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Now May Rivers Know Peace (1) …On Bickering Over Supreme Court Ruling

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Wike and Amaechi

Wike and Amaechi

Long before the Supreme Court delivered its landmark judgment upholding the election of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike a duly elected, many believed that the concurrent decisions of the Governorship Election Tribunal and that of the Court of Appeal fell short of acceptable legal standards. The major reason for that conclusion was that the Apex Court had earlier ruled on a similar matter involving the Lagos State governorship elections, which placed greater premium on the voters register than the smart card reader.
Normally, once the Supreme Court takes a position on an issue of law, it becomes a reference point and indeed a guiding rule for the lower courts, which are duty-bound to uphold such judgments. But how same did not apply in the case of the petition filed against Governor Wike’s election by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Dr Dakuku Peterside was baffling.
From the change of guards in the original Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, to claims of unsafe Rivers, prompting relocation to Abuja, from refusal of the PDP and indeed its candidate, Wike ample time to make their case, to the eventual annulment, a strange desperation ran through, albeit transparently.
If not that members of the Tribunal were eminent jurists and fearless judges, one would have said they were coerced into taking such a horrific decision. For instance, even after the original tribunal had expunged from the APC petition all allegations of violence, including kidnapping, ballot box snatching and intimidation, the ‘new’ tribunal still hinged its judgment substantially on those scores. Another was the elevation of the card reader over and above the valid voters register. And ignoring any protests against that stand even with mention of decided cases.
And when the Appeal Court was depended upon to declare that the Tribunal erred in law, it didn’t.  And instead did the opposite and went further to uphold the first tribunal’s judgment.
That took a dissatisfied Governor Wike to the Supreme Court which amidst all the name-dropping, mocking of the governor as ‘caretaker’, and open claims of central power by the opposition party in the state, re-affirmed its position on recent decisions in Shinkafi vs Yari and Okereke vs Umahi and held that, “in order to prove non-accreditation and over-voting, the 1st and 2nd respondents (APC) and Peterside) were bound to rely on the voters’ register in respect of all the affected local governments. The voters’ register tendered were only in respect of 11 out of 23 local governments. They were tendered from the bar. No attempt was made to link them with exhibit A-9. It is also noteworthy that forms EC8A were tendered in respect of only 16 out of 23 local government areas.” These were easy for the Tribunal and Appeal Court to note, but didn’t. That why many cried bluemurder.
In a lead judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the Supreme Court maintained (among many others) that Wike who contested the April 11, 2015 Rivers State governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was denied fair-hearing by the lower courts.
It faulted the lower courts for improper evaluation of evidence against Wike’s election by the APC and its governorship candidate, Dakuku Peteside and also decried what it termed undue reliance of both courts on card reader.
The Supreme Court restated it position that reports from the Smart Card Reader Machines the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), used for conduct of the 2015 general elections, cannot override the Voters’ Register, which it said, has firm root in the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.
In a unanimous decision, the seven-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN Justice Mahmud Muhammed, last Friday said though INEC should be commended for the introduction of the Card Reader, “to booster the accuracy and transparency of the accreditation process and to maintain the democratic norm of one-man, one-vote, by detecting multiple voting by voters,  “Section 49(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act which provide for manual accreditation of voters, is a stamp and remain a vital part of our electoral law.”

 

Soye Wilson Jamabo

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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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