In a bid to improve the security of communities, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nysom Wike has given his assent to the Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps Law No. 8 of 2018.
The governor also gave his assent to the Rivers State Secret Cult and Similar Activities (Prohibition) (Amendment) Law No. 6 of 2018 and the Rivers State Kidnap (Prohibition) (Amendment) No. 2 Law No.7 of 2018.
Giving his assent to the three Bills passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Wike said that the laws were necessary to enhance security across the state.
He said that Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps will support existing security agencies with intelligence and information for them to effectively fight crime and make the state safer.
The governor said that the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps cannot work without the approval of security agencies who will profile all the operatives.
He said anybody who loves Rivers State will not do anything to undermine steps that will enhance the security of lives in the state.
Wike said: “If your hands are clean, you have nothing to fear about the three laws that I have given assent to. By tomorrow, I will appoint the person that will head the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps.
“All criminals will face the full weight of the law. We will fight crime and ensure that the state is safe for investors”, he added.
He debunked claims by opposition elements that the state government plans to use the Neighbourhood Watch to arm youth, insisting that the corps was a replica of what was already in existence in Lagos State.
Commenting on the anti-kidnapping and anti-cultism laws, Wike said that stiffer penalties have been approved to discourage those who may want to be involved in the offences.
“If you are a cultist and you are caught, it is life imprisonment. If you are a cultist and you kill during cult activities, you will face the death penalty.
“If you are convicted of kidnapping and the Supreme Court affirms your conviction, I will sign the death warrant without looking back”, the governor said.
The governor said that the state government will battle cultism and kidnapping to a standstill, noting that enough is enough.
Also speaking, senator representing Rivers West Senatorial District, Senator Osinakachukwu Ideozu said that the laws assented to by the Rivers State governor will strengthen security operations in the state.
Ideozu described as unfortunate the failed attempt by Senator Magnus Abe to mislead the Senate on the Neighbourhood Watch law, insisting that it was within the purview of the Rivers State House of Assembly to pass the state Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps Law for the security of the state.
The senator commended the governor for being proactive in the promotion of security in Rivers State by giving assent to the three laws.
Presenting the bills, Majority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Martins Amaewhule said that the laws provided for stiffer penalties in the interest of the state.
Amaewhule said that the Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps Bill was passed in line with extant laws and the constitution.
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani said the Rivers State governor has made a difference through service delivery, and thanked him signing the three bills into law.
Meanwhile, a kidnap and sea piracy kingpin, Prosper David, popularly known as Militant General, has been gunned down by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team.
The killing of the kingpin on February 21, 2018 at about 10:45pm was sequel to a follow up on the kidnapping of Tina Bob-Manuel.
IRT operatives, The Tide learnt traced the kidnap kingpin, who was said to have embraced the Federal Government’s Presidential Amnesty Programme but later formed a kidnapping gang, to Bayelsa State where he was fatally injured during gun battle.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had deployed the IRT operatives to Port Harcourt, Rivers State to fight kidnapping and other violent crimes.
The IRT operatives were said to have been on David’s trail for long time after he masterminded the kidnap of Bob-Manuel on November 22, 2017 in her shop located at 107, Nvuigwe Road, Woji, Port Harcourt and several other kidnappings.
He was said to have underground after the collection of ransom in two instalments and when he sensed that the police are closing in on him.
He dropped his contact number known to his personal driver that was earlier arrested by the police and relocated his family from Victory Estate, Azikoro, Yenagoa in December 2017 to the creek all in a bid to avoid arrest.
After about 90 days of painstaking intelligence gathering with technical assistance support from the Technical Intelligence Unit, David was tracked to Asiri area of Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, where he had just rented an apartment.
On sighting the operatives, he ran into his apartment ceiling from where he engaged the operatives but was killed in the process.
Other suspects arrested for the kidnappings are: Johnson Denis, David’s driver, who was arrested with the victims phone; David, who had on him one AK47 riffle, one magazine, 26 rounds of live ammunition, four expended ammunitions and a Nokia phone belonging to his kidnap victim, with which ransom negotiation was done; Benjamin Johnson; and Anthony Joshua, with the last two arrested between February 21 and March 14, 2018.
Sources said serious efforts are in top gear to arrest other gang members and recover more arms.
PDP Inaugurates 15 Convention Sub-Committees –
Wike Chairs Special Duties Committee
6,000 Delegates Expected To Attend
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated 15 sub-committees for its national convention scheduled for October 30.
The sub-committees as read by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, include the National Convention Organizing Committee, chaired by Adamawa State Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri.
Others are Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Akwa lbom Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Zoning Committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Screening Committee, chaired by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Sub-committees and their chairmen also inaugurated were Screening Appeal Committee chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Special Duties Committee chaired by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Accreditation Committee chaired by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and Security Committee chaired by former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
The Electoral (Statutory) Committee, with Adamawa Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri as the chairman; Publicity Committee chaired by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and Venue Committee, chaired by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed are also among them.
Others include: Welfare and Entertainment Committee with Mariya Waziri as chairperson; Transportation Committee, with Ibrahim Dankwambo as chairman; and Contact and Mobilization Committee with Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku as chairman.
The rest are, Protocol Committee with Sen. Biodun Olujimi as chairperson; Medical Committee — Nuhu Zagbayi; and Secretariat Committee — Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
Inaugurating the sub-committees, Fintiri expressed belief that the October convention would be successful and lead PDP to victory in 2023.
Fintiri said that the leaders and members of the sub-committees were carefully selected to organize a credible convention for the party.
The Adamawa governor urged them to make the necessary sacrifices to deliver the best convention to the party.
Fintiri, fielding questions from newsmen after the inauguration, said that by PDP’s new constitution, over 6,000 delegates were expected at the convention.
“We are fully prepared for that. We are expecting everybody in every ward that is a delegate to attend the convention.”
He said that the sub-committees had been given directions and they were expected to go back, adequately prepare and submit their report to the main committee for approval.
On which part of the party’s Constitution would be amended, Fintiri said he could not pre-empt the Constitution Sub-Committee, but allow them do their job.
On how far the zoning committee had gone after the one-week appeal he gave them, last week, Fintiri said the committee was in a meeting in Enugu carrying out its responsibilities.
“You can see the party is working, and it is a turning point for all of us,” Fintiri said.
According to him, the leadership tussle in the party has largely been addressed even as he came short of saying the PDP has moved on from the crisis.
He said, “We are moving on. I am the chairman of the convention committee and you can see that we are doing our work. Everybody is happy and participating. I don’t see any crisis in this party.”
The party’s national elective convention is slated for October 30 and 31 this year in Abuja.
RSG Recommits To Building Agric Sector
The Rivers State Government has said that it was committed to building the agricultural sector and utilise the huge potentials the state has for the benefit of Rivers people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this while speaking at a seminar of the Norwegian Seafood Council at Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said, “In the face of dwindling oil prices, and the need to diversify the economy, we see a lot of potentials in the seafood industry especially post Covid-19. This is an important industry for creating employment opportunities, generate revenue and boost economic activities in our area”.
Wike, who said that Rivers State was one of the coastal states in the Niger Delta endowed with valuable seafood resources, revealed that Norway and Nigeria have had a long history of relationship and trade.
According to the governor, “Rivers State, known as the oil and gas hub of Nigeria, is open to do business in all sectors including maritime and welcome more partnerships and investments from stakeholders who wish to do business in the state”.
Wike further said, “In the effort to grow our economy, the Government of Rivers State supports making laws that work for us all, by putting laws in place to improve society’s efficiency. Hence, the assent and signing of the VAT law”.
The Rivers State chief executive, who commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for conducting the seminar in the state, stressed that stock fish was enjoyed across Rivers State by all groups, including low and high earners, while both men and women are involved in the sales in our markets.
“I believe this seminar will examine the many advantages and gains of seafood as well as anticipated support from the Norwegian Embassy in the areas of encouraging deep sea fishing, trawlers, good storage for sea products, training to grow and nurture fish production standard, fish ponds and open fish farms, use of technology and encouragement, support to artisan farmers.
“We believe that the gains for removing stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the FX windows far outweigh the losses if any.
“For all the reasons stated above and many more, we anticipate Federal Government and the CBN’s removal of stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the Central Bank of Nigeria FX window”, Wike further stressed.
In his remarks, the Ambassador Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut Lein, who described the history of stock fish in Nigeria and Norway as fascinating, said it creates a bond between both countries, and expressed the desire to foster increased cooperation, build on bilateral relations and inform the government of Norway about the opportunities in the country.
He said, “together we could create lots of jobs”, insisting that “doing what we can to promote stock fish trade was a win-win for all of us”.
Highlights of the occasion were the presentation of papers by the Director Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, and other stakeholders.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Knut Lein, had earlier paid a courtesy call on Governor Nyesom Wike, at the Government House in Port Harcourt, where the state chief executive expressed the state government’s desire to continue to partner with the Norwegian Embassy to facilitate economy growth and development of both countries, and the state in particular.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
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