The cliché that in politics, ‘there is no permanent friend and no permanent enemy’ appears to be irrelevant in the emerging democratic process after the April 14, gubernatorial election in Rivers State. There was unending leadership tussle after Sir Celestine Omehia was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
On October 26, 2007, a dramatic twist by Supreme Court Verdict unseated Sir Celestine Omehia and ordered that Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi be sworn-in as the democratically elected governor of Rivers State. But Chief Bekinbo Soberekon a gubernatorial candidate of the Accord Party in the April 14, 2007 polls described the verdict as ‘travesty of justice’ and headed for the Election Petitions Appeal Tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt.
Under appeal (CA/PH/EPT/391/07) brought before the Tribunal seeking the Appeal Tribunal’s leave to substitute Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, for ex-governor Celestine Omehia. Following an earlier ruling of the Appeal tribunal in favour of Soberekon, Gov. Amaechi had filled a cross appeal at the Supreme Court, challenging the ruling of the Appeal Tribunal substituting him for Omehia. When the matter first came at Supreme Court, the apex court adjourned the matter to October 8, 2009 and ordered that the parties returned to status quo ante. On June 22 parties were back at the Supreme Court following a cross appeal filed by Chief Soberekon’s lawyer, challenging the apex courts jurisdiction on the matter. Chief Soberekon lawyer, Femi Falana had argued that the Supreme Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain a governorship appeal petition. Not swayed by Falana’s argument, the court adjourned ruling to October 8th, 2009.
The legal tussle at the Supreme Court, ended with a victory in favour of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi when the president of the Appeal Panel, Hon. Justice Dalhatu Adamu said that with the Supreme Court’s order the Appeals Tribunal has no option than to stay proceedings as any action to the contrary is to pre-empt the out come of the matter. He maintained that the status quo and in line with the consensus reached by the counsel to the parties, the matter rested at the Election Petition Appeal Tribunal. Chief Bekinbo Soberekon who found evidence in the ‘politics of bitterness’ engaged Gov. Amaechi in another legal tussle by appealing to the Court of Appeal to squash the ruling of the Appeal Tribunal. Chief Soberekon’s appeal was seeking the Appeal Tribunal’s leave to substitute Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi for ex-governor Celestine Omehia.
At the sitting of the court of Appeal yesterday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the six judges in a unanimous judgment threw away the appeal suit of Chief Bekinbo Soberekon of the Accord Party as lacking merit and substance. The Appeal Court awarded N30,000.00 cost to the 1st and 3rd appellant in the suit in favour of Gov. Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
In a mix reaction to the verdict of the Court of Appeal, Dr. Alayi Warmate a lecturer at UST, in Port Harcourt, said. That victory is well deserved. We should learn to accept defeat. In his words; when leader’s emerge through credible processes we should learn to be good followers and know that power comes from God.
Dr. Warmate further said. Now that the case is over let all opponents of the governor join hands with him and develop the state.
Mr. Bisi Adeosun an environmental consultant based in Port Harcourt collaborated the view of Dr. Warmate when he argued that Chief Bekinbo Soberekon had used the last two and half years to engage in profitable ventures that would have paid off. In his words: Let him accept victory and work with Gov. Amaechi.
Adeosun described Gov. Amaechi as a performer who deserves to finish his tenure said he: I advise those who are still in court to withdraw their suits.
However, he said, if they are doing it out of conviction, they can go ahead. While the Special Assistant to Gov. Amaechi, Mr. Iyofor David who greeted the news with fanfare said. It is a victory for all Rivers people, so opponents should no longer harbour bitterness. Mr. Suage Badey state chairman of Action Congress Party and his counterpart Chief Tamuno Roberts of African Democratic Congress (ADC) said Accord Party should accept the judgment as interpreted by the Court of Appeal. They argued that what opponents should concern is how the nation democracy can be sustained under an acceptable electoral system. In their collective opinion, the party chieftains said: Politicians should practice politics without bitterness.
Gov. Amaechi had almost finished his tenure adding, legal tussle three years to his four years mandatory tenure is of no benefit.
While Chief Lavender Longjohn, a House of Representative hopeful under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for ASALGA Constituency collaborated the view of the two politicians when he argued that politics with bitterness is old political practice. In his words: Let the opponent support Gov. Amaechi to reposition and consolidate the gains of democracy in the state.
Hon Cassidy Ikegbidi chairman of Ahoada East local government area, who differed from the opposition party chairman, warned the so called New Restoration team of PDP to stop holding nocturnal meetings or face expulsion. While the President of Rivers State success movement, Hon. God time Otuka urged the opponent to team up with Gov. Amaechi to move the state forward. In his words: since in politics, there is no permanent enemy or permanent friend, they should team up with Gov. Amaechi.
Hon. Paul Awoyesuku chairman of Akuku Toru Local Government Area collaborated the views of Hon Otuka when he argued that no development can be achieved in an atmosphere bitterness and rancour.
Jamina Amachree & Arnold Alalibo