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Bill Board, Mast Collapse: RSG Begins Integrity Tests …As Rainstorm Leaves One Dead, Two Injured

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The Rivers State Signage and Advert Regulatory Agency, has begun integrity test to reduce hazards posed by faulty and poorly erected bill boards in the state.
Managing Director of the agency, Chukudi Dimpka made the revelation during a chat with newsmen over the destruction of many bill boards and communication masts by storm around the city on Monday in Port Harcourt during which a 16-year old girl, Miss Peace Weche was killed while two others sustained serious injuries..
Mr. Dimpka who inspected some of the bill boards that were destroyed by storm blamed poor maintenance on the part of advert practitioners, noting that most of the poles were outdated and rusty.
He regretted the level of damage done on some houses and stalls along the Mile 3 axis, as two advert bill boards fell on a building and another on a building material plaza destroying properties worth millions of naira.
After the inspection he revealed that the agency will commence evacuation of the affected poles to avert further damage and threat to public safety.
As a way of checking the occurrence of such disasters in the future, he noted that a new measure will be put in place, “part of the new criteria is such that for the agency to approve new bill boards you have to conduct a soil test, have an environmental Impact assessment report and insurance policy.”
He explained that many of the advert approvals have been revoked in order to get compliance.
On what the public should do to prevent accidents, he advised people to be alert and look around for flying object while traders should stop setting up business under bill boards.
Community Development Committee Chairman, Nkpolu Community in Mile 3, Pastor Isokwo Igwe has decried the loss of a 16 year old Miss Wechie who was killed by a telecom mast in Nkpolu Community Secondary School compound on Monday during a heavy storm.
The mast erected in the premises of the University of Port Harcourt School of Continuing Education fell and hit the girl who was selling food items for the mum in the school premises.
The Tide learnt that a football coach who was taking shelter from the rain under a makeshift building was also hit. He was said to have sustained injuries but did not die as he was rushed to a hospital.
Pastor Igwe who blamed poor maintenance of the mast as responsible for the accident said the community would summon a meeting of owners of such structures in the area.
Already, he stated that the matter has been reported to the police and the body of the girl deposited in the mortuary, as he commiserated with the family over the loss of their daughter.
Meanwhile, It was a tragic Monday afternoon for inhabitants of Oroworukwo Community in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State following the instant death of Miss Peace Wechie.
Speaking to The Tide, the mother of the late 16-year old girl, Wechie Eucharia Charles, said the incident occurred at 4pm inside the Oroworukwo Community Secondary School, Nkpolu, during the Monday rain where her shop was, adding that the rainstorm pulled the ICT Mast belonging to UNIPORT CCE, which fell atop her makeshift shop where her late daughter and others were taking shade during the rain.
“Today, I was with my children in my shop here at about 4pm with others who came to take shade as a result of the rain. What I heard was noise. The mast fell on my daughter. I saw my daughter, coach, and one other small boy rushed to hospital in Mile 1, but on getting to the place, the doctor confirmed her dead,” she stated.
Also speaking, a community leader in the area, Apostle Princewill Nnokam described the incident as a sad one for the community, adding that such calamity has not been witnessed since the history of the community.
Nnokam blamed the woes of the community not only on the natural disaster, but also on the non-professional work done by the engineer that handled the construction of the destroyed mast.
He called on the relevant authorities, especially the University of Port Harcourt, to come to the support of the family, adding that the deceased parent has lost all she had, her business and daughter to the incident.
Nnokam, however, said that the matter has been reported to the UST Police Division, even as he called for sanction on the structural engineer that handled the work for unprofessional work done.
The small boy, David Ihiemekwalam, and his football coach, an elderly man, who were also hit by the mast, and sustained serious injuries, were said to be responding to treatment at a hospital in Port Harcourt.
The father of the boy, Mr Joseph Ihiemekwalam, who hails from Abia State, said “according to my son’s account of the accident, he (David Ihiemekwalam) and his football coach, an elderly man, were sitting on a bench right behind the late Miss Peace Weche”.
According to him, they narrowly escaped death because it was the middle of the Mast that hit them while the fence between UPHCCE and Community Secondary School, Nkpolu took much of the weight, adding that what killed Miss Peace Weche was the sharp edge of the Mast which hit directly on her head.
The UPHCCE director, who declined to disclose his identity, said due to the heavy storm, many masts such as MTN Mast and Diamond Bank Mast around the area were badly affected, regretting that it was very sad and unfortunate that the college’s Telecommunication Mast fell across the fence and killed the 16-year old.
The director hinted further that the Community Development Chairman (CDC), Isokwo Igwe and the Board members of the University of Port Harcourt, College of Continuing Education, have already scheduled to visit the family to condole with them on the death of the girl.
In an interview with newsmen, the Acting Chairman, Rivers State Signage and Advertisement Agency, Mr Chukwudi Dimkpa, said that poor maintenance culture by advertising companies and lack of proper monitoring and supervision during the mounting of heavy masts were responsible for such accidents capable of claiming lives and destruction of buildings.
Dimkpa added that soon his agency would commence total checks on all the billboards mounted in the city of Port Harcourt and its environs, with a view to correcting any anomalies.
Our correspondent, who visited the scene of the incident, reports that many buildings were destroyed, properties estimated at N200million were lost by traders along the area due to the thunderstorm.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni said he was yet to be briefed on the matter.

 

Akujobi Amadi  & Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion

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The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.

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FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer

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The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.

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Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media

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The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.

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