Pro-Fubara lawmakers demand election to replace 27 Assembly members

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The Rivers State House of Assembly members loyal to Governor Siminalayi Fubara, said it had written to the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct elections to fill the vacant seats in the state legislature.

Recall that five months into his administration, Governor Fubara fell out of favour with his predecessor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.

 

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Afam Osigwe

Chukwuemeka Mbamala

Chukwuemeka Mbamala

Their disagreement was said to have stemmed from some misunderstanding between the governor and the FCT minister.

 

Feeling slighted, Fubara started avoiding Wike and soon afterwards, both leaders were no longer seen together attending important state functions.

There were unconfirmed reports that there were also disagreements concerning the state finances.

 

In October 2023, there were moves by members of the State House of Assembly to change its leadership, which led to the attempt by 27 lawmakers loyal to the FCT minister to impeach the governor.

 

This move was led by the factional Speaker, Martin Amaewhule.

Preceding the failed impeachment attempt was the bombing of the state House of Assembly on October 31st, 2023.

 

Following the planned impeachment, the Amaewhule-led 27 lawmakers announced their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress during a sitting at a section of the bombed complex.

 

Subsequent to the development, one of the four lawmakers loyal to the governor, Edison Ehie, at a news briefing, said 25 of his colleagues elected him as the new Speaker.

 

Ehie thereafter announced the suspension of some members, and during plenary at the Government House in Port Harcourt, he, as the factional Speaker, declared the seats of the 27 defected lawmakers vacant.

He stated that the House would write to INEC to conduct fresh elections to fill the alleged vacancies in the House.

 

Ehie, later resigned his membership of the House after President Bola Tinubu, intervened in the crisis and called the feuding parties (Fubara and his estranged political godfather, Wike) to Abuja, leading to an eight-point agenda, including the representation of the budget to the Martin Amaewhule led House loyal to Wike.

 

However, the current factional leader of the House, Sokari Goodboy, while speaking to our correspondent on the telephone on Friday, said the House had already written to INEC on the need to conduct fresh election to replace the lawmakers who defected to the APC.

Goodboy stated, “We have already written to INEC when Edison Ehie, was the Speaker.”

 

Asked if the House had received a feedback from INEC, he promised to find out and get back to our correspondent.

 

He had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report on.

However, a source in INEC, who does not want his name mentioned because he was not authorised to speak, said though it would not be possible to ascertain of the commission had received such a letter from the Rivers State House of Assembly, the commission would act based on court pronouncement on the matter.

 

The source recalled that some of the issues concerning the defection of 27 lawmakers’s defection and the alleged declaration of the seats vacant were still in court.

 

“The commission cannot conduct fresh election in the 27 state constituencies because some of these matters are still in court,” the source stressed.

 

But efforts to get confirmation from the National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun, proved futile, as he did not answer several calls put across to his mobile phone.

Meanwhile, an Abuja-based human rights lawyer, Tolu Babaleye, said only the court had the right to declare a seat vacant before INEC could conduct an election for the vacant seat.

 

He said, “It is not the responsibility of one politician to proclaim the seat of another vacant because that would be usurping the power of the court and under the principle of the separation of power, it is not allowed.

 

“It is the court that can proclaim the seat vacant, no other court can do it. If a court declares it vacant, it remains so until another court says otherwise. But until that happens, INEC has the obligation to conduct the elections for the vacant seat.”

 

In another development, former Rivers State governor, Dr Peter Odili, has said the incumbent governor, Fubara, has taken full control of governance in the state.

This was as the governor declared that the delivery of development projects and social services by his administration would not be politicised because they were geared towards solving pertinent needs faced by the people of the state.

 

The governor explained that while every human and societal challenge could not be solved in one fell swoop, every promise made would be fulfilled within available resources and delivered on schedule.

 

Both Fubara and Odili spoke at the inauguration of the dualised Omoku-Egbema Road project, which took place at De Masters Hotel Junction, Obrikom Road, Omoku Town in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area on Saturday.

Odili, while performing the project inauguration, commended the governor for rightly focusing on the people in line with his chosen mantra, ‘People First’, adding that God has destined him to govern the state.

 

He stated, “Your Excellency, the man God destined to govern Rivers State, a man whose life reflects the fear of God, a man who doesn’t talk too much but does a lot.

 

“The governor by the way he has taken off is in full control of governance in Rivers State. We want to thank him because governance is about the people. He has chosen the mantra, ‘People first’. What else can be added to that? He is demonstrating it by action.

 

Speaking about the project, Fubara said, “When the project was added to the list of projects to mark our one year in office, there was a challenge, but the contractor assured us of delivering it, which is a reality today.

“What are we doing today? We are here to tell our people that they are the most important thing to us. We are here to assure you that every part of this State will have positive impact of our administration.”

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