Rivers Crisis: APC Backs Wike, Asks Fubara To Respect Constitution

National Publicity Secretary, APC, Barr. Felix Morka
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By Akombo Aondona, Abuja

As the political crisis in Rivers State continues unabated, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday 10 May 2024 asked Governor Siminalayi Fubara to subject himself to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in administering the state’saffairs.

Addressing a press conference at the APC Media Centre, at the APC National Secretariat, Abuja, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Barr. Felix Morka, distanced the party from the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP)  assertion that APC seeks Fubara impeachment, insisting that the governor’s antics were responsible for the move to impeach him.

Governor Sim Fubara of Rivers State

Morka said: “Confounded by the disturbing missteps of its Governor in Rivers state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) staged a press briefing on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, to dismiss the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rivers state chapter’s call on the Rivers State House of Assembly to impeach Govenor Siminalayi Fubara. The PDP tendered a hogwash argument that by Section 109 of the Constitution, the 27 House of Assembly members who defected from PDP to APC have forfeited their seats, and echoed  the Governor’s declaration that the Rivers State House of Assembly is non-existent. 

“Contrary to PDP’s assertions, it is not APC that is calling for the impeachment of Governor Fubara.  Rather, by his egregious actions, conduct and infantile comments, Fubara is actively and vehemently precipitating his own impeachment.  

“Governor Fubara’s declaration that the Rivers State House of Assembly does not exist is not only reckless, it is a direct affront to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The House of Assembly is a creation of the Constitution, and vested with the legislative authority of the state. The members of the Assembly were elected by the good people of Rivers state in the same manner that Fubara was elected Governor. 

“The Assembly does not exist at the Governor’s pleasure or fanciful whims. The legislature is at the core of the idea of democracy. It is co-equal with the executive and judicial arms of government. The constitutionally entrenched principle of separation of powers among the three arms of government guarantees essential checks and balances required to ensure observance of the rule of law. The rule of law is indispensable to democracy and constitutional order.

“If his declaration that the House of Assembly is nonexistent is based on the fact that the 27 members who decamped from PDP to APC have lost their seats, then Governor Fubara is sorely misled. 

“To be clear, the 27 Assembly members did not lose their membership of the Assembly by virtue of their decampment. There is nothing homeostatic about Section 109(1)(g) of the Constitution. It is not self-executing. The Proviso to the said Section 109(1) (g) established exceptional grounds to the applicability of Section 109(1)(g)

Section 109(1) states: A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if – 

(S.109(1)(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 expiration of the period for which that House was elected:

““Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.”

“Therefore, only a properly constituted court of law can make a determination as to whether a member of the House of Assembly has vacated his seat in accordance with that provision of the Constitution. As no such judicial determination has been made, the 27 APC members of the House of Assembly remain the constitutionally recognized and authorized members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.” 

FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike

Morka added: “The Governor’s declaration flies in the face of a matter pending in court as instituted by some elders of the state on the very question of the legal status of the 27 members that decamped from PDP to APC.  The court ruled that the plaintiffs in the matter lacked necessary locus standi_ to bring the action. An appeal against that ruling remains pending in the Court of Appeal. Governor Fubara is a party to that suit. And there is the subsisting order of injunction issued by a Federal High Court restraining the Governor and his agents from impeding or frustrating the House of Assembly under the leadership of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule.

“The Governor’s attack on the House of Assembly and its leadership is in flagrant disrespect of the order of a court of law and a violent violation of the express provisions of the Constitution. His demolition of the Rivers state House of Assembly complex remains one of the most  brazen attacks on democratic institutions in our nation’s history. And there is now grave apprehension that he may be spoiling to demolish the House of Assembly residential quarters in Port Harcourt, built only two years ago, following his recent gestapo-like invasion of the Assembly quarters. Governor Fubara’s weaponization of demolition of public assets as a strategy to dislodge and punish legitimate members of the legislature is nothing short of petty despotism and must be roundly condemned. 

“Governor Fubara continues to conduct the business of government unhinged, and in total contempt of the state legislature. The Governor expends the state’s resources without regard to appropriation and public procurement laws. The Governor has unlawfully withheld local governments funds as a punitive measure against perceived opponents, and only recently, directed that all heads and officials of the 23 Local Government Areas should ignore the summons of the State Assembly as he threatened to sack officials who flouted his directive.

“The power of the purse resides in the legislature. If, indeed, the House of Assembly does not exist, as Governor Fubara has declared, then the Governor must necessarily shut down the entire government of Rivers state, especially the office of the Governor,  as he lacks the authority to expend public resources without valid appropriations by the legislature. 

“Governor Fubara cannot abrogate the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He cannot be governor and be  despot-in-chief of the Rivers state House of Assembly, at the same time. Attempting to impose an illegal 3-man House of Assembly is executive lawlessness in the extreme. Governor Fubara’s quest to repudiate the Constitution and govern in denial of the existence of the state legislature is, in and of itself, among other grounds, an impeachable offense.  

“We strongly counsel Governor Fubara to submit himself to the dictates of the Constitution and the rule of law. In any and all contests  between Governor Fubara and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Constitution shall prevail, always. The good people of Rivers state deserve so much more than the seemingly unending chicanery of Governor Fubara.”

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