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RSG Blasts Critics Of Public Holidays; Flays Politicisation Of Obio/Akpor Suit …LG Boss Wants Judge To Disqualify Self …Full Text Of Govt’s Reaction On Pages10&11

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Secretary to Rivers State Government and Chairman Centenary Committee, Mr George Feyii (3rd left), Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker (4th left),  Mayor of Port Harcourt, Mr Chimbiko Akarolo (4th right), leading the Centenary Health Walk, organised by Rivers State Government in Port Harcourt, last Tuesday. Photo: Obinna Prince Dele

Secretary to Rivers State Government and Chairman Centenary Committee, Mr George Feyii (3rd left), Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker (4th left), Mayor of Port Harcourt, Mr Chimbiko Akarolo (4th right), leading the Centenary Health Walk, organised by Rivers State Government in Port Harcourt, last Tuesday.
Photo: Obinna Prince Dele

The Rivers State Government has refuted the allegation by the Felix Obuah-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the State that it declared a week-long public holidays for civil servants to halt the delivery of judgement in the Obio/Akpor suit.
In a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday, the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Worgu Boms dismissed the allegation as untrue.
Boms reiterated that the state government declared the work-free period to enable civil servants to participate in a series of activities lined up for the celebration of Port Harcourt centenary.
He explained that the allegation by the Obuah faction was borne out of lack of knowledge of the workings of the law and the judicial system, adding that the records of proceedings had been compiled and transmitted to the Court of Appeal.
“This thinking that the Rivers State Government needed a work-free period in order to prevent further proceedings in the Obio/Akpor suit is one that is borne out of lack of knowledge of the workings of the law and the judicial system itself. The records of proceedings have been compiled and transmitted to the Court of Appeal. There is then, automatically, a total lack of jurisdiction in the court below (i.e. Hon. Justice Adama Iyayi-Lamikara’s court) to take any other step in the matter, interlocutory or otherwise, when records have been compiled and transmitted as there can no longer be concurrent proceedings of the court at that stage,” he said.
The Attorney-General expressed reservations over the manner the matter was being handled following its assignment to Justice Iyayi-Lamikanra by the former Chief Judge, Iche N. Ndu a few days to his retirement.
“The politicisation started when the former Chief Judge, Iche Ndu, KSC, OFR, a few days to his Lordship’s retirement, mysteriously, assigned the suit to Justice Iyayi-Lamikanra as though it was a fresh suit when in fact, it was pending already before Justice Iragunima and ought to have been a re-assigned. “The instrument which the former Chief Judge used in effecting it, shows clearly that it was done as though it was never pending in any previous court.
This was the beginning of political suspicion  in the matter,” he said.
According to him, the biggest source of politicisation of this simple suit was what the judge subsequently did as the counsel to Obio/Akpor  Caretaker Committee moved his motion in which he prayed the count to extend time for his clients up to 14 days to file their reply to the originating summons.
He said that after granting the prayer, the court insisted that the matter must be heard that same day, thus, denying the defence counsel the purpose for which the order of extension of time was granted.
“I restate here for emphasis, that Hon. Justice Adama Iyayi-Lamikanra on the very first day the matter came to her court on transfer from another court, ensured that the matter was heard to judgement stage and refused a party to file his defence ever after she had granted that extension of time to go and file the defence”, he said.
Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the battle to control the executive of the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area in Rivers State, took a fresh twist  Wednesday as the Caretaker Committee Chairman, Mr. Chikodi Dike, called on Justice Iyayi Laminkara, to withdraw from handling the case.
Dike who made the call at a news briefing in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital last Wednesday said, “We further reaffirm our clamour that Hon. Justice Iyayi Laminkara should and ought to toe the path of honour, by disqualifying herself having sold out by fellow conspirators as anything less than this will thoroughly ridicule the judiciary in Rivers State”.
Dike who had called the news briefing to react to a statement by the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Felix Obuah, that the one week public holidays from Monday, November 15 to Friday, November 22, were ordered by Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to allegedly arrest a judgment that would have been delivered on the Obio/Akpor case, on Friday, November 15.
He recalled that on November 18, Obuah in response to the two day public holiday on (Thursday, November 15 and Monday, November 18) said that the work free days earlier declared by Governor Amaechi on Monday, November 18 before the governor  extended the work free days to Friday, November 22, “was intended to allow mass exodus of Rivers State people to Anambra State to rig the gubernatorial election in favour of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC’.
Continuing, Dike asked, “what is more revealing from Obuah’s text is the fact that he confirmed the rumour as true, that the so-called judgment in a case instituted by Timothy Nsirim and co, challenging the powers of the Rivers State House of Assembly, lying before Justice Iyayi Laminkara to suspend them on grounds of fraud has leaked to him having compromised the judge. Otherwise, how would he have known that the judgment has been entered in their favour?”
“It is obvious that the said judgment has leaked and is already a public knowledge and thus qualified only for the thrash-can as it violates every and any known principle, procedure and ethos of justice administration,” Dike said.
The Rivers State government had filed two motions: one, that the court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter. Two, that the judge should disqualify herself from hearing the case.
At the last hearing, Justice Laminkara ruled that the court indeed had jurisdiction to hear the case.
The State House of Assembly led by its Speaker, Otelemaba Dan-Amachree had on Tuesday, April 16, sacked the executive Chairman of Obio/Akpor, Timothy Nsirim, his Vice, Solomon Eke and all 17 councillors on a vote of 22 to 5, on the grounds of alleged financial impropriety and breach of security.

 

Reward Akwu

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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