Rivers: Explosives In Federal High Court Premises As Court Nullifies Amaechi's LG Elections


Activities at the Federal High Court complex, Port Harcourt were temporarily brought to a halt thursday morning when people scampered to safety following a bomb scare at the premises.
The incident came just as the court was about to deliver judgment in a matter challenging the validity of the May 23 local government elections in the state.
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The court was about to sit when two objects, suspected to be dynamites were seen at one of the unused gates of the court complex.
The sighting of the objects caused panic as people ran for their lives.
Although no lives were lost and nobody was injured, it altered the atmosphere around the court, as a combined team of heavily armed security operatives, including the police, army, Department of State Service (DSS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), was deployed to the area.
Normalcy however soon returned to the court complex and the judges resumed sitting.
It was under the tight security occasioned by the bomb scare that Justice Lambo Akanbi of the Federal High Court delivered judgment nullifying the elections of chairmen and councillors of 22, out of the 23 local government areas of the state.
The Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had approached the court, seeking to stop the conduct of the local government elections on the ground that it was not in conformity with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Joined as respondents in the suit, were the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC), former Governor Rotimi Amaechi and four others.
Although the court had asked the parties in the suit to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the case, RISIEC, under the leadership of Professor Augustine Ahiauzu, conducted the elections on May 23, with candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winning the 22 local councils.
Shortly after Chief Nyesom Wike was sworn in as the state governor, the local council chairmen however approached the same Federal High Court, seeking to restrain the governor from dissolving them.
They had insisted that dissolving the democratically elected local government officials would be contrary to Section 7 of the constitution.
They also sought for an injunction restraining the Accountant-General and the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) from releasing any fund meant for the local government council to any person or body other than the democratically elected council chairmen in Rivers State.
The council chairmen had also approached the National Industrial Court (NIC), Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, with the same prayer.
But before the Port Harcourt Federal High Court ruled on the case brought before it by local government chairmen, the council bosses, earlier yesterday, announced the withdrawal of their case to enable them continue with same case at the NIC in Yenagoa.
Delivering judgment yesterday, Akanbi described as a flagrant disregard for the law the decision of the defunct RISIEC to go ahead with the local council polls on May 23, despite repeated admonitions by the court that all parties should maintain the status quo, pending the determination of the matter brought by PDP.
He further said the conduct of the polls was an aberration and in flagrant disregard of a subsisting order of the court, adding that the decision of the court was in defence of democracy in the country.
With the court’s pronouncement, 22 chairmen out of the 23 local councils in Rivers State (excluding Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area) effectively ceased to occupy their offices as council bosses.
Reacting, the state PDP Chairman, Mr. Felix Obuah, described the judgment as a victory for democracy and advised the sacked local government chairmen to join hands with the Wike-led administration to move the state forward.
“We are happy with the judgment. We thank God that in spite of the impunity of the past administration, the court straightened the K-leg (pidgin English for quagmire).
“By virtue of the court ruling, I will advise the sacked local government chairmen to immediately vacate the offices they illegally occupied. They should hand over to various heads of departments in the local councils.
“I will also advise them to join hands with the present Governor Nyesom Wike administration in the task of moving our dear state forward,” he said.
In his reaction, however, the Rivers State chairman of APC, Dr. Davies Ikanya, described the judgment as a very sad and unfortunate development.
Ikanya, in a statement, said he and his party members would study what he described as an “unholy judgment” and appeal against it, noting that it was against the people of the state.
He alleged that the bomb scare was made up by the PDP “as such acts are notorious with their activities in Rivers State to justify any of their diabolical and evil acts against the state and her people.
“Acts of killings and bombings are associated with PDP. So if the police are serious about unravelling this, they should beam their searchlight at PDP.
“We would have declared today (Thursday) a day of mourning in Rivers State, if not for the favourable judgement we got at the tribunal (Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja) that set in motion the move to unseat the evil regime of Wike.
“With the favourable judgement we obtained today (Thursday), we are very convinced that it is matter of weeks for Wike to face the wrath of our people for all his evil acts.”
Credits: http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/bomb-scare-in-p-harcourt-as-court-nullifies-rivers-council-polls/214213/

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