Rivers Assembly to petition UN, EU over invasion of judiciary
• President seeks reform of conventions on recovery of stolen assets
*APC leaders task Buhari on rule of law
The Rivers State House of Assembly has resolved to write to the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) over the recent attack on the state’s judiciary and what it described as ill treatment by the Federal Government.
Hoodlums, following protests by APC factions, had attacked the judiciary complex on Friday, destroying property.
The resolution was sequel to a motion by Majority Leader, Martin Amaewhule, seconded by member representing Bonny Constituency, Abiye Pepple.
During the emergency sitting yesterday, the Speaker, Ikuinyi Owaji-Ibani, vowed that the Assembly would no longer fold its hands and watch enemies of democracy shut down an arm of government.
Moving the motion ‘To Condemn the Violent Attack/Closure of the Rivers State High Court on Friday, May 11, 2018’, Amaewhule said the lives of the chief judge of the state, judges, judiciary staff and even Governor Nyesom Wike are under threat.
He regretted that security agencies, whose headquarters was less than a five- minute walk from the High Court, failed to arrest the situation.
Amaewhule recalled the incidents that led to the closure of the courts and the Assembly before the 2015 general elections in the state. He noted that the 1999 Constitution empowers the Federal Government to control the police, but “sadly, the Federal Government has delegated the control it has over the security agencies to certain individuals in the All Progressives Congress (APC), and it now uses security officers to achieve whatever it desires in Rivers.”
The lawmakers said it had become necessary to alert the international community to the matter and plead for an urgent intervention.
President Muhammadu Buhari, meanwhile, has stressed the need to reform Article 51 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the Article 16(1)(c) of the African Union Convention for Preventing and Combating Corruption.
He said this would enhance the repatriation of stolen assets.
“The effective implementation of these conventions depend to a considerable extent on the willingness, cooperation and the assistance of states in the areas of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA), law enforcement cooperation, asset recovery and return, and technical assistance,” he said.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the opening of the eighth Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa, held in Abuja, yesterday, Buhari noted: “Regrettably, the procedures to obtain Mutual Legal Assistance to seize, confiscate and repatriate proceeds of corruption are often complex and problematic and in urgent need of reform.”
According to him, fighting graft would be futile if nothing is done to ensure the proceeds of corruption find no safe haven and that such proceeds are fully recovered and promptly repatriated. “Recovering stolen assets not only accomplishes the goal of restitution; it also serves as a potential deterrent to future corruption,” he added.
Meanwhile, APC leaders have enjoined President Buhari to immediately remove the party from the “hands of lawless men” so that it could survive ‘drowning’.
Addressing journalists in Abuja particularly on the crisis in the Rivers State chapter of the party, Senators Magnus Abe and Wilson Ake as well other members of the party lamented that APC was being pushed into the “mud water by men completely intoxicated by crude display of political power.”
Abe, who addressed a press conference, declared: “It has become clear that the APC has reached a point where it must take a decision either to live up to the core values of our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, and do the right thing or please the selfish interest of one man.”
He went on: “This cannot be APC. This party cannot trade its soul to massage the ego of any individual. An order of the court is an order of the court. There must be a limit to which we can descend in obeisance to power.
“I respectfully call on our President not to surrender our nation to men without conscience. This party must distance itself from the show of shame that is currently going on in Rivers State.”
Condemning the attack on the judiciary in the state, Abe alleged that the shutting of the courts was to prevent them from delivering a judgment in a case bordering on last weekend’s local government congresses of the party in the state.
He noted that “because of the failure of the internal crisis resolution mechanism due to Buhari’s medical trip to London, the local government congresses proceeded using the flawed ward exercises as a base.
“ It was at this point that a decision was taken to advise aggrieved members of the party to head to the courts and seek intervention.”
However, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has urged party stalwarts to patiently look forward to a new date for the council area congress.
In a statement yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor urged members of the party to wait for a “peaceful time when the National Executive of the party will fix a date.”
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