Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has explained why the State House of Assembly recognised Celestine Omehia as a former Governor of the state.
Wike said the action of the State 32-member legislature to derecognise Omehia as former governor in 2015 was in violation of an extant Supreme Court judgement which ousted Omehia, stating he never existed as governor in the eyes of the law.
The governor explained that with the benefit of hindsight, the leader of the state assembly even alluded to the judgement of the apex court ousting Omehia, which said he never stood for any election.
He stated this on Friday in Government House, Port Harcourt, when he signed a legal instrument into law de-recognising Omehia as former governor of the state.
After signing the document presented to him by the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, the governor said Omehia’s status as a former governor, with accruable rights and benefits are now cancelled.
Kelvin Ebiri, media aide to the governor, disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen on Friday.
“Yesterday, I received a resolution from the Assembly de-recognising Sir Celestine Omehia, who had enjoyed the privileges of a former governor of the State.
“But you will recollect that sometime in 2007/2008, my predecessor, His Excellency Chibuike Amaechi did not recognize Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of the State.
“When we came on board, there were issues and the Assembly felt that, having served as governor, he should enjoy the status of a former governor.
“I’ve always respected the resolutions of the Assembly. I’ve never one day disagreed with anything the Assembly has sent to me,” the statement quoted Wike as saying.
Wike pointed to the reasons adduced by the leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly that the strength of the information they have now had compelled them to reverse what they did in 2015.
“The leader of the house said they have better facts and what are the facts?
“The facts are the Supreme Court judgment categorically stated that Sir Celestine Omehia was never a governor, because he never stood for any election and that it will be inappropriate for their (assembly) legacy that they didn’t respect the judgement of the Supreme Court.
“In this part of our country, people will praise you when it suits them, but when you do the uncommon thing, people will not praise you,” Wike stated.
The governor stressed the need why people should keep politics away from what had been done. He further urged members of the public to get a copy of the Supreme Court judgment and understand that it was the right thing to de-recognise Omehia.
“I had to call the Attorney General for him to give me his legal opinion as regards the resolution of the Assembly, and rightly the Attorney General said they (assembly) are right.
“That in the first instance, the recognition was extra-judicial, that the Assembly has no power to change the judgment of any court, not to talk about the Supreme Court.
“So, people should understand and not to begin to play politics,” the governor said.
He explained as untrue that the insinuation in the media that Omehia was de-recognised because he had ceased to be his ally, and now a member of the presidential campaign council of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Wike also pointed to the sum of money paid to Omehia as a proof against those who peddled tales that government does not pay such benefits at all.
“If this did not happen, nobody will even know that the State government has been coughing out such amount of money to pay as benefits.
“I’m sure, they must have told you that no benefits and all entitlements were never paid, that is what you hear everywhere.
“But yesterday, when it was revealed that the State government coughed out such amount of money to pay as benefits as recommended by the Assembly and now, they have sent the resolution to me, I thank God today, without looking back, I have signed it as instrument and it will be gazetted for record purposes.”