The Senate has today sworn in Senator Andrew Uchendu as the representative of Rivers East Senatorial district in line with a court order.
Uchendu has therefore replaced Senator George Sekibo, who was sacked due to a court ruling.
He took his oath of office today, during the Senate plenary.
READ ALSO: Appeal Court Upholds Removal Of George Sekibo As Senator
The Appeal Court has earlier dismissed an appeal filed by Senator George Sekibo challenging the judgment of the Rivers State National Election Tribunal which removed him as Senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District.
The Appellate Court on August 24, 2017, held that the appeal lacked merit as it did not show facts as to why the decision of the lower court should be set aside.
The Senator-elect representing Rivers East Senatorial District, Andrew Uchendu, says the trend of winning elections in the courtroom means well for Nigeria’s democracy.
Uchendu believes most elections in the country are conducted in a way that is contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“We have had situations where those who have been saddled with the responsibility of conducting elections in Nigeria do completely the wrong thing,” he said.
“They go outside the provisions of the Electoral Act to do it their own way, impose on us their own style with impunity and because the judiciary is there, it is important that those who felt shortchanged or cheated should proceed straight to the tribunal and that is exactly what I did.”
The Senator-elect, who replaces Senator George Sekibo who was sacked by the Appeal Court, criticised the rate at which ballot boxes are hijacked during electoral conduct.
He said nobody would accept the results of such election, stressing that the court remains the last hope for those who feel cheated.
“A situation where people have gone out to vote and instead of sitting down to collate results of votes that have been cast, people will now run away with those results and at the end of the day, after two or three days, they will announce to Nigerians the results of an election purported to have been held.
“Of course, nobody will accept that and so you proceed to the court and that I did and for me, from what I have seen, the judiciary will continue to be the last hope of the common man,” he noted.
Uchendu, who noted that challenging election results at the tribunal was his best option when he appeared on Politics Today on Tuesday, said he would not have been a senator if not for the judiciary.
He said, “If it would have been left to those who conducted the affairs of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), then I would have been shortchanged. I wouldn’t be a senator today, I thank God the judiciary is there.”
“So it means well for all of us that after INEC had conducted the election, you have another opportunity to challenge the conduct of that election and that’s exactly what has happened in my own case.”
The Senator-elect from Rivers East Senatorial District, Andrew Uchendu, believes the delay in the process of funds repatriation is part of corruption.
In his address when he appeared on Politics Today on Tuesday, Uchendu said countries that have refused to speed up the repatriation process of looted funds are doing so in their interest.
“As for the foreign countries, they know that they want to serve their interest more and, therefore, can go ahead to delay repatriation which is an aspect of corruption,” he said.
“There is what I may call the desire to make a better use of the forces that are in your custody. Possibly if we find ourselves in the position of other countries, we will want to delay as much as possible.”
The Senator-elect called on the Federal Government to be mindful of countries it signs bilateral agreements with in it resolve to tackle corrupt practices in Nigeria.
He noted that delaying looted funds was unacceptable, adding that some countries were trading with the monies kept with them by corrupt Nigerians.
“Time is also the value of money, as long as you keep funds with you, you are making more money. You delay in order to make more money so that finally if the provision of the bilateral agreement is being enforced, you can now be sure that you have made some extra monies.
“What you will be repatriating will be the fixed amount that was initially deposited, nobody will be talking about the interest on it and so I believe that these are the politics in repatriation and Nigeria should find ways of getting around it.
“When you lay down procedures of how things should go and when you go outside the provisions of the law, then you are corrupting the system. This is one aspect that we should watch out in future bilateral agreements which the government enters into,” he said.
On the call to extradite former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, Uchendu said, “Beyond the provisions of the law, I personally think that it is important that Nigerians continue to protest on the highway.”
He noted that the protest would send a signal to public office holders that corruption which he said has become a culture in Nigeria was no longer acceptable.
“People should go ahead so that those who are in offices today, those who we have elected, those who are appointed into public offices would know that it is no longer acceptable for them to abuse the positions of trust given to them by Nigerians,” he said.
“To that extent, I think street procession and protest must continue.”
The people of Rivers State have been urged to reciprocate Federal government’s commitment to the implementation of the UNEP report by voting in the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates in Saturday’s senatorial rerun elections.
This appeal was made on Tuesday by the leader of the APC delegation to Rivers State and the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, during the grand finale of the Rivers State rerun elections rally in Gokana Local Government Area.
Mr Amaechi, while canvassing for massive support for the APC candidate also disclosed that one billion dollars has been released by the federal government for the clean-up of Ogoni land.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress’ candidate in the senatorial re-run polls, Mr Andrew Uchendu, has pledged to improve socio-economic infrastructure in Etche Local Government Area.
He said this at an earlier held town hall meeting which had in attendance the former Rivers State Governor, Mr Chibuike Amaechi.
The Minister also assured eligible voters that adequate security has been provided by the federal government during the polls.
The Save Rivers Movement (SRM) today (Saturday) successfully held its rally in Bori, Khana Local Government Area of Rivers state after thugs appeared before it started last week and dispersed the gathering.
The rally, which was guarded by heavily armed security operatives was attended by the state governor, Rotimi Amaechi.
Making reference to the botched rally on Sunday January 19th, Amaechi told the crowd that while he does not condone violence, the people of Ogoni land must always be on alert to forestall further unprovoked attacks.
He however thanked the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar for his role in ensuring the high level of security during the rally.
“I had to call him and I told him that I am going to Khana; and I thank him for sending security and re-assure him that Rivers people are peace loving people” he said
Amaechi, who told the cheering crowd that he remains the “governor of Rivers state” and “governor of Ogoni people”, maintained that he “will allow the Save Rivers Movement to continue with their rallies” but warned that “they must comply with anything that has to do with the law”
He noted that he attended the rally “to prove to you (Ogoni people), not to Nigerians that you should not run away from violence” and urged them to take advantage of the coming party and voter registrations to equip themselves ahead of the elections.
A member of the House of Representatives, Andrew Uchendu, speaking at the event, debunked the rumoured return of Rivers state lawmakers, federal and state, who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Rep. Uchendu noted that “they said that some people are going back; I speak on behalf of the 37 members that defected to APC” emphasising that “we have passed the red line, there is no going back.
Organisers of the rally however maintained that it will continue round the state.