The Rivers State chapter of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the leadership of the National Assembly to arrest and prosecute the leader of Integrity Group, Livingstone Wechie, for lying under oath before the upper chamber against the former Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
The Publicity Secretary of the party, Samuel Nwanosike, who made the call in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital while reacting to Wechie’s outburst on a live television programme “Focus Nigeria” on African Independent Television (AIT) in Abuja, said the party was surprised that Wechie, who took an oath before the Senate on October 12, 2015, will reappear on a television programme to eat his words.
Nwanosike challenged Wechie to present facts that the past government did not embezzle state funds.
According to him, “I want to state clearly that from what we have seen today, men who lack integrity and character ought not to be taken seriously. This same Livingstone Wechie swore to an oath in 2015 before Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led committee, that he was not sponsored by anybody, and that anything he had said was based on his investigation.
“The Senate should know that the document he presented to them belongs to him. With the current development, it showed that Wechie lied on oath, and the Senate should summon him.
“If he is being compelled to do what he had just done, then he should be used as an example because he thinks that Nigerians can be taken for a ride. Since he said that the documents were given to him by some people in the Rivers State Government, he should mention those who gave him the document,” Nwanosike said.
He, however, accused Wechie of working for the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, to launder his already maligned image.
Also in reaction to Wechie’s outburst, the South-South Zone of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) dissociated itself from the statements credited to Livingstone Wechie during a live television programme on AIT in Abuja, last Monday.
A statement by the CLO and signed by the Zonal Chairman, Uchegbu Karl Chinedu, said the various wild and scurrilous allegations Wechie bandied about did not represent the position of the CLO.
According to him, ’’We dissociate CLO from the said statements, and take exception to the claims by Wechie.
‘’This claim is just a figment of his imagination, as he was merely appointed a deputy director on publicity as a result of his closeness to the mass media (special assistant to the zonal chair), a position from which he has long been removed. The face of CLO in the South-South zone, as in other zones remains the zonal chairman, while the zonal director or zonal administrative secretary (ZAS), takes charge of the administration of the zonal office’’, the statement noted.
“It would be recalled that Wechie admitted, in his live appearance on a television programme that he told lies, on behalf of his Integrity Group, and not on behalf of CLO. We, therefore, urge the relevant agencies to further investigate these lies and do the needful,” the CLO said.
According to Chinedu, “the CLO stands by the actions and interventions we made in the past as they were made in the interest of the public and the suffering masses.”
He said the CLO has remained resolute in its campaign for enthroning good governance, protecting democracy and human rights, stressing that all its interventions have fallen under these mandates.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, has described the recent claims by President of Integrity Group, Livingstone Wechie, of a non-governmental organisation that the corruption charges against former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi were concocted by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration, as a cheap blackmail and image laundering for the ex-governor.
Nwakaudu, in a statement, last Monday, shortly after Wechie appeared on Africa Independent Television (AIT)’s ‘Focus Nigeria”, stated that there was no time Wechie acted on behalf of Rivers State Government or the governor since he runs his private organisation.
In his words, “Mr Wechie, himself, on his different television and radio appearances, stated unequivocally that he was not on the sponsorship of the Rivers State Government. With the benefit of hindsight, the interviewers helped to keep everything in the right context. Whatever Livingstone Wechie said on Focus APC is unfounded falsehood. His thoughts on the programme are the baseless concoction of a blackmail trader who hides under the cover of activism”.
Nwakaudu asserted that public should not be deceived with the ploy by former Rivers State Governor and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who was working round the clock to launder his image, and of which, Wechie is just one of his recently hired hands.
According to the Rivers State governor’s media aide, Mr Wechie’s action is in reaction of failure of the state governor to use state resources to fund Wechie’s activities, adding that Wike is a transparent leader who will never be drawn into the sponsorship of integrity challenged charlatans under any guise.
He explained that the Wike administration was built on the rule of law, hence, nothing is done outside the prescriptions of the law.
“Long before Governor Wike won elections in 2015, it was public knowledge Amaechi misappropriated fund that accrued to Rivers State. Amaechi on May 27, 2015, declared Rivers State broke, stressing that Wike will have no resources to pay salaries or do projects,” he noted.
The special assistant said the overwhelming evidence of corruption charges against the immediate past administration was affirmed by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that investigated the sale of valued assets of the state and which the Minister of Transportation failed to appear before but rather rushed to court.
Unfortunately, he stated that the court had upheld the action of the Rivers State governor to investigate the former administration, stressing that Amaechi’s failure at the Court of Appeal to challenge the constitution of the judicial commission further underscores the sanctity of the action.
He said, “It is imperative to declare that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that investigated the sale of valued assets of the state sat in the public. All the documents about the fraud of that administration were circulated in the public domain with journalists writing about the activities of the commission, publishing tendered documents. Nothing was hidden from the people of the state.”
The Chairman of the Rivers State Commission of Inquiry into the sale of Valued State Assets and other related matters, Justice George Omereji informed the governor that the commission received 442 exhibits, 27 memoranda while 25 witnesses testified before it. It confirmed that N53billion was diverted by Amaechi and his officials.
Nwakaudu described Wechie’s claims as “a mindless sponsored act of criminal blackmail”, which reeks of conspiracy to help embattled Amaechi. Otherwise, the EFCC and the ICPC that Livingstone Wechie wrote countless petitions to, ought to arrest him and prosecute him for lying on oath”.
He maintained that the current scheme to paint Wike black will fizzle out like the DSS-sponsored protests in Abuja, where they accused the governor of sponsoring activities to destabilise the Federal Government.
“The Wike administration is built on the mandate freely given by the Rivers people. These winds of mischief can only strengthen it”, he assured.
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
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