• APC’s call for Fubara’s impeachment invitation to anarchy –PDP

    Apcs call for fubaras impeachment invitation to anarchy pdp - nigeria newspapers online
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    •ALGON backs call, council chairmen vow to remain in office after tenure


    From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Tony John, Port Harcourt

    The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the call by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the impeachment of the Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubura, as an invitation to anarchy.

    This is the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Rivers State chapter, the impeachment move was necessary to safeguard democracy and instil the rule of law in the state.

    The APC caretaker committee chairman in Rivers State, Tony Okocha, had on Tuesday called on the state House of Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against the governor.

    But the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, told the press in Abuja, yesterday, that the impeachment call was an attempt to forcefully remove a democratically elected governor.

    The party noted that Okocha’s call confirmed an alleged desperation by the ruling party to “forcefully annex” the democratic rights of the people under the constitution.

    Ologunagba added that members of the Rivers State House of Assembly have lost their seats in the legislative house, after they defected from the PDP on whose platform they were elected, to the APC.

     “In any event, the individuals that the Rivers State APC chairman directed to commence impeachment proceedings against Governor Fubara are not legally members of the Rivers State House of Assembly and cannot contemplate or exercise such powers under the law.

    “These individuals, by virtue of section 109 (1) (g) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), have since vacated and lost their seats, rights, privileges, recognition and obligations accruable to members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, after their defection from the PDP, the political Party platform upon which they were elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly.

    “For emphasis, section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 constitution provides that, ‘a member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if… (g) being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected.

    “It should be noted that section 109 (1) (g) of the constitution is self-executory. The import of this provision is that members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected have vacated their seat by reason of that defection.

    “The unlawful directive by the Rivers State APC chairman to these individuals to commence an impeachment proceeding against the Governor is, therefore, a brazen call for anarchy as it amounts to an attempt to forcefully overthrow a democratic order in clear violation of section 1 sub-section 2 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

    “The PDP draws the attention of the Inspector General of Police to the subversive utterances of the APC chairman in Rivers State, which is capable of triggering crisis and derailing the democratic order in the country.

    “The APC must perish the thought of forcefully taking over Rivers State, as such is a direct assault on the sensibility of the people, which will be firmly resisted.

    “The APC chairman in Rivers State should come to terms with the fact that Rivers State is home to PDP and that the people of Rivers State are not ready to put their destiny in the hands of a corrupt, oppressive and anti-people special purpose vehicle like the APC.”

    Chairman of ALGON, Allwell Ihunda and chairman of Port Harcourt City LGA, while addressing journalists, claimed the governor had withheld allocations of the LGAs since April.

    Ihunda said the development was a show of executive rascality on the part of the governor, noting that Fubara has refused to convene the Joint Account Allocation Committee meeting (JAAC), which is the prerequisite for the release and disbursement of funds between the state and LGAs.

    He described the governor’s action as illegal, adding that the state was at the verge of being plunged into totalitarianism.

    Ihunda said: “It has come to the notice of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Rivers State chapter, that the Rivers State Government under the leadership of His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has neglected, failed and deliberately refused to hold the statutory Joint Account Allocation Committee meeting (JAAC), which is the prerequisite for the release and disbursement of funds due to the local governments in the State Joint Local Government Account. He has continued to withhold the statutory allocation due to the 23 local government councils of Rivers State since April, 2024; and in the case of Emohua, since March, 2024, till date for no just cause, thereby starving the third tier of government of the funds required to discharge its statutory functions in the administration of the local government areas.

    “It has also come to our notice that the Governor of Rivers State held a meeting with Heads of Local Government Administration (HLGA), Heads of Personnel Management (HPM), Treasurers of Local Governments and other Directors on Monday, May 6, 2024, in the Government House, Port Harcourt, whereas he directed them to go and compile for presentation to him of the salary vouchers and overheads of civil servants, excluding chairmen, vice chairmen, councillors and other political office holders, for the various local governments with a view to unlawfully dipping his hands into local government funds to pay staff salaries directly without the involvement of the democratically elected local government chairmen.”

    The ALGON chairman noted that the Governor is seeking to proscribe the system of local government guaranteed under Section 7 of the 1999 constitution, as amended, saying the action was tantamount to an illegal proscription of the local government councils.

    He noted that Fubara was flouting the law of the land, which he swore to uphold. He, therefore, called on the State House of Assembly to take steps to cut the governor’s excesses.

    “This conduct of the Rivers State Government, which smacks of executive high-handedness and lawlessness, is not only despicable and unconscionable in a democratic setting, but is also unconstitutional given the clear provisions of sections 3(6), 7 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which not only guarantees the system of local governments by democratically elected local government councils across the federation of Nigeria, including in Rivers State, but  also vests the local government councils with the right to receive statutory allocations from the Federation Account paid through the State Joint Allocation Account.

    “It is even more worrisome to note that the Governor of Rivers State took the decision to withhold the statutory allocation, in this case, in flagrant violation of the subsisting interim order of the Federal High Court (coram Hon. Justice J. K. Omotosho (J) entered in suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/537/2024 on April 25, 2024), which mandated all the parties to the suit, including the Rivers State Government, who is the 7th defendant therein, to maintain the status quo, and not to take any step that will render the pending motion for interlocutory injunction before the court nugatory.

    “We, therefore, call on President Bola Tinubu, and the Federal Government of Nigeria to intervene by calling the Governor of Rivers State to order with a view to avoiding a breakdown of governance, law and order in Rivers State.

    “We call on the members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to take appropriate steps to check the excesses of the Governor of Rivers State and ensure the survival and sustenance of democratic institutions in Rivers State.”

    Meanwhile, the ALGON’s Legal Adviser, Erastus Awortu and chairman of Andoni LGA, noted that the democratically elected chairmen would not leave office, adding that the law empowers them to stay additional six months.

    “Yes, we got elected in 2021, and our tenure is to expire in June. But, by now, LG elections ought to have been concluded and the winners awaiting swearing in. The Assembly has seen that no action has been taken in respect of conducting an election, and in their wisdom, know that there shouldn’t be any vacuum. So, we have to maintain the democratically elected chairmen because the local government law states that until elections are done, these chairmen will stay in office for another six months in the interim.

    “As a matter of fact, in respect of this too, we went to court, because the state government has not shown any attention as regards local government elections. What we are seeing are the governor’s associates making comments that on June 17 and 18, they are going to invade LG offices and bring everybody down. This is an invitation to anarchy.

    “We, as local government chairmen, are going to remain in office because the law as amended by the Rivers State House of Assembly said so. That law has given us an additional six months and we will remain in office after the expiration.”

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