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Appeal Court Takes Over Rivers CJ Case; To Hear Agumagu’s Motion …As Judiciary Workers Begin Nationwide Strike

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A federal High Court in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday transferred the suit challenging the appointment of Justice Peter Agumagu as the substantive Chief Judge of the state to the appellate Courts for continuation and determination of a motion bordering on the jurisdiction of a Federal High Court to hear the matter.
The transfer of the matter to the appellate Court by the trial Judge, Justice A.H. Ngajiwa followed a ruling on Notice of Appeal brought before the court by counsel to the 5th defendant, Justice Peter Agumagu, B.E.I. Nwofor (SAN).
It would be recalled that the trial Judge, Justice A.H. Ngajiwa had in his ruling at the preliminary trial, ruled that the court would not hear the application/motion brought by Justice P. Agumagu challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit which purely bordered on a state matter in a Federal instead of state court, until the determination of the substanstive suit.
Justice Agumagu, not satisfied with the ruling of the lower court, through his Counsel, B.E.I. Nwofor, approached the Appeal Court to determine whether the ruling made on June 26th, was proper and in line with the law.
Ruling on the application on the Notice of Appeal and adjourning “sine dine”, Justice A.H. Ngajiwa ordered that the suit be transferred to the Appeal Court as requested by the 5th defendant, adding that it was a matter of law, that when a matter is challenged at a higher court, the lower court suspends trial pending the decision of the higher court on the issue under appeal.
Justice Ngajiwa, however, refused to adjourn the trial sine dine’ which was part in the prayers sought by the defendants, but directed that all the parties should report to the court on October 21st, 2014, to brief the court on the progress made so far on the case.
The trial judge, later adjourned the matter to 21st October, 2014, for briefing on appeal.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the ruling, Counsel to Justice Peter Agumagu, B.E.I. Nwofor (SAN), said the court ruling was in line with the application sought by his client, adding that in-law, his client has right of appeal.
The learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said that the issue of jurisdiction was paramount for a court to decide first before going into the merit of the entire suit.
Also speaking, Counsel to the Rivers State House of Assembly, E.N. Ebete opined that the judge did not erred in his ruling, adding that every person in any matter has the right to appeal a judgement that he/ she feels is not satisfactory.
In his response, Counsel to the 6th defendant, Justice Daisry Okocha, Barrister Dike Udenna, averred that there was nothing wrong in the decision of the court to transfer the matter to a higher court on the grounds of an appeal brought before the court, adding that he is ready to argue his matter at the Appeal court.
Meanwhile, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has directed its members at the state levels across the country to embark on an indefinite strike beginning from today.
This implies that various state courts across the country may not be opened for sittings as from today until JUSUN directs otherwise.
The union, in a communiqué yesterday, said the strike was, among others, to press home its demand for various state governments in the country to comply with court judgements which granted financial autonomy at both the state and federal levels.
In the communiqué, which was issued in Abuja at the end of the emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the union, JUSUN also expressed support for the ongoing strike embarked upon by its members in Rivers State as a result of the current judiciary crisis in the state.
The communiqué was jointly signed by the National President of the Union, Mr. Marwan Adamu, and General Secretary, Mr. Isaiah Adetola.
The union directed its members in the federal judiciary to be on the alert as they could also be asked to join the strike anytime in solidarity with their state counterparts.
The communiqué reads in part” “After the exhaustive deliberation on the refusal/failure of state governments to respect/implement the Federal High Court, Abuja, judgement /orders in respect of financial autonomy of state judiciaries as well as failure of stakeholders to abide by the decision to set up a technical implementation committee of the FAAC meeting of June 17, 2014, it is resolved by NEC as follows:
“That all Judiciary staff at state level nationwide should proceed on an indefinite strike with effect from Friday, July 11, 2014.
“That the national secretariat of the union shall notify federal judiciary workers to join the action as events unfold.
“That the National Executive Committee of the union, after a review of events in Rivers State Judiciary, also resolved that JUSUN members in the state should continue and sustain their current strike until the major stakeholders, find an amicable resolution of the leadership crisis in Rivers State judiciary. Meanwhile, the NEC-in-session has announced total takeover of action in Rivers State”.
The union described as “unfair” the situation whereby the National Judicial Council and the Rivers State Judicial Service Commission were issuing separate conflicting directives for and against returning to work.
It added that its members could not serve two masters.

A new Port Harcourt Mall, the biggest ever in the South-South of Nigeria, being built under the Public Private Partnership of the Governor Chibuike Amaechi led administration in Rivers State

A new Port Harcourt Mall, the biggest ever in the South-South of Nigeria, being built under the Public Private Partnership of the Governor Chibuike Amaechi led administration in Rivers State

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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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