Twenty-six members of the Rivers State House of Assembly have sent a strong warning to one of their colleagues, Evan Bipi, to stop impersonating the Speaker of the House, Otelemaba Amachree, insisting that the latter has not been removed from office.

Mr. Bipi, backed by four other members of the House had on July 9 attempted to unseat Mr. Amachree; and imposed himself as the Speaker. The session eventually turned bloody. Mr. Bipi has since proclaimed himself the Rivers speaker.

In a statement jointly signed and issued in Port Harcourt, the River State capital, on Friday, the 26 lawmakers said Mr. Bipi, a former aide and a close ally of the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, had been posing as the Speaker of the state legislature in defiance and gross violation of the laws of the country.

They asked members of the public to disregard his claims as he was never elected into the position.

The signatories are Golden Ngozi Chioma; Innocent B. Barikor; Josiah John Olu; Ibiso Nwuche; Belema Okpokiri; Legbosi Nwidadah; Andrew Anderson Miller; Augustine Ngo; Ben Horsfall; Okechukwu Nwaogu; Victor Amadi; Azubike Chikere Wanjoku and Victoria Nyeche.

Others are Benibo Anabraba; Irene Inimgba; Felicia Barizasi-Tane; Aye Atamah Pepple; Onari Brown; Gift Wokocha; Ewor Nname Robinson; Lucky Odili; Chidi Julius Lloyd; Chigbo Eligwe; Leyii Kwanee; Tonye Harry and Mr. Amachree.

The lawmakers, who chronicled the events leading to crisis, also regretted that Mr. Bipi had even gone ahead to make publications in the media in which he fabricated ‘fallacies’ aimed at misinforming members of the public.

“The attention of the Rivers State House of Assembly has been drawn to the plethora of stories and conjectures that have constituted the bulk analysis at the public domain on the crisis of Tuesday 9th of July, 2013… the House leadership received a communication from the Executive to amend the Rivers State Appropriation Law 2013. Sequel to this, the House reconvened on the 9th of July, 2013,” the statement said.

“Following the reconvening of the House on 9th of July, 2013, five members of the Rivers State House of Assembly (Evans Bipi, Okechukwu Michael Chinda, Kelechi Nwogu, Victor Ihunwo and Martins Amaewhule) in alliance with the Rivers State Police Command and their thugs, carried out unprovoked attack and assault on members including the Speaker (Rt. Hon. Otelemaba Dan Amachree), the Leader of the House (Hon. Chidi Lloyd) and Hon. Wanjoku Chikere Azubuike.

“Thereafter they made a spirited but unsuccessful attempt to impeach the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly in obvious disregard of the amplifying procedures set out in section 92 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Order 12 and Order 28 of the standing orders of the Rivers State House of Assembly.”

“Since the botched impeachment attempt, one Hon. Evans Bipi has rather surreptitiously impersonated the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly in Defiance and gross violation of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and has gone ahead to make publications in the national media. We hereby call on the public to disregard the impostor (Hon. Evans Bapakaye Bipi) and his fabricated fallacies which is targeted at misinforming the general public.”

The lawmakers said they did not violate any law by suspending the Chairman and Councillors of the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state, which they said may be one of the major issues fuelling the crisis.

“By virtue of the provisions of section 4 sub (6) and (7) (a-c) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended), the state House of Assembly is vested with legislative powers to make laws for the peace, governance and order of a state. Section 7(1) of the constitution says it is the responsibility of the House of Assembly to make laws for the existence, establishment, composition, structure, finance and functions of Local Councils.

“Section 100(1-5) further espouses the powers of the Assembly to make laws. Thus in line with the above provisions the Rivers State House of Assembly enacted the Local Government Law of Rivers State No.2 of 2012. Section 64 sub-section (1)-(4) of the Local Government Law of Rivers State No.2 of 2012 gives the power of suspension of Local Government Council to the Assembly.”

“In compliance with the above provisions, when the question was put on the interim report on the committee on local government on the issue. 23 members voted for the suspension and 5 members voted against,” the lawmakers said.

They also noted that it was impossible for the views of five members to inhibit the duties of the legislature, saying, “In compliance with our legislative duties, we have had cause to vote on motions, bills and resolutions that have impacted positively on the citizens of Rivers state, and if a tiny minority of 5 out of 32 members have dissenting views, that does not impugn on the views of the majority.”

The lawmakers said they would continue to support Mr. Amachree as well as the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, just as they pledged to cooperate with the police fact-finding team led by a Deputy Inspector General of Police, Philemon Leha, and that of the Senate.

“We shall continue to support our amiable governor Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and his people-friendly policies aimed at lifting our state from the shackles of a small political militia desirous of lording over and looting the treasury of our dear state,” they said.

The members, however, said they would not cooperate with a second team of police officers sent to investigate the matter as well as that of George Sekibo, a senator.

“…We totally dissociate ourselves from the second team of Police Officers led by a commissioner of police and Senator George T. Sekibo,” they said.

The lawmakers also asked the Federal Government to ensure the return of peace and security in the state even as they vowed to uphold the provisions of the constitution.

“We reassure our constituents that we shall continue to support and fight for the truth and defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which we swore to uphold. We shall remain resolute in our resolve to defend our state from political predators scavenging for cheap popularity and a harvest of political fortunes,” they said.

The crisis in the Rivers Assembly made the House of Representatives to pass a motion to take over legislative functions in Rivers. The House motion, however, needs the backing of the Senate, which is yet to be gotten; implying that no legislative duty is currently going on in Rivers.


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