He noted, “Because of the maturity and leadership of the minister and the intervention of President Bola Tinubu, this crisis is going to be nipped in the bud.
“We know the person of Wike, his contribution to politics and national development; we know his relationship and his achievements in politics. So, we are not surprised that this matter is coming to an end.”
Wike justifies stand
However, the former Rivers State governor told his guests that he could not be intimidated while justifying the impeachment plot against Fubara as constitutional.
Wike stated, “They (PDP governors) have talked about the crisis in Rivers state. Let me tell anybody who cares that nobody can intimidate me.
“It does not matter whether you go and bring thugs, or you say you are Ijaw, if I want to do something, I will do it. Impeachment is not a military coup; impeachment is provided under the constitution.’’
Reacting to speculations that the crisis stemmed from the financial demands he was making on his successor, he said, “About the rumours of money; all that is rubbish. I just left office a few months ago and I am now the FCT minister. So, which money?
‘’But nobody can take away our political structure, no one. I have listened to them and for me, you cannot work and people will begin to bring enemies, those who fought you; nobody does that.’’
The ex-governor cautioned those peddling alleged rumours and lies on social media, stating that he had “the capacity to fight back.”
He added, “I am not a political ingrate, but don’t touch the political structure in Rivers State; I will not shut my eyes. Forget about the Obidients and the Atikulates, who have lost, who felt I did not support them and those whom I revoked their C of O (Certificate of Occupancy).
“Wike did this and that because I did not support their presidential candidates; all those things I am not perturbed, I will only do what is right.”
On what transpired at the meeting, a source hinted that Wike narrated his grievances against Fubara to the governors in turn who appealed to him to allow peace to reign in Rivers State.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the source said, “Wike told the governors how he struggled to ensure Fubara succeeded him, but now, the Rivers State governor is empowering his political enemies and distorting his political structure to bring him down.
“President Tinubu made some recommendations to Governor Fubara and Wike for peace to reign. So, the governors agreed to wait for the result and also plan to have a similar meeting with the Rivers State governor.”
Meanwhile, Fubara expressed confidence on Wednesday that the crisis between him and Wike would be resolved.
Fubara stated this when the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Christopher Musa, led a military delegation to the Government House in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday.
Fubara further said it was not out of place for “a father and a son to have problems.”
He said, “For our dear state, I know everybody is wondering what’s going on, what’s not going on. We are okay, there is no problem.
“If we have an internal issue, it will be resolved and everything will go back to normal.
“There is nothing wrong if a father and a son have a problem; if there is any problem, but I don’t think there is anything. Whatever it is, we will definitely resolve the issue.”
Youths get bail
Meanwhile, a magistrate court sitting in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday, granted bail to 120 youths who were arrested during a protest in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
They were arrested after they allegedly invaded the official residence of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, following the political crisis in the state.
The youths, including the state Chairman of the National Youths Council of Nigeria, Chijioke Ihunwo, were arraigned on Wednesday on five counts bordering on “conspiracy, causing a riot, damaging the house gate of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, unlawful assembly and causing breach of public peace.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The magistrate, Gift Amadi, granted the Legal Adviser to NYCN, Chigozie Emem, bail on self-recognition while the 119 other defendants were granted N100,000 bail each.
The matter was adjourned till December 5 for trial.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel for the defendants, Higher King, described their arraignment as malicious prosecution.
He stated, “What transpired in court is what I will call malicious prosecution where people that have a constitutional right to protest and express their anger were rounded up by the Nigeria Police. About 121 of them were brought to court this morning and they couldn’t even sustain their charges.
“As God will have it and the law too, they have been granted bail. We are presently perfecting the bail, and they will go home today. It is a bailable offence.”
The Rivers State Police Command had earlier confirmed the arrest of 122 youths for allegedly invading the Speaker’s residence.
The state Commissioner of Police, Emeka Nwonyi, in a statement on Wednesday, said the protesters were led by Ihunwo.
In a related development, a former militant leader, now Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom in Okrika, Rivers State, Ateke Tom, has warned against adding ethnic dimensions to the dispute between Fubara and Wike.
This was as he condemned the police attack on the governor as unacceptable.
“I strongly urge for peace and reconciliation in light of the strained relationship between these two leaders. It is essential that we do not give an ethnic dimension to this issue. This dispute should not be exploited for political gain,’’ the former militant counselled.
Also, a former presidential aspirant under the platform of the All Progressives Congress, Tein Jack-Rich, on Wednesday, called for calm in the wake of the Sunday night attack on the Rivers State House of Assembly.