Tuesday, January 7, 2014

High Court Bombed In Rivers State

A High Court in Ahoada East LGA of Rivers State was bombed this morning Monday January 6th, according to reports from the state.
17082013c-rivers-assembly-crisis2The bombing of the court where Justice Charles N. Wali usually holds court, reportedly occurred on Monday morning a few hours before a politically charged suit against Hon Evans Bipi, a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly and leader of a group of 6 lawmakers, who has been unlawfully parading himself as the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Justice Wali had about a month ago ordered Bipi to stop parading himself as Speaker of the House as the tussle over control of the state government between loyalists of the Presidency and the Rivers Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, lingers with an end in sight.
Justice Charles Wali was to hear a suit instituted by the Speaker of the House, Otelemaba Amachree, and others seeking an injunction to retrain a member, Evans Bipi, from parading himself as the Speaker of the Assembly when the incident occurred.
The judge had last month adjourned the suit to January 6. Although details of the incident were still scanty at the time of this report, the Rivers State Information Commissioner, Ibim Semenitari, confirmed the explosion in a telephone interview.
She said only one explosive went off near the building where the NBA Secretariat was located, adding that two others were yet to go off when the police arrived to detonate them.
The Rivers State Police Command is yet to react to the explosion. The police commissioner, Joseph Mbu, and state police spokesperson, Ahmad Muhammed, did not respond to calls and text messages by PREMIUM TIMES. Mr. Bipi, a loyalist of Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan, and the supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, is the leader of a group of six lawmakers opposed to the state governor, Chibuike Amaechi.
Mr. Bipi has also asked Mr. Amaechi to recognize him as Speaker if the governor wants to retain his seat. Last month, Mr. Wali, while ruling on an ex-parte brought by Mr. Amachree, his deputy, Leyii Kwanee, and others, ordered Mr. Bipi, who represents Ogu Bolo State Constituency in the state legislature, to stop parading himself as Speaker pending the determination of the suit brought before the court. The legislature has been embroiled in crisis since July 9 when Mr. Bipi-led group attempted to remove Mr. Amachree as Speaker.
The unsuccessful attempt resulted in violence that led to the sealing off of the Assembly complex by the police. Earlier, Mr. Kwanee denied the claim by the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that the House would reconvene at the Government House, Port Harcourt, to pass the state’s 2014 Appropriation Bill. Jerry Needam, media aide to the Chairman of the Rivers State Chapter of the PDP, Felix Obuah, said in a statement that the House was considering sitting at the Government House to pass the bill.
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had last month nullified a resolution by the National Assembly to take over the functions of the state legislature last July. However, Mr. Kwanee told journalists on Monday that as a principal officer he was not aware of such notice and that it was the imagination of the PDP and its media adviser.
He described the statement as ‘mischievous’ and a calculated attempt to induce another crisis in the House. The deputy speaker accused the PDP of overheating the polity to ensure that the people of the state did not benefit from the developmental programs initiated by the governor. Mr. Kwanee also said the House would issue a statement whenever it decided to sit.
No casualties have been reported over the bombing as at the time of filing this report.