The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has decried the flagrant disobedience of court judgment on spill compensation in a Bayelsa host community by the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
The state Chairman of the CLO, Mr Nengi James, at news conference last Wednesday in Yenagoa, said the refusal by the oil firm to compensate the Azuzuama community in Bayelsa was an invitation to anarchy.
James noted that it was regrettable that the affected communities of four spill incidents were deprived from benefiting from the N30.5 million compensation in 2004.
He said that the affected communities went to court and got judgment in their favour up to the court of appeal, “the communities are yet to get justice’’.
The CLO noted that the even though the community opted to channel its grievances through the law courts, the judgment was yet to be enforced, setting a dangerous precedent that might compel them to seek self-help.
Narrating the plight of Azuzuama community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area at the news conference, Counsel to the community, Mr Kelvin Ejelonu, noted that the people won the legal tussle at Federal High Court and Court of Appeal.
“An action was filed against Agip at the Federal High Court in Yenagoa on May 22, 2010, and on June 30, 2010, the court gave judgment against Agip, and ordered the company to pay the compensation sum with additional N3 million damages.
“Though Agip appealed the judgment, on Agip’s application for stay of execution of the said judgment, the Federal High Court refused the said application and ordered Agip to pay the said sum into the court.
“But Agip refused to comply with the court’s order, and Agip’s appeal was dismissed on April 10, 2014, by the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, thereafter Garnishee proceedings to enforce the judgment commenced,” Ejelonu said.
He explained that Agip and its bankers resisted the enforcement of the court judgments and approached the same court for a stay of execution which the court declined.
He said that while pressure from the community initially compelled Agip’s bankers to pay the judgment sum into a Federal High Court, Yenagoa, it also quickly reversed the payment under the pretext that it had an Appeal Court’s order.
However, he observed that neither Agip nor its bankers had shown the appeal court order on which it based the decision to revert the judgment debt earlier paid into court’s coffers.
According to him, the Bayelsa Police Command had also commenced prosecution of Agip and its bankers.
Ejelonu noted that the connivance of NAOC and its bankers to evade justice was capable of eroding the confidence of other Niger Delta communities to be law abiding.
He, therefore, urged relevant agencies of government to preserve the rule of law and the sanctity of the judiciary, and avoid setting a negative precedent for other oil communities in the region.
He said that the communities were resolute and prepared to pursue the case up to the apex court.
Wike, Driver Of Nigeria’s True Federalism -Nsirim
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, has described the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as a man whose vision is to place Nigeria on the path of true federalism.
Nsirim, who said this when he appeared as guest on a live radio programme in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday, as part of the ministry’s second phase advocacy campaign programme, #OurStateOurResponsibility, emphasised that Wike has remained the face of democracy in Nigeria today.
“The point I would want every Rivers person to understand first is, today we have a Governor Wike, a visionary leader beyond Rivers State and beyond the shores of Nigeria.
“What you have seen with the VAT issue just clearly shows that we have a man at this time in history who has taken it upon himself to right the wrongs and place Nigeria on the path of true federalism,” he said.
He said the second phase of the campaign would encompass issues evolving around the developmental strides of Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration in the areas of infrastructure, healthcare delivery, education, agriculture, rehabilitation of the less privileged, security architecture and sports.
“Remember, and I like making this point because people need to know where we are coming from. In 2015, this man was told they would see where he would see money to pay salaries and do projects.
“He inherited four months’ unpaid salaries. He inherited five months’ pension arrears. This was the only administration in Nigeria that did not get a handover note from the previous administration, but look at where we are. We are in a place of glory.
“Development here has entered a golden era. I also make the point that because Governor Wike is a people-oriented governor, even the less privileged feels the impact of his administration. The Rehabilitation Centre we have at Iriebe today is the best in the country”, Nsirim said.
The commissioner said that the governor would always welcome constructive criticism from the public, and would treat them legitimately but regretted that some of the criticisms, which he said, emanate from the vocal minority, were armchair criticisms.
He emphasised that the ultimate desire of the governor was to make Rivers State the destination of choice.
He said the second phase of the #OurStateOurResponsibility campaign would, therefore, focus on enlisting citizens’ participation in the policies and programmes of government.
“The second phase is now citizens’ participation. We have done advocacy, let us feel the pulse of the people. How much have they internalised the message. So, we are starting first with essay competition and the target group is between 16 and 25 years.
“We really want to feel the pulse of the younger people because those are the leaders of tomorrow. Then we have a team song competition.
“We want to develop a team song for the campaign and the skit competition. That too we want to use to get everybody involved. The grand finale will be the film competition,” he said.
He said winners of the competitions would have prizes, consolation prizes and would be celebrated as the face of the ministry’s #OurStateOurResponsibility campaign.
He said the competition would also be used to set the right values in place for people to begin to showcase merit, hardwork and integrity in society.
Jonathan Wants NARD To Suspend Strike
Former President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan had appealed to the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the Federal Government to quickly resolve the ongoing industrial conflict to save lives in the country.
Jonathan made the plea during the 57th annual conference and scientific workshop of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State.
He stated that the importance of the medical profession could not be over-emphasised, just as he commended members of the Medical Laboratory Science Association for their steadfastness during the pandemics which had taken place recently in the nation.
The ex-president charged the Medical Scientists to continue investigating the causes of diseases,with a view to also working on prevention mechanisms and possible cure for it when ever they occur, saying that if the country must develope, the medical sector has to play a pivotal role.
In same vein,the Bayelsa State governor, Douye Diri has charged the Federal Government to work on an harmonised salary structure for all medical workers in the country.
He said if there had been an harmonised salary structure for all personnel of the medical profession in Nigeria, the issues of unending industrial strikes due to wages-related matters would have been a thing of the past.
Diri, represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, said all personnel in the healthcare delivery chain were important and therefore should be treated fairly on the platform of equity.
According to the governor, medical laboratory scientists are indispensable to the physician’s ability to properly diagnose and treat ailments in the health system.
He pointed out that although the medical laboratory profession is at the forefront of investigating diseases, it has not been accorded the recognition it rightly deserves in Nigeria.
Governor Diri, who urged the Federal Government to carry out a holistic reform in the health sector, suggested that states and local governments should be given more responsibilities and resources to provide services to the people, just as he said the Federal Government was currently being overwhelmed by the challenges in the health sector, hence there is the urgent need for devolution of power to save the sector from total collapse
“I want to call on the Federal Government to carry out a holistic reform in the health sector of our country. The salaries and allowances for all categories of health personnel in Nigeria should be harmonised.
“All personnel in the health sector are important and should be treated on the platform of equity. The medical laboratory scientists are involved in the proper investigation of diseases, but they are least recognised in Nigeria.
“Only an harmonised salary structure in the health sector will bring about equity. Experience has shown that if you satisfy the medical doctors, the nurses would complain”, he said.
“If you satisfy the nurses, then the pharmacists will complain; if you satisfy the pharmacists, the environmental health workers would complain and come up with their own fresh demands.Let’s reflect on this issue of disparity of pay package in the health sector in this conference. However, here in Bayelsa State, the challenges facing the AMLSN are being addressed by government, as follow up to our health summit. We are working on the legal framework, and also to incorporate task-shifting to achieve better results and outcomes”, he added.
In a keynote address, Dr. Azibapu Eruani, Group president,Azikel Companies called for effective collaboration in funding and promotion of research in preparing against the outbreak of any pandemic in the future to forestall its attendant human, social and economic losses.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora, said the AMLSN was in the forefront of building capacity for guiding medical doctors in the handling of clinical cases and treatment of patients.
Represented by the Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, Dr. Dennis Alagoa, the Minister said President Muhammadu Buhari had set up the health sector reform committee to address challenges facing the sector and improve healthcare delivery in the country.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa
Delta Revokes Asaba-Oko Road Contract
Delta State Government on Tuesday announced that it had revoked the multi-million naira contract for the construction of Asaba/Oko-Amakom/Oko-Obiokpu/Oko-Anala Road over poor performance.
The road contract which was awarded in 2018, transverses Oko communities in Oshimili South Local Government Area of the state, and has been a major challenge to the state government over the years due to the peculiar topography of the area.
Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, told journalists at the end of the state’s Executive Council meeting in Asaba, that the meeting presided over by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, revoked the contract because the contractor was not working in line with the speed expected by the government after collecting mobilisation funds
He explained that government would check its records and evaluate the contract performance with a view to finding out if the contractor would refund some money to government or not.
He disclosed that the state government would engage another contractor with adequate capacity to complete the job in line with the speed required for the completion of the project.
On the other decisions of the Council, Aniagwu disclosed that as part of efforts to provide potable water and reduce communicable diseases, the state government had approved the construction and reticulation of a major water scheme in Okerenkoko in Warri South Local government Area.
He also added that the council approved the inclusion of certain erosion sites in Warri as part of efforts to address flooding in the twin cities of Warri and Effurun.
“On education, Exco approved the demolition and reconstruction of a two-storey building not in best of shape at West End Grammar School, Asaba.
“The project includes expansion of the building to 20 classrooms to enable the school run one session instead of the morning and afternoon sessions it was currently operating and the provision of a conference hall for assembly as well as toilets.
“Exco today also approved the renaming of Ogini Grammar School, Oghara to Ogini Model Secondary School, Oghara and the approval of training and acquisition of starter packs in ICT for youths in the state for the Ministry of Science and Technology.
“At today’s Exco, we also discussed the provisions made for the various ministries in the 2022 proposed budget and the possibility of a supplementary budget for 2021,” he stated.
On Covid-19 pandemic, Aniagwu said Exco has directed that a massive sensitisation of members of the public be carried out again on measures being taken to control the spread of the pandemic.
“With the return of the third wave and Delta variant, a number of persons have paid the supreme price on account of the attack including members of government.
“The Governor has directed that there was need to continue sensitisation on members of the public to continue adhering to the non-pharmaceuticals of regular hand washing, wearing of face masks and social distancing.
“Government is not considering another lock down in view of the hardship the pandemic has posed to the economy.
“We however, appeal to everybody to be personally responsible in helping to curb the spread of the virus
“Beyond that, government has asked everybody to come out for vaccination because we have made at least six points available in every local government and markets across the state,” he further stated.
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