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Rivers: Surrender to EFCC, opposition parties tell Fubara

By Ann Godwin and Obinna Nwaoku (Port Harcourt)
30 November 2022   |   4:15 am
Opposition parties in Rivers State have urged the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s governorship candidate and immediate past Rivers State Accountant-General, Siminialayi Fubara, who has been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ..

Fubara

• N117b: Group sues Rivers AG, EFCC over non-trial of Fubara, others
• Appeal Court sets aside two judgments, rules in favour of ADP, ADC Assembly candidates
• Wike mocks opposition guber candidates in Rivers, says they have nobody

Opposition parties in Rivers State have urged the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s governorship candidate and immediate past Rivers State Accountant-General, Siminialayi Fubara, who has been declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to present himself to the anti-corruption agency, stating that he cannot be above the law.

Spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Darlinton Darwuju, said: “We think EFCC should be more proactive by going beyond making such declarations. Various social media platforms have been awash with a viral video of an attack on EFCC operatives who attempted to effect Fubara’s arrest. If this is a nation of laws, then, there is no way any law-abiding citizen should rather choose to unleash mayhem on law enforcement officers and still be walking the streets freely.”

Darwuju said Fubara’s dilemma portends a red flag to the character of the PDP candidate in the state and the need for the voting public to be more circumspect and make informed choices.

On his part, Publicity Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the state, Esedi Joe David, said: “We in SDP believe in the rule of law, whether rich or poor, justice should prevail. We have nothing against Fubara but if he has done something against the law, let the wrath of the law prevail completely.”

He stated that SDP in Rivers is not scared or requesting for any walkover in the governorship elections, adding that they have the mandate of the people and they look forward to winning with their candidate, Senator Magnus Abe.

“We are not celebrating his doom, if God allows it, and if it becomes an easy ride for us in the election, so be it. Let the will of God and will of the people prevail.”

A political analyst in the state and Chancellor, International Society for Social Justice and Human Rights, Dr Omenazu Jackson, tasked EFCC to be more proactive by going beyond making declarations to ensure that offenders of the law are punished.

He said: “The PDP guber candidate having accepted to be a public servant should present himself to the anti-graft agency. There is nothing wrong for him to go and present himself to EFCC. Playing hide and sick game is not the best.

“Making himself available to EFCC is good for his own credibility and the credibility of the government he served. He cannot be above the law as to resist any lawful invitation.

“What he is doing by not honouring the EFCC invitation is that he is indirectly making himself guilty. Last time, it was so horrible that the EFCC wanted to apprehend him at the airport but some hoodlums resisted EFCC.

“What if there was a shootout, an innocent person would have died just because of ego. It doesn’t work that way. Even his boss, Wike, who is a lawyer, should tell him to go and meet EFCC. He may go there and nothing would be found on him, but not honouring the invitation makes him guilty.”

Last week, a group, the Initiative for Transparent Strategy and Good Leadership, had dragged EFCC and the Rivers Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to court in Abuja, over their failure to prosecute Fubara and others for alleged fraud.

The group, in the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/1399/2022, asked the court to mandate the Justice Commissioner to immediately arrest Fubara, who is also the immediate-past Accountant-General of Rivers, over his pending fraud case before EFCC.

The group also sought for an order mandating and compelling the attorney-general to make public, Rivers State government document, authorising Fubara to physically access and withdraw a whopping N117 billion.

DESPITE a May 2022 ‘wanted’ declaration still hanging on Fubara, Governor Nyesom Wike has mocked governorship candidates of opposition political parties in the state, saying they are not in touch with the people at the grassroots.

The governor also ridiculed opposition candidates for not having followers, traditional or political opinion leaders who can help galvanise support of the electorate for them.

Such candidates, Wike noted, are only desperately going about collecting money from people in the guise of preparing for election when they know they are not in the race to win.

Wike, who spoke yesterday while inaugurating the Rukpokwu-Rumuapu-Izo-Ogbodo Igwuruta link road in Obio-Akpor Council, said the electorate would vote the party that has come to their aid, supported and made them happy.

This is as the governor stated that the decision on the presidential candidate to vote for in the general election will soon be made known. He said: “You will work for a party that has come to your aid, a party that has brought dividends of democracy. If the people of Rukpokwu are not happy, will they be here? Governance is all about the happiness of the people. When the people are happy, we are happy.”

Chairman of Obio-Akpor Council, George Ariolu, who commended the governor for his aggressive infrastructure development, assured him that the people will be fully mobilised to vote for the state PDP candidates in the 2023 general elections.

MEANWHILE, the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt has set aside two Federal High Court judgments that invalidated the nominations of Action Democratic Party (ADP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) state House of Assembly candidates in Rivers. 

The court, in a unanimous judgment by a three-man panel of justices, led by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, granted prayers of the appellants who are ADP and ADC.

According to the judgment, the lower court ordinarily should not have entertained the suit, insisting that the two political party candidates for the position of the state House of Assembly were validly nominated and could participate in the general elections.

Justice Turaki Mohammed of the Federal High Court had invalidated the nomination of five state House of Assembly candidates of the ADP and seven ADC House of Assembly candidates after the PDP in Rivers dragged them to court over non-compliance with the new Electoral Act. 

The Appeal Court, however, reinstated the affected candidates, noting that ADP will field candidates from Emohua, Eleme, Bonny, Omuma, and Oyigbo constituencies for state House of Assembly election.

Reacting to the judgment, one of the lawyers to PDP, Dike Udenna, said they will study the judgment and advise his client on the next step to take.
Counsel to ADP, Donald Otogbo, said: “What the Court of Appeal decided is that PDP does not have the locus or right to challenge the nominees of other political parties because they are non-participants in other parties’ electoral or primary processes. They do not have the right to challenge the way and manner other parties’ primaries were conducted. That proceedings filed at the lower court ought not to have been heard in the first place.”

Chairman of ADP in Rivers, Christian Kendrick, described the judgment as a win for Rivers people, saying the judgment has confirmed that democracy is at work in the state. 

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