The Rivers State House of Assembly has condemned the continued torture by the police in Rivers State of the leader of the House, Hon Chidi Lloyd, who responded to police invitation last week, saying that police brutality was an attempt to kill him.
The 25 lawmakers of the Assembly made this known on Saturday in a statement in Port Harcourtin which they, said Hon Lloyd, who represented Emohua Constituency, was blindfold, tear-gassed and hand cuffed shortly after he was brought to the state capital on Thursday and that the police have refused to charge him to court.
The lawmakers in the statement wondered why Hon Lloyd was tear-gassed and handcuffed when the lawmaker submitted himself to the police.
According to them, “All those humiliation meted out on the leader of the House by the Police commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu is to glorify his political benefactors .
“We genuinely fear for the life of the leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly whose present whereabout remains unknown and whose only offence is that he defended democracy and its values”, they stated.
The 25 lawmakers condemned , in its entirety, the role of the police commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu, adding that they will not relent in their search for peace in Rivers State, while calling on Nigerians to be prayerful as the scripts of the enemies of democracy are re-written.
It would be recalled that Hon Chidi Lloyd, a lawyer by profession, had last week reported to the force headquarters, Abuja and had what the headquarter described as meaningful inter action for four days.
But it was alleged that since he was brought to Port Harcourt, the commissioner of police has reportedly assaulted and tortured him like a common criminal.
Meanwhile, Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) and representative, Andoni/Opobo-Nkoro Federal constituency, Hon. Dakuku Peterside, has condemned the torture by police in Rivers State of Hon. Chidi Lloyd who is currently being detained over the fracas that broke out in the Rivers State House of Assembly on July 9.
According to Peterside, more evidence of systematic torture on the leader of Rivers State House of Assembly has emerged. Lloyd who reported to Police Headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday 23 July following an earlier invitation by the police has been consistently abused by hitting, battering, pushing, kicking, handcuffing and uttering of obscenities thereby demeaning him all in a bid to coerce and compel him to obtain an involuntary extra-judicial confessional statement.
“This torture, sadly is taking place at the Rivers State Police Command where he was transferred to under the strict and personal supervision of the state Police Commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu. For the records, let us state that section 34(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended prohibits these crude and barbaric conduct of Commissioner of Police of Rivers State as every citizen of this country is entitled to respect for his human dignity and Mbu does not have unbridled power to deprive any citizen of this constitutionally guaranteed right, especially in a democracy”.
For Peterside therefore, “this is not only condemnable but regrettable. Rivers State Police Command under Mbu seems not to be bothered by the fact that any evidence that is obtained by force, torture, intimidation or by any form of abuse is not admissible in the court of law, and this is unfortunate”.
The lawmaker wondered why this is happening at this time despite the intervention of the National Assembly. “This inhuman conduct by Rivers State Police Command is not only a gross abuse of the fundamental human rights of the accused but further confirms our fears that Mbu is out to eliminate Lloyd who has been subjected to horrific ordeal since his return to Rivers State and other pro-Ameachi Lawmakers.”
This ugly development in our country today is antithetical to the Geneva Convention which expressly demands that countries take effective measures to prevent torture within its borders. Other international laws also confirm that torture and other mistreatment of persons in custody are also prohibited in all circumstances under international human rights law.
This, no doubt, is diminishing and a major setback to our nascent democracy.”
However, Peterside commended the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar for the civility and professionalism he exhibited during Lloyd’s short stay at the Police Headquarters in Abuja.
Similarly, the embattled leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly (RSHA), Hon Chidi Lloyd is said to be going blind. Deputy Speaker of the RSHA, Hon Leyii Kwanee made the revelation yesterday at a press conference in Port Harcourt.
According to Hon Kwanee, Lloyd’s gradual blindness was as a result of ill-treatment meted out to him by the police, who have kept him in their custody.
Such ill-treatment, he said includes being blind-folded, tortured and sprayed with teargas as a means of extracting information from him.
“Chidi Lloyd, he said, “ was blind-folded tortured and sprayed with teargas all over him.. we ‘ have just been informed that Chidi Lloyd is going blind as I speak to you, occasioned by the teargas that was sprayed all over him, particularly on his eyes.
“But as I speak to you now, we have just been informed that he has been held up somewhere at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (CID) by the same police authority under the leadership of Police Commissioner Mbu.
Kwanee said that it was for this reason that the 25 pro-Amaechi Lawmakers have first decided to seek God’s intervention in the matter, while considering the option of looking beyond the shores of Nigeria to seek Justice.
“ Today (yesterday), the 25 Pro-Amaechi lawmakers have met in the churches praying and seeking God’s intervention in the matter. We all know that Nigerians are good prayer people.
But we are also not losing sight of the fact that Nigeria is signatory to lots of conventions and treaties bodering on human Rights.
So, we are also looking at the possibility of assembling some Human Rights Lawyers who will look into the matter, putting together all the human rights abuses that have been inflicted on Chidi Lloyd, the leader of the 7th Assembly he said.
The Deputy Speaker also stated that his principal, currently out of the country attending a conference at the commonwealth was also likely to draw the attention of the commonwealth to the issue.
When The Tide contacted the spokesperson for the police in Rivers State, Mrs Angela Agabe, she said she was not authorized to speak on the Chidi Lloyd matter, adding that the fact that it was a weekend makes it impossible for her to comment on the matter.
It will be recalled that last Friday, counsel to Chidi Lloyd, Beluolisa Nwafor (SAN), in a suit praying the court to stop the police from arresting Lloyd over the fracas on the floor of the RSHA, had complained that his client had been detained by the force headquarters last Tuesday without being charged to court.
He had prayed the High Court, presided over by Justice Esor Teetito, to give an interim injunction for the release of his client, which Teetito refused.
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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