Worried over the recent spate of high profile murders and other criminal activities along the Aba-Port Harcourt highway, Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has appealed to his Abia State counterpart Chief Theodore Orji to partner with him in the fight against criminality in the border communities with Rivers State.
Governor Amaechi, who made the call, Monday, in Port Harcourt while speaking at a Special Court Session to mark the 2010 legal year in the state, said cases of criminality perpetrated along the border towns with Rivers, especially Obehie and Owaza communities required urgent attention.
The governor said his administration worked assiduously to fight crime in the state and has achieved relative peace, stressing that the activities of miscreants from neighbouring Abia State may affect the peace being enjoyed in the state, if not checked.
He said the state government was prepared to fight crime along the Port Harcourt, Aba Road up to Aba and other border towns with Rivers State to ensure that people go about their normal businesses unmolested, stressing that the partnership with Abia State was necessary in doing so
The State Chief Executive explained that efforts so far made to appeal to his Abia State counterpart to address the issue to curb crime at the border communities has not been successful and solicited his partnership to stamp crime out in the areas.
Governor Amaechi used the occasion to restate his preparedness to govern the state in accordance with the rule of law, protection of lives and property of Rivers people which he swore to in his oath of office.
The governor commended the Judiciary for the cordial relationship existing between it and the executive as well as the legislative arm and promised to sustain the independence of the Judiciary by also allowing them manage their funds.
Commenting on Judiciary workers strike in the state, Governor Amaechi said the state government would be prepared to meet their demands if there was any proof that any state of the federation was paying higher than Rivers and challenged them to compare notes with their counterparts in other states before requesting for increment in salaries.
In his address, the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Iche Ndu said there has been healthy cooperation among the three arms of government in the state, pointing out that the judiciary, has within the last one year, received from the executive and the legislative arms, the needed support in the implementation of its policies and projects aimed at making it more vibrant.
Justice Ndu, who expressed satisfaction with the performance of Judges and Magistrates with respect to the number of cases disposed of in the last legal year, announced that a new judicial division is to be established at Saakpenwa, the Tai Local Government Headquarters, to reduce the number of cases in Bori and Nchia Judicial Divisions, thus brining the total number of judicial divisions in the state to eleven.
The State Chief Judge also announced that in addition to the 26 Magisterial Districts in the state another 12 has been created with effect from the first of January 2010, adding that while a total of 2792 cases were disposed of and 7023 pending in the High Courts within the year under review, 72 are pending in the Customary Court of Appeal as non was disposed of. The Magistrate Courts had 3070 cases disposed of and 6719 pending and customary court has a total of 1783 cases pending.
In his speech the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Mr Ken Chikere, said the present administration has spared no effort to ensure that there was no stagnation in justice delivery in the state, by establishing the Customary Court of Appeal and appointed the President and Judges of the Court as well as over 30 new magistrates.
He said plans are on to resume free mobile legal clinics to the 23 local government areas of the state, to enable law officers take legal education, alternative dispute resolution mechanism and other legal services to the grass root, stressing that the Ministry proposes to establish mediation centres in Port Harcourt, Bori and Ahoada.
The Attorney General explained that the delay in achieving total prison decongestion was hinged on the need to be careful not to let loose suspects with strong criminal background, adding that the Ministry was undertaking a library project, in addition to building more court halls.
In his address the Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Chief O. T. K. D Amachree assured of the cooperation and understanding of the bar in collaborating with the judiciary to achieve speedy delivery of justice.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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