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Opara, Nwanosike, Others Fault Police …Over Dismissal Of Wike’s Security Details

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As reactions across the country trail last Friday’s dismissal of six police details attached to the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike by the Police High Command, stakeholders in Rivers State have not only joined in condemning the action, but have insisted that the decision be reversed in the interest of justice.
Former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Austin Opara, condemned the police authorities’ action, and called on the human rights community to stand up and challenge the brazen abuse of human rights with the illegal dismissal of the six police officers.
Opara, a strong chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, who gave his views in an interview with newsmen in Ahoada, headquarters of Ahoada West Local Government Area, shortly after the defection of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Cassidy Ikegbidi, claimed that the sacking of the police officers was politically-motivated, and not based on any act of misconduct as claimed by the police high command.
Rivers State Publicity Secretary of PDP, Samuel Nwanosike, also condemned the action, describing it as vindictive, and therefore, unacceptable to the people of the state.
Nwanosike, who is also Ikwerre Local Government Caretaker Committee Chairman, claimed that the six police officers did not violate any professional ethics in their conduct before, during and after the Rivers legislative rerun elections to warrant the disciplinary hammer of the police high command, insisting that the dismissal of six officers attached to Governor Nyesom Wike justified Rivers State Government’s allusion to police partisanship, and connivance with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to favour candidates of a particular political party in the elections.
He alleged that rather than punish the Commander of SARS in the state, Assistant Commissioner of Police Akin Fakorede and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Steven Hasso, for their brazen abuse of power, impunity and violation of the civic rights of Rivers people, whose votes were not allowed to count in most parts of the state, especially Rivers South East Senatorial District, the police high command looked the other way, and deliberately elected to arrest and prosecute junior officers, who were performing their legitimate and constitutional duties.
The PDP spokesman recalled the brutal assault on him by the police team led by Fakorede at Isiokpo, headquarters of Ikwerre LGA, as well as the brutalization of the caretaker committee chairman of Emohua LGA, for refusing to allow fake police officers on election duty hijack, and divert election results to private residences of APC chieftains, for substitution of original results with forged ones, and added that those fake officers were supposed to have been dismissed , arrested and prosecuted according to the law.
He pledged the readiness of the PDP and the Rivers State Government to continue to fight for justice and protect the nation’s democracy, arguing that the party and other Rivers people were prepared to stand as witnesses for the six dismissed police officers, believing that at the end of the day, the innocent will get justice.
The lawmaker representing Degema Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Doctor Farah Dagogo described the dismissal of the six officers as retrogressive, and an ignominious dent on Nigeria’s democracy.
Dagodo, said the action of the police has reinforced the opinion in several quarters that the governor had been penciled down for assassination, and condemned the police for turning a blind eye to the misconduct of its senior personnel during the rerun legislative elections, even with glaring and incriminating video evidences.
AlsoBarrister Clifford Oparaodu expressed sadness over the dismissal of six security officers attached to the Rivers State governor, saying that it was sad that the Nigerian Police has condescended so low.
He noted that the dismissed officers acted according to regulations of their duties, to protect their principal, adding that the dismissal was a desecration of the sacred duty of the police, and an affront on democracy.
Reacting over the action by the police high command, the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) said the sacking of the six officers has shown that the Inter-Party Advisory Council was not just raising unnecessary alarm that the police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were working together to derail democracy in the country.
The Chairman of NNPP, Deacon Princewill Enyi, who reacted to the police high command’s action, noted that the decision has vindicated the IPAC and others who had accused the police of aiding the All Progressives Congress (APC) to rig the December 10 rerun legislative elections in Rivers State in favour of the APC.
He urged Nigerians to urgently rise and save the nation from anarchy and injustice, adding that the current happenings portend serious danger to the nation’s democracy.
The Deputy Chairman of IPAC, Engineer Joshua Worlu, also said the police erred in dismissing the six security details attached to the governor without following due process of law, saying that action amounted to dictatorship.
The Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Inter-Party Affairs, Chris Itamuola, said that action was done in bad fate, and therefore, would be challenged in a court of competent jurisdiction.
Itamulola said the life and destiny of the sacked police officers will never be jeopardized as the state government would do everything possible to provide them alternative and better sources of livelihood.
Secretary, Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Barrister Erastus Awortu, said the action was meant to punish innocent junior police officers, rather than sanction senior officers who committed heinous crimes during and after the rerun elections.
He dismissed accusations of misconduct against the six junior officers, and alleged that ACP Akin Fakarode and DCP Steve Hasso, who led the assault on democracy and the civic rights of Rivers people have were being honoured as brave, gallant and diligent officers.
Leader of the Niger Delta Youth Coalition, Prince Emmanuel Ogba, called for the immediate reinstatement of the dismissed police officers, saying that the officers merely discharged their constitutional and legitimate duties to their principal during and after the rerun elections.
Ogba said that the action of the police high command has given the impression that the Rivers State governor, who they were detailed to protect, was being witch-hunted.
Also speaking, a political analyst, Georgewill Amadi, urged the police authorities to revisit the matter, adding that dismissing the young officers over unproven allegations of misconduct was not fair and just.
The Public Relations Officer, Civil Liberties Organisation, Comrade Solomon Clifford, claimed that no proper investigation was done before the six officers were dismissed, and cautioned the police high command against dabbling in partisan politics.
Similarly, the Deputy Provost, Rivers State College of Health Sciences, Dr Ishmael Onungbu, said that the action was a dangerous precedent for the nation’s democracy, adding that the six junior police officers should have rather been rewarded for protecting democracy and rule of law.
Executive Director, Niger Delta Coalition Against Violence, Lekia Christian, condemned the police action, and added that democracy can only be nurtured, strengthened and sustained in the country when the tenets of democracy and imperatives of justice are respected.
Also, a socio-political organization in the state, “The Voice”, described the action as an act of lawlessness and impunity, and called for immediate reversal of the decision.
Public Relations Officer of the organization, Prince William Chinwo, in a statement in Port Harcourt, queried the unjust treatment of the junior officers, who only performed their legitimate duties of escorting and protecting their principal as prescribed by law.
Legal Adviser to the Kankanro Unity Forum, a socio-cultural group, Barrister Tobu-Tamuno Dick, said the dismissal of the officers was a wrongful act, and vowed to mobilize lawyers in the state to defend the officers in court.
‘’The police decision cannot hold water, the court will upturn the decision of the police because they are in every obligation to guide and protect the governor at every point in time’’, he said.
It would be recalled that the police high command, last Friday, in Abuja, paraded six policemen attached to the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for their alleged involvement in electoral malpractices during last month’s parliamentary re-run elections in the state.
The six officers are Inspector Eyong Victor (AP/No.177893 ), Sergeant Peter Ekpo (F/No. 400872), Sergeant Oguni Goodluck (F/No.374585), Sergeant Orji Nwoke (F/No. 385870), Sergeant Okpe Ezekiel (F/No. 234216), and Sergeant Tanko Akor (F/No. 437983).
The affected officers, according to a statement signed by Force Public Relations Officer, Don Awunah, were in the convoy of Rivers State Governor, Chief Neysom Wike, on the day of the election, and allegedly misused the firearms in their possession contrary to the provisions of Force Order 237.
“The service personnel became overzealous, took laws into their hands and opened fire, causing panic in the crowd. They joined in storming the Port Harcourt City Council Secretariat and prevented the movement of election results of Emouha polling unit to the appropriate collation centre designated by INEC, in flagrant disregard and disobedience to senior Police officers present at the venue,” the statement added.
“Following the conclusion of investigations into their misconduct, explained the Force spokesman, they were subjected to internal disciplinary measures, found guilty, consequently dismissed and will be prosecuted.
“They will be prosecuted under the Electoral Act to serve as a deterrent to others. Consequently, personnel of the Force who abuse their office, privileges and discretionary powers in the discharge of their official duties, will be brought to justice,” Awunah stated.
The Force spokesperson also explained that the dismissed officers ignored strict warnings and instructions from the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, that all policemen on election duty should be of good conduct and desist from escorting their principals, notably public office holders and politicians to polling units throughout the period of the election.

 

John Bibor, Taneh Beemene, Chris Oluoh & Enoch Epelle

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Southern Govs Back Wike, Insist On VAT Collection …A’Court Urges Rivers To Submit Written Application For Receiver

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Southern Governors met in Enugu, yesterday, and declared their support for Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, insisting that it is within their purview to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).
This is coming amid row between the Rivers State Government and the Federal Government, a case that is now subject of litigation.
The governors also reaffirmed their stand on open-grazing ban, urging every state in the region to quickly pass a law to that regards.
The resolution by the Southern Governors Forum is part of the six-point communique reached at its meeting at the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State, and read by Chairman of the Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
The meeting of the Southern Governors Forum, which reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of the implementation of the decisions reached in its previous meetings, expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in Southern Nigeria were enacting and amending the anti-open grazing laws which allowed a uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors, and encouraged the states that were yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.
Reading the communique after the closed door meeting to journalists, Akeredolu said that the meeting reiterated its earlier position that the next President of Nigeria most come from the southern part of Nigeria, in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
According to the communique, the Southern Governors agreed to encourage the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfit which will meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region.
Akeredolu opined that the meeting also reaffirmed its earlier commitment to stick to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasize the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective state Houses of Assembly, as well as representation in the National Assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution, through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
The communiqué, according to the forum’s chairman, expressed satisfaction with the array of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of NNPC by the larger Nigerian Governors Forum.
The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors Forum meeting in November, 2021.
Present at the meeting were Rivers StateGovernor, Chief NyesomWike; Delta StateGovernor, Dr.IfeanyiOkowa;AkwaIbom StateGovernor, Chief Emmanuel Udom; and Osun StateGovernor, IsiakaAdegboyegaOyetola.
Others were Enugu StateGovernor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi;Bayelsa StateGovernor, Senator DuoyeDiri;Lagos State Governor,BabajideSanwo-Olu; and Ogun State Governor,EngrOluwaseyiAbiodun.
The governors of Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyistates were represented by their deputies.
The communiqué read in full, “The Nigerian Southern Governors’ Forum at its meeting of Thursday, September 16, 2021 held in the Government House, Enuqu, Enugu State, reviewed the state or the nation and the progress of implementation of the decisions reached in her previous meetings and further resolved as follows:
“Expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in the Southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the Anti-Open Grazing Laws which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the states that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.
“Encouraged the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfits; which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate, to ensure the security and safety of the region.
“Reaffirmed its earlier commitment to structural and fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasized the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly as well as representation in the National assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
“Following from paragraph 3 above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.
“Expressed satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
“Reiterated their earlier position that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
“The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November, 2021″.
However, the Court of Appeal, yesterday, declined to accede to the request of Rivers and Lagos states for the appointment of Receiver or Manager for the purpose of collecting and keeping Value Added Taxes (VAT) in place of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) pending the resolution of all legal disputes in the matter.
The two states separately canvassed that the order of status quo ante bellum granted on September 10 in favour of FIRS to continue the collection be put on hold given the appeal already lodged at the Supreme Court against the order.
Counsel to Rivers State, IfedayoAdedipe, SAN, in his oral application, pleaded with the appellate body to exercise its power under Order 4 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal to appoint a Receiver or Manager to take custody of the VAT in the interest of justice to parties in the matter.
The Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr MoyosoreOnigbanjo, SAN, who stood for his state, toed the path of Rivers in canvassing that the court be fair and just in the pending appeal.
Onigbanjo specifically asked the Appeal Court to restrain FIRS from further collecting the tax and replace it with a Receiver or Manager that would act for parties that are locked in the legal battle.
The Lagos Attorney General predicated his expressed fear of unjust treatment on the fact that FIRS apart from collecting the tax has been sharing it among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) despite the pendency of the legal tussle.
“I think it is also necessary to restrain the FIRS, because they collect the VAT, distribute to all the states and keeps their own 4 per cent.
“If, at the end of the day, the court agrees with the judgment of the Federal High Court, how do we retrieve the funds that have been shared?”,Onigbanjo added.
The appeal by the FIRS is against August 9, 2021 judgment by Justice Steven Pam of the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, voiding the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act and holding that states could collect VAT.
Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami, who led a three-member panel, directed them to make the application formal by providing the necessary facts, including ascertaining the amount being collected as VAT.
Other members of the panel are Justices BatureGafai and Peter Affen.
Meanwhile, the court has reserved ruling on an application by Lagos State to be made a respondent in the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The court, after listening to arguments by lawyers to parties, yesterday, said they would be informed when the ruling was ready.
In arguing Lagos’ application, Onigbanjo (SAN) said his client was a necessary party as it would be affected by the outcome of the case.
He noted that, as a federating unit/state in Nigeria, Lagos was entitled to collect VAT by virtue of the judgment of the Federal High Court that annulled VAT Act.
Onigbanjo argued that even the appellant (the FIRS) recognised that Lagos State has an interest in the case, which he said, was evident in the affidavit it filed, wherein copious reference was made to the Lagos State Government.
He further argued that since FIRS, in an affidavit supporting its application for stay of the judgment, recognised the interest of the Lagos State Government in the case, “it cannot now turn around to say the Lagos State Government has no interest in this case and should not be joined. It cannot blow hot and cold or speak from both sides of its mouth.”
Onigbanjo also contended that it was unfair for the FIRS to oppose Lagos’ request to be heard in the case after making allegations against the state.
He added that even the court recognised the interest of Lagos State in the case when it extended its order on maintenance of status quo to Lagos State, which was not yet a party in the case.
Onigbanjo prayed the court to join his client as a respondent.
Adedipe adopted Onigbaajo’s argument, and urged the court to allow the application by Lagos State.
Following the observation by Onigbanjo that the written address filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was incompetent, the lawyer representing the AGF, TijaniGazali (SAN), withdrew the address, subsequent upon which the court struck it out.
Lawyer to FIRS, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), objected to the joinder application filed by Lagos State, arguing, among others, that the state was not a necessary party.
Magaji faulted the competence of the application, and urged the court to discountenance it.
On second thought, Magaji said if the court was willing to join Lagos; it should extend such indulgence to the other states of the federation.

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Okonjo-Iweala Makes ‘TIME 100’

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Nigerian-born Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has thanked the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, for the kind words they penned about her as she makes the TIME 100 list of The World’s Most Influential People.
The magazine has noted the globally-rated economist’s activities around the efforts to ensure that everyone on the planet earth gets vaccinated against any preventable disease for which there is a vaccine.
The ex-World Bank guru has been the Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, since January 1, 2016.
Gavi has the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries.
Concerning the TIME entry, the Duke and the Duchess state, “What will it take to vaccinate the world? Unity, cooperation—and leaders like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.
“As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, a 164-member group of nations that oversees trade across the world, Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being. Make no mistake; her job affects every person, family and community.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access.
“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
“The fragility of our world right now cannot be overstated. Just over a quarter of the nearly 8 billion global population is fully vaccinated.
“Achieving vaccine equity is a global duty of compassion for one another. Our hope is that guided by strong leaders like Ngozi, we can get there soon”, they wrote.

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Relocation Of Insurgents, Wake-Up Call, CAN Warns

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The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State Chapter, Revd Joseph Hayab, has described the alleged relocation of Boko Haram leaders to Southern Kaduna as a wake-up call on people of the area.
Hayabsaid that though the news of the alleged relocation was not new, government has not done enough to protect the people.
He claimed all the calls from voices of reason appeared not to have moved both the federal and state governments to rise to the occasion.
“The relocation of Boko Haram to Southern Kaduna is not new. Who are those that have been killing people indiscriminately in that area in the last few years? The church, SOKAPU and the people have been complaining about killings in Southern Kaduna but only fell on the deaf ear of those in authority.
“Therefore, the leaked document has simply confirmed our worries and shows that more days for killings of innocent citizens are coming unless the people take personal initiative to defend their lives and land. Our government has not done enough to convince us that they want to stop the killings going on all over the area.
“Now, we were being told that there is a leaked memo about Boko Haram when those in authority have always turned deaf ears to cries of our people when we complain about killers that people see every day. Boko Haram fleeing North-East to Southern Kaduna is simply a wake-up call for the Southern Kaduna people to rise to the occasion,” he said.
A leaked DSS memo had said insurgents were relocating from Sambisa forest in BornoState to Chikun LGA in Kaduna State.
The alert was in a leaked memo marked NSCDC/NHQ/INT&INVST/323/2021, dated September 9, 2021, and signed by the Acting Deputy Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Intelligence and Investigation, B.O. Bassey.
The DSS, therefore, asked the civil defence to be on the alert.
“It has been uncovered, plans by senior Boko Haram fighter, Ibrahim (FNU) alongside his foot soldiers relocating from ‘Sambisa Forest in Borno State to Rijana Forest in ChikunLocal Government Area of Kaduna State with a view to joining their counterpart under the leadership of one AdamuYunusu (aka Saddiqu).
“In light of the above, you are hereby directed to step up surveillance and intelligence gathering on the aforementioned areas and environs.”
Meanwhile, months after the crash involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) King Air 350 aircraft on May 21 at the Kaduna Civil Airport, Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Olateru, has submitted an interim report to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Amao, at his office at NAF Headquarters, Abuja.
After the crash, the CAS directed that a joint investigative body consisting of NAF safety officers and the AIB be constituted to investigate the causes.
A joint statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, and General Manager, Public Affairs, AIB, TunjiOketunbi, revealed that at this interim stage, a total of 27 initial findings and eight safety recommendations were made for the convening authority as well as other aviation-related agencies for immediate implementation.
They further disclosed that it is expected that the final report would contain the flight data recorder readout, the reviewed operator’s and service provider’s standard operating procedures as well as other detailed analyses.
While receiving the report, the CAS reiterated the main essence of activating the ‘joint investigative’ clause contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the NAF and the AIB on July 1, 2020.
He said successful collaboration is a clear indication of the potency of collaboration in aircraft accident investigation, which must be encouraged.
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has blamed Almajiri system in the North for the increasing cases of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in the country.
The Chairman of CAN in Imo State, Rev. Eches Divine Eches, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, ahead of the organisation’s 45th anniversary and Founder’s Day billed to hold today in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to him, banditry and kidnapping are increasing because the authorities have failed to pay more attention to the critical factors behind the widespread insecurity in the country.
Eches also expressed concern over Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s links with the bandits terrorising the North-West region and the alleged helplessness of the government to arrest and caution him for his many ‘unguarded utterances’ about their activities.
He said, “You can’t have Almajiri system of life and government in the last 40 years in our nation bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities.
“They are scattered all over the street, without you knowing that someday they will leave the street and go to the bush where they will begin to do the trade of kidnapping.
“Also, you can’t, in any sane nation, have the likes of Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.
“We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation, if drastic measures are not put in place to take them (Almajiri) out of the streets, give them a sense of belonging, put them in school, and help them realise their potentials.
“These bandits we find today were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses and begging for food.
“We are praying and that is why God is still sustaining our nation. I trust God will continue to sustain us in Jesus name.”
On CAN’s 45th anniversary of its Founder’s Day, Eches said the programme was necessary to remember the labour of past heroes, including over 250 retired church leaders and indigent youth and women who were weak.
“They retired church leaders laboured to bring to bear what we are enjoying and working on today.
“We thought it very necessary to remember the weak among us as most of them are passing through terrible times, especially in such a time as this in our nation.
“So, we thought it very important that we will use this 45th anniversary of our Founders’ Day to celebrate such a people and remember their labours, and say to them ‘you deserve to be celebrated’ both by cash and gift,” he said.

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