As part of his ‘thank you’ meeting with civil servants in the state after the Supreme Court’s judgment, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says welfare of government workers and pensioners will be top on his priority.
He made the promise while addressing thousands of civil servants at the state secretariat complex in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor assured civil servants and pensioners that his administration will continue to pay their salaries and pensions promptly.
He, however, stated that steps will be taken by the administration to verify the actual number of civil servants and pensioners to stop payment to non-existent beneficiaries.
The governor announced that the state government will observe January 27th every year as a public holiday to mark the survival of the state from the forces of political conspiracy who attempted to subvert the mandate of the people.
The Supreme Court delivered her judgment validating Wike’s election on January 27, 2016.
Wike urged the civil servants and other Rivers people to ensure they vote for PDP candidates in the re-run elections to promote harmony in governance and sustain the development agenda of the state government.
He pointed out that the defeated APC in the state plans to use the rerun elections to enter the political arena through the window having been shut out by the people and the Supreme Court.
Wike said: “when someone cannot come through the door, he may want to come through the window. Rivers people must not allow them. Our people must stop them from entering through the window to obstruct the good works of this administration”.
Speaking further on the rerun elections, Wike said that the will of the Rivers people will prevail, adding that the use of security forces and other electoral officials to rig the process will fail woefully.
The governor added that the administration will work out modalities to improve the state’s internally generated revenue.
Earlier, Head of the State Civil Service, Barrister Rufus Godwins, commended the governor for being up to date in the payment of salaries and pensions, and assured the governor of the loyalty of the workers.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Nigerian Civil Service Union, Rivers State, Comrade Opuiyo Lilly-West has called on the governor to institute reforms in the civil service.
Lilly-West, who spoke shortly after the governor met the civil servants yesterday, observed that the Supreme Court’s judgment has provided a conducive atmosphere for the governor to revamp the public service, especially as he drew his attention to infrastructure decay in the system.
The civil service union leader stated that so far, Wike has shown zeal and love to civil servants by paying their salaries promptly, while stressing the need to provide facilities for the workers to discharge their duties effectively.
Lilly-West also tasked civil servants to reciprocate the government’s gesture by being prompt to work and to eschew rancour and all divisive tendencies in order to get the best out of the present administration.
He described last week’s Supreme Court judgment as victory for Rivers people, ” you and I know the situation in the state before now and the judgment has brought peace to all nooks and crannies of the state”.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has approved January 27 every year as a public holiday to mark the survival of the state from the forces of political conspirators who attempted to subvert the mandate of the people.
The Supreme Court delivered its judgment validating Governor Nyesom Wike’s election on January 27, 2016.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has also reiterated his warning to those planning to rig the re-run elections in Rivers State, that they will be treated as armed robbers by the people.
Addressing thousands of civil servants at the State Secretariat Complex in Port Harcourt, Wike said that the public holiday signifies God’s intervention in the affairs of Rivers State.
He said: “Every January 27 will be observed as a public holiday in this state because that is the day God came down to save Rivers State. What people must understand is that power comes from God. We know God speaks last and he has spoken”.
Governor Wike urged the civil servants and other Rivers people to ensure they vote for PDP candidates in the re-run elections to promote harmony in governance and sustain the development agenda of the state government.
According to him, the people believe in the transformational leadership of the PDP, stressing that it was exhibited in Bayelsa State, where the use of force by security agents failed to deliver electoral victory to the APC.
The governor assured civil servants and pensioners that his administration will continue to pay their salaries and pensions. Adding that welfare issues will be given top priority.
In another development, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has assured oil prospecting companies operating in the state of adequate security to carry out their business activities.
Speaking at Government House, Port Harcourt yesterday when he granted audience to the management of Nigerian Agip Oil Company, (NAOC), Wike said that the security measures taken by his administration have improved security across the state.
He said that the State Security Council has worked out modalities for the incremental improvement of security in liaison with all stakeholders.
Wike said: “our responsibility is to provide an enabling environment for all businesses to thrive. We have succeeded in improving security around your operational base in Omoku. Going forward, we will enhance the security situation in your operational base.”
The governor, however, urged NAOC to improve its commitment to corporate social responsibility to its host communities.
He urged the company to complete work on the rehabilitation of Agip Junction to Agip headquarters in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area for the people to benefit.
Earlier, the new General Manager of Nigerian Agip Oil Company, Engr. Marco Rotondi, had congratulated Wike on his victory at the Supreme Court and assured him that the company will cooperate with the Rivers State Government at all times.
Outgoing General Manager, District, Poalo Carnevale described the period he spent in the state as fruitful, commending the state government for creating the enabling environment for the operation of the company.
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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