Energy drinks have been described as a major contributor to the rising spate of deaths arising from kidney failures, liver infection and heart attacks, in the country.
Medical experts told The Tide in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, recently, that the consequence of too much consumption of energy drinks was the sudden rise in blood pressure, kidney fairlure gradual destruction of the liver, heart attack or blindness.
Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Rivers State chapter, Dr Ibitrokoemi Korubo, said that “energy drinks contain chemicals that include caffeine, which stimulates a part of the sympathetic nervous system that makes one become overactive.”
“They also contain a large dose of glucose, which causes “system overdrive”.
According to Korubo, anything that can alter one’s physiological state is a drug, adding that overuse of any drug amounts to abuse and could lead to disastrous effects on the user.
“The consequence, in the short term, is the sudden rise in blood pressure, heart attack and sudden death”, stressing that the abuse of energy drinks “could lead to gradual destruction of the kidney, liver and heart as well as cause blindness.”
Korubo explained that when energy drinks were first introduced, “there were some caveats warning consumers ‘do not mix with alcohol, take one can in 12hours’ but what we observed is that the manufacturers have fraudulently removed those caveats or warning”.
The NMA chairman lamented that “the rate of energy drinks consumption among young persons in Nigeria is alarming, and it should be outrightly banned”, saying that if moderation is adviced, nobody will listen.
“It is common sight to see young people mixing energy drinks with alcoholic wines,” Korubo said, and warned that such habit “is simply suicidal”.
Patient medicine dealer in Port Harcourt, Dr Okechukwu Chukwuma said that those who consume caffeinated drinks risk over-stimulation of their hearts, which could in turn lead to hyper-activity of the heart and abnormal rate of heart enlargement and weakening of the cells.
Chukwuma said that the situation was even more serious for those who may already have heart conditions campy that such consumption could lead to death due to some electrical activity in the heart, resulting in cardiac arrhythmia.
He further noted that “caffeinated drinks are neuro-stimulants,” adding that “consumers are more likely to suffer from insomnia, anxiety and brain disorders.”
The Tide investigations reveal that while many consumers, who appreciate the negative effects of energy drinks on the human system, support their complete ban, other ignorant Nigerians and mostly dealers, lament that any attempt to ban the import of energy drinks would deny them a source of pleasure, new market opportunities and increasing profit in their businesses.
In an interview in Port Harcourt, a staff of one of the major oil and gas companies, who pleaded anonymity, said that any action banning the importation and sale of energy drinks could be seen as a declaration of war on a large segment of the population who feel that the only way to blur their minds off the failings of the system is to resort to the intake of the caffeinated brands.
On his part, a dealer in energy drinks, Chijioke Emenike, lamented that “already, all the negative publicities are cutting deep into our profit margins,” adding that “the outright ban of energy drinks would throw a lot of us out of business.”
However, while fielding questions from The Tide, the lawmaker representing Khana 1 Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Legborsi Nwidadaah, applauded members of the House of Representatives for their move to stop the importation of energy/power drinks into Nigeria.
Nwidadaah said that members of the National Assembly had good reasons which is in the interest of the majority of Nigerians, to push for the ban on the importation of energy drinks.
According to him, “they must have seen something that is detrimental to our health. If they are representing the people, and they have seen that some of the drinks are substandard, hazardous and therefore injurious to our health, they are right as representatives of the people, to bring forth a motion and take a resolution banning the drinks.
“The ban should not end with energy drinks alone but should include other beverages and spirits that have been found to be substandard and or injurious to our health.”
While expressing reservations over an outright ban on all energy drinks, Nwidadaah said, “some of them are good and for these ones, the companies should be encouraged to come into the country to build their brewery plants and boost our economy.”
He argued that if the brewery plants are built in Nigeria, the raw materials used would be sourced locally, while indigenous capacity would be built over time through employment creation and development of in-country ancillary industries.
The Tide investigations show that 66 per cent of those who consume energy drinks are between the ages of 13 and 35.
Out of this number, The Tide discovered that some 65 per cent of them are males, who constantly take delight in the consumption of the power drinks to enhance their ability for fast stimulation.
It would be recalled that on January 22, 2013, the House of Representatives announced a motion to place a ban on the importation of energy drinks based on the findings of the House that some of the power drinks contained life-threatening substances that could adversely affect the brain, and blood pressure, and could lead to blood clotting complications.
Already, energy drinks have been banned in countries such as Norway, Denmark, Germany, and France due to their health implications and fatalities traceable to the intake of energy drinks.
Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow
The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.
Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, appeared before the state High Court in Port Harcourt, to testify as a witness in an N7billion libel suit against THISDAY Newspaper.
Wike said he was in court to seek justice and clear his name as a person from the malicious publication by THISDAY Newspaper, which portrayed him as deceitful, untrustworthy person, who exerts subterranean influences on judicial matters and over court sittings in Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that Wike had in August, 2020, slammed a N7billion suit being damages for libel written and published in THISDAY’s Tuesday, June 23, 2020 edition captioned, “With Wike, Obaseki Meets His PDP’s Waterloo; Almost.”
The defendants in the suit are THISDAY Newspapers Limited, Leaders and Company Limited, Davidson Iriekpan, Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu.
Wike, while testifying as witness in suit No. PHC/1505/CS/2020 before the court presided over by Justice A. Enebeli, asserted that the defendants maliciously and falsely portrayed him as an unreliable friend/person.
“When you say somebody cannot be trusted; that cannot be a fair comment. When you say somebody is influencing the Judiciary, that cannot be a fair comment”, the governor said.
In his written statement on oath, Wike had stated that the defendants had accused him of influencing the decision of the court sitting in Port Harcourt that granted an injunction restraining Godwin Obaseki from participating in the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State in 2020.
He stated that the defendants maliciously accused him of undemocratically exerting influence on the primaries process of PDP in Edo State in aid of his ally, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who was the beneficiary of the court order restraining Obaseki from participating in the PDP primaries.
The governor, who told the court that he was not even aware of the aforementioned suit by Ogbeide-Ihama against Obaseki, said the publication was reckless, false and without regards for the truth.
According to him, contrary to well-known journalistic tradition and practices, the defendants did not investigate properly to ensure the information they relied on was accurate.
“They did not seek to verify the facts from me or in any manner oblige me with the opportunity to state my own side of the story before proceeding to make the false publication” the governor argued.
Wike stated that the defendants further denigrated him before the entire world as a fake democrat, who engages in meddling in the internal affairs of All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to get at his political foe, Chibuike Amaechi.
The governor explained that he was not a member of the APC and has had no hand in the internal crisis which has bedevilled the party both in Rivers State and all over Nigeria.
“By the letter of Messrs E.C. Ukala and Co., Solicitors, under the hand of Emmanuel C. Ukala, SAN, dated 23rd June, 2020, the defendants were given opportunity to retract, and recant the publication as well as to offer apology for the false publication but the defendants spurned the opportunity and ignored the letter completely.”
The governor, while responding to claim by lawyer to the defendants, Turudu Ede, SAN, that the essence of the lawsuit was to intimidate and harass his clients, said the whole essence of the suit was to get justice and clear his name as a man of substantial character, honour and repute.
“The essence of the suit is to get justice since they (defendants) refused to retract the publication or apologise. So, I sued them to clear my name.”
Speaking to journalists outside the court, one of the lawyers to Wike, Mr. Mark Agwu said his client was in court to seek legal redress.
“To challenge him as a person, it means you have made him untrustworthy, a deceit, a cheat, an influencer of the court, because the publication they made was that he had a role to play in influencing the outcome of that Federal High Court case. Nobody will take that lightly, and especially for a man who believes in the rule of law”, Agwu added.
The court adjourned the matter for further hearing to 12th, 13th and 14th of January, 2022.
$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others
The Rivers State Government has charged two construction firms, Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, to court over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the state of the sum of $130million, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.
In a 16-count criminal charge filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, C.F. Amadi for the Rivers State Attorney General, the state alleged that after collecting the said sum as advanced payment between 2011 and 2018, the defendants have not kept their obligation under the contract.
Others charged alongside the companies were Walter Peviana; Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe; Giandomenico Zingali; Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, who are directors and officers of the companies.
The defendants are charged with various offences ranging from conspiracy, cheating and obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to Section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State, amongst others.
Already, the Rivers State Government has issued a fiat to the law firm of Godwin Obla (SAN) to prosecute the matter before the state High court.
The defendants are equally charged for the offence of false Statements by Officials of Companies contrary to and punishable under Section 436 (b).
The prosecution specifically accused the defendants of obtaining credit of $130million by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $20,467,942.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b), obtaining credit of N7,000,000,000.00 only by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).
They are charged for obtaining credit of N318,640,173.54, by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); attempt to cheat $97million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; attempt to cheat $15million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; conspiracy to receive a credit of $97million by false pretences contrary to Section 518 (6) and punishable under Section 518; cheating $11million contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating N110, 097, 416.51 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating by collecting sums attributable to shared facilities already paid for in AFAM Phase I in AFAM Phase II contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421.
Obtaining N20, 467, 942 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; obtaining credit of $60,168,936.00 by false pretences or other fraud, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $1,512,034.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) all of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
According to the Proof of Evidence attached to the charge and the statement made by the Head, Power Generation/Mechanical of the Rivers State Ministry of Power, one Mr Temple Azunda M., the facts constituting the case in hand are as follows:
Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited and other officers of the duo, herein the Defendants, are Italian companies which services have been retained by the Rivers State Government, herein RSG, in several projects, prominent amongst which is the AFAM Phase II Power Plant Project.
By an initial tripartite agreement made on the January 20, 2010, the RSG under the auspices of the Rivers State Ministry of Power entered a contract with Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Saipem SPA for the construction of the OGCT power plant in Port Harcourt at a total cost of $119million consequent upon which the Rivers State Government made advance payments, in instalments, to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd and Saipem SPA amounting in total to a sum of $130million in all which the Defendants have acknowledged receipt of.
The Defendants were to be given an initial mobilization of 20per cent of the total contract sum which the RSG paid.
It was part of the initial agreement – and indeed a condition sine qua non – that, to access the 2nd tranche of payment of 25per cent from the Rivers State Government, the Defendants would mandatorily have installed the Gas Turbine into the foundations as referenced in ATTACHMENT 1 to VO 007 which states that:
CONTRACTOR shall be entitled to a payment corresponding to 20per cent of the VO No. 007 LS PRICE upon mobilisation to site and commencement of bush clearing activities at SITE.
Upon commencement of bush clearing activities at the site, the contractor shall issue the invoice relevant to the above payment and the owner shall pay such invoice within 14 days from its issuance.
The parties agree that no deduction for recovery of advance payment shall apply on the payment due to the contractor for invoices issued by the contractor in accordance with this paragraph.
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