Members of the National Assembly from Rivers State have frowned at the continuous refusal by the Police to allow members of the Rivers State House of Assembly access to the legislative complex to carry out their duties after an Abuja High Court had vacated the powers of the National Assembly over the House.
Federal lawmakers representing Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Dakuku Peterside and that of Ogba/Egbema and Ahoada West, Hon.Honourable Asita said they were delegated by the Rivers caucus of the National Assembly alongside other federal legislators representing Rivers State to confirm the refusal of the lawmakers into the Assembly complex by men of the Nigeria Police in Rivers State.
Hon. Peterside said, “We were informed from Abuja that our Rivers State House of Assembly is on fire. The Rivers State caucus in the National Assembly, including Senator Magnus Ngei Abe representing Rivers South-East Senatorial district, Senator Wilson Ake of Rivers West senatorial district and ten (10) members of the House of Representatives had sent a delegation to confirm the refusal of the pro-Amaechi lawmakers into the Rivers State House of Assembly after it obtained judgment from a Federal High Court to commence its legislative functions as provided by law. Every Rivers person and all Nigerians and indeed the world have heard the Abuja Federal High Court Judgment…democracy is still on trial.
Honourable Asita urged the police to uphold its integrity and ensure peace returns to the Assembly.
For the second day on Friday, the police in Rivers State had barred the lawmakers of the Rivers State House of Assembly from entering the Assembly complex in Port Harcourt. Former Police spokesman in Rivers State, Uche Chuwuma who led the police team told the legislators that the Police were yet to receive orders from Abuja.
Following an Abuja High Court judgement, the lawmakers had gone to the Assembly complex last Thursday, but were stopped by a team of policemen from accessing the complex. The lawmakers and other officials of the House were dispersed with teargas and gunshots when they insisted on carrying out their legislative duties.
Moreover, the State Police authorities told the lawmakers outside the Assembly complex that since there were two factions in the House it would not allow any of the two groups to gain entrance until it gets a directive from the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar.
Divisional Police Officer DPO in Omoku, Uche Chukwuma who led the police team told the lawmakers “we are aware that your matter is a legal issue. We are professionals and will not allow any of the two Assembly factional groups to gain entrance into the Assembly complex, because the two groups have similar interest. The police is assuring you that the Assembly complex will remain closed until we get further directives from the Inspector-General of Police at Abuja”.
When plastic chairs were brought for the lawmakers to sit outside the Assembly complex, the police refused to allow the lawmakers sit on the chairs. This infuriated the lawmakers who then proceeded to sit on the floor of the road (Moscow road) leading into the Assembly. While siting on the road, the legislators sang solidarity songs and praise and worship songs to God.
Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Leyii Kwanee, who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers said, the Assembly members had on Thursday, December 12th at about 8a.m in the morning attempted to gain access to the Assembly complex following the Federal High Court judgment restraining the National Assembly from carrying out the legislative functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
According to him, “we are here again today, Friday, December 13, 2013 to gain access to perform our legislative functions and we were also prevented again by the police. We hear, the police want to open the Assembly Complex to other five legislators. But they have assured us that the Assembly complex will remain closed”.
Hon. Leyii Kwanne also said, the legislators are working out modalities to file a legal action against the police for deliberately refusing to obey court orders and vehemently disallowing the lawmakers from exercising their constitutional powers in the current democratic dispensation.
“The interest of Rivers people cannot be jeopardized by the police, because the business of lawmaking is constitutional and lawful. We were democratically elected by our people at the grassroots. We will not continue to allow police impunity on our peoples rights in Rivers State”, Hon. Leyii Kwane said.
Also speaking, leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Chidi Lloyd said: “the police have told us that the reason why it could not allow the Pro-Amaechi legislators is because it is protecting lives and property. The police have also told us that, none of the two factional Assembly groups will gain entrance. We will continue to wait until the police conclude.
However, the world is watching, what is been destroyed is Rivers interest and the voice of our people, but we will ensure dividends of democracy to our people. Only recently we mourn the death of late Nelson Mandela, and the world honoured him because he fought apartheid in South Africa. I know all you here and our people have resilience, we urge you to wait patiently, because nothing good comes easy”, Chidi Lloyd explained.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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