Political turmoil engulfed Rivers State in a chaotic series of events. A long-standing crisis within the state escalated dramatically, leading to the partial destruction of the state House of Assembly and a fervent attempt by 24 lawmakers to impeach Governor Siminalayi Fubara.
The governor claimed to have narrowly escaped an assassination attempt during this tumultuous period, allegedly at the hands of the police.
In the midst of this turmoil, 26 members of the Assembly suspended Speaker Martins Amaehwule and three other members. Subsequently, they elected and inaugurated Edison Ehie as the new Speaker. This crisis began when the legislative chambers were set ablaze on Sunday night, with gunshots and teargas fired during an impeachment proceeding against Governor Fubara on Monday morning.
Security forces cordoned off the Assembly premises and initiated an investigation into the incident. Unconfirmed reports suggested that the Chief Judge of the State, local council chairpersons, some commissioners, the Chief of Staff, and the Chief Security Officer to the governor had been removed from their positions.
In a bold move, Governor Fubara challenged the 24 lawmakers attempting to impeach him, demanding a justification for their actions. He also denounced the impeachment attempt as illegal and urged the people of Rivers State to remain steadfast in their support.
Addressing a gathering of youths, the governor expressed his resolve to protect the interests of Rivers State, emphasizing that any unjustified impeachment would be vehemently resisted. He called for transparency and a clear explanation of the alleged offenses warranting his impeachment.
Following these events, the House of Assembly saw a change in leadership. After 24 lawmakers initiated an impeachment process, 26 others suspended the Speaker and elected Edison Ehie as the new Speaker. The Assembly subsequently adjourned sine die due to an indefinite strike notice from the Parliamentary Association of Nigeria.
The Rivers State Police Command launched a full-scale investigation into the fire that destroyed the Assembly building and assured the public that those responsible would be held accountable.
Various political figures and groups weighed in on the situation. Notably, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum convened an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in Rivers State and its implications for democracy. Additionally, the PDP elders in Rivers State met with Governor Fubara to mediate and seek a peaceful resolution.
Elder statesman Chief Edwin Clark called on President Bola Tinubu to intervene, emphasizing the need to uphold constitutional democracy in the face of potential crisis. He condemned the reported efforts to remove the governor unlawfully and called for restraint.
Dame Ibim Semenitari, a former acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, criticized the attempts to plunge Rivers State into violence, underscoring the detrimental impact of political crises on the state’s economy and its people. She urged an end to the crisis and emphasized the importance of a functioning legislative arm for the state’s stability and development.