To the relief of many Rivers people, the long-drawn governorship battle in Rivers State was finally laid to rest with the dismissal of the suit filed by the gubernatorial candidate of the Accord Party, Chief Bekinbo Alalibo Soberekon by the Election Appeal Petition Tribunal on Wednesday, April 21, 2010.
The matter which originated at the emergence of Celestine Omehia after the April, 14, 2007 election was first filed at the Governorship and Legislative House Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt praying that the election be set aside. Due to the non-appearance of Accord Party’s counsel at the pre-hearing session the matter was on the July 18, 2007 dismissed.
Consequently, Soberekon filed an appeal at the Appeal Tribunal against the Tribunal’s refusal to set aside its dismissal order. It was during the pendancy of this suit that the Supreme Court, on the 25th of October, 2007, declared Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi the winner of the 2007 gubernatorial election in the state thereby unseating Celestine Omehia.
Based on the turn of events, the Accord Party filed on application before the Court of Appeal to substitute the name of Governor Chibuike Amaechi for Celestine Omehia. This appeal was allowed.
In spite of the willingness by the Justices to expeditiously dispense with the matter, loads of motions and incessant change of counsel by the appellant constituted a major setback.
But like other suits before it, it was finally laid to rest in favour of Governor Amaechi. Justice Kekere-Ekun declared that the appeal was incompetent, since the election petitions tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain the application, having dismissed Soberekon’s petition on the July 18, 2007. The appeal was struck out with a cost of N30,000.00 awarded in favour of the respondent.
It would be recalled that Governor Amaechi came into power by virtue of the landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on the October 25, 2007. Giving reasons for his lead judgment Ce.A. Oguntade, JSC stated that “…the name of Amaechi was not substituted as provided by law, the consequence is that he was the candidate of the PDP, for whom the party campaigned in the April, 2007 elections, not Omehia and since PDP was declared to have won the said elections, Amaechi must be deemed the candidate that won the election for the PDP. In the eyes of the law, Omehia was never a candidate in the election much less the winner. It is for this reason that I on 25/10/2007 allowed Amaechi’s appeal and dismissed the cross-appeals. I accordingly declared Amaechi the person entitled to be the Governor of Rivers State. I did not nullify the election of 14/04/2007 as I never had cause to do so for the reasons earlier given in this judgment”.
After scaling this major hurdle there seemed to be an opening of a flood-gate of suits by opposing political parties like the Sergeant Awuse led Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP), Ashley Anyadike Emenike’s Labour Party and the one recently put paid to, the Bekinbo Soberekon’s Accord Party. Governor Amaechi also emerged victorious in a suit filed by another of his kinsman, Authur Kalagbor.
Now that the battles have been fought gallantly and won, we must not rest on our oars but rather form a common front irrespective of political and ethnic leanings to move the state to greater heights. We should not forget that we are all stakeholders and therefore count in the scheme of things. Development and growth does not rest with one person alone but is a shared responsibility.
The court room battles we have experienced do not spell doom but indicate growth and the evolution of our democracy. It is therefore counter-productive at this point to hold on to old hurts and grudges. Now that we are through with the era of motions and counter-motions, let the walls of difference and acrimony melt so we can form a common front to face our challenges as a people.
One Year Anniversary: Governor Wike Sues For Unity
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has called on Rivers people no matter their political affiliation to join hands with his administration to build a stable and vibrant economy.
In a state-wide broadcast to mark the first year of his second term in office today, Governor Wike noted that the state can overcome the present global economic situation if citizens come together in unity of thought and purpose.
“Yes, we can if we resolve to downplay our individual differences and work together for the common good of our heritage, our lovely State, our communities and our people. As a government, we welcome constructive criticisms devoid of politics and mischief, because they serve to make us better performers.
“This is a time for governance, not politics, and we welcome everyone on board to create an environment that promotes balanced economic growth, thriving private investments, boundless opportunity and a State we can truly call our pride and heritage.
“For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness,” he stated.
The Governor pointed out that within the last one year, his administration had embarked on urban renewal programme in the State capital and the construction of the multi-billion naira three flyover projects at Rebisi, Okoro-nu-Odo and Rumuogba.
He said that the dualization of Kira- Sapkenwa-Bori-Kono Road straddling three local government areas in Ogoni heartland has reached 92 percent completion.
The Oyibo(Mbano camp) road to Iriebe linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas had been completed while Alesa-Agbonchia-Oyigbo, Rumuakunde/Isiodu and the second phase of Isiokpo community Roads had also been completed.
Rumuji-Ibaa-Isiokpo, Omoku-Egbema, Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye, Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke, Umueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke-Umunju-Umuelechi-Eberi, Eteo-Sime-Nonwa and Abonnema Ring Roads have reached various stages of completion.
In addition, the governor said, work has commenced on the expansion of the entire stretch of Ikwerre Road from Education Bus Stop to the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
According to him, the long abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas has almost been delivered with appreciable work already done on the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road.
On healthcare delivery, the governor said the Mother and Child Hospital has been furnished, equipped and only undergoing necessary testing and preparations for commissioning.
The Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, he said, has been fully equipped and converted to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) leading to the accreditation of the programmes of that facility for the training of medical students by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
Governor Wike stated that the regional referral hospitals in Degema, Bori and Degema are presently being equipped while structural work is on-going on the ones located in Omoku and Etche.
The State Chief Executive pointed out that funds had been released for comprehensive upgrade of Enitonnia High School, Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Obama High School, Degema, Community Secondary School, Tombia, Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area and Kalabari National College, Buguma.
Others include, Community Secondary School, Kugbo in Abua/Odual Local Government, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu in Oyigbo Local Government and Community Secondary School, Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area.
On Real Madrid Academy, Governor Wike announced that the construction of students’ hostels is progressing and that the school would soon open for simultaneous football and related training programmes.
He said in line with the promise to refocus on agricultural development, the Datco Cassava Processing Plant with a guaranteed off-market opportunities for 3000 local cassava farmers would soon be completed to stimulate cassava revolution in the state.
The governor regretted that despite the advisories and regulations on social distancing and compulsory wearing of face masks, most residents are flouting the directives to the collective peril of all.
“These are all irresponsible and risky behaviour in the face of the invisible and ravaging pandemic and the enormous threat it poses to public health and the safety of human lives.
“We shall bring the full weight of the law to bear on every recalcitrant person, business or institution, irrespective of status who decides to treat the existing orders and regulations for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our State with contempt.
“Government may be forced to reinstate lockdown if members of the public continue to flout and disregard the established regulations on social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks,” he said.
Governor Wike however, commiserated with the families of those that lost their loved ones to the pandemic and prayed for the peaceful repose of their innocent souls.
He said that while we pray for the quick success, for the global search, for vaccines, the responsibility still rests on everyone to strictly comply with the established mitigating measures.
A Statewide Broadcast By His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS, To Mark The First Year Of His Second Term In Office …My Dear Good People of Rivers State
Rivers State Set To Inaugurate Cassava Plant …To Employ 4,500 Persons
The Rivers State Cassava Processing Company located at Afam, Oyigbo Local Government Area will soon come on stream.
Governor Nyesom Wike who stated this Thursday after inspecting the plant, pointed out that the company when fully operational would employ 4,500 persons and also boost agriculture in the state.
He stated that the State Government has 70 percent equity share in the project which is in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company(SPDC) of Nigeria.
“We are quite happy that this project which was initiated by the previous administration in 2012 and abandoned has come to the stage of completion.
“When we came on board and saw the usefulness of this project to our economy, we did not hesitate to release funds to complete it.
“As you can see this project which is about 90 percent complete would have been commissioned this month if not for the COVID-19 pandemic which has negatively impacted global economy.
“Let me commend the management of this plant for fast-tracking the completion and the novel initiative that will use mobile machines to collect cassava from the farmers at their various clusters.
“This, will no doubt, reduce the challenge of logistics and increase farmer participation, ” the governor stated.
Earlier, the Managing Director of the Rivers State Cassava Processing Company, Ruben Giesen noted that the cassava processing plant when completed would increase income for small holder farmers by providing an enabling environment for them to sell their cassava tubers.
He also disclosed that the plant would produce about 45 thousand metric tons of cassava flour daily while about 12 thousand metric tons of cassava tubers would be needed for collection by its mobile plants from farmers around the state for processing.
Mr. Giesen commended the State Governor for embarking on the project, which he described as the first of its kind in sub-saharan Africa.
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