Court Annuls Rivers LG Polls …As Wike Swears-In 22 Caretaker Chairmen

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo (right), receiving a sourvenir from the South-South Assistant Inspector General of Police, Medical, Dr Adenike Abuwa, during a courtesy call of the Police Medical team to her office in Port Harcourt, yesterday
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo (right), receiving a sourvenir from the South-South Assistant Inspector General of Police, Medical, Dr Adenike Abuwa, during a courtesy call of the Police Medical team to her office in Port Harcourt, yesterday

A High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, presided over by Justice Lambo Akanbi, yesterday, nullified the election of 22 Local Government Chairmen and 300 Councillors in the state elected May 23, 2015.
Delivering ruling in a matter brought before the court by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), the then Rivers State Independent electoral Commission (RISEC) and the then APC led state government, Justice Akanbi said he was invoking the judicial powers in order to protect the law and the sanctity of the courts.
It would be recalled that the PDP had earlier this year before the conduct of the local government elections in the state, dragged the INEC to the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt asking the court to stop the INEC from releasing the voters’ register to the then RSIEC and the APC led state government for the said elections.
The trial Judge stated that the court gave an order in that direction, urging the parties in the matter to maintain status-quo pending the determination of the matter before the court.
According to the judge, the defendants, the RSEC and the then APC led government disobeyed the order of the court and went ahead to conduct the said elections, adding that the flagrant disobedience to court orders cannot be tolerated.
Justice Akanbi, therefore, set aside the 23rd May 2015 local government elections held in the state which ushered in 22 local Government Chairmen as well as the councilors, thereby giving room for the state government and the state assembly to appoint caretaker Committee members.
“This Court, therefore, is making an order setting aside the purported local government elections held on May 23rd, 2015”.
However, the inability of the council chairmen to secure an injunction had prompted them to approach a National Industrial Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, with the same prayers, and secured an injunction restraining the governor from sacking them.
On the resumption of the matter, yesterday, counsel to the 22 Chairmen, H.A. Bellow, informed the court the decision of his clients to withdraw the matter in order to pursue it at the NIC in Bayelsa, urged the court to strick out the matter.
Meanwhile, the 22 local government Chairmen under the aegis of the Association of local Government Chairmen of Nigeria (ALGON), Rivers State, says it has appealed the Judgement of Justice Lambo Akanbi nullifying their election.
Addressing journalists at the official lodge of the Mayor of Port Harcourt city Local government of Port Harcourt yesterday, the Spokesperson of the group and the Vice Chairman of Gokana LGA, Morgun Sokari said the ruling has no effect on the Chairmen and the All Progressives congress (APC) in the state, adding that the Justice Akanbi had before now declined jurisdiction in the matter.
Sokari told journalists that they rejected the ruling in its entirety as it was not acceptable, adding that the matter had already been appealed.
The Vice Chairman used the opportunity to call on the security operatives in the state to be alive to their duties in order to avoid destruction of lifes and property in the state.
Hon. Sakari said, “it was not right for the judge to give such ruling after declining jurisdiction at the first instance. A petition had already been written against him, and he was aware that the matter was pending before National Industrial court, Bayelsa”.
Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike has charged newly sworn-in Caretaker Committee Chairmen on the need to stay in their domain and tackle security and employment challenges.
He gave the charge yesterday after the oath of office was administered on the chairmen in Government House, Port Harcourt shortly after a Federal High Court had nullified the May 23rd council elections conducted by the immediate past administration.
The governor while calling on them to be prudent and law abiding noted that, “ I did not dissolve the councils, but the Federal High Court nullified the elections so you have been appointed to fill that vacuum.”
Against this backdrop, he said they should not view their appointment as political patronage but a call to serve the people, expressing the hope that they have the capacity to deliver the dividends of democracy to the grassroots.
Most especially he called on CTC chairmen of Eleme, Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor and Ikwerre to assist government in clearing their area of refuse, reminding them that they are the sign posts through which first time visitors view the state.
For those in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Ahoada, Khana, Gokana and Abua/Odual the governor enjoined them to help fight the menace of kidnapping, killings and other forms of criminality in their area.
“ Try and carry everybody along and create employment for the people and we have to work” Wike declared further counselling them not to balkanise their community on party or chieftaincy lines.
Governor Wike maintained that he would not hesitate to fire any CTC chairman who engages in financial recklessness and godfatherism reminding them that workers salaries must be equally given top priority.
In a chat with newsmen later CTC Chairman of Eleme, Phillip Okparaji promised to give sanitation and security priority.
Also Barrister Clifford Oparaodu and his counterpart from Obio/Akpor Bright Amaewhule promised to assist government check traffic and multiple taxation, stating that illegal taskforce will be eradicated as well.