Rivers Assembly orders former governor to refund N696m to state coffers
De-recognizes him as governor
By Chris Ezeonoh,
The crisis rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) occasioned by the after-effect of its presidential primaries and choice of running mate to its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is strangely having more ripple effects in the Rivers State chapter of the party.
Governor Wike who is at the center of the crisis, amidst the spirited moves being made by the PDP hierarchy to appease him is rather digging more pits for his perceived political ‘enemies’ to be swallowed.
Aside from holding the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar by the jugulars with his co-governors, the G-five, Wike has also descended on his former allies in Rivers State, deploying all weapons in his arsenal to frustrate them.
The latest in the quest to deconstruct his former allies in the state is the motion passed Thursday by the ‘tethered’ State House of Assembly de-recognizing Sir Celestine Omehia as former governor of the state.
Recall that the Supreme Court in 2007 had sacked Omehia as governor declaring that the law did not recognize him as governor following the circumstances that threw him up as then governorship candidate of PDP in the state. In Omehia’s place, the apex court ordered that Chibuike Amaechi who was validly nominated as the governorship candidate of PDP should be sworn in as governor.
However, when Wike ascended to the position of governor in 2015, he and the state Assembly gave recognition to Omehia as governor and paid him all entitlements due to elected governors including enlisting him as a beneficiary of the pension scheme for past governors.
The bubble however burst when Wike took on Atiku and the leadership of PDP over his failed bid to become the party’s presidential flag bearer and declared ‘war’ on whosoever had sympathy for Atiku.
Known figures in Rivers PDP including former Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, Hon. Austine Opara, former minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, Senator Lee Maeba, Celestine Omehia, among others who refused to toe Wike’s line were declared persona non grata by the governor.
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The motion by the Assembly to derecognize Omehia according to insiders is not unconnected to the stand-off between Governor Wike and his former allies in the state over their resolve to support Atiku’s presidential bid against Wike’s position.
The Leader of the House, Hon. Martin Amaewhule who moved the motion contended that the House did not have a copy of the Supreme Court judgment which removed Omehia as governor at the time it called for his recognition.
Amaewhule who represents Obio-Akpor Constituency (I) presented four prayers in the motion including that Mr. Omehia should refund all monetary entitlements he has so far received from the state government as of September 2022, including the sum of N600 million in benefits and N96.6 million in pension within seven days.
He also said that Omehia ceases to be addressed as ‘His Excellency’ henceforth.
The House unanimously adopted the motion.
Meanwhile, Governor Wike is to sign the instrument on cancellation of the recognition of Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of Rivers State.
The cancellation of the recognition is sequel to the resolution of the Rivers State House of Assembly adopted on Thursday, 6th October 2022 to derecognize Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of the State.
A statement issued by the Special Assistant Media to the governor, Kelvin Ebiri on Thursday said the signing will take place in Government House, Port Harcourt on Friday, 7th October 2022 by 12 noon.
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