EditorialTHEWILL Editorial: Need For Caution in Rivers

THEWILL Editorial: Need For Caution in Rivers

June 24, (THEWILL) – Tempers have reached a boiling point in the ongoing political crisis in Rivers State such that only the court seems to have the final say on which way things will go in the heady days ahead.

Last Thursday, rampaging youths protesting against the over stay of Local Government Chairmen in office took the law into their hands and forcefully chased away the council officials, leading to the death of a police officer and a member of the local vigilante in the ensuing clash between supporters of Governor Siminalayi Fubara and those of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Nyesom Wike, at Eberi, headquarters of Omuma Local Government Area of the state.

Tension appears to have further increased when Governor Fubara announced caretaker committee chairmen to take over the councils as well as commence with the audit of their accounts.

Glo

Alarmed by the obvious breakdown of law and order, the police authorities deployed its men and women to mount sentry at the local government offices and ensured that even the new replacements appointed by the governor did not assume duty.

According to the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, reacting to the developments, the policemen would remain at the LGAs secretariats until a court judgement on the controversy over the tenure of local government council chairmen in the State.

Then on Friday, over 30 Civil Society Organisations objected to the continuous stay of the police at the councils and vowed to stage a massive protest against the continued blockade of the council secretariats.

In all of these, it appears the responsibility is now on the courts to intervene. Thankfully, the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal has reserved judgment until July 4, 2024 on the appeal filed by 25 defected Rivers Assembly pro-Wike lawmakers led by Martin Amaewhule against the ruling of a State High Court restraining them from sitting and parading themselves as members of the Assembly.

A three-man panel of the appellate court, led by Justice Jimi Olukayode-Bada, reserved judgment to be communicated to parties in the suit after the adoption of briefs and conclusion of defence in the proceeding conducted virtually last Thursday.

The appellate court had on June 14 ordered the two parties in the Rivers State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo and suspend further actions until the determination of the case before it.

The three-member panel of the appellate court included Justice Jimi Olukayode Bada, Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, and Justice Balikisu Bello Aliyu.

Meanwhile, the appellate court also adjourned until Friday, June 21, for further hearing on three other suits concerning the political crisis in the State.

Earlier, a High Court ruling had annulled a law enacted by the Amaewhule-led Assembly, extending the tenure of the council chairmen by six months.

Nonetheless, the expected appellate court ruling on the status of the Ameawhule led-Assembly would go a long way in providing a meeting ground for the resolution of the festering crisis.

We recall that the political undertone of the lingering crisis started in October 2023 with the battle for supremacy between Governor Fubara and his predecessor Nyesom Wike, now Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. ago. That fight has affected the administration of the state, causing disaffection among stakeholders and communities in the past one year.

It is our candid submission that the warring parties should sheath their swords and toe the path of negotiation, compromise and reason so that the state administration can begin the second year in earnest work for the people who voted for an administration to take care of their welfare and provide the enabling environment for them to conduct their affairs in peace, sharing and comfort.

Still, the warring parties, who obviously have been unable to either reach a compromise or follow due process in resolving their differences, should give the court the chance to wade into the burning issues and resolve them amicably.

If the political solution started by President Bola Tinubu and the intervention of stakeholders in the state have failed to make peace reign, then the courts should be allowed to adjudicate on the matter to the acceptance of the parties involved.

The people of Rivers State voted for a governor to run an administration that should cater to their various needs. The needless distractions for the past one year is not only a disservice to them but also a mockery of democratic governance which puts the interest of the people first.

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