The Rivers Elders and Leaders Forum (RELF) has said that the resolutions and subsequent directives issued after Monday’s peace parley on the political crisis in Rivers State at the instance of President Bola Tinubu, cannot override subsisting orders of the Court on the issues.
RELF disclosed this in a communique issued in Port Harcourt on Tuesday night after its emergency meeting in response to President Tinubu’s intervention and directives on the current political crisis in Rivers State.
The communique, which was read by former Governor of Old Rivers State, Chief Rufus Ada-George, stated that the resolutions and directives also contravened the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which the President sworn to uphold.
It read in part: “Rising from an emergency meeting of Rivers Elders and Leaders Forum held 19 December, 2023 in response to the intervention and directives of the President, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the current political crisis in Rivers State.
“We recall that in our communiqué of 17th and 18th December, 2023, we urged Mr. President to intervene in the political crisis in Rivers State, for which we commend his prompt intervention
between Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and Sir Siminialayi Fubara, the Executive Governor of Rivers State but we are at a loss as to whether his intervention has solved the problem or escalated it.
“A review of Mr. President’s directives for the resolution of the political impasse in Rivers State showed that: That the directives contravene the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which Mr. President swore to uphold at all times.
“The directives unilaterally suspended the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue of an attempt to reverse a court order recognizing Rt. Honourable Edison Ehie as the speaker and directing that the remainder of members of the House of Assembly constituted the quorum for legislative business.
“That the directive also contravenes the hallowed doctrine and practice of separation of powers, particularly as it affect the responsibility of the judiciary. CAN MR. PRESIDENT OR THE EXECUTIVE ARM OF GOVERNMENT OVERRULE THE DECISIONS OF COURTS OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION?
This portends executive rascality which undermines our constitutional democracy, rule of law and good governance.
“The directives to the parties were one sided in favour of Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and at the detriment of the Governor, Siminialayi Fubara and the good people of Rivers State.
“In the eyes of the law and due process, as evidenced by the Rivers State High Court decision, that the Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule and his team has ceased to exist in the state House of Assembly having defected to another political party, and therefore cannot be reinstated and remunerated through the back door.
“It is the duty of the Executive arm of Government to provide accommodation for legislators in a constitutional democracy as exemplified by the FCT Minister with respect to the National Assembly.
“It is, therefore, hypocritical to suggest, that the Rivers State House of Assembly under Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule could sit anywhere of their choice, whereas in Abuja, it is the FCT Minister, on behalf of the executive arm that provides accommodation for Federal Legislators.
“The very reason why the FCT Minister was referred to as the “LANDLORD OF ABUJA” by Mr. President at the presentation of the 2024 budget.
“The directive to re-present the budget passed and signed into law is a clear attempt to ridicule and denigrate the office of the Governor and the good people of Rivers State including the Judiciary.
“In Public Administration parlance, a person can exit service either by resignation, sack, voluntarily retirement or death. It is therefore preposterous for the President to direct that the people who have exited service for personal reasons be re-absorbed.
“The Forum enjoined all responsible citizens of Rivers State to rise up in this our moment of truth, to salvage the soul of Rivers State. Our fathers fought for the creation of Rivers State, we will stand to defend it. ‘When injustice and criminality become law and a way of life in the polity, resistance becomes a duty.’
“Finally, the Forum condemns in its entirety, the directives for the resolution of the political crisis in Rivers State. Nigeria is a constitutional democracy where only the courts can order the reversal of acts done or carried out under the provisions of the law.
“Therefore any resolution or directive that intends to undermine the principle of separation of powers and the rule of law is unacceptable, null and void and will be resisted, using all constitutional means at our disposal.”