The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) has urged world leaders, particularly the United Nations, to call the Federal Government to order by prevailing on President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the army of occupation in Ogoniland for the peace and stability of the country.
In a statement in Bori, the traditional headquarters of Ogoni people, after unscheduled visits to Yeghe and Bori to assess the extent of damage of the February 22 and 23, 2016, military operation, MOSOP President, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, said that the action re-enacted the dark days of the Ogoni struggle, when the late Sani Abacha junta used intimidation, harassment, torture, extortion, and rape by the military to silence the voice of freedom and liberation.
He reiterated MOSOP’s earlier condemnation of the military invasion of Ogoni communities, saying that the action reminds the people of the consequences of military occupation in the early 1990s, following the killing of prominent sons of the area in a Federal Government-engineered crisis.
In the statement, signed by the Media and Public Affairs Adviser, Bari-ara Kpalap, the president told aggrieved Ogonis that “MOSOP has already reached out to its allies both locally and internationally, particularly the United Nations, to bring this matter to their notice, and to ensure appropriate redress.”
Pyagbara called “on the Federal Government, to immediately direct the withdrawal of military forces from all Ogoni communities, and also dismantle all road blocks,” which he alleged, “are disturbingly used as extortion and torture posts by security operatives.”
He further urged the Federal Government, to as a matter of urgency, “set up a high-powered commission of inquiry, to investigate all issues relating to the current disastrous military occupation in Ogoniland.”
Pyagbara also called “on well-meaning individuals and citizens to join MOSOP in condemning this heinous crime being committed against the Ogoni people by the military.”
The MOSOP president said that the invasion, which “led to the wanton destruction of lives and property in Yeghe community, including the home of Solomon Ndigbara, and the subsequent reprisal vandalisation of the campaign office of Senator Magnus Abe, and loss of several lives in Bori and its environs”, remains unacceptable and condemnable.
The MOSOP leader, while condemning the activities of criminals in the area, decried the military campaign that had occasioned the needless loss of lives of innocent citizens and residents living in Ogoni.
“Under no circumstance is this level of military campaign justifiable in an area that there was no visible incidence of conflict before the launch of the campaign. I was in Yeghe and Bori on Sunday, February 21, there was no crisis, and there was no conflict,” Pyagbara said.
Speaking to the father of one of the deceased in the military-gunmen face-off, Mr Justus Tambari Nwika, whose son, Joel Suanu Justus Nwika, was shot dead along Taabaa Road, Bori, the MOSOP president extended his condolences to the family, including other families who lost their loved ones in the conflagration.
He assured the survivors that justice must be done to those who unleashed terror of innocent people, adding that “all those involved must be brought to book.”
It would be recalled that the Commander, 2 Amphibious Brigade, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Brigadier-General Steven Adebanji, said shortly after the operation, that a detachment of the Army, while responding to a distress call in Yeghe, Gokana Local Government Area, had been attacked by a group of gunmen.
The gun duel had resulted in the death of some persons and destruction of the home of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) strongman and ex-militant leader, Solomon Ndigbara, said to have been declared wanted by the Federal Government for alleged gunrunning, kidnapping and other crimes.
The Tide learnt that following the face-off in Yeghe, the gunmen had retreated, and launched a reprisal attack on the senatorial district liaison office of Senator Magnus Abe in Bori, Khana Local Government Area of the state, detonating a suspected bomb and setting the building ablaze.
The military was said to have responded to the attack on Bori, resulting in the death of many, maiming of innocent civilians, arson and destruction of property worth millions of naira, as well as disruption of social and economic lives of the people.
The Tide gathered that authorities of the state-owned Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori, had to order students and lecturers to restrict their movements to the campus to avoid being hit by stray bullets from the cross-fire.
A visit by The Tide correspondent to Yeghe and Bori, last Tuesday, revealed that the two communities were like a ghost town as residents had fled to neighbouring communities for their safety.
While reacting to the military operation, the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had appealed to fleeing residents of the two communities to return home as normalcy had since been restored, adding that the operation was part of government strategy to curb violent crimes in the communities, and ensure the security of lives and property of innocent citizens.
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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