Thousands of civil servants in Rivers State yesterday staged a rally in Port Harcourt in celebration of Governor Nyesom Wike’s victory at the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, had on Wednesday, upturned the judgement of the Appeal Court which nullified the election of the governor.
Addressing the workers at the state secretariat, the Head of Service, Barrister Rufus Godwins, said that the victory has averted another round of crisis in the state.
Godwins said that the people of Rivers State were already frightened by the provocative utteramces of some politicians, adding that with the victory, the state has returned to its pride of place as the foremost state of peace in the country.
The Head of Service, however, urged civil servants to give their full support to the administration by maintaining their integrity.
According to him, Rivers people and the rest of the world are happy with the victory of the governor, stressing that the judgement should now challenge everyone to put their faith in God.
“ I urged every civil servant to be loyal and maintain their integrity”, he said and described Governor Nyesom Wike as a God, fearing man who is ready to initiate programmes to uplift the standard of living of Rivers people.
A factional chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Prince Williams Addah who was at the rally described Wike as a honest governor who will work for the interest of the state.
He also said that the victory will usher in peace and prosperity in the state, and assured labour’s support to government policies and programmes.
The workers later marched to Government House, where the Permanent Secretary, Government House, Dr Onyekachi Nwankwo, who represented the governor thanked them for their show of solidarity.
The Permanent Secretary said that the situation shows the love of civil servants to the state and government.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Nigerian Civil Service Union, Rivers State, has described the Supreme Court’s verdict as a victory for democracy and rule of law.
In a statement yesterday, the state Chairman of the union, Comrade O. T Lilly-West, said that civil servants in the state were overwhelmed with joy over the verdict, and prayed God to grant the governor grace and wisdom to pilot the affairs of the state and deliver democracy dividends to the people.
Following Wedneday’s Supreme Court judgement that upheld Chief Nyesom Wike’s election as the governor of Rivers State, reactions have continued to trail the judgement.
The Chairman of Ekpeye Council of Chiefs, Eze Ikaki S. Ikaki said the judgement is a victory for democracy and the people of Rivers State.
The traditional ruler lauded the Supreme Court judgement, saying the ruling would stabilized peace and development in the state.
He congratulated Governor Nyesom Wike for his courage and faith in God, during the judicial battle.
He also assured the governor of the support of the traditional rulers in the area to enable him actualise his New Rivers Vision in the state.
Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Bro Felix Obuah, dedicated the Supreme Court judgement to God, saying, “when God says yes, no body can say no”.
Speaking through his Media Adviser, Jerry Needam, the PDP boss advised Rivers people, including the opposition, to join hands with the governor to move the state to greater heights.
Also reacting, the spokesman of ‘I See You Group,” Isaac Ordu, said the Supreme Court judgement has restored the confidence of the people in the judiciary.
According to him, democracy has come to stay in the state following the Supreme Court ruling, stressing that the apex court’s ruling has shown that the judiciary remains the last hope of the common man.
Ordu, however, advised Governor Wike and the PDP to run an all inclusive governor for peace and development of the state.
The state Chairman of Labour Party, Prince Favour Reuben in his reaction, also hailed the Supreme Court ruling for not only allowing peace to reign, but to prove that election was actually held in the state.
He called on political parties and all politicians to accept the ruling of the court for democracy to take root in the state.
The Chairman of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN0, Rivers State chapter, Sukubo Sara-Igbe also described the ruling of the apex court as a victory for democracy.
Sukubo, who stated this at a press briefing, yesterday in Port Harcourt noted that the victory was a vindication of Rivers people’s long-drawn struggle for justice.
He added that the verdict of the apex court has restored the hope and confidence of the people in the credibility of the judiciary.
Sukubo also commended the court for standing firm in the defence of the law and constitution of the country. According to him, the judgement of the Supreme Court has brought peace and doused tension within Rivers State and the neighbouring states.
In another development, former Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Port Harcourt City Local Government Council, Barrister Clifford Oparaodu, said the Supreme Court judgement was to re-affirm the wishes and aspirations of Rivers people.
Oparaodu, who is a legal practitioner and was in Abuja for the judgement, told The Tide that the victory is for democracy and not for the PDP, stating that it represents the victory and mandate the people of Rivers State gave to the PDP and Governor Nyesom Wike in the last election.
According to him, “the court found out that what was reported and declared during last election represents the actual vote given to the PDP. We are happy that the state has been rescued from being mortgaged. This will go further to stop and end impunity.
Also, former lawmaker representing Port Harcourt Constituency1 in the state Assembly, Hon.Jones Ogbonda described the judgment by the Supreme Court as a big relief to the Rivers people.
Ogbonda who is one of the Special Assistant to Governor Wike further described Supreme Court judgment as victory for democracy and for the people of Rivers State.
According to him, ’’The people’s Democratic Party and the people of Rivers State are happy and will remain happy. The Supreme court did the right thing and at the right time.
On defection, he said he was not aware that majority members of the party defected to other parties. One or two persons may have defected, that does not mean that many have defected. the party is strong and will remain solid following the judgment yesterday. “Core and faithful members of the PDP are still with the party and they are happy over the Wednesday judgment.
However, some of the opposition parties in the state have expressed happiness with judgement of the Supreme Court.
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), which spoke with our correspondent, said it was a confirmation and affirmation of the voices and wishes of the people of Rivers State and residents alike.
The state Chairman of SDP, Engr Joshua E.Worlu and NNPP State Chairman,Deacon Princewill Enyi said the judgement was impressive, adding that their members in the state were happy with the judgement by the Supreme Court.
According to Worlu, “this is the first time the court has given a bold and sound judgement that everybody is happy with. Wike deserves the victory because Rivers people voted for him.
Worlu revealed that members of SDP in Rivers State voted for Wike during the last election because they saw him as a man with vision and aspiration to move the state forward.
According to him, “we do not mind of his party members of SDP voted for him, and ensured that he won. So, we are happy with the judgement which confirm him as the Governor of Rivers State.
“SDP is happy because we believe in truth,good governace and justice. We also believe in oneness and sincerity which has been demonstrated by Wike within nine months of his administration.
Enyi, in his comment, urged all and sundry to join hands with Wike to make Rivers State what God has destined her to be.
According to him, “a winner today might be a loser tomorrow. My party, NNPP once more congratulate the governor.
He commended Governor Wike for carrying other political parties along and he fulfilled it by including them among the local government area caretaker committee members amongst other.
Also speaking, the House of Assembly candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Andoni Constituency, Hon Romsam Dressman called on Rivers people to take the judgement in good faith.
According to him through the Supreme Court’s judgement was painfull, it has become a spring board for success, if Rivers people believe in true democracy and God.
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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