Fubara signed peace accord wiith Wike in Tinubu’s Aso Rock, not under duress – Commissioner

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From Left-Right: Wike, Fubara and Tinubu.

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By KEMI KASUMU

The Tuesday’s reports by News Week Nigeria and The DEFENDER Nigeria that Governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara, and former Governor Peter Odili refused to sign the much circulated eight-point agreement resolving three-month political crisis with Nyesom Wike have been denied.

The peace accord was said to have been signed under the watch of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Aso Rock Presidential Villa Monday night, making some interested stakeholders warn the governor to watch his back as neither Tinubu nor Wike could be trusted with honouring any agreement.

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First breaking the news of their refusal, News Week Nigeria had reported that the peace meeting convened at the Aso Rock Villa involving Governor Siminalayi Fubara, alongside former Governor Peter Odili, failed to culminate in the signing of eight crucial resolutions, further intensifying the ongoing political crisis in Rivers State, quoting the Special Adviser on Media to the Leader of Rivers State House of Assembly, Engr. Boma Precious Kalama.

The gathering, which had President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in attendance, aimed to address the escalating crisis but ended without the expected consensus against the impression created in the Nigerian media on Tuesday, the report further said.

The DEFENDER Nigeria, among other major Nigerian media, had earlier reported that one of the eight-point agreements reportedly signed by Fubara and Peter Odili was the recognition of the leadership of Rivers State House of Assembly led by the Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule, alongside the 27 members who resigned from the PDP.

However, emerging details revealed a discord in the agreements of these critical resolutions, NEWS Week Nigeria later reported Tuesday.

Contradicting these purported agreements, the Special Adviser on Media to the Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Engr. Boma Precious Kalama, denounced the circulated resolutions as false.

But the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Joe Johnson, said Wednesday that his principal, Governor Siminalayi Fubara not only signed the agreement with Nyesom Wike, but also that his signing of it was not under duress at the Presidential Villa on Monday.

Johnson spoke during a live appearance on Channels Television’s Lunchtime Politics programme.

He said, “I was in that meeting and the governor did not negotiate from the place of weakness.

“There was no pressure from anywhere; when people disagree, they come to the round table and settle,” he said.

“There is nothing to doubt it (the agreement), we have gone beyond the issue as to who signed, and who didn’t sign,” Johnson added when asked whether the governor signed the peace agreement.

Rivers State has been a theatre of the absurd in the last three months with the state House of Assembly serving as the “boxing ring”. The rift between Fubara and Wike, split lawmakers in the House with 27 of them decamping from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), a party in whose central government Wike currently serves as minister.

The feud also saw the emergence of parallel sittings, an impeachment plot against the governor, the demolition of the Assembly complex, and a gale of resignations of pro-Wike commissioners in Fubara’s cabinet.

The President had on Monday met with Fubara and Wike at the Aso Villa in Abuja.

After Monday’s meeting, the President directed that the warring parties withdraw all matters instituted in the courts by Fubara, and his team, and that the leadership of Martin Amaewhule in the Rivers State House of Assembly be recognised, and not that of Edison Ehie.

Amaewhule and his 26 allies were also said to have been reinstated in the House following the presidential directive. Also, nine commissioners who resigned from Fubara’s cabinet would be reinstated, according to the agreement.

Controversies have since encircled the peace agreement with elder statesman, Pa Edwin Clark, saying that Fubara was “ambushed” into signing the document.

On whether or not Fubara signed the document or not, the Information Commissioner said for the governor, no price is too high for peace.

“The Bible that we all profess says we should pursue peace will all men at all cost.

“Mr Governor is a stickler for the rules, and if His Excellency, the President has intervened, he (Fubara) is not a man of perfidy. He will not say something and do the other.

“In the next couple of hours, I will be unveiling some of the approvals His Excellency has already given as an indication that he is prepared for peace. It’s part of the process to show that we are committed to it (agreement),” Johnson said.

The DEFENDER reports that although Engr. Boma Precious Kalama called the circulated peace accord a fake news, elders line Pa Edwin Clark believed the governor truly signed the agreement but said it was a ambush for the governkr and that it would not stand.

Former member of the Nigerian Senate from Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani, also believing the agreement was signed by the governor, reacted to the development in The DEFENDER Nigeria’s report headlined, “RIVERS: What Tinubu’s peace accord will do to Fubara”.

Shehu Sani, a former Kaduna Central Senator, said the peace accord, which is against Governor Siminalayi Fubara, will remove the knife from Fubara’s neck and set it behind his back.

Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), who took his criticism of the peace accord from from the angle of the law, held that presidential interventions must always be grounded in tbe provisions of the Constitution and such that President Tinubu has no such power to reinstate 27 lawmakers whose seats have been declared vacant.

The lawmakers’ seats were declared vacant after their defection from their political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC) saying they did so because President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was “doing very well” as president of Nigeria.

“With respect, the presidential reinstatement of the 27 cross carpeting members of the Rivers State House of Assembly by the Presidency is alien to the Constitution in every material particular,” Falana said.

Falana said, “The seats of the cross carpeting members have been declared vacant by the Speaker known to law. To that extent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is mandatorily required to conduct the by-election once the ex parte order issued by the Federal High Court last Friday is quashed.”

The senior lawyer, Femi Falana, said the cross carpeting legislators can only retain their seats if they can prove that the political party that sponsored them is divided into two or more factions.

“Even if all the cases in the Rivers State High Court and the Federal High Court are withdrawn in line with the advice of the President, it is submitted that all actions taken by the Speaker (Ehie) recognised by the Rivers State High Court, remain valid, including his pronouncement on the vacant seats of the 27 cross carpeting members of the House.

“In other words, only a court of law is constitutionally competent to set aside the pronouncement of the Speaker which is anchored on section 109 of the Constitution. Furthermore, as the Speaker (Ehie) has not been removed by the required number of legislators, a presidential directive cannot remove him,” Falana stated.


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