Nine of the Rivers State commissioners who dumped Governor Siminalaye Fubara in the heat of the power conflict that rocked the big oil and gas state, will be rejoining the state Executive Council any time soon.
This is coming as the Supreme Court on Monday, reserved ruling in the appeal lodged by the governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Patrick Tonye-Cole, against the victory of Fubara in the last election.
APC pulled out from the case against Fubara of the Peoples Democratic Party while it was being heard by the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.
Despite the position of the party not to challenge the declaration of Fubara as winner of the governorship contest by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Cole vowed to prosecute his petition to its logical conclusion.
When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, January 15, 2024, a five-member panel of the apex court adjourned it for judgment after all the parties adopted their final briefs of argument.
The Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun panel said it would communicate the judgement date to the parties.
INEC declared that Fubara of PDP polled a total of 302,614 votes to defeat his closest rival, Cole of the APC who got a total of 95,274 votes.
Not satisfied with the outcome of the poll, Cole approached the tribunal to challenge it. The appellant, among other things, alleged that the Rivers governorship poll was marred by corrupt practices, insisting that it was not conducted in substantial compliance with provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
More so, Cole, alleged that Fubara did not validly resign his previous position as required by the law, before the election was held. He alleged that Fubara continued to sign documents as the Accountant-General of Rivers State, even after he was nominated as the candidate of the PDP for the governorship election.
Consequently, he urged the tribunal to nullify the Certificate of Return that was issued to Fubara and declare that he was not the bonafide winner of the election.
He further prayed the tribunal to declare that he was the authentic winner of the gubernatorial contest. But, both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal dismissed his case for want of merit.
Last November ending, the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos State struck out a petition lodged by the APC governorship candidate against Fubara of PDP and INEC.
Cole’s case challenging Fubara’s election as governor was initially dismissed by the state governorship election petition tribunal in October. Not satisfied with the tribunal’s judgment, the APC candidate approached the appellate court
The APC candidate demanded that the court order the electoral commission to declare him the winner of the Rivers governorship election in March.
But a three-member panel of Justices of the appellate court in a unanimous judgment dismissed the appeal.
In the meantime, as part of the controversial Abuja Peace Accord that was brokered by President Bola Tinubu, the state House of Assembly is bracing to re-screen and re-confirm the returnee commissioners who are loyalists of the FCT Minister and former governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike.
Over seven months ago, the state House of Assembly screened and confirmed seven former commissioners in the Nyesom Wike administration and his former Chief of Staff as new commissioners under Governor Fubara.
They include former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Zaccheaus Adangor, and former Commissioner for Works, Dakorinama George-Kelly. Others are former Commissioner for Finance, Isaac Kamalu, Dr. Jacobson Nbina, Transport, Barr. Mrs. Aguma, Special Welfare, Engr. Emeka Woke and former Commissioner for Education, Professor Chinedu Mmon.
Fubara immediately after his inauguration last May 29 forwarded the four nominees to the House of Assembly for screening and confirmation.
Leader of the House at the time who is now the Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, during debate on the floor of the House through a motion that was seconded by then lawmaker representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 2, Christian Ahiakwo, prayed the House to allow three of the nominees leave the hallowed chambers based on the fact that as members of the immediate-past administration, they did well.
Amaewhule stated that members of the House were conversant with facts about the nominees and had no need to ask them questions.
Kamalu was earlier asked to take a bow as a former Chief Whip of the state House of Assembly.
The House that was presided by the then Speaker, Ikuiyi Owaji Ibani, at the end of debate unanimously confirmed the nominees as commissioners -designate.
The political crisis in the state took a disturbing dimension when nine commissioners in the state resigned from their positions. The development came after the Attorney General and Justice Commissioner, Zacchaeus Adangor, and his Special Duties counterpart, Emeka Woke, resigned earlier.
Former Works Commissioner, George-Kelly, is a strong loyalist of the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Wike, Governor Fubara’s predecessor. His counterpart in the Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Mrs Inime Chinwenwo-Aguma were among those who resigned.
The works commissioner’s letter of resignation was dated December 14, and was addressed to Governor Fubara through the Secretary to the State Government.
According to him, his resignation was based on his conscience, personal philosophy and professional ethics, adding that the decision was taken after deep introspection.
“My decision to resign is anchored on my conscience, personal philosophy, and professional ethics. This decision was taken after deep introspection”, he said.
However, the latest development is contained in a statement by the Clerk of the state House of Assembly, Emeka Amadi. He says the commissioners to be prescreened include Zacchaeus Adangor (SAN), George-Kelly, Emeka Woke, Inime Aguma, and Isaac Kamalu.
Others are, the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Chinedu Mmom, Commissioner for Housing, Dr Gift Worlu, Commissioner for Transport, Dr Jacobson Nbina and Commissioner for Environment, Austin Ben-Chioma resigned.
He said they are expected to produce 40 sets of their Curriculum Vitae, photocopies as well as original copies of their credentials to the state House of Assembly, Legislative Quarters (venue for the screening).
A gale of resignations hit the State’s Executive Council last December 16 following the political crisis between the Governor Fubara and his predecessor, Wike. Adangor, George-Kelly, Woke, Aguma, Kamalu, Mmom and Ben-Chioma, resigned.
The reinstatement of the former commissioners who resigned their appointments formed part of the demands of President Tinubu’s peace agreement with Fubara.
List of those that resigned include: Zacchaeus Adangor, Dr. Jacobson Nbina, Dr. Gift Worlu, Mrs Inime Chinwenwo- Aguma, Engr. Chukwuemeka Woke, Prof. Prince Chinedu Mmom, Dr. George-Kelly D. Alabo, Hon. Isaac Kamalu and Engr. Austin Ben Chioma.