– Sacks over 1,500 workers in three days!
– Ex-Governor’s men jittery, run for cover
‘He’s witch-hunting us’ – AMAECHI, SEMENITARI Cry
RIVERS State Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwoke Wike is on rampage!
The former Minister of Education who was sworn in some 23 days ago has since fired over 1,500 workers with alleged plan of dis-engaging about 13,000 at the end of the exercise his critics have tagged a witch-hunt.
To this end, the Rivers House of Assembly has passed a resolution empowering Governor Wike to sack the board of the State Civil Service Commission, accusing them of breaching the rules and illegally employing workers into the state service.
The resolution was passed on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, after grilling the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, Mr. Ngo Martins Yellowe on the floor of the House based on petitions accusing the Commission of not passing through due process before employing workers in the past three years.
Yellowe, however, told lawmakers that the Commission under his leadership obeyed the constitution and laws guiding employment into the service.
The invitation and quizzing of Martins Yellowe by the house was a prelude to the sacking of the Commission appointed by the immediate past Governor, and also the disengagement of civil servants employed three years to date, especially the over 13,200 teachers and others engaged in the state by Amaechi.
Fears have gripped over 13,200 teachers in the state, 400 doctors and nurses employed by the former Governor, who might be in the category of workers adjudged to have been wrongly employed into the state civil service.
Persecution of Amaechi’s men was also alleged when the Chairman of Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC), Prof. Augustine Ahiazu was invited to answer questions about how local government election was conducted. After the summon, a resolution was passed mandating Governor Wike to sack the Commission.
Wike fired RSIEC the next day.
Professor Ahiazu, it would be recalled, conducted the controversial May 23 Rivers Local Government election which Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party strongly opposed.
Rivers State Judiciary Service Commission also suffered same fate after its members were invited to the floor of the House.
Still on rampage, Rivers State Governor has equally disbanded the state Road Traffic Management Authority (TIMARIV) and dissolved boards of tertiary institutions in the state.
Wike also allegedly sacked no fewer than 1,141 workers including 435 lecturers from the state polytechnic, Bori.
The affected institutions were Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rivers State Polytechnic, School of Nursing and Health Technology, as well as School of Arts and Science.
The announcement was made on Wednesday, June 17 by the state government while warning against any attempt to flout the order.
But criticisms have been trailing the disbandment of TIMARIV, sack of the polytechnic lecturers and dissolution of the tertiary institutions’ boards.
Reacting to the decision, the state council of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), stated that the disbandment of TIMARIV contravened the law establishing it.
In a communiqué issued in Port Harcourt, after an emergency meeting, the state chairman and secretary of the union, Messrs Henry Urombo and Adekeye Johnson respectively, demanded that the governor rescind his decision.
The staff strength of TIMARIV Authority was over 706 duly employed and confirmed as enshrined in the public service rule.
The immediate past administration allegedly owed the workers eight months salaries from October, 2014 to May, 2015.
WIKE PROBES AMAECHI
Governor Wike also set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Friday, June 19, 2015 to probe the eight-year-reign of Amaechi.
The commission would investigate the immediate past administration over the alleged sale of assets belonging to the state.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which was inaugurated at the Government House in Port Harcourt, the state capital, has Justice George Omereji as its chairman and four other members.
Inaugurating the commission, Wike specifically charged it to investigate the sale of the 150 Megawatts gas turbine in Omoku, Adam 360 MW Gas Turbine, Trans-Amadi 136 MW gas turbine and the 75 MW gas turbine in Eleme.
And giving them 23 terms of reference, the governor explained that the commission was expected to investigate the mono-rail project and the sale of the Olympia Hotel by the Amaechi administration.
Wike said he acted in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by Section 2 (1) of the Commissions of Inquiry Law of Rivers State (Cap 30 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999).
The governor also instructed the commission to investigate the non-execution of the contract for the construction of the Justice Karibi Whyte Hospital after the Amaechi administration paid $250m to the contractor.
Wike directed that the commission should also investigate the withdrawal and expenditure of the accrued N96bn from the Rivers State Reserve Fund without compliance with extant laws.
He urged the Judicial Commission of Inquiry to make appropriate recommendations that would assist the state government recover proceeds from the gas turbines sold by the Amaechi administration.
In his response, the chairman of the commission, Justice Omereji, promised the governor that the body would carry out its duty diligently in line with the terms of reference.
Other members of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry are Dr. Edith Chukwu, Chief Monday Ekekenta, Rev. Canon Alex Usifo and Elder Ignatius Piegbara. Mrs. Florence Fiberesima is to serve as secretary while Dr. Zacheaus Adango serves as the counsel to the commission.
The commission was given one month to submit its report to the state government.
WIKE ALSO AFTER AMAECHI’S COMMISSIONER FOR INFORMATION, IBIM SEMENITARI
The Rivers State Government and the former state Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari have also been trading words over the recovery of what the state government described as government vehicles.
Ibim, however, insisted that the vehicles rightfully belonged to her, but were taken away from her residence in an attempt to dent her reputation.
Reacting to the carting away of her Lexus SUV and other property by agents of the state government, she said: “Over 10 heavily armed policemen in two trucks, one Ford Transit and a Hilux, on Thursday, invaded my 12A, Ernest Ikoli Street, Old G.R.A Port Harcourt, Rivers State, residence, without a search warrant, as they forced their way into my premises.
“My security guard on duty requested to know their mission and who sent them. They refused to disclose either, but went round taking photographs and recording my premises on video. The security guard got in touch with my assistant who spoke with the men, explaining to them that I was out of town and again requested to know their mission. Again, they declined, insisting on seeing me first. She then got in touch with me on phone as we were uncertain of the identity of the policemen in question.
“Upon further investigation and after about three hours of them laying siege to my premise, I was told that they were from Rivers State Government House and had been sent to recover vehicles in my possession. They attempted to break into a Range Rover SUV belonging to my Husband which was bought long before I was appointed Commissioner in Rivers State Government, damaging the front door. The vehicle in question, contrary to the lies being paraded is not an armoured vehicle and has never at any point belonged to the Rivers State Government nor its agents including myself as Commissioner of Information.
“By the time I finally made contact with them and expressed my displeasure, they insisted that they would take away a Lexus SUV duly allocated to me as Commissioner for Information and which by law I am entitled to leave with upon leaving office.
“The monetization policy of the government allows public officers to leave government with their official vehicles as this is in lieu of vehicle allowance, transport and other allowances, which they cannot draw because of the monetization policy of 2002. Mr. Nyesom Wike served as Chief of Staff, and upon departure left with all the vehicles he used as Chief of Staff. This has been the practice since this democratic dispensation.
“Having served as Commissioner for two tenures, I am entitled to my status cars and have proof of allocation. While I understand that Mr. Wike feels a dire need to destroy the reputation of Governor Rotimi Amaechi and all those who worked with him, it is unacceptable that he will engage in brigandage, thuggery and underhand tactics to do so. A simple letter from any government official requesting me to make a submission or tender documentation would have been the appropriate way to go and I would have willingly tendered all the relevant documents to them.
“Breaking into my home, invading my privacy, damaging my property and removing property from my premises is inappropriate and illegal.
“I have chosen, however, to put out these details in the public space as it is apparent that for some persons only a destruction of my hard earned reputation would do and this I would not accept. My records in the Ministry of Information are crystal clear and I hope that Mr. Wike is able to say same about his tenure in every office he has held.
“Forcing their way into my home unlawfully isn’t the appropriate way for any government that claims legitimacy to behave.”
Meanwhile, the state government in a statement had earlier said it recovered two vehicles allegedly belonging to the state government from the private residence of the former Commissioner for Information to former Governor Amaechi in Port Harcourt: “In furtherance of efforts by the Rivers State Government to recover government property from officials of the immediate past administration in the state, security agents and Government House officials, yesterday, took possession of government vehicles from the home of the former spokesperson for the Amaechi administration, Semenitari.
“The security operatives carried out the operation at the home of Mrs Semenitari located on Ernest Ikoli Street, Old GRA, Port Harcourt.
“The operatives recovered a Lexus Armoured Vehicle from the residence and a Range Rover vehicle is said to have been in the possession of the former Information Commissioner.”
WHAT SEMENITARI TOLD ENCOMIUM WEEKLY
In a phone chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Sunday, June 21, 2015, the embattled former Rivers Commissioner and Amaechi’s loyalist confirmed the incumbent Governor is after her. She also denied allegation of converting a government vehicle to her personal property.
Mrs. Semenitari declined further comments on the issue, though she promised to get back to us later in the week.
APC GUBER CANDIDATE, DAKUKU PETERSIDE REACTS
In his reaction, the state All Progressives Congress (APC), governorship candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the action of the Rivers State Government should be condemned by Nigerians.
“What has happened yesterday is condemnable and I hope this government is not going to run an irresponsible government. Rivers people are ordinarily law-abiding and it will be unfortunate and regrettable if what had been foisted on Rivers people is a government that has no respect for rule and order.
“The PDP-led government must realise that we are not in a Hobbesian state.”
He also spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly through his Special Assistant (Media), Mr. Sylvester Asoya who advised Wike to thread softly. Asked to comment on behalf of former Governor Amaechi (who backed his boss in the last Rivers guber polls), the one-time Editor with The News magazine referred us to Mrs. Semenitari.
Other prominent Rivers citizens also stressed the need for the Wike-led government to exercise caution as they need to respect the fundamental human rights of people, especially people that have served Rivers people in the past.
“Every position is temporary and disrespecting those people that had served the state in different capacities should be condemned in strong terms. Breaking into people’s houses is not the right thing to do and this incident is very unfortunate.
“When I was Secretary to the Rivers State Government, SSG and we needed to recover vehicles, we made an announcement on television and radio asking people to return government property in their possessions,” Senator Magnus Abe was quoted as saying.
‘THE PROBE’S A SHAM’ – SAYS AMAECHI
The immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, has described the probe of his administration by his successor, Nyesom Wike, as a sham, a fraudulent witch-hunt meant to deceive the public.
In a statement released by the former governor’s media office on Sunday, Mr. Amaechi described Mr. Wike as a sick man who is sickly fixated on rubbing him with his mud of corruption and then grabbing media headlines with his concocted bogus stories of ‘Amaechi’s alleged corrupt activities.’
The former governor also took a swipe at his former deputy, Tele Ikuru, over his claims that the Amaechi administration under which he served as deputy governor was the most corrupt in the State.
The statement reads in part: “This so called Wike’s probe of Amaechi is dead on arrival. All the noise Wike is making is to grab media headlines with his lies of monumental corruption against Amaechi. It’s all drama made for the media. What is playing out is a script written and directed by Nyesom Wike. Wike should move to Nollywood where his devious skills would probably be useful.
“Even while inaugurating his yeoman commission of Inquiry, Wike could not conceal his vendetta agenda. He was clear to the panel members that their job is to indict Amaechi.
“While it’s no longer in doubt what would be the report of Wike’s sham probe commission. What may shock Nigerians is the extent Wike has gone and is ready to go to manufacture stories of corrupt practices, and the kind of bogus tales of corruption against Amaechi that he would soon be feeding the nation.
“We are aware that even the Chairman of his Inquiry Commission, was shocked and protested when Wike gave him the litany of phony claims of corruption against Amaechi that the chairman would write in the panel’s report. But Wike had assured him not to worry that he had since been working towards arriving at that conclusion and he would provide the commission with all the (fake) evidence needed to arrive at that report.
“Truly, since May 29, that is all Wike has been doing; cooking spurious reports of corruption against Amaechi. Wike has been intimidating, threatening, coercing and blackmailing officials of the past administration, especially civil servants into making false, phony and bogus statements that would make legitimate government transactions appear as corrupt practices. Permanent Secretaries, Directors of Finance and Administration (DFAs), the State bankers and even contractors are harassed, threatened and blackmailed to twist and distort, or even completely alter legitimate government transactions in his desperation to cook up, and fabricate sham cases of corruption against Amaechi. This has been the one-point agenda of the Wike government, a vendetta mission against his former boss and benefactor.
“Amaechi will use every constitutional and legal means available to protect his name and image from this massive smear campaign, State-sponsored onslaught against him by this directionless, purposeless Wike led government. As governor, Amaechi served his people well and the good things he did with the resources of the state are visible all over the state.”
On the claims by his former deputy, Tele Ikuru while presenting a report to Wike, the statement condemned Mr. Ikuru. “We won’t dignify him with a response. He’s such a worthless piece of trash that we won’t waste our energy on. This is a man with no dignity, no shame. No self-respecting man would talk the way Ikuru is talking right now.
“This is a character that served the Amaechi administration for almost eight years. While he was there, he never for once complained that Amaechi or the government that he was the second-in-command was corrupt. As a matter of fact, he was singing and parroting everywhere that Rivers State was truly blessed to have a governor like Amaechi, that Amaechi will always be remembered and hailed for changing for good the fortunes of Rivers State.
“Today, the shameless clown is the one shouting Amaechi is corrupt, everywhere. If the government was as corrupt as he claims, what was he doing there for almost eight years, telling the world that Amaechi is the best thing to happen to Rivers State? No character, no self-respect, no dignity, no shame. A character like Ikuru should never be taken seriously,” the statement concluded.
GENESIS OF THE AMAECHI-WIKE FEUD
Before they parted ways, Governor Wike and Rotimi Amaechi were political associates. The former Obio Akpo Local Government Chairman and Amaechi’s Chief Of Staff was instrumental to the recovery of his mandate after Sir Celestine Omehia was imposed as Rivers Governor.
Amaechi and Wike, however, began a bitter fight when it was obvious the former Governor was against his ambition to succeed him. By the time former President Goodluck Jonathan got involved in the matter, Wike’s political structure was deployed to challenge his authority in the oil rich state. Though Jonathan lost his second term bid, Wike who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, however, defeated Amaechi’s candidate (Dr. Dakuku Peterside of the All Progressives Congress).
And now in power, Wike appears to be on a revenge mission against Amaechi and his supporters.
WIKE FIRES RADIO RIVERS BOSS, MEDLINE TADOR
Governor of Rivers State Chief Nyesom Wike also on Sunday, June 21, 2015 announced the sack of the General Manager of the state owned-Radio Rivers, Ms Medline Tador.
Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Governor, Mr. Opunabo Inko-Tariah said in Port Harcourt that the sack was with immediate effect.
According to him, government did not give any reason for her sack. “The governor also announced the appointment of Mr. Sampson Fiberesima, as the new General Manager of the state radio station. And the appointment is with immediate effect,” he said.
Fiberesima, was until the appointment, the Regional Manager, South of Silverbird Group in Port Harcourt.
-Stories by UCHE OLEHI