Last week, Ogoni-land came under heavy armed military attack, like an enemy invasion, which in its wake, left several dead, some of them defenseless men, women and children. It was like a commando-style enemy invasion that took many by surprise.
When the dust died down, the lone explanation close observers had was that the armed invaders were after a suspected cult lord, declared wanted by the security community. And in pursuit of just one man, several had to pay the supreme price at peace time.
A visibly disturbed Governor Nyesom Wike, after visiting and beholding the casualty figures in hospitals and mortuaries decried the attacks. According to the governor, there was no prior hint by the military authorities of such invasion. That even as governor, he heard of the raids only after the deaths left in its trail. How so?
Is it possible for soldiers to raid a community in a state, without the knowledge of a Governor, who is the chief security officer of a state, in a democratic dispensation? Does that not amount to a declaration of war on a state? At peace time.
Under civil rule, security structures submit themselves to civil order. Their primary functions being to defend the sovereignty and security of the nation’s borders, their day to day operations are limited to the barracks. Except when called upon to quell insurrection, as the protracted insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country, soldiers ought to limit their operations to the barracks.
In states where insecurity and criminality rise to unacceptable levels, the joint forces within a state under the superintendence of the Governor may form task forces to address certain challenges, like oil theft, illegal bunkering, war against kidnapping, armed robbery and indeed cult-related violence.
In such instances, the heads of the Police, Army, Air Force, Navy and the civil defence corp synergise to address such challenges. That, of course, is when the issue cannot be handled singularly by the Civil Defence and the Police. Even so, the decision must be the product of security meeting with the State Chief Executive and security officers.
This is why it came to many as a rude shock that the military raid of Yeghe, in Ogoni-land, that left several dead, was without prior information of the state governor, who swore an oath to protect lives and property in his state. We do not want to believe that security issues are also becoming play things or toys in the hands of politicians.
This is why the issue raises some pertinent questions. Who invited the soldiers to Yeghe for that raid? Why? Was the state’s security community briefed of the circumstances informing the invitation of armed soldiers into Ogoni-land? Was there a formal report to the police? If such was extensively done, is it probable that the Chief Security Officer of the state, in this case Governor Wike would not be properly briefed? Finally, who authorized the military raid?
These questions have become necessary because of the increasing militarisation of the once peaceful state over issues that are more political than of insecurity. On the last count, masked armed men had invaded parts of Asari-Toru and Akuku-Toru Local Government Areas of the state, with casualties. Because such raids were not properly explained, they opened the room for criminals to attack their victims, cart away prized belongings and even abduct innocent people, using similar costumes.
We think that the Nigerian Armed Forces should be more professional in their dealings with civilians as demanded in a democracy like ours. They must refuse to be tools in the hands of politicians, political party, or an influential individual. They must avoid being used as instruments of oppression or intimidation against perceived enemies, by selfish public officers.
A professional soldier is that one who maintains the line between the demands of his military duties in times of war as against his expected sanity within a civil culture, at peace time. A soldier must realise that he is a symbol of state security, of forthrightness, impartiality, honour, respect and patriotism. He must not allow himself to be used by one citizen against another, without obvious criminal breaches.
Even in such instance of clear breaches, it is expected that such suspects be handed over to the police. The tendency of some Nigerians rushing to military barracks, to invite soldiers against perceived enemies, at the slightest provocation questions the professionalism of a trained soldier. Soldiers, must therefore, resist such temptations no matter the price.
This brings us to the threats of making Rivers State ungovernable and eventually attract state of emergency, as a means of taking from Gov. Wike, what the electoral and judicial processes could not deny him. What would be the rational for such animosity against one’s own state?
This is the only time in the Rivers political history that bitter animosities, criminal vendetta, campaigns of calumny, vindictiveness, hatred and lack of unity, will hold sway long after elections have been contested and won. And still drag on for a re-run and yet another round of bitterness.
What is most worrisome is that, in their bitterness and hatred, opposition politicians have inadvertently desecrated the institution of Governor, which is the symbol of our statehood, through very insulting and disparaging appendages. Still in disbelief that Chief Nyesom Wike is today governor, amidst their doubts, boasts and threats, opposition politicians are yet to accept that it is the respect we give to the throne that the throne would be worth.
That each time we undermine and disrespect the integrity of the institution of Governor, we inadvertently belittle ourselves, for it was the same price that stretched all political parties through the electoral gambit and others through the courts.
It is regrettable, that after months of the insulting reference of ‘Caretaker’ governor, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) still finds it difficult to see Chief Nyesom Wike as a duly elected governor of the state. The refusal to accept that fact amounts to nothing. It merely makes them bad losers. But that is not what Rivers people need.
Rivers people want politicians to leave their differences behind and tinker on ways of moving the state forward. Politics is not a do or die matter. It is like a game of sorts, where, all cannot be winners. Some will win, others, lose.
The important consideration is the future of the state and the welfare of the citizenry. They must show the people that they care and would serve them even better. If they must criticise, they must do so with measured decorum and not to inflame avoidable rivalry and enmity.
Strangely, the Governorship of the state is not up for re-run. So, the governor should be seen as a political father to all. No matter what reservations any politician may have against the occupier of the office of Governor, it must be stated that institution of the office of the governor is a prized treasure for all, that must be respected, adored and at all times defended.
If politicians value the instrument of governor as such, they would not by-pass the Chief Security Officer of a state and launch a military attack on a community in his own state, without his knowledge.
The military high command must investigate the circumstances surrounding the Yeghe raids and come up with answers. This is because, the raid of a community at peace time, that left innocent men, women and children dead, cannot be defended.
If the governor of a state can no longer defend his people on account of such security breaches it would only push the people into searching for alternative forms of self preservation and protection and in the end be pitched against the conventional armies. This is how vigilante emerges, grows into a community security and when questioned, rises to become insurgency.
The military must be apolitical in the handling of civil issues, if they must continue to enjoy the confidence, respect and love of the citizenry.
My Agony is that some opposition politicians believe that the Buhari Presidency is a sure opportunity to make Rivers ungovernable and get through the back door, what the political process and the courts denied them. With that mindset, they have been embracing the same impunity which they repeatedly condemned, and preached against.
That is not what politics should be.
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.
Oil & Energy3 days ago
NLNG Approves Supply Of LPG To Nigerian Market
Business3 days ago
Customs Intercepts N6, 974m Worth PMS
Oil & Energy3 days ago
Lawmaker Applauds Wike On Curbing Oil Theft, Illegal Refineries
Oil & Energy3 days ago
Can OPEC+ Meet Production Quotas In 2022?
Oil & Energy3 days ago
FCMB Boosts Modular Refinery
Business3 days ago
SON Set To Check Hackers, Cyber Crimes In Nigeria
Focus3 days ago
Wike’s Pragmatic Offensive Against Illegal Bunkering
Business3 days ago
NCS, Apapa Records N870,39bn Revenue Boost