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Reps Exchange Blows …Suspend 11 ‘Progressives’ Over Fraud Allegation Against Bankole



Cross section of Permanent Secretaries at the one-day stakeholders meeting on draft Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) policy of Rivers State, at the conference hall, Ministry of Justice,  Monday

Cross section of Permanent Secretaries at the one-day stakeholders meeting on draft Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) policy of Rivers State, at the conference hall, Ministry of Justice, Monday

Some members of the House of Representatives, yesterday, threw decorum to the winds as they engaged in a free-for- all- fight,  and suspended 11 of the “Progressives Minded” members. .

Those suspended are Dino Melaye (PDP-Kogi), West Idahosa (PDP-Edo), Independence Ogunewe (PDP-Imo), Solomon Awhinawi (PDP-Delta) and Austine Nwachukwu (PDP-Imo).

Others were Abba Anas (PDP-Jigawa), Gbenga Oduwaiye (PDP- Ogun ), Kayode Amusan (PDP- Ogun) ,Gbenga Onigbogi (PDP-Osun), Doris Uboh (PDP-Delta) and Bitrus Kaze (PDP-Plateau).

The commotion commenced when a motion for the suspension of members was moved by Rep. Chile Igbauwa (PDP-Benue) under Matter of Privilege and urged the House to invoke Order 5(1) Sub Rules 2 and 3.

As the motion was being moved, spokesman of the progressive group, Rep Dino Melaye interjected and said, “no to our suspension’’ and the whole house went into rowdiness.

The rowdiness, which lasted for 30 minutes degenerated, as Rep Solomon Awhwinawhi (PDP-Delta) a member of the progressives, moved towards the mace.

He was, however, prevented from seizing the mace by his colleagues and the Sergeant-at-Arm, who were apparently ready for such move.

As members engaged one another  in shouting match, Sergeant-at-Arm, Col. Emeka Okere (rtd) alongside his men mounted a big fence around the speaker.

Speaker Dimeji Bankole, who maintained his cool during the rowdy session, later ruled that the house should adjourn, following a motion for adjournment from the leader of the house, Rep. Tunde Akogun.

But as he was stepping out of the platform, some of his principal officers approached him and persuaded him to tarry awhile before he led the procession out of the session.

There was an intense rowdiness and exchange of blows, as Ishaku Bawa, Chairman Outreach Constituency, Dino Melaye, Austin Nwachukwu, Doris Uboh, and Bitrus Kaze went for each other.

With the help of the Sergeant-at-Arm, all the affected members, especially members of the progressives, were physically dragged out of the chamber.

In the process, clothes of Reps Dino Melaye, Doris Uboh, Bitrus Kaze, Austin Nwachukwu, all members of the progressives pushing for the probe of house budgets since 2008, were torn.

Following the forceful ejection of key members of the progressives, the house resumed plenary session at 11.45 am and the Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, apologised to all Nigerians.

“Hon. Members, I sincerely apologise to Nigerians for this rowdiness. Hon. Chile Igbauwa, kindly conclude your motion for record purpose,’’ Bankole said.

Igbauwa said that by the provisions of sections 24 of the legislative houses, any “person who publishes any statement, whether in writing or otherwise, which falsely or scandalously defames a legislative house or any committee thereof is guilty of an offence.

Igbauwa said the action of Rep Dino Melaye and his group in the progressives had embarrassed and cast aspersions on the house, “as a house incapable of resolving itself. But you know we can’’.

He said while the relevant sections of the 1999 constitution guarantee the freedom of opinion and expression, such must be done within the context of procedure.

“The recent attacks on the speaker and principal officers of this Honourable House on television and the pages of newspapers, have cast serious dent on the image of this honourable house,” he said.

Igbauwa moved that for failing to adhere to provisions of legislative houses and for taking their matter to the public domain with the view to maliciously bring the image of the house into disrepute, all the affected members should be suspended.

The motion, which was seconded by Rep. Garba Matazu (PDP-Katsina) was referred to the Ethics and Privileges Committee.

Meanwhile, there was a brawl between the journalists covering the proceeding and the security agencies at the National Assembly, which nearly marred the plenary session.

However, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Rep. Eseme Eyiboh,  yesterday described the actions taken by a group of lawmakers seeking the resignation  of Speaker Dimeji Bankole as anti-parliamentary.

The group, tagged “Progressives ”, had given the Speaker a seven-day ultimatum to resign for alleged corruption.

The Progressives also submitted a petition to the Economic and Fiancial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday.

But Eyiboh (PDP-Akwa Ibom), who briefed newsmen on the suspension of 11 members of the House, said the actions of the lawmakers warranted the indefinite suspension clamped on them.

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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.”

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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.

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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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