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Rivers Elders and Leaders forum denounces President’s directives on political crisis, urges constitutional adherence



Rivers Elders and Leaders forum denounces President's directives on political crisis, urges constitutional adherence

In a decisive response to the ongoing political crisis in Rivers State, the Rivers Elders and Leaders Forum convened an emergency meeting on December 19, 2023, in Port Harcourt. The forum, prompted by the intervention and directives of President Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, sought to assess the impact of the President’s involvement in resolving the crisis that has gripped the state.


Recalling their earlier communiqués on December 17th and 18th, 2023, the forum expressed commendation for President Tinubu’s prompt intervention in mediating between Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, and Sir Siminialayi Fubara, the Executive Governor of Rivers State. However, the forum raised concerns about the effectiveness of the intervention and whether it had alleviated or exacerbated the existing problems.


A critical review of President Tinubu’s directives revealed several points of contention as outlined in the communique:


1. Constitutional contravention

The directives were perceived to contravene the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, challenging the fundamental principles Mr. President swore to uphold. Specifically, the suspension of the constitution through an attempt to reverse a court order was deemed unconstitutional.


2. Separation of powers

– The directives were criticized for infringing upon the doctrine and practice of separation of powers, particularly concerning the judiciary. The forum questioned the authority of the executive arm to overrule decisions of courts of competent jurisdiction, highlighting potential threats to constitutional democracy and the rule of law.


3. Unilateral favoritism

– The forum observed a perceived bias in the directives, favoring Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike over Governor Siminialayi Fubara and the people of Rivers State. This lopsidedness raised concerns about the fairness and impartiality of the President’s intervention.


4. Legal and due process concerns

– The forum argued that, in accordance with the Rivers State High Court decision, Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule and his team had ceased to exist in the state House of Assembly due to defection to another political party. As such, attempts to reinstate and remunerate them were considered legally untenable.


5. Executive responsibility

The forum questioned the directive suggesting that the Rivers State House of Assembly, under Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule, could sit anywhere of their choice. It emphasized the contrast with the FCT Minister, who provides accommodation for federal legislators in Abuja, illustrating what was referred to as “LANDLORD OF ABUJA” by Mr. President.


6. Budget re-presentation critique

The directive to re-present the budget passed and signed into law was criticized as an attempt to denigrate the office of the Governor and the people of Rivers State, including the Judiciary.


7. Questionable re-Absorption directive

– The forum found it preposterous for the President to direct the re-absorption of individuals who had voluntarily exited service for personal reasons.


8. Call for resistance

– The forum called upon responsible citizens of Rivers State to rise up in defense of their state, emphasizing that resistance becomes a duty when injustice and criminality become ingrained in the polity.


In conclusion, the forum unequivocally condemned the directives for the resolution of the political crisis in Rivers State, asserting that any resolution or directive undermining the principle of separation of powers and the rule of law is unacceptable, null, and void. They pledged to resist such directives using all constitutional means at their disposal.


The communique, articulating these sentiments, was read by former Rivers State Governor, His Excellency, Chief Rufus Ada George.


The Rivers Elders and Leaders Forum reiterated their commitment to the well-being of Rivers State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, advocating for adherence to constitutional principles and democratic norms in resolving political challenges.

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