A Port Harcourt High
Court, Rivers State, presided over by T.S. Orji has given an assurance that it would hear the suit challenging the stool of Apara Rebisi Kingdom in Port Harcourt City LGA brought before her based on its merit.
Justice Orji gave this assurance following an appeal made by the counsel to the claimant in the matter, James Ocholi (SAN) urging the court to grant them the chance to move the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction during the resumption of the matter, Tuesday.
Ocholi (SAN) said moving the motion had become very expedient due to the purported recognition of one of the defendants in the matter, Victor Woluchem by the state government as the paramount ruler of Rebisi.
He appealed to the court to grant them the leave to present the two motions before the court, motion on notice for interlocutory injunction to restrain the 1st-8th defendants and his servants, agents, privy and cohorts from choosing, selecting, presenting, parading or allowing any candidate from Oro-Olozu Community for coronation as the Eze Apara Rebisi pending the determination of the substantive suit including the state government.
Other motion seen canvassed by claimant counsel was motion on notice seeking for an order setting down the suit for hearing for claimants to prove their case sequel to the defendants’ refusal to fill their defence as well as any further order or orders as the honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.
He opined that the two motions were filed in good record of time while all the defendants had also been served, adding that the inability of the defence counsel to reply to the motions were a deliberate attempt to delay the trial process.
In her ruling, the trial judge, Justice T.S. Orji averred that court would not be in a hurry to grant the interlocutory injunction because there was nothing to be afraid.
“There is nothing to be afraid of, since nothing had happened uptill now, I shall hear the matter on merit”, she declared.
Court Remands IAUOE Staff Over Sexual Abuse Charges
A Port Harcourt Magistrate Court in Rivers State presided over by Senior Magistrate Gomba Osaro has remanded a staff of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUOE), Mgbechi Wekwa, aged 45 years, in the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre, for alleged sexual abuse of a 16-year old girl.
The suspect is standing trial on a one-count charge bordering on sexual abuse and forcefully having carnal knowledge of a 16-year old girl.
The charge sheet read, “that you, Mgbechi Wekwa ‘M’ on 13th day of January, 2021, at Rumuakwunde in Emohua local Government Area, but triable in Port Harcourt Magisterial District did unlawfully and sexually abuse one Victoria Edwin ‘F’, 16 years old by inserting your penis into her vagina, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 32(1)(2) of the Child’s Rights Act Cap. 50 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2013.
The presiding senior magistrate, after hearing application for bail brought by the defence Counsel, Martina Okpeeholo, adjourned the matter for bail consideration to Monday, February 22, 2021, and ordered that the suspect be remanded at the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre.
Speaking outside the court room, practicing lawyer in Port Harcourt, Jane O. A. James, holding watching brief for the complainant on behalf of the Centre for Basic Rights Protection and Accountability Campaign, expressed displeasure that the police watered down the charge to Section 32(1)(2) of Child’s Rights Act 2013, which is a charge of sexual abuse and exploitation instead of Section 31(1)(2), which states the definition and punishment for rape as is the case in this instant matter.
CBN Gives Credit To 200,000 Maize Farmers
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has provided credit facilities to more than 200,000 maize farmers to bolster domestic maize production and reduce the price of maize through increased production.
National President, Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Alhaji Bello Abubakar on Monday confirmed that the CBN had released credit facilities to more than 200,000 farmers who were expected to produce more than 25 million metric tonnes of maize in the 2020-2021 planting season.
The funds were provided under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the CBN.
Abubakar said the credit facilities were being distributed to members along the maize value chain nationwide.
He expressed confidence that the support of the CBN would boost production and, ultimately, ensure availability as well as stability in the price of the commodity.
According to him, despite the cases of insecurity in some parts of the country, farmers are committed to meeting the objective of food security.
Abubakar charged middlemen “not to take advantage of the supply gap to hike the price of the grains”.
He assured the government, that “farmers would maintain reasonable price” and urged the Federal Government to put in place “mechanism to protect farmers from market triggered shocks”.
Meanwhile, the price of maize is set to crash to N120,000 per metric tonne next month from N155,000 per metric tonne.
The maize price slash will be brought on by the planned release of about 300,000 Mt into the market from strategic anchors under the ABP of the CBN.
With the release of 300,000 Mt, it is expected that the prices of maize in the market will drop significantly, thereby increasing demand for the crop and, ultimately, enhancing the gains of maize farmers.
The anticipated maize release follows moves made by the CBN, working with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in the last quarter of 2020, to facilitate import waivers to four agro-processing firms to import 262,000 tonnes of maize to bridge the shortfall in production and augment local production.
A prime anchor under the maize production, Dr. Edwin Uche, yesterday said the planned dry season farming, timely distribution of input to farmers and improved security, would enhance production and ensure stability in the price of maize.
che noted that banditry, drought in some parts of the country in 2020 and middlemen were responsible for high price.
Abubakar also attributed the shortfall in the quantity of maize available in the market to insecurity around the major maize producing belt of Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and part of Kano states.
According to him, hoarders and middlemen are responsible for the scarcity and exorbitant price of maize.
Another major stakeholder in the maize production, Mr. Ayodeji Balogun of AFEX, attributed the hike in price to cash-flow problem of farmers which has compelled them to resort to collecting cash from buyers ahead of production and resort to side-selling, especially across the borders of neighbouring countries due to higher prices.
Rivers Community Disowns Traditional Prime Ministerial Position
The Okwuzi Council of Chiefs in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government area says the purported position of a traditional prime minister is strange to its culture and tradition.
The chiefs’ council said this at a press briefing while reacting to claims by one Nelson Ekperi that he was the traditional prime minister of Okwuzi community.
The text for the briefing which was read by chairman council of chiefs of Okwuzi community, Eze James M. Nnah, said the community had no such position since its inception till date, and added that what the community had at the moment was a regent because of the incapacitation of the Eze Oruamara I of Okwuzi (Eze Ali II) of Okwuzi.
“Our own community does not have a traditional prime minister. What we have is a regent following the incapacitation of our paramount ruler”.
According to the council, anyone parading himself as the traditional prime minister of the community is on his own as its culture and tradition does not support it, “thus anyone parading himself as traditional prime minister of our community does so without traditional support and should be treated as an impostor.
“Our chieftaincy matter which is about rightful successor is still in court”, he said.
He said the community had distanced itself from unlawful conduct perpetrated by Nelson Ekperi against the Inspector General of Police, the AIG Zone 16, the Commissioner of Police Rivers State and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Okwuzi, and added that the council tendered unreserved apology over whatever dirt Ekperi must have poured on the police.
Also speaking, the chairman Egbema Council of Chiefs, Chief Kingsley Obiye, said the position of a prime minister of Okwuzi had never existed in the annals of Okwuzi history and urged the public to discountenance it.
Earlier addressing newsmen Nelson Ekperi had claimed that he was the prime minister and that the paramount ruler of Okwuzi is alive.
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