The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has emphasised that he expected the confirmation of his re-election by the Supreme Court because the governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Engineer Biokpomabo Awara couldn’t have won an election he did not contest.
In an interview at the weekend, the governor said that from the very beginning, there was no issue because the AAC candidate posed no problem, since he was unknown to Rivers people.
Wike said he only got to know of Biokpomabo Awara about two days to the election, because such a person never existed in the political lexicon of Rivers State.
The governor said: “I expected the confirmation because the law is clear. The man who is challenging us never contested any election. So, he couldn’t have won. It is so painful, but what do you do?
“It is part of life, if he really ran election with us; one can say there could be a problem. A man that I never knew till a few days to the election, how would it have been that the man won the election? So, I expected that the court would do the right thing, which they did”, he stressed.
Wike expressed confidence in the capacity of the Judiciary to always act in the best interest of the nation’s democracy.
He said even though nobody expects perfection, the Judiciary has continued to perform her constitutional responsibilities.
The governor said: “We give God all the glory. Some of us have confidence in the Judiciary, even though you can’t expect perfection. That does not mean that they have not done well. So, I am happy what happened on Friday at the Supreme Court.
“We give God all the glory that all through, He has been on our side for us to continue to do what we are supposed to do for the people of Rivers State. God has given us the opportunity to deliver more dividends of democracy according to the will of Rivers people”, he stated.
Wike said his training as a lawyer has helped him to promote the rule of law at all times, adding that the rule of law was the cornerstone of good governance.
He said: “You don’t talk of governance but you talk of rule of law. When people talk about governance, we talk about accountability. You can’t talk about all these things without adhering to the tenets of the rule of law. So, my training as a lawyer gives me the background that I must follow due process. What the law says, you must adhere, whether it is against you or not.
“The rule of law is very much the backbone of getting to the root of democracy. So, as a lawyer, I feel happy that it has helped me, moulded me, and as my backbone to say, look you have to do what is right.”
Wike said the relative security being enjoyed in the state was a product of investment of the state government and the contributions of all stakeholders.
“It has to do with collective efforts of every stakeholder: the security agencies and the people. If the people are not with you, it will be difficult for you to try to curb insecurity. If the security agencies are not willing to fight insecurity, it will be difficult because one, I am not a security personnel. Mine is to give the necessary logistics to see that they curb these miscreants to the point that they will know that here is not comfortable for them, and this is what the security agencies are doing.
“After the 2019 general election, the security agencies in the state have been working with us, the synergy is so tight, that is why we are achieving what we achieving. It is not a one-man show”, he said.
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court had upheld the victory of Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, in the 2019 gubernatorial election.
The apex court, in a judgment delivered by a panel of three Justices, last Friday, upheld Wike’s appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal which reinstated the petition of the candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Engineer Biokpomabo Awara.
The Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal had earlier in October dismissed the petition of AAC candidate, Awara, declaring Wike winner of the poll, which was later challenged by the AAC candidate at the Court of Appeal.
On Friday, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment by three Justices led by Justice Inyang Okoro, ruled that hearing of an abandoned petition amounted to no other purpose than academic, adding that the hearing was an exercise in futility.
Earlier, the apex court also upheld Wike’s appeal against Awara with appeal number SC1111/2019 over a judgment by the lower court dismissing the appeal by the governor over the appointment of counsel to Awara, to file court processes.
Speaking after the judgment, Counsel to Wike, Barrister Ferdinand Orbih, SAN, noted that the two judgments were landmark pronouncements by the Supreme Court.
“Across all the tribunals in the country, the issue has always been what is the relationship between the power of the tribunal to dismiss the petition that has been abandoned vis-a-vis the constitutional provision that says that interlocutory matters bothering on jurisdiction must wait until the final judgment.
“That is the issue that was resolved by the Supreme Court today that when an issue is abandoned, you don’t have to wait until the final judgment before the tribunal can pronounce on it that you are dismissing this petition because it has been abandoned,” he said.
Orbih noted that by the two judgments, the matter filed by the AAC in Rivers State has received its final nail on its coffin, its dead and buried forever.
Reacting to the judgment, Counsel to the AAC, Barrister Henry Bello, disclosed that the two judgments delivered by the Supreme Court cover six appeals namely, SC1111/2019 covers SC1113/2019 and SC1121/2019, adding that the appeal for SC1112/2019 covers SC1114/2019 and SC1122/2019, respectively.
Bello said “the first judgment has to do with abuse of process. At the tribunal in Port Harcourt, there was appeal against a decision of the tribunal at the same time, the same thing in the appeal was also sought to be rectified by the tribunal in another application.
“Our contention at the tribunal was that it was an abuse of court process, and that it should be dismissed. The tribunal agreed with us and dismissed that. They went on appeal to the Court of Appeal in appeal number CA/PH/EPT/375/2019, and the Court of Appeal disagreed with the tribunal that it was not an abuse of court process.
“Today, the Supreme Court has upheld our position that it was an abuse of court process. And moving forward, there was a decision of the Supreme Court on 15th of October in appeal number 1120 where the Supreme Court upheld the appointment of my humble self as counsel to AAC.”
He noted that based on the judgment, counsel to Awara, Festus could not file processes on his behalf anymore, but, however, noted that the counsel defiantly continued to file processes even after he had taken over the conduct of proceedings pursuant to the business of Order 9 Rule 35 of the Federal High Court Rules which is applicable by virtue of paragraph 52 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act.
“And so, we contended that it was wrong. So, the Supreme Court has by this judgement now set aside all those processes filed on my behalf, and held that those processes were filed in abuse of court process.
“The final judgment in 1112 applies to two other related appeals. In that one, because of the judgment in 1111 that processes filed on my behalf were null and void, one of such processes was application for issuance of the hearing notice filed again on my behalf without my instruction, consent or authority.
“The Supreme Court has today agreed that those processes were null and void, and there was no application for issuance of pre-hearing notice. Now, that has to do with the purpose of paragraph 18 of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act, which says within seven days of completing of pleadings, you must apply for pre-hearing notice to be issued.
“Then, paragraph 18 (4) says if you don’t apply, then your petition is abandoned, and it will be dismissed. Now, Section 285 of the Constitution says you cannot raise an objection to the competence of an election petition.
“So, the contention of Awara is because of Section 285, paragraph 18 is inconsistent with the provision of Section 285 of the Constitution. Supreme Court has told us today that both of them are consistent; they are procedural; one does not offend the other.
“If paragraph 18 had offended Section 285, then, the right given to the tribunal to dismiss a petition that is not properly prosecuted would not have been there. But the Supreme Court has today held that you must be diligent in the prosecution of your election petition. If you are not diligent, the tribunal has the right to dismiss it.
“This is the first judgment in respect of that, and is a serious precedence that will assist us in all election petitions in the country moving forward,” Henry noted.
However, the Governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), in the March 9 governorship election in Rivers State, Engr. Biokpomabo Awara, has accepted the Supreme Court judgment which upheld the victory of Governor Nyesom Wike, and finally confirmed him as the duly elected governor of Rivers State.
Awara reacted to the apex court’s verdict in a statement he issued and signed personally, last Saturday, in which he conceded defeat, congratulated the governor, and prayed for the peace and progress of the state.
He claimed that, “Some party men with unholy and unpatriotic desires clothed with tainted hands overtly worked for Governor Nyesom Wike at the tribunal and all through the appeal process”.
Awara then expressed his indebtedness to Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi and his APC family in Rivers State that adopted him as their governorship candidate in the 2019 general election.
“From the depth of my heart, I say thank you a million times to Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and his APC family in Rivers State as silver and gold, I don’t have to repay them for what they have done to me. It is my humble prayers that God should guide and guard their footsteps unto eternity,” Awara prayed.
The statement titled, “Thank You For Your Support And Prayers”, reads: “It is with joy and happiness that I write to say, ‘thank you’ Rivers people for your doggedness and patient as we together fought through this battle to save Rivers State.
“Just yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the victory of Governor Nyesom Wike and upturned our collective efforts to liberate Rivers State… But God knows the best.
“The Supreme Court, in their wisdom, set aside the judgement of the Court of Appeal and technically upheld Governor Wike’s victory. Indeed, it’s on good record that my party (AAC) was infiltrated with greed and corruption, and thus, some party men with unholy and unpatriotic desires clothed with tainted hands overtly worked for Governor Wike at the tribunal and all through the appeal process. In the light of the foregoing, the petition I filed was withdrawn.
“Though we lost, but my happiness is that our fight was a good fight of faith….
“Let me also use this opportunity to thank all my party members who stood by me during these trying times and were able to overcome all temptations despite the hunger in the land. But God willing, we fought till the end.
“I wish to encourage you all to continue to be law abiding and pray to God to give us a better and another opportunity to make Rivers people proud again.
“Once more I say thank you all.”
APC’s Ploy To Ban, Regulate Social Media, Hypocritical, Wike Affirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says it is hypocritical for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to contemplate banning or regulating social media after using it to hoodwink Nigerians to attain power.
He argued that the APC-led government has miserably failed, and wants to use its disagreement with Twitter as a false premise to suppress criticism of the administration’s appalling handling of the affairs of the nation through the dubious regulation of social media.
The governor, who make this assertion during the inauguration of nine reconstructed streets: Nzimiro, Herbert Macaulay, Amassoma, Arochukwu, Atako, Ogoja, Akure, Yola and Chinwo in Old Government Residential Area of Port Harcourt, noted that APC, having become the butt of jokes on social networks, was desperate to trample on freedom of expression of Nigerians.
“You have misled the country. You told us lies through social media. The same social media that you used to take over government, the same social media you want to regulate and ban. The same social media you used to tell Nigerians lies of how former President Goodluck Jonathan did not do this, how PDP did not do that.
“Now, you want the same social media to be regulated. You don’t want freedom of speech. Now, you want to gag them. Did anybody gag you when you were using them?”
Wike said the kidnap of scores of students at Federal Government Girls College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State, last Thursday, was a further demonstration of APC’s gross ineptitude to guarantee safety of lives and property of Nigerians.
According to him, Nigerians are anxious for the APC to quit power and allow the more experienced Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to once again restore stability in the polity and dignity of the nation.
“You wake up every morning to hear 20 people have been kidnapped; 30 people have been kidnapped and people are telling us to keep quiet. Is it when they have kidnapped your own daughter?”
The governor also took a swipe at the Presidency for berating PDP governors, who demanded for transparency and accountability in the way the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was managed and that the APC-led government should be alive to its constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property.
“In Kebbi, 40 to 50 girls have been kidnapped, our young daughters. And then, you are telling me we (PDP) have not proffered solution. Which solution are you talking about? The President is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the president that appoints all the security heads in this country.
“No governor has the power or any role to appoint even a Commissioner of Police. And then, you are telling me that we have not proffered any solution. What solution do you want us to proffer, when you have taken your oath of office that you are going to guarantee the lives and property of Nigerians?”
Wike noted that even President Muhammadu Buhari during his recent television interview, had disclosed to Nigerians that he has nothing left to offer the country in terms of good governance.
“The president spoke to us the other day and Nigerians were happy the way he spoke to them, he told them the truth. And the truth is that whether you like it or not, I have nothing again to offer and that was the truth. And people must agree to that.”
The governor said his administration has deliberately embarked on massive urban renewal drive aimed at restoring the Garden City status of Port Harcourt.
According to him, it was regrettable that past administrations in the state did not consider it appropriate to restore the lost glory of Port Harcourt.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, Senator Walid Jubril, who inaugurated the nine streets, commended Wike for transforming Port Harcourt, such that even the blind can attest to it.
Jubril said the entire board of trustees of the PDP was proud of Wike’s steadfast commitment to the PDP.
According to him, party stalwarts across the country, are impressed with the governor’s remarkable achievements and leadership.
“Anybody, who is from this state and is trying to go astray, I am not with him. I am with the people of this state, and I will remain with you (Wike).”
The Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi, said the nine streets have a combined length of 4.2km and 6.5km of drains.
He explained that the scope of work includes; road expansion, construction of drainages, walkways, asphalt overlay, street lighting and road marking.
He listed some of the benefits of the reconstructed streets to include: ease of movement, reduction in travel time, reduction of vehicle wear and tear, protection and enhancement of real estate values, and improving living standards.
Fulfill Promise To Complete East-West Road, Wike Charges FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has urged the Federal Government to expeditiously complete the abandoned East-West Road because of its economic importance.
He said the neglect of the East-West Road, particularly the Eleme axis where the Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone, Port Harcourt Refinery, and Onne seaport were situated, was unacceptable.
Wike stated this during the inauguration of Community Secondary School, Eteo, Eleme; and Community Secondary School, Obeakpu-Ndoki, Oyigbo, respectively, last Friday.
“I urge the Federal Government under the APC to please fulfill promises they made to Nigerians, fulfill promises they made to Rivers State.
“It is unfortunate; look at the East-West Road, this part of it has almost collapsed. The money comes from where? The money comes from us. Can you see this part of the road anywhere in this country?
“They are taking us for granted because we have nobody. God in his infinite mercy will give us somebody. The kind of treatment we are receiving from this Federal Government is unacceptable.”
The governor charged the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to visit the Eleme section of the East-West Road to appreciate the agony of the people of the area.
He further decried the failure of the Minister of Transportation, who hails from Rivers State to ensure that both the Port Harcourt and Onne ports function optimally for the benefit of the state.
Wike explained that prior to the reconstruction of Community Secondary School, Eteo, students were learning in a very unconducive environment, worst still, without chairs.
He stated that the state government decided to reconstruct the 24 classrooms school to improve access to quality education in the state.
“We are not only focusing on road, we are also focusing on health and we are also focusing on education. This will improve access to quality education.”
The governor appealed to the teachers and students of the school to utilise the facilities provided by the state government and make sure that the school is protected.
Wike commended Eleme youths for resisting attempts by some persons with secessionist agenda to use the community as a base for their nefarious activities.
According to him, Rivers State believes in the unity of the country, and will continue to insist that every section of the country should be accorded equal opportunities and privileges.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, Senator Walid Jubril, who inaugurated the Eteo Secondary School, said the party was proud of the developmental strides of Wike.
Jubril further commended the governor for his steadfast defence and support of the PDP.
Similarly, former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, who inaugurated the Community Secondary School, Obeakpu-Ndoki, said the achievements of Wike were worthy of emulation by other governors.
He explained that as a party man, Wike has displayed total commitment, total loyalty and total faith in the survival and management of the PDP.
“Governor Wike remains a role model, worthy to be emulated. I advised other governors to come to Port Harcourt to see what Governor Wike is doing.”
Also speaking, the Rivers State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku, said the two inaugurated schools will further create access to quality education in the state.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Projects, George Kelly D. Alabo, said the reconstructed secondary school at Eteo has 24 classrooms, library, laboratory, chapel and connected to the national grid.
Don’t Borrow Money Without Approval, Wike Warns New LG Chairmen
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has told newly sworn-in chairmen of the 23 local government areas of the state not to approach any financial institution to borrow money without first clearing with the state government.
The governor gave the warning shortly after the elected chairmen of the 23 LGAs took their oath of office at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
According to Wike, the caution has become necessary in order to stem unguarded desire of some council chairman to access money without any development plan.
“Don’t go and borrow money without the state government approval. Some of you tried it last time and started with your blackmail, saying help us, we are finished. You have no authority to go and borrow money. Even we as state government, before we go and borrow money we get approval from the Debt Management Office. No bank will even give us.
“Before you borrow money, the state must know what you want to use it for, and how you will pay it back, so that others who are coming will not suffer because of your indebtedness.”
Wike also charged the council chairmen to pay proper attention to issues of security in order to stem likely security breaches in their various councils.
The governor particularly urged them to establish a robust working relationship both with the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) and the traditional rulers that will engender having regular security meetings for proper briefings.
“Stay in your council areas. Don’t stay in hotels and in Port Harcourt. If you’re not at home, how do you know about the security situation in your local government? Security is key!
“Relate with your DPOs. It does not cost you anything. Even if it cost you, governance is not easy. Governance is expensive. Security is expensive. Some of you cannot relate with the DPOs.
“It’s only when you have a problem that you relate with your DPOs and some of them are intelligent and when you call them that time, they turn their face the other way. You must make effort to relate with your DPOs.”
The governor urged the council chairmen to ensure they hold Security Council meeting weekly or better still, once in every two weeks for proper briefing.
Speaking further, Wike warned them against embarking on needless travel outside of the state and the country without notifying the state government.
He also encouraged them to work to strengthen the unity of the party in their various councils, consult widely with the leaders over appointments, and on other issues that will give everybody a sense of belonging.
Wike frowned at the worsening sanitary conditions particularly in Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt City, Eleme, Oyigbo LGAs, and charged the council chairmen to work assiduously to regularly evaluate refuse dumped on major roads in their councils.
The state governor revealed that the state government prevented the former chairmen whose tenure ended, last Wednesday, from paying local government workers salary due to security report and complains by some councillors and political appointees that they will not be paid what was due them.
“So, I decided to suspend the payment of local government workers and political appointees, so that the newly sworn-in chairmen will have to pay them without any crisis whatsoever.”
He said the state government will set up a committee to oversee the payment of all entitlement of immediate past chairmen, their political appointees and councillors.
According to him, “All the former council chairmen, all political appointees and councillors must be paid their money.”
Wike said he has received intelligence report that some council chairmen have sworn that they will not swear in some elected councillors who they perceive to be opposed to them.
He warned that if this happens, appropriate sanction will be taken against the erring council chairmen.
The newly sworn-in chairmen are, Daniel E. O. Daniel (Abua/Odual); Benjamin Eke (Ahoada East); Hope Ikiriko (Ahoada West); Rowland Sekibo (Akuku-Toru); Barrister Awortu Erastus (Andoni); Onengiyeofori George (Asari-Toru); Irimagha David ( Bonny); Michael Williams (Degema); Obarilormate Ollor (Eleme); Dr. Lloyd Chidi (Emohua); Obinna Anyanwu (Etche); Deko Confidence (Gokana); and Engr Nwanosike Samuel (Ikwerre).
Others include, Bariere Thomas (Khana); Barrister Ariolu George (Obio/Akpor); Nemieboka Vincent (Ogu/Bolo); Akuro Tobin (Okrika); Nwaiwu Chisorom (Omuma); Vincent Job (Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni); Enyiada Cookey-Gam (Opobo/Nkoro); Nwaogu Akara (Oyigbo); Ihunda Allwell (Port Harcourt City); and Mbakpone Okpe (Tai).
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