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Beyond Motions, Counter Motions

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People’s Democratic Party members jubilating after the Appeal Court ruling in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday. Photo: Chris Monyanaga

People’s Democratic Party members jubilating after the Appeal Court ruling in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday. Photo: Chris Monyanaga

To the relief of many Rivers people, the long-drawn governorship battle in Rivers State was finally laid to rest with the dismissal of the suit filed by the gubernatorial candidate of the Accord Party, Chief Bekinbo Alalibo Soberekon by the Election Appeal Petition Tribunal on Wednesday, April 21, 2010.

The matter which originated at the emergence of Celestine Omehia after the April, 14, 2007 election was first filed at the Governorship and Legislative House Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt praying that the election be set aside. Due to the non-appearance of Accord Party’s counsel at the pre-hearing session the matter was on the July 18, 2007 dismissed.

Consequently, Soberekon filed an appeal at the Appeal Tribunal against the Tribunal’s refusal to set aside its dismissal order. It was during the pendancy of this suit that the Supreme Court, on the 25th of October, 2007, declared Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi the winner of the 2007 gubernatorial election in the state thereby unseating Celestine Omehia.

Based on the turn of events, the Accord Party filed on application before the Court of Appeal to substitute the name of Governor Chibuike Amaechi for Celestine Omehia. This appeal was allowed.

In spite of the willingness by the Justices to expeditiously dispense with the matter, loads of motions and incessant change of counsel by the appellant constituted a major setback.

But like other suits before it, it was finally laid to rest in favour of Governor Amaechi. Justice Kekere-Ekun declared that the appeal was incompetent, since the election petitions tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain the application, having dismissed Soberekon’s petition on the July 18, 2007. The appeal was struck out with a cost of N30,000.00 awarded in favour of the respondent.

It would be recalled that Governor Amaechi came into power by virtue of the landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on the October 25, 2007. Giving reasons for his lead judgment Ce.A. Oguntade, JSC stated that “…the name of Amaechi was not substituted as provided by law, the consequence is that he was the candidate of the PDP, for whom the party campaigned in the April, 2007 elections, not Omehia and since PDP was declared to have won the said elections, Amaechi must be deemed the candidate that won the election for the PDP. In the eyes of the law, Omehia was never a candidate in the election much less the winner. It is for this reason that I on 25/10/2007 allowed Amaechi’s appeal and dismissed the cross-appeals. I accordingly declared Amaechi the person entitled to be the Governor of Rivers State. I did not nullify the election of 14/04/2007 as I never had cause to do so for the reasons earlier given in this judgment”.

After scaling this major hurdle there seemed to be an opening of a flood-gate of suits by opposing political parties like the Sergeant Awuse led Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP), Ashley Anyadike Emenike’s Labour Party and the one recently put paid to, the Bekinbo Soberekon’s Accord Party. Governor Amaechi also emerged victorious in a suit filed by another of his kinsman, Authur Kalagbor.

Now that the battles have been fought gallantly and won, we must not rest on our oars but rather form a common front irrespective of political and ethnic leanings to move the state to greater heights. We should not forget that we are all stakeholders and therefore count in the scheme of things. Development and growth does not rest with one person alone but is a shared responsibility.

The court room battles we have experienced do not spell doom but indicate growth and the evolution of our democracy. It is therefore counter-productive at this point to hold on to old hurts and grudges. Now that we are through with the era of motions and counter-motions, let the walls of difference and acrimony melt so we can form a common front to face our challenges as a people.

Mercy Oke-Chinda

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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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.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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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.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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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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