A High Court in Port Harcourt Judicial Division has granted an order sought by two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members from Asari-Toru and Ogu/Bolo Local Government Areas, of Rivers State, Mr Daere Samuel Horsfall and Tamuno-Tonye Brown restraining the Chief Felix Obuah-led PDP from dissolving the party executives at the local government and ward levels.
In two different suits, No PHC/799/2013 and PHC/800/2013, the PDP and Chief Obuah were joined as defendants.
On hearing the affidavit of both claimants as presented by their attorney, Roland Otaru (SAN), Justice Boma Diepiri gave a substituted service and interim injunction restraining the defendants, themselves or agents from removing from office or dissolving the local government executives and ward level committees of the party in Rivers State.
It also restrained the defendants from setting up anybody to take over the responsibilities pending the determination of the suits.
The court gave orders that the claimants serve the order to the defendants by publishing it in one national daily and pasting same on the wall of the PDP party office at No 23 Aba Road, Port Harcourt.
The order is to last pending the determination of the matter in court,. The matter has been adjourned to tomorrow for argument of the motion by the parties.
In the same vein, leaders of the various Legislative Assemblies from the 23 local government areas under the aegis of Local Government Legislative Forum, have rejected and condemned the judgement of the Federal High Court sacking the Chief Godspower Ake-led PDP in the state.
The forum says it rejects and dissociates herself, their colleague councillors and those from their ward from any PDP executive except that of Ake.
It added, “ the forum and our colleague councillors and indeed the good people of our various wards accordingly pledge our unwavering support, belief and trust in the ability of the executive governor of Rivers State, Rt Hon Chibuike Amaechi.
The declaration was signed by 22 legislative Assembly leaders in the state.
Barely a week after the controversial court judgement that dissolved the Chief Godspower Ake-led Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) executive in Rivers State, party supporters from the 23 local government areas have drummed support for the Chief Ake’s leadership.
Last Saturday, more than 2,000 PDP members drawn from the youth, women, national and state legislators thronged the Government House, Port Harcourt vowing not to recognise the court instituted new executive, while pledging their solidarity for the administration of Governor Chibuike Amaechi.
As each group took turn to condemn the court judgement, the Senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District, of the Natonal Assembly Magnus Abe on behalf of national legislators said, no amount of intimidation will rob Rivers people of their freedom to choose their leaders.
Abe blamed the crisis on selfish interests and those who want to arrogate to themselves the power to choose those who lead, Rivers State will be led by those who build schools, roads and hospitals,’’ the Senator insisted, stressing that it’s not in the power of few persons to upturn the mandate of the majority.
He expressed the hope that with an appeal already instituted to stay the judgement, the judiciary would rise to the challenge and correct the anomaly.
Leader in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Chidi Lloyd said there was no need to nurse fear over a temporary misfit” noting, we do not have fear as to the chairmanship of the party in Rivers State.’’
He believed that it was part of the democratic process and not new in Rivers State, emphasising that we have walked this road before, the truth will prevail’’.
Hon. Lloyd urged party faithfuls not to be deterred, as he counselled them on the need to be peaceful in their areas.
Chairman of Etche Local Government, Hon. Reginald Ukwuoma, who spoke for local government chairmen, expressed optimism that justice would come, describing the judgment as, temporary injustice and so we are here to pay solidarity to principals of truth and legacy’’.
He recalled that in 2007, the same scenario was experienced, and asserted that God who gave victory to them six years ago, will ensure another victory.
Ukwuoma maintained that it would be impossible for a group that did not partake in party elections in March last year to preside over those legitimately chosen.
Speaking on behalf of the youth, former Chairman of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYC), Comrade Bethel Oko-Jaja said the youth were solidly behind the Governor Chibuike Amaechi government.
Oko-Jaja believed that the appeal would be pursued to a logical conclusion, assuring the Chief Ake-led PDP that,” we will not relent till the end. We will stand by them in the morning and in the evening’’.
The youth leader described the Governor Amaechi-led administration as one that had brought hope, peace and restoration, noting that therefore the youth would not allow any group to truncate such government.
Rivers Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru who received the groups on behalf of the governor, harped on the need for politics to be played fairly and on truth.
Ikuru was of the view that the judiciary had to rise to the challenge of fostering democracy, pointing out that if it fails, then the people have lost hope of a better future.
As a witness to the election that brought Chief Ake to power, he wondered why the other faction, which did not participate, would claim victory.
Against this glaring injustice, he called on party members to be calm, peaceful, and promised to pass their message to the governor.
Meanwhile, ex-Rivers State Student Union leaders under the aegis of Rivers Leadership Advancement Foundation (RIVLEAF), has vowed not to recognise the Felix Obuah-led executive of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state despite the Abuja High Court judgement.
The foundation, which made the vow during the inauguration of its Khana, Gokana and Tai chapters at the weekend in Bori, also vowed to resist attempts by few individuals to take control of the state by force.
The President of the foundation, Mr Alex Wele, who addressed supporters during the inauguration also said that Rivers people would resist attempts to foist unpopular leaders on them in 2015, by those based in Abuja.
He said that the foundation, which is made up of former student union leaders was formed to support the good governance of Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in the state.
The foundation president urged Ogonis to stand behind the governor, and disclosed plans by the group to establish the Chibiuke Amaechi Centre for good leadership to immortalise the governor.
Former State Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Chief Andy Nweye said that the foundation was non-political, and formed to groom future leaders for the state.
Chief Nweye also urged the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to intervene in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party as Rivers State was very strategic in the overall success of PDP in the forth-coming election.
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Mr Austin Nwakoh pledged the support of the Ogonis to both the state government and leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)led by Chief G.U Ake.
In his solidarity message, an elder statesman in Ogoni, Chief Victor Ikpor described the crisis in the state chapter of the PDP as a ploy to deny Rivers South-East the chance to produce the next governor in 2015.
Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, says the April 15, 2013 verdict delivered by Justice Ishaq Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja, declaring Mr. Felix Obuah and Mr. Ibiba Opuene Walter, as duly elected Chairman and Secretary respectively of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, amounts to a desecration of the temple of justice.
Governor Amaechi said this last Saturday while addressing a mammoth crowd of Rivers people who marched in solidarity to Government House, Port Harcourt.
Represented by his deputy, Engr. Tele Ikuru, Governor Amaechi declared that “I think as a nation, one area we should not allow mud to go into is the judiciary. As a nation, one area we should not allow to become a thing of play is the judiciary. The temple of justice has been desecrated. Nigeria arise, Nigeria arise. If we do not rise, we will lose our country. As a nation, any day we allow the temple of justice to be desecrated, we’ll lose our country”.
Governor Amaechi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), stated that “any day a poor man cannot go to the court and state his case and get justice that country is lost”.
“I therefore call on the judges, particularly, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, to very quickly, with alarm, move into this matter,” emphasising that “I have faith in the Chief Justice of this country. She is a woman of integrity, she is a woman who has proved herself time without number,” noting that “this is another case for her to prove that she sits at the helm of justice in this country,” assuring that “she will ensure that justice is given to all”.
Engr. Ikuru disclosed that “I was privileged to be part of that convention, I was privileged to see the votes counted, I was privileged to see the results announced and then suddenly in broad daylight, somebody said that that election produced another person,” pointing out that “when certain people die their eyes will not close because they tell broad day lies. Those who open their eyes, know what is right, see what is right and say something different.
The day they will die, their eyes will never close”.
The Governor called on the people of the State, especially the members of the PDP to be law-abiding and go about their normal duties without breaching the peace.
“I will urge every one of you to hold your peace. Hold your peace because I know there are still men and women of goodwill in this country. There are still people of truth,” he stressed.
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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