Twelve years after their conviction, former Chief of General Staff, Lt. General Oladipo Diya, and 44 other military officers, convicted for their alleged roles in the phantom coups in the General Sani Abacha administration in 1995 and 1997, finally got presidential pardon yesterday. This followed the recommendation of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy (PACPM), which was approved by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and was considered for final reprieve yesterday by the National Council of State meeting scheduled in Abuja. Others to be granted the presidential pardon and compensation include: Major Generals Abdulkareem K. Adisa (deceased) Tajudeen Olarewaju, Col. Lawan Gwadabe, 41 Other officers, four other ranks, a current serving Senator Chris Anyanwu, the late Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti and a journalist, the late Bagauda Kalto, former special adviser to the Chief of General Staff, Professor Odekunle, an activist, Comrade Shehu Sani and two State Security Service operatives, namely, Anthony Awoloyi and Julius Badejo. In a document,dated 23rd June 2009, copies of which have been given to state governors, former Heads of State, Senate president and speaker of the House of Representatives, President Yar’Adua has accepted to grant the former convicts presidential pardon in accordance with the provisions of 175 of the 1999 Constitution. The document prepared to apprise the National Council of State of the intention of President Yar’Adua to grant the ex-convicts presidential pardon is categorised into four different groups for which the first set included 68 persons convicted by the Abacha administration for alleged participation in the 1995 and 1997 phantom coup d’état, but most of whom are no longer in detention and were earlier granted clemency. The presidential document further stated that those in the first category, include those earlier granted clemency, but not full pardon thus their properties were still forfeited, while category two contained list of 87 persons who are 60 years and above serving various terms in prisons all over the country. Category three include 12 eligible serving prisoners convicted of federal offences. The fourth category comprised 2 persons, namely the former Managing Director of Bank of the North (BoN), Alhaji Shettima Mohammed Bulama and Dr. Chiichii Ashwe, who were convicted for contravening financial laws but crave for the removal of the stigma attached to their names for purposes of re-integration into the society. In the recommendation of the presidential pardon to the Council of State, following the advice of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy (PACPM) for 2009, the debilitating ill-health likely to incapacitate or terminate in death of the inmates, as well as young persons of 16 years and below and all those that have spent 15 years and above on life sentence, were part of the consideration for the presidential pardon. The list of other military officers granted the presidential pardon include; Colonels G. A. Ajayi, O. Oloruntoba, R. S. B. Bello-Fadile, R. N. Emokpae, J. Isa, Olu Craig, E. I. Jando, D. Ndubueze and Y. Bako, while those in the Lt. Col. group include K. H. Bulus, S. E. Oyewole, M. A. Igwe, R. K. Obiki, C. P. Izeogu, O. L. Nyong, V. O. Bamgboye and S. B. Mepaiyeda. Others are A. Lawal, M. A. Ajayi. G. P. Okiki, O. O. Akiode (deceased), Navy Cdr, D. A. Omessa, L. M. Fabiyi, Majors J. O. Edeh, E. Obalisa, N. U. Okoro, A. Umar, A. A. Akinyemi, O. O. Fadipe, B. Mohammed, Capt. A. A. Ogunsuyi, U.S.A. Suleiman, M. A. Ibrahim, Lt. Olowookere (Navy), Lt. D. K. Olowomoran, 2nd Lt. R. Emouhe, Sgts. M. Potiskum, and P. Usikpeko (deceased) as well as Cpl. Godspower Ogbinovia.
Our Aim Is To Promote Rivers Interest, Wike Insists …Says After Elections, Time For Governance …As Appeal Court Upholds Gov’s Re-Election, Strikes Out ADP’s Appeal
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that the State Government’s investment in Oil Mining Licence (OML) 11 is aimed at promoting the interest of host stakeholder communities, and ensure peace for the operation of the oil facility.
Speaking during a solidarity visit by the Ogbakor Etche yesterday at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Governor Wike said the efforts of the State Government are geared towards ensuring that the communities get the best from the acquisition of OML 11.
“What Rivers State Government wants is for the interest of our state to be protected. Whoever that is coming to take over will have the interest of the communities protected.
“When the communities are part owners of OML11, there will be peace. But some people sit down and engage in unnecessary propaganda”, he said.
Governor Wike stated that the acquisition of OML 11 is the height of resource control struggle, and urged the people of Ogoni to appreciate the efforts of the Rivers State Government in this regard.
“When you talk about resource control, this is resource control. Instead of Ogoni people to thank us, they are allowing criminals and charlatans to go on radio and talk, with their leaders pretending not to be aware, when they know.
“They talk as if OML 11 belongs to them alone, which is not correct. Etche, Bonny, Oyigbo, Ogu/Bolo and Okrika are part of OML 11”, he said.
The Governor took time to explain the process that led to the acquisition of OML 11, saying that the Rivers State Government stepped in after the High Court ordered the sale of Shell’s stakes already attached as part of the enforcement of the court’s judgment initiated by the Ebubu Community.
On the OML 25, which was eventually given to Shell Petroleum Development Company by the Federal Government, Governor Wike stated that a fraudulent businessman claimed that the Federal Government would grant him the license of the facility.
He noted that when it turned out that the man was lying, the State Government worked with stakeholder communities to ensure that their interests were protected.
Governor Wike said it turned out that the businessman, who sponsored falsehood on OML 25, was merely seeking surveillance and labour supply contracts from Shell Petroleum Development Company.
The Governor assured Etche people that his Administration would always invest in the development of the area, while outlining the projects that will be commissioned in Etche land during the first year of his second term.
He informed the Etche delegation that his administration will revive the Delta Rubber Company through Public Private Partnership, adding that by May 2020, the Rivers State Government will commission the Cassava Plant.
He said with the commissioning of the Cassava Plant, the Rivers State Government will purchase cassava from farmers at prevailing market prices for processing.
“That way, the farmers will be empowered to remain in business”, he said.
Earlier, the President-General of Ogbakor Etche, Sir Machy Nwodim commended the Rivers State Government for acquiring the oil facility. He said as part owners of OML 11, Etche Ethnic Nationality views the action as a welcome development.
He used the opportunity to appeal to the Governor to take a similar action on OML 17, where the bulk of Etche oil is found.
While congratulating the Rivers State Governor on his electoral victory, he called for electronic voting to ensure credible violence free elections in 2023.
The President-General of Ogbakor Etche urged the Rivers State Governor to sustain his developmental projects in Etche land and initiate new projects.
It would be recalled that the Rivers State Government fully acquired Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) 45% interest in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11 of the State following its auction by the High Court.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has declared that with elections effectively over across the country, the focus should be on governance for the good of Nigerians.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the Director General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim at the Government House, Port Harcourt last Monday, Governor Wike said politics should be de-emphasised at this time.
“We are here to assist. We are not fighting with anybody. We are here to complement the efforts of Government.
“Politics has come and politics has gone. We have won the election here, they have lost. But they have won in other places. Politics has ended and we are now talking about governance”, he said.
The Governor decried situations in which corps members devise different schemes to ensure that they are posted back to their home state, saying “We should try and discourage the idea that you must serve in your state. That is the essence of the NYSC scheme.”
He assured that the Rivers State Government will continue to promote the welfare of corps members serving in the state.
“The corps members posted here serves our state. So, it is our responsibility to take care of their welfare. They are working for the benefit of Rivers State “, he said.
Governor Wike further said the State Government is still willing to assist the family of the Late Corps Member killed during the rerun elections.
He assured that the Rivers State Government will deliver the auditorium at the Permanent Orientation Camp and other projects during the first year of his second term.
Earlier, the NYSC Director General, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim thanked the Rivers State Governor for what he called his outstanding contributions to the development of facilities at the permanent Orientation Camp of the NYSC.
He commended the Rivers State Governor for the payment of allowances to Rivers Corps Members and the construction of a 5000 sitter auditorium at the Orientation Camp.
He described Governor Wike as an NYSC friendly Governor who has encouraged Corps Members to give their best.
“I thank you most sincerely. Others are watching. I encourage them to emulate the Rivers State Governor “, he said.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt on Monday upheld the re-election of Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike as they struck out the appeal filed by the defeated Governorship Candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr. Victor Fingesi.
Fingesi had approached the Court of Appeal after the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal on October 5, 2019 dismissed his petition challenging the re-election of Governor Wike, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship candidate during the 2019 Election.
The Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgment struck out the Appeal by Mr. Victor Fingesi of ADP for lacking in merit. The Tribunal also said that the appeal was incompetent.
In a lead judgment, Justice H.N Ogunwimiji declared that the ADP Governorship Candidate failed to prove that the election was marred by irregularities.
Justice Ogunwimiji stated that the ADP Governorship Candidate couldn’t adduce evidence that would invalidate the election of Governor Wike.
The Court of Appeal stated that he or anyone who asserts must present relevant evidence to prove such allegations.
The Court also declared that INEC has the power to take action on elections when emergencies arise. The Appeal Court noted that INEC derived such powers from Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act.
It also held that the petitioner lacked the locus standi to file the petition as earlier ruled by the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal.
The presiding Judges, Justice T.N Orji Ababua, Justice U. Omyenenn, Justice H.A Barka, and Justice I.B Idiris, agreed with the lead judgment.
INEC’s Counsel, Dr Garba Tetengi (SAN), on his part, said the appeal was struck out for incompetence.
Counsel to the Rivers State Governor, Ike Udenna, said the Court of Appeal came to the conclusion that the Tribunal was right to uphold the election of Governor Wike.
It will be recalled that the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal declared that the petitioner (ADP Governorship Candidate) failed woefully to prove that Governor Wike did not score the highest number of lawful votes during the March 9, 2019 Governorship election. The Tribunal declared that the petitioner’s complaint is vague and merely speculative.
The Appeal Court further described ADP’S Petition as “An Adventure to discover the Non-Existent “.
INEC on April 3, 2019 declared Governor Wike re-elected after he polled 886,264 votes, while his closest challenger of African Alliance Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, scored 173,859 votes.
Victor Fingesi of the ADP polled a paltry 1860 votes during the 2019 Rivers State Governorship Election.
RSHA Confirms Commissioner-Nominees …Swearing-In Of Special Advisers Postponed
The Rivers State House of Assembly has screened the 13 persons nominated by the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike as members of the state executive council.
Those screened and confirmed as Commissioners-designate include Paulinus Nsirim, Soni Ejekwu, Austin Ben-Chioma, Sylvanus Nwankwo, Osima Ginah, Inime Chineweno Aguma and Ifeoma Nwankpa. Others are Dr. Peter Medee, Bariere Thomas, Dr. Fred Kpakol, , Tasie Chinedu, Rodaford Long-John and Professor Kaniye Ebeku.
The screening was sequel to a letter from Chief Nyesom Wike requesting for their screening and confirmation.
During the exercise, the lawmaker representing Khana Constituency 2, Hon.Prince Ngbor Piccolo noted that the tax clearance certificate submitted by one of the nominees, Silvanus Nwankwo was not up to date.
On his part, the nominee Silvanus Nwankwo defended that the taxes were deducted from source.
However, Speaker of the House,Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani ruled that the House will only confirm the nominee if he presents an up to date tax clearance to the House.
Leader of the House, Hon. Martin Amaewhule moved the motion for deferment of debate to tomorrow to enable those whose particulars were not complete to be submitted.
Meanwhile, the State Government yesterday announced the postponement of the swearing-in of the 15 newly appointed Special Advisers whose swearing – in was earlier billed for today.
A statement from the office of the Special Assistant to the Governor on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, said a new date for the swearing-in ceremony will be communicated to the public.
Those appointed as Special Advisers are Sunny Wokekoro, Alabo George Kerley, Okiri Aribitonye and Erastus Awortu. Others are Sylvester Mgbor, Victor D. Ekaro, Innocent Paddy Wali, George Ariolu, Deima Iyalla, Emma I. Utchay, and Nkem Nwaribe. Also appointed are Harvey Azuka Ideozu, Andy Nwanjoku, Austin Sor and Otonye Briggs.
RSG To Shut 437 Unaccredited Schools …As Abe Hails Wike For Seeking Solutions To Rivers Problems
The Rivers State Government is to begin the shutting down of 437 schools which were denied accreditation for not meeting its guidelines on the operation of private primary and secondary schools in the State.
Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Education, Dr. Dagogo Adonye-Hart disclosed this while briefing Zonal Directors of the ministry in Port Harcourt last Friday.
It would be recalled that the committee for Accreditation and Approval of Private Schools chaired by Prof. Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele setup by Governor Nyesom Wike had submitted a comprehensive report to the State Government.
Adonye-Hart called on the Zonal Directors to give letters of non-accreditation to the proprietors of the affected schools and urged them not to make problem with any proprietor who fail to comply with the directive of government.
He explained that of the 2, 511 schools assessed by the Ministry, 1,415 schools were accredited (approved), while 659 were given interim approval, adding that in line with Government’s directive, the Ministry has written to the West African School Certificate (WASC), the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and National Examination Council (NECO) not to do business with those unapproved schools.
“What we expect you to do, the Zonal Directors is to go with a letter; the letter will be in duplicate. Don’t make any trouble, don’t quarrel with anybody. Any school that proves stubborn, report them to us; we know what to do.
“Serve them those letters, let them acknowledge receipt. Let them take the original and give you back the acknowledged copy which you will bring back to the Ministry, then we will seal the school.
“2, 511 schools were visited, 1,415 were accredited (approved). Then the ones that were given interim approval are 659, while 437 were denied approval. So we are going to be dealing with these 437 schools. We will swing into action and shut down the schools that were declined approval. That is basically why we are here today,” he stated
He however warned parents and guardians against sending their wards to any of the 437 schools that were denied approval, noting that they are not recognized by the State Government.
The Permanent Secretary called on parents to look out for the sticker from the Ministry at the gate of schools attended by their children, which, he said, is an indication that such school is not recognized by government.
“I want to also use this opportunity to talk to our parents and guardians that none of them should send any of their children or wards to these 437 schools because they are not recognized by the State”, the Permanent Secretary said.
Meanwhile, Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC) Chieftain, Senator Magnus Abe has commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for taking concrete measures to resolve the challenges facing the state.
Speaking during a funeral service in honour of Late Mrs Fyna Oby Atuzie-Boms, Wife of Former Attorney General of Rivers State, Barrister Worgu Boms at the Civic Centre in Port Harcourt on Saturday, Senator Abe said while some people were looking for the causes of Rivers political challenges, Governor Wike is seeking solutions.
“I want to stand here today to confirm that you are trying. I want to remember the broadcast you made where you said we should all come together and you were going to enter a nolle in respect of our younger brother, Ojukaye Flag Amachree.
“I also want to recollect all the efforts you have made, not just in words, but in action, to end the bitterness and division that have characterised the politics of Rivers State. I want to say here today that some people are busy looking for who is causing the problem. But you are trying to look for solutions.
“I think we should align with those who are looking for solutions and leave those who are looking for causes”, he said.
Senator Magnus Abe expressed regret that bitterness and hatred have characterised the politics of Rivers State, making it impossible for Rivers people to come together to fight for the development of State.
“The greatest challenge that Rivers State faces today is not all the things we have mentioned. It is the fact that hatred, bitterness have characterized our politics and have divided us in a way that we have never been divided before.
“It has made it impossible for us to come together to face the challenges that are confronting our state. I want to thank the Governor of Rivers State for leading by example. I have always said Your Excellency should be a Governor to all Rivers people, both those that like you and those that don’t. Those that voted for you and those that did not”, the Senator said. .
The Former Federal Lawmaker called for a change of attitude towards tackling the menace of cancer, which claimed the life of Late Mrs Fyna Oby Atuzie-Boms.
While noting that the Nigerian society must take concrete steps to confront cancer in order to check the number of lives being claimed by the cancer scourge, he called for investments in the area of cancer treatment, so that the lives of the people can be preserved.
In a remark, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike said that he knew the Late Mrs Fyna Oby Atuzie-Boms, whom he described as a good woman.
He advised the Former Attorney General of Rivers State, Barrister Worgu Boms, to always draw strength from the two children that his late wife left behind and take care of them.
In a condolence message to the Former Attorney General of Rivers State, the State Governor said he received the news of the passing of Late Mrs Fyna Oby Atuzie-Boms with shock.
“My wife and I were shocked to hear of the untimely passing of your beloved wife, Fyna Boms. That her life was cut short too soon is a tragic loss and we can only imagine how difficult this must be for you, her entire family, as well as her friends and colleagues.
“Full of life and conscientious, Fine was not just a treasure to your life, she was a wonderful lady admired by people across all sections for her dynamism, devotion, charm and graciousness”, Governor Wike wrote to the widower.
“On behalf of the Government and People of Rivers State, I extend our deepest condolences to you and members of her family over this irreparable loss “, Governor Wike wrote.
Former Attorney General of Rivers State, Barrister Worgu Boms thanked the Governor, and other leaders of the state for their support at the trying time for him and his family.
By: Dennis Naku
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