From Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
Former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly (RVHA), Ezekiel Tonye Harry, has been reported dead.
Though details from his family were unavailable, assembly sources say the lawmaker representing Degema in the state assembly died after a brief illness.
According to a reliable source he died at the Port Harcourt Club where he plays lawn tennis regularly and frantic efforts to rush him abroad for proper medical attention turned futile.
Reacting to the sudden death, Deputy Speaker of the RVHA, Leyii Kwanee, termed it shocking and a devastation of the assets of the 7th Assembly.
Kwanee, who spoke from the United States of America (USA) where he is on an official assignment said: “The report reaching me indicated that Tonye had suffered a heart attack recently and was taken to a hospital. It was in the process of taking him abroad for further treatment that he passed on.
“I am devastated because we were close; he was one that members in the Assembly were seeing as the bridge builders in the current assembly. The 7th Assembly in Rivers State has suffered a terrible loss. I am cutting my trip short so that I can be with the family over this weekend.”
Equally devastated by the sad news was the wife of the Rivers State Governor, Dame Judith Amaechi, who in a statement by her Media Assistant, Dike Bekwele said the dead of Tonye Harry is one too many.
Dame Amaechi said eulogised Tonye Harry as a believer in charitable courses who contributed so much in uplifting the welfare of less-privileged persons.
The governor’s wife noted that the lawmaker supported her husband in his quest to reclaim his mandate when many trusted persons betrayed him, adding that the late lawmaker further held fort at the State Assembly and still supported him till date despite pressures from many ends to betray him.
She described Tonye Harry’s death as very unfortunate and added that his demise has created a big vacuum in the state legislature.
Dame Amaechi condoled with Tonye’s family especially his wife, Sotonye Harry, praying God will to imbue in them the fortitude to bear the loss.
Late Harry was Deputy Speaker in eight years of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s speakership before succeeding Amaechi as substantive Speaker for a while and was until his death one of the strongest allies of the governor in the state’s House of Assembly.