Amaechi’s group kicks against the court’s judgment.
In a ceremony that lasted only 32 minutes, the National Working Committee, NWC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, inaugurated the new 29-member Rivers State Executive Committee of the party. The inauguration occurred barely 24 hours after the new officials were pronounced by an Abuja High Court as the duly elected in the State Congress of March 2012.
The court, presided over by Ishaq Bello, had in a judgment on Monday, dissolved the former State Executive Committee led by Godspower Ake, a loyalist of the state governor, Chibuike Amaechi, which assumed office after the congress.
However, only 13 of the 29 members of the new Executive Committee were available to take the oath of office and oath of allegiance, administered by the National Legal Adviser of PDP, Victor Kwom, and presided over by the National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur.
The new chairman, Felix Obuah; and secretary, Walter Opuene; were the first to take the oaths at exactly 4.27 p.m. before 11 others took theirs.
Apart from the members of the NWC, other prominent indigenes of the state that were present include the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara; a former Senator, Lee Maeba; and Sergeant Awuse.
A Notary Public, Emeka Etiaba, was later called upon to confirm the execution of the oath.
Neither Mr. Tukur nor Mr. Obuah made any speech at the brief ceremony that held in the National Executive Committee, NEC, hall of the party’s national secretariat. His deputy, Sam Jaja, an indigene of Rivers State and a protégé of the governor also attended the ceremony.
Before the ceremony commenced, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, said that the NWC was served with the court judgment nullifying the election of the former executive committee, earlier on Tuesday afternoon, consequent upon which it convened an emergency meeting where it was resolved that the new officers should immediately be sworn in.
A few minutes before Mr. Tukur walked in for the ceremony, the new party officials led by Mr. Obuah as well as their supporters who came to witness the event broke into gospel songs praising God for His intervention.
Judgement will not stand
Earlier in the day, some members and leaders of the party in the state loyal to Mr. Amaechi, addressed a press conference in Abuja, during which they denounced Monday’s judgment, saying it would not stand.
Some of the officials present at the conference include three members of the House of Representatives, Andrew Uchendu, Soconte Davies and Asita Honourable. Also present were Emmanuel Chinda, Commissioner for Agriculture in Rivers; and his counterpart in the Power Ministry, Austin Wokocha.
According to them, the court (of a state) assumed jurisdiction on a matter involving a Federal Government agency, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“This injustice will surely not stand the test of time as the triumph of evil over good is usually only temporary,” they said in a text read by Mr. Honourable.
Expressing worry at the judgment, they said, “Yesterday, yet again, the psyche of Rivers people, and indeed that of all Nigerians was further battered by the High Court of the FCT presided over by Honourable Justice Ishak Bello, which gave judgement in favour of clandestine group claiming to be the duly elected State Executive Committee members of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State.”
“This group of impostors who openly boast of having the support of Oga and Madam at the top did not even purchase nomination forms nor were they anywhere near the venue of the PDP State Congress on the date in question.”
Though the group did not clarify their statement, the ‘Oga and Madam at the top’, refers to President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Patience. Mr. Amaechi, Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, has been having a running feud with the presidency over his positions on salient public and party issues. He has also had disagreements with Mrs. Jonathan, an indigene of Rivers State, over some of his state’s policies.
The governor’s loyalists also lamented that “the trial judge could with temerity turn down a report from INEC which monitored the elections as prescribed by the Electoral Act as an unbiased umpire stating who won the March 17, 2012 State PDP Congress in Rivers State.”
The stakeholders also said that “the travesty of justice and broad day light judicial robbery leaves much to be imagined and casts doubts in our minds over the much talked about reforms in the judiciary now ably championed by the respected Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, and the National Judicial Council, NJC.”
While urging Rivers residents and PDP members to remain calm, they vowed to exhaust all legal avenues open to them to address the matter.
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