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Rivers: PDP, APC Bicker Over Court Ruling

Peoples Democratic Party In Rivers State Takes On All Progressives Congress Over Status Of 22 Sacked LG Chairmen

Tony Etim in Port Harcourt

The unfolding drama over the status of local government chairmen elected in the dying days of Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s tenure took a turn for the worse yesterday with leaders of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) trading words over the most recent court ruling on the matter.

A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had last Thursday nullified the election of chairmen and councilors of 22 out of the 23 local government areas in Rivers State, prompting the affected party to approach the National Industrial Court (NIC), sitting in Yenagoa in Bayelsa State for another interpretation.

Justice James Agbadu-Fishin of the NIC ruling on suit No NICY/YEN/26/2015, dated Monday 13 July 2015, adjourned the case till October 6, 2015 to hear all applications accordingly. In the certified true copy of the ruling, which was made available to The UNION, Justice Agbadu-Fishin said: “I have listened to the arguments of all the counsel for the parties in this matter.

I am of the view that there is the need to allow all the parties to file the necessary processes and put in all the relevant exhibits to support their applications as well as to react appropriately.

Therefore by the agreement of all the counsels in this matter this case is adjourned to 06/10/2015 for definite hearing of all pending applications accordingly.

Hearing notice is to be issued and served on the 5th, 6th and 7th defendants, copies of which are to be kept in the case file”.

However, hardly had the ruling became public, than party chieftains of the rival PDP and APC engaged each other in a war of words. In his reaction, governorship candidate of the APC, Mr. Dakuku Peterside, took to a live radio programme to claim that the National Industrial Court in Yenagoa had reinstated the sacked council chairmen.

He claimed that the NIC had set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt. Some online mediums fanned Peterside’s claims, thereby fueling bad blood among party supporters and increasing tension in the already volatile state.

Reacting, Simeon Nwakaudu who is Special Assistant to Governor Nyesom Wike, denounced Peterside over what he considered as an attempt to incite his supporters to violence and mayhem.

He said: “That desperation could drive defeated Rivers State APC Governorship Candidate, Mr. Dakuku Peterside, to engage in treasonable felony capable of inciting violence in the state speaks volumes as to why the people resoundingly rejected him on April 11, 2015.

“After the Dakuku Peterside fabricated falsehood on the National Industrial Court proceedings of Monday, July 13, 2015, it is imperative to state here that the sacked council chairmen, who benefited from an illegal election, remain sacked”.

“This unprovoked falsehood from Dakuku Peterside was immediately echoed across the country by Channels Television, a very willing ally. In minutes, the Dakuku Peterside fabricated falsehood went viral online. “Dakuku’s intention was sinister. He planned with the entire APC media framework to create crisis in Rivers State.

They had plotted to incite their few supporters to rush to the respective council secretariats where the caretaker committees were resuming for their first day in office, hoping that the PDP supporters would resist. All they anticipated was bloodletting.

“Dakuku Peterside came to town after recovering from his massive political defeat with intent to hurt Rivers State. He had started with an ill-fated press conference where he among other things attempted to lie about the projects of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in the state. For instance, he lied that Julius Berger and CCECC were not working in the state.

Those who reside in the state see Julius Berger back on the streets left unattended by former Governor Rotimi Amaechi. While the men bicker, an issue is being made of the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court to hear a political, not labour case, against the background that the council chairmen had sought an injunction from the court to restrain the state Governor, Chief NyesomWike, from dissolving the elected local government councils.

In his ruling, Justice Akanbi described as an abuse of law the action of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, which went ahead to conduct the council election when the court had ordered that parties involved in a case brought to it by the state Peoples Democratic Party to maintain the status quo. The state PDP had earlier gone to court to stop RSIEC from conducting the May 23, 2015 local government election.

Akanbi, had said in his ruling that the conduct of the council election on May 23, 2015 was “an aberration and a ‘flagrant’ disregard of a subsisting order of the court. Chairmen of the rival parties made their minds known to the ruling. Speaking, the state PDP chairman, Mr. Felix Obuah, described the judgment as victory for democracy, while his APC rival Dr. Davies Ikanya, described the nullification of the council election as sad and unfortunate.

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