Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State on Friday signed a resolution from the State Assembly de-recognising Celestine Omehia as a former governor of the state.
The state lawmakers on Thursday passed a resolution to de-recognise Mr Omehia as a former governor. They ordered him to refund over N600 million he got as entitlements from the Rivers State Government.
Mr Wike, a lawyer, said when he was informed of the lawmakers’ decision he sought legal advice from the state attorney general, who told him that “in the first instance the recognition was extrajudicial that the Assembly has no power to change the judgment of any court, not to talk about (the) Supreme Court”.
“Now they (lawmakers) have sent a resolution to me, without looking back I have signed it as an instrument and it would be gazetted for record purposes,” the governor said.
Mr Omehia became the governor of Rivers State briefly in May 2007 after Rotimi Amaechi, who won the governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the election was denied the ticket by the then leadership of the party
The Supreme Court in October 2007 voided the PDP’s action, saying that Mr Amaechi’s name was wrongly substituted with Mr Omehia. The court sacked Mr Omehia and directed that Mr Ameachi be sworn in as state governor.
Mr Omehia, who hails from Ikwere Local Government Area as Mr Ameachi, was not recognised as ex-governor until June 2015 – a month after Mr Wike, who is also of the same Ikwere ethnic nationality, became the governor of the state.
Messrs Wike and Omehia were political allies but they fell apart when the latter decided to support Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP for the 2023 elections against the wishes of Mr Wike.
Messrs Wike and Atiku have been engaged in a political battle after the PDP presidential primary which the former vice president won.
Mr Wike is leading a group of party chieftains who are calling for the removal of the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu.
Mr Omehia belongs to a faction of the PDP in Rivers which is loyal to Messrs Ayu and Atiku. The former national chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, also belongs to the faction.
Governor Wike after endorsing the resolution said he was aware that people would politicise the action.
“Once you know your conscience is clear and you are doing the right thing, you don’t bother yourself, you move on and do the work you are supposed to do,” the governor said.
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