The tale of Governor Siminalayi Fubura getting deeper into trouble with his predecessor and political godfather Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike took a surprising bend on Monday 11th December 2023 when 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly loyal to Wike defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The defecting lawmakers were received at the secretariat of the APC by the party’s caretaker Executive Committee led by Tony Okocha, acting State Chairman of the party.
Confusing all assumptions that the defection might be a skillful move on the chess board of the Wike-Fubara politics, the defecting assemblymen cited reasons of protracted cracks at the national level of their party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The lawmakers specified the tussle for position of the party’s national secretary as having made communication amongst party members difficult, and that remaining in such a party was unwise.
In a quick reaction, the PDP said it would, on Tuesday 12th December 2023, write a formal demand to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the dissident lawmakers loose their seats as required by law, precisely, Section 109, subsection 1 of the 1999 Constitution.
Observers say that the relationship between Fubara and Wike cracked due to the natural inclination of any accomplished godson to become independent of the godfather and the tension thereof, if the self determination seems not achievable.
Recall that the tension came to be known publicly when the government of Rivers State was thrown into turmoil on Monday 30th October 2023, as security agencies took over the State’s House of Assembly with seventeen security trucks, one armoured personnel carrier stationed, safeguarding lawmakers allegedly loyal to the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, who embarked on an impeachment process against Governor Fubara. The assemblymen accused Fubara of gross misconduct unbecoming of his office.
On the previous night a part of the main chambers of the State Assembly was burnt. Former governor Wike expressed suspicion that Fubara might be responsible, to stave off the impeachment. The lawmakers, however, sat, and successfully suspended Edison Ehie the majority leader and Chijioke Ihunwo Sokari Goodboy Sokari, Victor Oko Jumbo and Adolphus Oruibieninigha, and served an impeachment notice on the governor. :
Same day another faction of the house manifested and elected Edison Ehie as its own Speaker of the 10th Assembly.
Outside, crowds of people besieged the surroundings, while security agents and the police in particular fired tear gas into the crowd. Some thronged the main entrance of the government house, a walking distant away.
The staff of the state assembly were on strike, by chance, under directive of their union’s leadership at the national assembly.
Solidarity demonstrations broke out mainly supporting the governor whom his ethnic riverine clans see as bearing their aspirations to govern the State, for the first time in decades, in the upland-riverine political dichotomy, and power sharing consideration.
On Wednesday 1st November 2023, a High Court sitting at Isiokpo granted a restraining interim order, preventing the impeachment of the governor.
On Wednesday 20th November 2023, twenty-five lawmakers held a sitting at the Assembly complex, whereby they called for the prosecution of the perpetrators of the burning of part of the assembly on 30th October 2023.
On Sunday 24th November 2023, the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, issued Form 48 against House Speaker Martins Amaewhule and his deputy Dumie Maol for contempt of court, for sitting on Monday 20th November, by which they violated the court’s order for all parties to maintain the status quo.
On Monday 4th December 2023, the State High Court at Isiokpo adjourned to 20th December, when it would hear the case Governor Fubara filed against the Rivers State House of Assembly with the inclusion of the Chief Judge of Rivers State.
On Wednesday 6th December 2023, those loyal to former governor Nyesom Wike held a plenary session behind closed doors, thereby, again, defying a court order earlier issued to prohibit such gathering.
On 7th Thursday December 2023, Federal High Court Abuja granted an order empowering the Rivers State House of Assembly to perform their constitutional functions without any restrictions.
Certain modifications which current Governor Fubara made, have been seen by former Governor Wike as unfortunate and adversely affecting a certain preexisting sound political structure that gave him power “on a platter of gold’.
Watchers say they saw it coming but not this early. Governor Fubara is, however, promising that the crisis between him and his predecessor will, before long, be laid to rest.
meanwhile, Hon. Tonye Adoki and Hon. Linda Somiari Stewart allegely returned to PDP on Wednessday 13th December, 2023.