Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike has explained that the decision of the State Assembly to derecognise Sir Celestine Omehia as a former Governor is not Political.
Wike insisted that the 2015 recognition of Omehia by the lawmakers against the judgement of the Supreme Court was an error, which they had mustered the courage to correct in 2022.
The Governor spoke on Friday when he signed a legal instrument into law activating the resolution passed by the House of Assembly to de-recognise Omehia.
Wike’s signature on the instrument canceled all the recognition that was hitherto accorded Omehia the status of a former governor with rights and benefits.
The Governor signed the instrument at the Executive Council Chambers of the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt when it was presented to him by the State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor.
He said he had always respected resolutions from the Assembly and never had any reason to disagree with them.
He said: “Yesterday, I received a resolution from the Assembly de-recognising Sir Celestine Omehia, who had enjoyed the privileges of a former governor of the State.
“But you will recollect that some time in 2007/2008, my predecessor, His Excellency Chibuike Amaechi did not recongnise Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of the State.
“When we came on board, there were issues and the Assembly felt that, having served as governor, he should enjoy the status of a former governor. I’ve always respected the resolutions of the Assembly. I’ve never one day disagreed with anything the Assembly has sent to me.”
Wike said the reasons adduced by the leader of the Rivers Assembly that the strength of the information at their disposal compelled them to reverse what they did in 2015.
The Governor noted that the hallmark of leadership remained the humility to acknowledge that there was an error done in the course of administration and having the courage to correct such error.
He said: “The leader of the house said they have better facts and what are the facts? The facts are the Supreme Court judgment categorically stated that Sir Celestine Omehia was never a governor , because he never stood for any election and that it will be inappropriate for their (assembly) legacy that they didn’t respect the judgement of the Supreme Court.
“In this part of our country, people will praise you when it suits them, but when you do the uncommon thing, people will not praise you.”
Wike stressed that people should keep politics away from what had been done and further urged people to get a copy of the Supreme Court judgment and understand that it was the right thing to derecognise Omehia in the eye of the law.
He said: “I had to call the Attorney General for him to give me his legal opinion as regards the resolution of the Assembly, and rightly the Attorney General said they (assembly) are right.
“That in the first instance, the recognition was extra-judicial, that the Assembly has no power to change the judgment of any court, not to talk about the Supreme Court. So, people should understand and not to begin to play politics.”
He said the Assembly had woken to its conscience and did not want posterity to blame them for an error they had done which they could correct.
Wike likened it to the position the members of the National Assembly found themselves when they were working on the Electoral Amendment Bill.
He said: “Remember, last time, the National Assembly,when they were making the amendment of the Electoral Act, everybody said they should include the card reader and that was in 2018/2019.
“The National Assembly did not do it, particularly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) members and people told them what they were doing will hunt them. Posterity will not forgive you if you do not allow democracy to thrive.
“In the new Electoral Amendment Act, because they knew they did not do the right thing, they had to include it and you can see that members of the National Assembly are happy that they have done the right thing.”
Wike also pointed to the sum of money paid to Sir Celestine Omehia as proof against those, who peddled tales that government does not pay such benefits at all.
He said: “If this did not happen, nobody will even know that the State government has been coughing out such amount of money to pay as benefits.
” I’m sure, they must have told you that no benefits and all entitlements were never paid, that is what you hear everywhere.
“But yesterday, when it was revealed that the State government coughed out such an amount of money to pay as benefits as recommended by the Assembly and now, they have sent the resolution to me, I thank God today, without looking back, I have signed it as an instrument and it will be gazetted for record purposes.”