A new Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG) has been sworn-in by Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, barely 24 hours after he took oath of office for his second tenure.
He is Mr George Feyii, who until now was the Commissioner for Finance in the State, and who had earlier during the last tenure, also served as the Commissioner for Budget.
Mr George Feyii takes over from Hon Magnus Abe, who is now a Senator representing Rivers South-East in the National Assembly after winning in the general elections.
In his charge to the new SSG, Governor Amaechi said, Mr Feyii was appointed on merit, and urged him to excel in the discharge of his responsibilities to move the state forward.
The governor hinted that as the first member of the new cabinet outside him and his deputy, the task before the SSG was enormous and hope that he would live up to expectation.
He congratulated Mr Feyii on his new appointment and wished him well in the performance of his duties, noting that there was a lot of work to be done to deliver the dividends of democracy in the areas of education, health, agriculture and employment generation.
In an interview with newsmen shortly after the swearing-in ceremony, Mr George Feyii acknowledged that the task ahead was enormous, and promised to discharge the assignment to the best of his ability.
He thanked the governor for finding him worthy of the new position and promised not to disappoint.
Earlier, the State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi had dissolved the Sixth Session of the Rivers State House of Assembly, and inaugurated the Seventh Assembly of the State.
Governor Amaechi told members of the Seventh Assembly to see their duty of making law for the state as an important aspect that would aid development in the task of moving the state forward.
N6trn Fund: Publish Suspected Looters’Names, SERAP Tells Buhari
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, to widely publish the names of those indicted in the alleged misappropriation of over N6trillion in the running of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between 2000 and 2019, as documented in the recent Forensic Audit Report on NDDC.”
SERAP also urged him, “to direct Malami and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing N6trillion, and to fully recover any misappropriated public funds.”
In the open letter dated September 25, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “It is in the public interest to promptly publish the names of those indicted in the audit report, and to ensure that they face prosecution, as appropriate.”
SERAP said, “Taking these decisive steps would advance the victims’ right to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition, as well as improve public confidence in the fight against corruption.”
According to SERAP, “Using the audit report to genuinely combat the corruption epidemic in the NDDC and rein in those indicted would alleviate poverty, improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services, and enhance the ability of your government to meet its human rights and anti-corruption obligations.”
The letter, read in part, “Despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, ordinary Nigerians have derived very little benefit from trillions of naira budgeted for socio-economic development in the region primarily because of widespread grand corruption, and the entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators.
“The level of grand corruption in the NDDC, and the devastating effects on poor Nigerians are serious enough to meet the requirements of crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Nigeria is a state party.
“The public interest in publishing the names of those indicted by the audit report outweighs any considerations to withhold the information, as there would be no prejudice against those whose names are published as long as the information is appropriately framed and truthful.
“The audit report raises prima facie evidence of grand corruption and its staggering effects in the Niger Delta. Nigerians have the right to know the names of those indicted and other details in the report, as guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Freedom of Information Act.
“Publishing widely the report and the names of those indicted would remove the possibility of obstruction of justice, and provide insights relevant to the public debate on the ongoing efforts to combat grand corruption and the longstanding impunity of perpetrators in the country.
“Nigerians are entitled to the right to receive information without any interference or distortion, and the enjoyment of this right should be based on the principle of maximum disclosure, and a presumption that all information is accessible subject only to a narrow system of exceptions.
“According to public interest test, even if the government demonstrates that the publication of the names of public officials would substantially harm a legitimate interest, it is nevertheless obliged to disclose the requested information if, as it is the case here, the public interest in disclosure is sufficient enough to overweigh any perceived harm.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“Misappropriation of public funds meant to ensure access to basic public goods and services rises to the level of crimes against humanity, as this has forced millions of Nigerians in the region to live in inhumane or degrading conditions, in violation of the Rome Statute.
“According to our information, the Forensic Audit Report into the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) reveals grim allegations of misappropriation of N6 trillion in the commission between 2000 and 2019, and that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta.
“According to the report, the NDDC operated a total of 362 bank accounts, which resulted in a ‘lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.’
“The missing N6trillion and over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta have continued to have a negative impact on the human rights of Nigerians, undermining their access to basic public goods and services, such as education, healthcare, and regular and uninterrupted electricity supply.
“Public schools have been left to crumble and wither away, and health care facilities in several parts of the region lack even the most basic of amenities.
“Section 15 subsection (5) of the Constitution requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power. The UN Convention against Corruption requires your government to ensure effective prosecution of allegations of corruption.
“Specifically, article 26 of the convention requires your government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’, including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption. Article 26 complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.”
The letter was copied to Malami; Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC),Prof Bolaji Owasanoye SAN; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),Abdulrasheed Bawa.
Inaugurate NDDC Board, IYC, Others Urge Presidency
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide has kicked again against President Muhammadu Buhari’s continued silence and alleged refusal to form a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The IYC expressed resentment that despite the hue and cry raised by critical stakeholders from the Niger Delta, Buhari was yet to constitute the board after the submission of long-awaited forensic audit was concluded and submitted to the government.
Other Ijaw groups, the Ijaw Consultative Forum (ICF), Ondo State chapter, and pan-Ijaw group, Ijaw National Congress (INC), also aligned with the IYC to demand the inauguration of the board without further delay.
The IYC’s anger is contained in a statement, yesterday by its National Spokesman, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, wherein it urged the President to constitute same immediately without further delays.
It advised him not to allow myopic and self-centred politicians to provoke violence in the region and discredit his administration.
“We accept the submission of the audit report as commendable but demand the immediate of the substantive board of the NDDC,”the IYC noted.
The group argued that the quick decision of the President to constitute the EFCC board, the NNPC board and other boards of agencies and parastatals showed that his position on the conduct of the forensic audit and submission of the report were mere excuses and cover-up of his disdain for the people of the region.
The IYC noted that though the region had remained peaceful despite the repeated failed promises on the inauguration of the substantive board, the youth of the region would no longer condone excuses for the delay as the forensic auditors had concluded their job.
It further argued that the Niger Delta was losing big time due to the continuous delay in the constitution of the board.
The IYC said, “The NDDC was set up to plan and execute developmental projects in the region, especially in the areas of skills acquisition and youth empowerment programmes, construction of roads and jetties, provision of health care facilities, employment, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and industrialisation.
“We can categorically say that the region has lost greatly in the aforementioned due to the deliberate delay of the constitution of the board. Let it be on record that since President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the NDDC has been functioning without recourse to the Act which established it and that has contributed largely to the underdevelopment of the region despite the forensic audit which was used as an excuse for the delay of a substantive board.
“Notwithstanding the decision of the Ijaw youths to study carefully the submitted audit report which showed that over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta with 77 road projects completed, the reported claim of recommendation for a part-time membership of the board is unacceptable. It is a violation of the provision of the Act setting up the NDDC and we will resist it at all costs.”
The IYC pointed out that the purported recommendation for a part-time membership of the NDDC board was the handiwork of self-styled politicians who desired to turn the NDDC as their own personal enterprise.
It warned that any strange clauses smuggled into the NDDC aside the constitution of a substantive board would be resisted and the activities of the commission crippled.
Similarly, the Ijaw Consultative Forum (ICF), Ondo State chapter, aligned with pan-Ijaw group, Ijaw National Congress (INC), and Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) to call on President Muhammadu Buhari, to inaugurate the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board since the commission’s forensic audit has been submitted to him.
In a statement signed by the Chairman of the group, Suffy Uguoji, the group maintained that with the submission of the forensic audit to Buhari, nothing should further delay the inauguration of the board.
The ICF chairman noted that the delay in inaugurating the substantive board will further encourage the sole administrator to remain in office whereas the law setting up NDDC does not recognise sole administrator.
The statement read, “We strongly demand that President Muhammadu Buhari should, as a matter of importance and urgency, inaugurate the NDDC Board since the forensic audit report had been submitted to him by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godwill Akpabio, through the Attorney General and Minister of Justice”, over three weeks ago.
The umbrella body of the Ijaw nation worldwide, Ijaw National Congress (INC) recently also cautioned that, “any further delay in the inauguration of the NDDC board is a clear betrayal of trust and display of state insensitivity on ljaw nation and Niger Delta region.”
The INC call followed the promise of Buhari in June, 2021, while receiving the Ijaw National Congress in Abuja, that the NDDC Board would be inaugurated as soon as the forensic audit report was submitted and accepted.
The President said, ‘‘Based on the mismanagement that had previously bedevilled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021. I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board will be inaugurated.”
According to Ijaw Consultative Forum, the Federal Government also reiterated its position to inaugurate the Senate-confirmed board during the inaugural ceremony of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC, on October 29, 2019, to oversee the activities of the commission pending the completion of the forensic audit.
The group emphasised, “It is therefore incumbent on the Federal Government and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, which is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the activities of NDDC to go the whole hog to ensure that the board is inaugurated urgently to put an end to all the manipulations.”
It further noted that, “the orchestrated rigmaroles characterising NDDC since the last board was dissolved in 2018 is taking its tolls on the development of our communities and it is capable of heightening tension and unrest which we are managing to maintain.”
The group affirmed that, “once the board is inaugurated, we are sure it will ensure fair representation of the nine constituent states and proper management of the fund of the commission in line with the provisions of the act establishing the agency.”
ICF also noted that, “our people have suffered a great deal of neglect due to the absence of their representatives in the management of the commission which is being administered by a sole administrator.”
ICF, therefore, re-affirmed, “We wish to emphasise here that our major concern now is how the board will be inaugurated without further delay and not the report of the audit knowing that it is the board that will be called upon to ensure that justice is done to the outcome of the report.”
The group has, therefore, made a clarion call on the leadership of Ijaw National Congress (INC) led by Prof. Benjamin Okaba, to concentrate on how the board will be inaugurated rather than calling on the Federal Government to make the report of the forensic audit public because “in the absence of the board the mechanism for checkmating large scale fraud is no more there and the sole administratorship contraption which is not known to the law that established the commission is at liberty to perpetrate anything unwholesome.”
Ohanaeze Hails Buhari Over NNPC Appointments
Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, for giving the South-East zone two appointments in the newly established Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd.
It would be recalled that Buhari, had, last week, appointed Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as chairman of NNPC Ltd Board of Directors; and Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo as a member of the board.
Araraume is three-time Imo governorship candidate while Margaret is widow of former Senate President and Buhari’s running mate in the 2003 presidential election, late Senator Chuba Okadigbo.
Expressing its “profound gratitude” to Buhari, the Ohanaeze, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, yesterday, said “most people of the South-East of Nigeria were highly elated by the above appointments”, and expressed the hope that this is the beginning of a new dawn.
“The two appointments offered to the two eminent Igbos came shortly after the Igbo stakeholders met with Mr. President at Owerri, Imo State on September 9, 2021 is a signal that the visit to South-East is yielding quick signs of benefits to the people of South-East.”
He added, “This kind disposition by Mr. President is a source of motivation to Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide in their quest and aspirations for a peaceful united Nigeria buttressed by equity, justice and fairness.
“It is hoped that Mr President will continue on this path of honour and reflective national peace building. Mr President has less than 18 active months in Office. The remaining period of his eight years incumbency can be used to take some far reaching decisions which will affect the entire Nigeria, either positively or negatively. It is therefore hoped that Mr. President will choose the better option of addressing the crisis in the South-East.”
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