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Imo Assembly Sacks Dep Gov

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Members of the Imo State  House of Assembly yesterday voted to impeach the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Jude Agbaso.

With 23 affirmative votes from the legislators present, the House Majority Leader, Mr Adaku Ihuoma (representing Ahiazu Mbaise Constituency), moved the motion for the impeachment.

The motion was seconded by the Minority Leader (Aboh Mbaise Constituency), Mr Pat Ekeji.

The Speaker, Mr Benjamin Uwajumogu, confirmed the resolution in favour of the impeachment after its adoption.

Following the impeachment, the Speaker read out a letter from Governor Rochas Okorocha where he nominated the Chief of Staff, Eze Madumere, to replace the deputy governor.

The legislators withdrew into a session to deliberate on the replacement.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up to investigate the N458 million contract scam against the Deputy Governor, Mr Jude Agbaso, has rejected the request by the deputy governor, urging it to suspend its investigation.

The Chairman of the panel, Justice Godwin Ihekire, announced the rejection while ruling on the request yesterday in Owerri.

He said the request was lacking in merit and therefore the panel would continue with the investigation.

Our correspondent reports that a judicial panel of inquiry was set up on March 23 by the Chief Judge of the state.

The panel is charged with the task of investigating the N458 million bribe allegedly given to the deputy governor by a construction company (J-Bros Ltd).

Agbaso, in a letter to the panel through his counsel, claimed that he was not served any summons on the matter.

He also drew the attention of the panel to two law suits he instituted at the Imo High Court on the “purported impeachment against me.”

“From the foregoing, it is clear that I am not only challenging the purported steps or actions leading to the constitution of your panel but also challenging the appointment/constitution of your panel by the Chief Judge of Imo State.

“Since we are in a constitutional democracy where the rule of law ought to be upheld, all activities and or proceedings of your panel ought to automatically terminate or be suspended as a mark of respect to the State High Court, before which the suits are pending.”

However, the counsel to the Imo Assembly, Mr Niyi Akintola (SAN), argued that the panel was not party to any suit in any court in Nigeria regarding the deputy governor.

Akintola described the letter as premature, and urged the panel to proceed with the investigation.

He said that the deputy governor could not claim to be ignorant of the panel when he had instituted two suits urging the court to stop his impeachment process.

Akintola explained that the panel was constituted by law and that Sections 101 and 102 of the Constitution permit  State Houses to regulate its proceedings and that ignorance was no excuse in law.

“The letter holds no water. It is not binding on you (panel). You are not party to any suit in any court and have no need to adjourn because of the letter but to proceed with the investigation,” he said.

The counsel to the Managing Director of J-Bros Ltd, Mr Joseph Dina,  the construction company involved in the alleged contract scam, raised no objection to Akintola’s submission.

The Clerk of the House, Mr Chris Duru, had earlier submitted the proceedings of the process of impeachment against the deputy governor and the notice informing him of the setting up of the panel to members of the panel.

He said the letter was posted on the door of the deputy governor’s office and the gate of his official residence aside announcements made in various media houses.

Our correspondent reports that a six-man special adhoc committee constituted by the state legislature had earlier indicted the deputy governor.

The committee investigated the award and abandonment of the road contract to which N1.3 billion was given without a voucher.

The House also got two-third majority of the members’ consent to impeach the deputy governor and  a motion which sought that the allegations as contained in the particulars of the contract scam attached to the impeachment notice be investigated.

After looking into Akintola’s submission, the chairman of the panel discountenanced Agbaso’s letter and announced that hearing into the matter had ended while he would go ahead with his team to write their report.

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NCWS Hails RSG’s Steps Against Illegal Refining

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The President of the Rivers State Branch of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Princess Mariam Tolofari, has commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for taking decisive steps against illegal oil refining, air pollution and environmental degradation in the state.
Speaking to journalists in Port Harcourt, state president of NCWS maintained that Wike’s physical visit to some sites of the illegal refineries, mandating and supporting the state security agencies, local government chairmen and chiefs to swiftly end illegal refining has significantly reduced the menace of soot and its attendant environmental degradation and health hazard in the state.
Tolofari said that the governor’s resolve to end the soot in the state was heroic and valiant, while also backing the governor’s call on the Federal Government to respond to the issues giving rise to the soot epidemic in the state.
“We appreciate the governor for taking the bold initiative against operators of illegal refineries and the hydra-headed monster of black soot in Rivers State. We pledge to sustain and support a Green State that is healthy and beneficial to us all”, she said.
She further urged women to restrain their children and wards from joining persons engaged in ‘Kpo fire’ activities and ensure they stay focused in the pursuit of academic excellence and genuine business goals not associated to crime.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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Join War Against ‘Kpo Fire’, Monarchs Tell Rivers People

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Some traditional rulers in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area have called on Rivers people to support the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on the war against illegal oil bunkering.
The traditional rulers include the Paramount Ruler of Woji community, Eze Emeka Ihunwo, the EzeRisi/Ohia Mbam Abali, Eze Christopher Wonodi, and the Paramount Ruler of Iriebe community, Eze Jeremiah Worenwu.
The monarchs, who spoke in their palaces on the issue, said the war against ‘Kpofire’was a collective one as the situation has reached a dangerous point.
They also dismissed the claim that unemployment was responsible for the menace, adding that there was no society in the world where government employs everybody.
They also noted that the stealing of crude oil did not start today.
Speaking, Paramount Ruler of Woji community, Eze Emeka Ihunwo, said the situation has taken a serious pitch, adding that a lot of lives were being lost as a result of the soot.
Ihunwo also described the action of the governor as timely.
According to the Woji monarch, those in the business of illegal oil bunkering do not know the health hazard they were causing to the people.
Ihunwo said that, in 2018,he invited the youths to his palace and mobilise them against operators of illegal refineries using Woji as conduit channel for evacuation of illegally refined products, and stressed that because of the collective understanding and collaboration of all stakeholders, Woji has not recorded any such criminal act within the community.
He, therefore, challenged other monarchs to emulate the Woji example.
The monarch also acknowledged a reduction in soot in the atmosphere in the state capital, while the amount of oil spill on surfaces of water has also reduced.
Also speaking, the Eze Risi/Ohia Mbam Abali, Eze Christopher Wonodi, said the intervention of the governor has saved the people of the state from series of health challenges.
Wonodi said it behooves the people of Rivers State to give their maximum support to the governor to succeed in eliminating the scourge of the soot pandemic in the state.
He also advised the youths to desist from the nefarious act and find other legitimate means of eking out aliving.
Wonodi also said that his kingdom has started sensitising the people against involvement in illegal oil bunkering.
On his part, the Paramount Ruler of Iriebe community, Eze Jeremiah Worenwu said Wike has shown that he has the capacity to solve societal problems.
Worenwu said that Iriebe community would comply fully with the governor’s directive to stop illegal oil bunkering, and warned those who may want to delve into the illegal business to stay away from the community.
While describing the governor’s action as welcome, the Iriebe monarch said the war against ‘Kpo fire’ needs the support of all members of the society, including the security agencies.

By: John Bibor, Oribim Ibama

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ABOLGA Boss Declares Zero Tolerance On Oil Bunkering Activities

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The Chairman of Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Hon. Daniel Daniel has thrown his weight behind the ongoing war against soot in Rivers State, assuring that his administration would do everything humanly possible to smoke out the criminal cartels involved in the illicit business.
The chairman, who declared that his administration would not condone activities of artisanal crude oil refineries in Abua/Odual, said he would demolish all illegal oil refining sites in the LGA, as directed by the state governor.
Speaking after visiting one of the uncovered artisanal crude oil bunkering sites in Odau Community, Daniel commended the efforts of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his relentless pursuit towards bringing to an end the menace called soot, which was threatening the very existence of the people in Rivers State.
He added that the practical steps taken by the governor within the last few weeks was yielding results.
Daniel used the opportunity to caution those who play politics with the fight against soot in the state to desist forthwith.
He further added that it was not proper to politicise this all important issue, which was causing harm to the environment and killing the people slowly.
The chairman called on all indigenes and residents of Abua/Odual Local Government Area to join forces to nip the danger posed by the soot the bud.
The ABOLGA chief executive alsosaid that anyone with useful information onthe locationsof the sites and names of operators where illegal oil bunkering activities are taking place within the area should report with immediate effect, to him or the DPO of the Abua/Odual Divisional Police Command for necessary action.
He disclosed that as the chairman of council, he has knowledge of all forests/communities in the LGA, adding that his administration would leave no stone unturned in implementing the directives of the state governor.
The site visited in Odau Community has over 15 boiling pots and occupies an estimated geographical area of over one hectare of land.
The Tide learnt that the site is bounded by communities from Ahoada-West LGA of Rivers State and Ogbia LGA in Bayelsa State.
Those who accompanied the chairman on the enforcement visit are the DPO of the Divisional Police Command and his men; the C4i LGA commander and his team of gallant men.
Others are the Chief of Staff to the Chairman, Hon. Okpokipoiy Peters; Supervisor for Environment, Hon Vincent Reuben Obu; and his works counterpart, Hon. Zinami Fyneroad Iwariso; Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs to the Chairman, Hon Alex Walters who is an indigene of the Odau Community, among others.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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