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Polls: Peterside, Abe Lead APC Protest Against INEC …We’re Investigating The Allegations – Jega

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Rivers State APC gubernatorial candidate, Dr Dakuku Peterside (3rd right) leading a protest march in Port Harcourt yesterday against INEC over alleged irregularities in the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly polls in the state.

Rivers State APC gubernatorial candidate, Dr Dakuku Peterside (3rd right) leading a protest march in Port Harcourt yesterday against INEC over alleged irregularities in the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly polls in the state.

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega said yesterday that the commission was investigating allegations of elections irregularities in Rivers State by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and call for the cancellations of the polls.
Jega’s statement came even as aggrieved members of APC in the State took to the streets in Port Harcourt, yesterday to protest the conduct of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly election in the  state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The protesters led by the APC governorship candidate in the state, Dr Dakuku Peterside and Senator representing Rivers South-East senatorial district, Senator Magnus Abe, marched to the INEC headquarters on Aba Road, Port Harcourt, demanding the cancellation of Saturday’s elections.
They were, however, prevented from gaining entrance into the INEC office by heavily-armed security personel who cordoned off the INEC office.
All roads leading to the INEC headquarters were being patrolled by security agents, while two lanes of Aba Road were blocked by two armoured tanks, forcing motorists to drive against traffic on the other two lanes.
The situation led to heavy traffic gridlock and snarl on the other two lanes.
The protesters who chanted “we want change” continually, accused INEC of being compromised by the state (PDP) and therefore demanded for fresh elections in the state.
Addressing journalists at the INEC’s entrance gate, Senator Abe said no election took place in the state.
“All what we are talking about is the fact that there was no election in Rivers State, and that the INEC has been totally compromised by the PDP. Now, you have seen it.
‘We have two agents here (in INEC), one was arrested and he is still in detention, the one that was here was pushed out and he is now outside.
‘Now, they told us results have been brought in here (to INEC), but APC has no representatives, but the governorship candidate of the PDP (Wike) is inside, PDP agents are inside.
“On Friday night, they (INEC) were giving out all our incident forms to PDP members and we went to complain that that kind of activities can not take place in the absence of the agents of other parties.
‘What kind of INEC do we have here? Even by today’s standard, this kind of election can not stand in Nigeria.
“There should be election in Rivers State. We have not voted. Nobody has voted. I have not voted. What results here they collating here?
Did you not go round yesterday (Saturday)? Did you not see confussion in the state? How many people were killed, the violence, the carting away of materials?”
While the protest was on at the INEC office, our correspondent confirmed that the state governorship candidate of the PDP, Chief Nyesom Wike and the Deputy Governor, Engr Tele Ikuru who recently defected to the PDP were in the INEC office.
When confronted why he was in the INEC office, Wike told our correspondent that he and Ikuru were agents of their party for the presidential election.
The protesters later moved to the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The protest was a fall-out of the boycott of the election by the APC in the state over alleged electoral irreguarlities, arisig from non-availability of results sheets, intimidation and molestation of APC members resulting into death of some people including a soldier.
At Ubima, the hometown of the state governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Amaechi, the result sheets were not available. The governor refused to be accredited at unit 14, ward 18, after INEC officials failed to produce results sheets for the election.
The same problem occurred at Beere in Khana Local Government area, and Ndoni in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA where Senator Magnus Abe and APC chairman in the state, Dr Davies Ibiama Ikanya refused to be accredited.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, told journalists that the governor refused to be accredited because, “he could not subject himself to accreditation when the required election material meant for his unit could not be accounted for”.
In most of the polling units visited by our correspondents in Port Harcourt, Etche, Obio/Akpor, Eleme, Elelewon, Ndoni, Khana, Oyigbo, Ahoada, among others report sheets were not provided by INEC officials.
In Ozuoba and Kpite in Ikwerre and Tai Local Government Areas of the state, respectively, a soldier and two civilians were shot dead by suspected political thugs.
One of the civilian, Sampson Wona was said to have been shot dead while waiting to be accredited at a polling unit in Ozuoba, while the second civilian indentified as a member of the APC was murdered in Kpite in Tai LGA.
Brigade Commander, 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, Koko Essien, confirmed the incident, when he spoke with Governor Amaechi at Ubima.
Shortly after the incident, the APC in the state alleged that scores of its members were killed, 100 arrested and many disenfranchised.
The party in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Public Affairs to the APC State chairman, Chukwuemeka Eze, said the killings were carried out by hoodlums suspected to be acting for the Peoples Democratic Party.
The party attached photographs of the  slain persons to the statement to prove its claims.
The statement reads, ‘Today (Saturday) presidential and National Assembly elections have turned out to be big nightmare for the APC in Rivers State, with the members being killed , attacked and disenfranchise in various parts of the state.
“Armed militias working for the PDP have intensified their killings of APC members. Scores have already been killed and several others marked for elimination.
‘This morning (Saturday) in Kpite town, Tai Ward 2 and other areas of the state, five people were shot dead by PDP’s armed militia, and that was before accreditation commenced.
‘It is sad that the PDP and its collaborators are targeting APC strongholds and chieftains for attacks and killings. To intimidate our people and contrary to the court ruling forbidding the use of army in this election, there has been  a massive deployment of soldiers in the state with clear instruction to shoot at sight any APC agent that refuses to comply with the evil plot of the PDP to write the results of the election in some designated areas of the state in favour of the PDP.”
The statement claimed that an APC leader and former Commissioner in the state, Chidiebere Okwuwolu, was arrested and being detained at Olu Obasanjo Police Station in Port Harcourt, while 99 other APC members and leaders were being held in various police stations in the state.
But the state publicity Secretary of the PDP, Samuel Nwanosike debunked the APC allegations, saying his party was not interested in attacking or killing anybody to win elections.
Describing APC’s claims as mere propaganda to get the sympathy of the people, Nwanosike said while the PDP was working hard to win the  elections, the APC was busy making frivolous allegations.
All efforts to get the reaction of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state Gesila Khan was unsuccessful as her phone was switched off.
However, Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections in Rivers State were marred largely by violence, irregularities, malpractices and refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to display the results sheets in most of the polling units across the state.
Elections in most communities in Khana Local Government Area were last Saturday stalled following late arrival of electoral materials and alleged hijack of result sheets by some thugs.
According to the caretaker committee chairman in Khana LGA, Hon Derek Mene, thugs suspected to be working for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stormed various polling units, shooting sporadically and snatching electoral materials.
At Lumbara community, the chairman said that gun totting youths scared everybody and vanished with result sheets making it impossible for people to cast their votes.
The chairman said he was personally denied accreditation and could not vote, pointing out that it was c same case in all Khana communities.
Mene, who addressed newsmen in Bori, during the election said there was no election in Khana as voters were harassed and intimidated by thugs and security personnel.
An APC stalwart, Barr Christain Mark also lamented the manhandling of APC members and agents by thugs and blamed the situation on the lack of preparation by INEC, which he accused of conniving with the PDP.
Violence were reported in Lorne Community ward 19, and some other communities in the area.
Meanwhile, there was massive turn out in Beeri community, the home town of the PDP House of Representative candidate for Kana/Gokhana constituency, Hon Dum Deekor. Speaking with newsmen after casting his vote, Hon Deekor thanked the people for the massive turn out and expressed confidence on the electoral process.
But eligible voters suspected to be supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were prevented by police and political thugs from voting any other than Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in almost every part of Andoni Local Government Area in Rivers State.
The Tide learnt that voters including APC state party chairman, Chief Davis Ibiamu Ikanya were prevented from proceeding to their polling units at Ikuru town, the home town of the state Deputy Governor and PDP’s Deputy National Chairman, Engr Tele Ikuru and Prince Uche Secondus, respectively.
Also at Ngo, the headquarters‘ of Andoni Local Government Area, the caretaker Committee Chairman, Hon Esuku Eme Esuku was barred from entering into the  community by soldiers believed to be working for PDP in the area.
The chairman  was also prevented from exercising his franchise.
Members of the APC alleged that police shot sporadically into the air to scare voters especially in units where APC was leading in Asarama and Unyeada.
Voters also alleged that thugs believed to be working for the PDP went round all the units in Asarama ward 9- Unyeada wards 6, 7 and 8 to intimidate and dismiss voters with light weapons. Our correspondents reported that some voters were beaten by the thugs, some were seriously injured, while election materials were hijacked and taken away to the house of a PDP chieftain where INEC officials and PDP supporters connived to rig the elections.
In Asarama, results sheets were not provided while card reader machine were intentionally abandoned despite the effectiveness of the machine for accreditation in the area.
The Tide also gathered that elections in Andoni were marred by violence as APC supporters were not allowed entry into polling units to exercise their franchise.
At Unit 8 ward 18 (Mba ward) in Etche Local Government Area, the absence of results sheets stirred confussion.
The presiding officer at the area confessed that the card reader slowed down the process. Some members had questioned the presiding officer over the non-availability of the result sheets and were not satisfied with the answer given.
Mr Nnadozie Uwuzi said, “ when we requested for the result sheet, the officials were not ready to provide it and instead, PDP members were saying if we don’t want to vote without the result sheet, we can go”.
“The next thing we saw was that they took away the box and other materials and whatever happens thereafter, we didn’t know. We did not vote in unit 8″.
But Nwogu Eke, a PDP member told The Tide that everything went accordingly and everybody was allowed to vote. It was a successful election.
At Igwuruta in Ikwerre Local Government Area, the story was also the same. After the accreditation which was delayed by the card reader, some persons boycotted the election because of the absence of result sheets.
APC member who gave his name as Samuel Amaechi, alleged that the PDP connived with the security and the INEC officials to rig the election.
‘When we noticed this, we boycotted the election, so the election did not hold’, Amaechi said.
At Omarchu Unit 6 ward 3 also in Ikwerre Local Government Area, same confusion trailed the exercise as APC said election could not hold.
But Nwakama Peter who said he is of PDP said, “the election here was peaceful, transparent, free and fair”.
The elections were also marred by various irregularities in Etche Local Government area of the state, which led to the boycott of the elections in the area.
The elections were boycotted across the 19 wards of the LGA due to the inability of INEC officials to provide the original result sheets across the polling units in the area. Although, before the election was halted there were incidents of gun shots at Ulakwo, the home town of Prince Emma Anyanwu, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It was learnt  that unknown gunmen stormed the house of a PDP chieftain where it was alleged that election materials meant for the ward were kept.
At Afara wards 1, trouble started when voters observed that the original results sheets were not made available. At Ward 2,3,4,5,6,7,8, the story was not different as the inability of the INEC officials to produce the original result sheets in all the units in those wards prompted voters to boycott the election.
In Obibi/Akwukabi wards 9, 10,12,13,14, 15,16,17,18 and 19 accreditation and voting had commenced in some of the units before questions about non-availability of the results sheets were raised.
Piqued by the development, voters demanded for the display of the result sheets in all the affected polling units in the area before the elections could continue.
Our correspondent who monitored the elections in some local government areas report that there was absence of security personnel in most polling units across the state.

 

Boye Salau/ Enoch Epelle/ Ike Wigodo/ Taneh Beemene/ Chris Oluoh and  Akujobi Amadi

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Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow

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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.

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Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY

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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.

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$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others

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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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