Senate indicts President Jonathan, wife over Rivers crisis

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The Senate has fingered President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Dame Patience, as the root causes of the political crises in Rivers State due to their perceived undue interference with the political and security structure of the state.

The report submitted by the Senate Committee on States and Local Government Administration led by Senator Kabiru Gaya (PDP-Kano State) which was mandated with finding the problems and solutions of the crisis which culminated with a fracas in the State House of Assembly on July 9, 2013 also blamed the high-handedness of the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi and the interference of the national leadership of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).

The Senate in its report, which was considered and adopted at plenary, also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, to “immediately” redeploy the commissioner of police, Rivers State command, Mr Joseph Mbu, since, according to the federal lawmakers, “his relationship with the governor has broken down irretrievably”.

Mbu has been fingered severally by the Amaechi camp as a hatchet man in the lingering Rivers crisis.

“Mbu has refused to cooperate with the governor, Chibuike Amaechi, on matters of security even though the governor is the chief security officer of the state,” said the report.

Senate president David Mark is also to mediate in the crisis between the feuding factions in the Assembly.

A crisis had engulfed the Rivers Assembly when five members out of 32 attempted to impeach the speaker, Hon Otelemaba Amachree. The confusion that followed led to violence among the state lawmakers with videos of the violence circulated on the social media

In the Senate report’s findings and observations, it was observed that Amaechi’s insistence to run for second term as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) did not go down well with the PDP and the presidency.

Citing feedback from “stakeholders” involved in the Rivers Assembly crisis, the report observed that the order of the FCT High Court, Abuja, of April 16, 2013, dissolving the Rivers State PDP Executive led by Chief Godspower Ake and confirming Hon. Felix Obuah as the authentic winner of the 2012 congress of the party in the state did not go down well with some members of the PDP who believed that the FCT High Court had no jurisdiction to have entertained the case.

The report stated that commissioner of police Mbu took over the party secretariat in the state upon knowledge of the Abuja High Court judgement and immediately withdrew the security details to the former chairman, Godspower Ake – a development that culminated in the assassination of an aide to Godspower Ake, Mr Eric Ezenekwe, by unidentified gunmen in the state.

Also, the suspension of Amaechi by the PDP National Working Committee on May 27 “did not go down well with his supporters,” the Senate report observed.

The report stated that the deployment of the current state police commissioner and three service commanders within six months created room for suspicion.

According to the report, “The security situation in Rivers State has deteriorated in the last six months, with high number of cases of kidnapping, cultism, bunkering and the gradual return of militants to the streets thereby threatening public peace.”

It faulted the impeachment of the Rivers Assembly speaker, Hon. Amachree, by five House members led by Hon. Evans Bipi. The report insisted that the purported impeachment is not compliance with the provisions of Section 92(2)(c) of the 1999 Constitution and contrary  to Order 12 and 28 of the Rivers State House of Assembly Standing Orders, 1999.

The Senate report further accused Hon. Evans Bipi of bringing thugs to the chambers of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The Senate report reads in part: “…The security personnel were insufficiently proactive in preventing and addressing the crisis at the Rivers State House of Assembly and the operational planning and response to the crisis.

“The crowd further forced their way into the chambers and interrupted the sitting of the House, and majority of the Honourable members had to run out of the Chambers for their safety.

“The Honourable Speaker, Rt. Hon. Amachree, and Hon. Chidi Llyod were assaulted by Hon. Evans Bipi which precipitated the crisis.

“Hon, Chidi Liyod used the Mace, which is the symbol of authority, to brutalise Hon. Michael Chinda.

“The governor of Rivers State rushed to the House of Assembly complex to salvage the situation on receipt of a distress call from a member of the House.

“Some security personnel particularly those in green and blue berets were actively engaged in a free for all figh in the Chambers on 9 July 2013.

“The security details to Governor Amaechi disarmed a policeman who cocked his gun to shoot and the policeman was injured in the process.”

The House of Representatives had on July 10 passed A resolution to take over the legislative functions of the Rivers Assembly and invoked section 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), thereby taking over legislative transactions in the assembly.

Commenting on the issue, Senate president David Mark said, “We (senators) spent several hours this morning (yesterday) discussing in great detail the situation in Rivers State. We devoted so many hours because we believe it is important that we look at it from the prism of our own committee that went there to find out exactly what happened. And we are happy we sent our own team to go and investigate and report back to us.

“Our final objective — and throughout our discussion — was to ensure that peace returned to Rivers State. That was the focus of the discussion this morning. Our appeal to all the principal actors involved is that unless there is peace in Rivers State they cannot ensure development in Rivers State. We want development across the length and breadth of this country.

“Therefore, we use the opportunity once more before we go to the prayers to appeal that all those involved sheathe their sword so that peace can reign in Rivers State. The committee has not indicted any particular group of people. It has not indicted any section and I don’t think it has indicted any individual. The reason is because we want to ensure that there is peace.

The Senate as a body wants to be an integral part of the solution to the problem in Rivers State. We remain neutral. We’ve not taken sides with the group and we are not going to take sides but we will stand on facts. When we eventually approve our prayers, those prayers will be based on the facts that are known to us and our neutral position. And we hope that all the parties involved would appreciate that what we want to ensure is peace in Rivers State.

“All we want is that peace returns to Rivers State. Let me add that the Nation Assembly will uphold and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as we all individually swore to do. And this we will do at all times and at all cost. Let me leave no one in doubt that the impunities of the past remain in the past. And the past is gone for good.

All that is left is for the proper lessons to be learnt from the past. Minority members of the Rivers State House of Assembly cannot remove, and should therefore  never contemplate the impeachment of the speaker of the State House of Assembly or anyone else for that matter and should perish the thought if they ever harboured it.

Our Institutions of state must also uphold the constitution at all times and must not in any way encourage the impression that impunities of the past are possible today. This National Assembly, for the avoidance of doubt, would resist impunity and unconstitutionality. This is the stand of the Senate. And once more I must emphasise that we remain neutral and we want to see an end to the crisis in Rivers State.”

 

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