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No Amnesty For Boko Haram, Jonathan Insists

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President Goodluck Jonathan, visiting Yobe and Borno states, the heart of the Boko Haram insurgency, for the first time since he was elected in 2011, has rebuffed calls for an amnesty deal for the Islamist extremists.

Jonathan’s remarks yesterday, comes on the heels of mounting political pressure for him to travel to the region and follow calls this week from top Islamic leader, the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Said 111, that the Federal Government should grant amnesty deal for the insurgents.

Jonathan landed in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, considered the home base of Boko Haram, and travelled by helicopter to neighbouring Yobe State, also hit by repeated attacks blamed on the terrorist group.

Security was tight, with more than 40,000 security operatives, led by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and soldiers stationed along roads and movement restricted. Jonathan is on a two-day visit to both states, and would return to Abuja from Maiduguri, today.

Jonathan said in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State, that he will not rule out an amnesty deal in the future, but said that it was impossible to negotiate an agreement with Boko Haram because their identities and demands remained unclear.

“You cannot declare amnesty for ghosts,” Jonathan told an audience of thousands of politicians and dignitaries in the Yobe State capital, Damaturu, broadcast live on national network television.

Jonathan made reference to a 2009 amnesty deal for militants in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, saying that the deal has been credited with greatly reducing unrest in the Niger Delta, but criminality has continued, including the brazen theft of crude oil, which has denied the Federal Government an estimated $7billion per annum.

“In the Niger Delta, if you call them, they come and they will tell you their grievances,” Jonathan said, adding that, “but Boko Haram , I don’t see anybody who says they are Boko Haram.”

The visit came with Jonathan facing political pressure to visit the northeast, wracked by scores of bombings and shootings blamed on Boko Haram.

However, the Joint Military Task Force has been accused of major abuses in response to the insurgency.

It is also the region where seven members of a French family were believed to have been taken after being kidnapped on February 19 just over the border in Cameroon.

The family remains held by their abductors, and their whereabouts are still unknown.

There have been growing calls for Jonathan to visit the area for months.Jonathan earlier in the day, held talks with Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Geidam, and commissioned a number of projects embarked upon by the state government.

Violence linked to Boko Haram’s insurgency in northern and central Nigeria has left some 3,000 people, mostly Christians and southerners, dead since 2009.

The group has claimed to be fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, though its demands have repeatedly shifted.

It is believed to include various factions with differing aims, in addition to imitators and criminal gangs, who carry out violence under the guise of the group.

Nigeria’s 160million population is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim North and predominantly Christian South.

Jonathan, a southern Christian, has been accused by his opponents of neglecting the northeast.

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has rejected suggestion by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, that members of the Boko Haram sect be offered amnesty.

This is contained in a statement issued and signed in Abuja by the CAN General Secretary, Dr Musa Asake.

The association said that it wondered the kind of amnesty proposed by the monarch and advised the Federal Government to reject such suggestion.

It, however, welcomed the idea of a stakeholders’ meeting to genuinely discuss the issues that concern the development of the country.

“We wonder the kind of amnesty contemplated by the Sultan, this is why we are puzzled.

“We therefore say categorically that we reject any offer of amnesty for members of the Boko Haram sect.

“We ask government to do same. One group of people cannot continue to pay the price for one Nigeria. We must sit together as brothers and discuss issues,’’ the statement added.

It stated that the reasons given by the Sultan for the offer of amnesty was not tenable and should not be accepted.

The association argued that the sect had not clearly stated its grievance with government or other elements of the state and hence was not qualified to be offered amnesty.

“We wonder what the Sultan meant by injustice in relation to the activities of the Boko Haram sect when members of the group are a bunch of fundamentalists who have killed, maimed, deformed Christians”, the statement read.

It said that for the talk about amnesty to hold water, the Islamic militant group must first of all renounce their extreme ideology and embrace the cease fire plan.

CAN added that President Goodluck Jonathan should first of all give the sect members a deadline within which they should organise a cease fire before any talk about amnesty would be considered.

Our correspondent recalls that the Sultan of Sokoto had called on government to offer total amnesty to members of the sect as part of the search for peace and security in the north.

L-R: Rear Admiral T.G Sam Epelle, his wife,Amaka and Tony Epelle, presenting an award on behalf of the Opobo Progressive Association, Lagos to the newly promoted Rear Admiral, at a reception organised for him in Port Harcourt, recently

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Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow

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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.

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Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY

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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.

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$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others

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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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