By Chinelo Obogo and Tony John, Port Harcourt
The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took new turn, yesterday, as the Rivers House of Assembly passed a motion to derecognise Celestine Omehia as a former governor of the state.
Omehia, who is a close ally of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, was governor of Rivers from May 29, 2007 to October 25, 2007, but his election was annulled by the Supreme Court which declared former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, as winner of the governorship election.
However, following the allaged fallout between Amaechi and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, Omehia was recognised by Rivers State as a former governor and all his entitlements accorded him.
But, yesterday, a motion to de-recognise him was moved by Martin Amaewmule, leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly during plenary.
Amaewmule asked the Assembly to stop Omehia from using the title “His Excellency” and the acronym “GSSRS” (Grand Service Star of Rivers State) which is a state honour meant for incumbent and former governors.
He also asked that Omehia be made to refund all monetary entitlements received from the state government, especially the sum of N600 million in benefits and N96.5 million pension that he has so far received.
All the 21 members present at the plenary voted in support of the four prayers.
Omehia and Wike fell out over the former’s support for Atiku as the River’s governor has been at loggerheads with the PDP candidate since the party held its national convention.
Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike, will on Friday sign the instrument on cancellation of the recognition of Omehia as former governor of the state.
Amaewhule in his submission had recalled that the Supreme Court in the case of Amaechi versus INEC and two others in 2008, had declared that the appellant (Chibuike Amaechi) was the actual or valid governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State for the 2007 general election and not Omehia, who contested the election.
He further informed that the Supreme Court also held that “in the eyes of the law, Omehia was never a candidate in the election much less a winner.”
Sponsor of the motion (Amaewhule) stated that being mindful of the position of the apex court on the subject matter and in line with Section 287 (I) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) provides that “the decisions of the Supreme Court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by, courts and subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Supreme Court.”
He said that the continued recognition of Omehia as former governor of the state and the continued granting of privileges and entitlements accruing to all former governors of the state to him (Omehia) was not in tandem with the highlighted pronouncement of the apex court and the provisions of the 1999 constitution.
Amaewhule called on the governor to stop recognizing Omehia as former governor of Rivers State and also terminate all privileges, benefits and entitlements accruing to all former governors governors, which were also extended to him (Omehia).