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For The Record

Names of Newly Elected LG Chairmen, Councillors in Rivers State

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The Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) last Saturday conducted elections into the chairmanship and councillorship positions in the twenty three (23) local government areas of the state. The elections were swept by candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
On Monday, June 18, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike swore-in the elected chairmen while the councilors have also been inaugurated across the state.
Below are the names and local government areas of the new chairmen and councilors.

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For The Record

Non-Existent Mosque: Truth About The Lie

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Very fundamentally,  no Mosque was demolished by the Rivers State Government.  This has been established by all the stories published after the initial falsehood by Daily Trust and The Nation Newspapers generated national attention.  This reality can no longer be controverted.
Rather than apologise to the country for allowing the media to be used to peddle malicious falsehood,  some media organisations have continued to rationalise the falsehood.  A lie is a lie. No amount of rationalisation can transform a lie into the TRUTH.
The truth about the lie of the non-existent Mosque at Rainbow Town in Port Harcourt is the fact the story was SPONSORED by some political elements to attain a political goal. Otherwise, the TRUTH stared everyone in the face.  The mischief of Alhaji Tobacco and his sponsors was clear.
Some news outlets attempted damage control.  But then, the damage control was weak and self-serving.  The malicious falsehood had further destroyed  the credibility of several of them.
A reporter from The Cable called me and I informed him pointedly  that no demolition was carried out.  He informed me that he was in Port Harcourt and I asked him if he saw any Mosque at the said location.  He admitted  that no Mosque existed.
I told him that being a pro-APC news outlet,   I never expected The Cable to exhibit  courage in its reportage of the falsehood.  He argued back and forth.  He asked for the judgment of November 2018 which conferred ownership of the said land on Rivers State Government and I availed him the report.  This had the Suit Number,  Date of Judgment and Name of the Judge  that delivered the judgment.
The following day, the same reporter called me and said that Scannews had published the news report on the judgment I sent to him. I urged him to go to the State High Court with the suit number and name of the judge to obtain certified true copy of the judgment,  if his office doubted the judgment which was already in the public domain .  He didn’t reflect  the judgment in his damage control  report and claimed  that he couldn’t  do so because it was published in Scannews.  This is a reporter that claimed  he was in Port Harcourt to investigate the non-existent Mosque.
Beyond that Justice G.O Omereji’s judgment,  the Registered Trustees Trustees of Trans-Amadi Mosque have appealed the judgment.  In Suit  Number CA/PH/189/2019, the Registered Trustees of Trans-Amadi Mosque said that Justice G.O. Omereji erred while delivering judgment on Suit Number PHC/986/2012, when he declared that the Rivers State Government’s title was superior to the ownership claim of Chief Amadi who sold the land to them.
The Rivers State High Court declared that the land in question belongs to the Rivers State Government. The Court also declared that the Registered Trustees of Trans-Amadi Mosque had no approval to construct any structure on the disputed land.
The Cable and her reporter were not diligent to confirm from the Rivers State High Court and the Court of Appeal.  Having lost in their plot to misinform and mislead Nigerians,  they struggled desperately  to justify the lie.
Whatever is said, we must have the courage to admit the truth. There was no Mosque on that plot of land. The plot of land has always been owned by the Rivers State Government.
Despite speaking to the former Rivers State Governor through his media aide, David Iyofor, The Cable and other pro-APC media still attempted to promote the malicious falsehood about the NON-EXISTENT MOSQUE.
Hear Amaechi through Iyofor:
“Facts are being twisted and misrepresented. Amaechi as governor of Rivers State did not demolish any mosque on that site. We recalled that during one of his many project inspections around the city of Port Harcourt, Amaechi noticed that some persons were in the process of building on government land,” Iyiofor said.
“He stopped the work they were doing and directed the relevant Rivers State Government ministry liaise with the builders to determine the veracity of their claims that they(builders) have legal rights to the land. The outcome of the government investigation at that time confirmed that the land belongs to the state government and there was no government approval for anyone or body to build on that parcel of land”
From the above, the narration remains consistent with today’s reality.  The land belongs to the Rivers State Government and no approval was given to the group  for any construction.  They didn’t obtain any from Amaechi and no approval was given by the Wike administration.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Ekiti State Governor,  Dr Kayode Fayemi, has assessed the location.  He found out that no Mosque existed at that location.  This entire story was concocted with ulterior political motives.  This explains  the warped statements by some political leaders, who climb the political ladder using religion as a major tool.
Fayemi said : “With what I have seen I cannot see any evidence of any building  that has been demolished here. If you are somebody who wants a place of worship,  you should find a way to oblige them. I know within your capacity,  it will  be possible to find a place for them.
“From what I have seen here, I think it is a storm in a tea cup. There is nothing to warrant this kind of media hype that has been given to it”.
Those who plotted this malicious falsehood and sponsored the negative media mileage have been disappointed.  God and the truth have failed them.  The mayhem they intended to achieve failed to kick-start.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media.

 

Simeon Nwakaudu

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For The Record

As AKULGA Sues For Peace …

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Below is the conclusion of an excerpt from the keynote address presented by Pst. Christopher Briggs, mni, JP (Permanent Secretary Emeritus) at the Akuku-Toru Peace and Security Conference held at the Multi-Purpose Hall, Abonnema on Saturday, August 3, 2019. The first part was published on Friday.

In this presentation,
INSECURITY shall be considered to be any breach of the peace that contributes to incessant or recurring conflicts which, more often than not, results in violence, wanton destruction of lives and properties and other forms of criminality.
In setting the tone for meaningful discussions in this conference, please permit me to draw needful attention to some 18 salient points of concern:
*No AKULGA son was among the contestants during the Presidential election. The two main contending candidates were from Northern Nigeria and were of Fulani extraction; bound by tribe, religion and language. No violence of any form was reported in their home towns or home states.
We in AKUKU-TORU (and Abonnema in particular) were not at war with any declared aggressors or sworn enemies.
*Few days to the Presidential elections, Abonnema was reported to have been virtually invaded and occupied by strangers, mostly youths who were neither indigenes nor known residents of the community.
*These strangers were transported into Abonnema mainly by road, meaning they had to pass through the only inlet/ outlet to the community, which is the Abonnema bridge, with a mounted 24-hour military check point. Also within walking distance was the Abonnema Divisional Police headquarters with the closest proximity to the only entry point into the town.
*The vehicles that conveyed these “troops” could not have been too few not to be noticed. They passed through several check points from the East-West Expressway, through the Emuoha/Ogbakiri Junctions and the several 24 hours military and Police check points to Tema Junction and the Harry’s Town military base. No one suspected, queried, intercepted or prevented these questionable movements?
*On arrival in Abonnema, these strangers emptied into compounds and houses, after hibernating in several drinking and smoking joints as they call them. Most of these joints were along the only major road in the town, meaning they were not in hiding.
*They conversed in languages that easily gave them out as non-indigenes. They gave Out enough clues and information to suggest their business interests and who they may be representing.
*Among these strangers were known and easily identifiable sons and daughters of the land who piloted them through the nooks and crannies of the community.
*Their dresses, physical looks, tattoos, hair-dos, slangs, gave them out.
There were or should have been sufficient uniformed and plain cloth security agents, informants and INEC officials or observers in Abonnema, as a LG headquarter to sense the looming dangers.
*Our traditional rulers, Chiefs, elders, men and women, Pastors and opinion leaders saw or heard about these strange and disturbing developments. Compound Chiefs could easily have gotten information on these strangers in their domains and the houses that harboured them.
*The hosts and sponsors of these strangers (from all sides of the divide) and their hatchet men and women were well known in the community.
*Could anything have changed if the right things were done early enough that may have prevented the violence or was there a conspiracy of silence by all for unknown reasons.
*Heavy military hardware and sophisticated weapons were deployed extensively by all parties: dynamites, SMGs, Pump action guns etc.
How did these weapons get into the town and into the hands of those that used them when needed?
*Every indigenous youth involved in this sad incident came from known homes and have parents or relations. Some may have been direct children or wards of prominent personalities in the community.
Who are they and what has been done with what we already know?
*In all of these, were there no arrests that were made to unravel the many questions begging for answers?
*What has been done in concrete terms to support the directly impacted bereaved families?
*Noting the fact that the success of every security operation begins and ends with efficient and effective intelligence gathering and their timely processing and usage, could it be a justifiable conclusion to state that some if not all of us seated here today, may have in one way or another, by our actions and inactions, facilitated the sad occurrences that befell AKULGA and Abonnema in particular?
The Effect And Consequences Of Violent Conflicts And Insecurity
The excessive presence of security personnel in any environment is indicative of perceived threat or potential for the breach of peace. No meaningful investor will be attracted to such environment. The effects of insecurity, therefore, can be very damaging.
Below are some of the known effects and consequences of insecurity:
Needless rancour, tensions and disagreements on nearly every issue.
General atmosphere of mistrust, divisions.
Social dislocations and displacement of people.
Fear of sabotage by perceived enemies with associated anxiety and frenzy.
Heightened hostilities between rivals whenever there arises a need for consensus.
People live in fear and apprehension etc.
Perpetual occupation of our homeland by security agents with the concomitant consequences and collateral damages.
The danger of having our homeland infested by miscreants who have no stake in our development.
The Way Forward:
The establishment of a robust Truth and Reconciliation Committee comprising men and women of distinction, people of proven character and general acceptance to mediate and genuinely reconcile all injured, aggrieved, disenchanted warring parties with their sponsors and patrons.
Establishment of a rehabilitation and value re-orientation center for all identified vulnerable youths.
The establishment of a second-chance school programme with a purpose designed vocation-oriented curriculum for all drop-outs and all who can still pursue formal education.
Commissioning of purpose-designed Skills Acqusition training for all youths based on individual needs assessment.
Declaration of amnesty and re-integration for all repentant cultists and the mopping up of all weapons from all combatants.
Regular Town Hall meetings to be held in all communities to discuss the issue of security.
Traditional Rulers and Chiefs to introduce the KYN (Know Your Neighbour) data gathering strategy to ascertain all who have genuine businesses in their respective locations of residence.
Consequently all Family/ compound Youth Leaders should be constituted to monitor and regularly report any influx of strangers into the town. All such persons should be placed on some local surveillance to ensure their sincerity of making AKULGA a place of residence.
A Peace And Security Charter should be developed and endorsed by all political parties and their leadership. This document shall state the terms and conditions under which all politicians and their party members shall operate in the respective communities.
Concerted effort should be made to reconcile traditional rulers whose cordial relationships are in question and has posed a threat among their respective communities
The Chairman, AKULGA Traditional Council of Rulers and Chiefs should constitute THINK-TANKs at community and LGA levels to advise on the daily management of the peace and security of the LGA.
Setting up of an educational fund to assist and sponsor youths who are outstanding in their studies and careers.
Concerted efforts should be made to sustain this dialogue while we seek genuine and workable ways to engage our youths constructively as partners and stakeholders in the sustainable growth and development of AKULGA.
The most unprofessional inter-mingling of security agencies with the local politics and their direct PARTISAN interventions in elections must be checked. In the same manner, our reverred chieftaincy institutions should keep their dignified statesmanly distance from partisanship and be seen and adjudged as neutral, ensuing peace, equity, fairness and justice for all at all times.
Conclusion:
Nigeria in recent times has witnessed an unprecedented upsurge of insecurity; therefore national security has become a major issue for the government and people. As Nigerians, insecurity is not peculiar to AKULGA. With what we are witnessing today, Akuku-Toru is on the right track.
Let me remind all of us that this conference seeks to develop a strategic response to our security challenges in AKULGA. What will make the difference is the honesty and sincerity of purpose that shall drive this task. The different approaches we shall adopt within the limits of our resources and our capacity to engage all stakeholders including sons and daughter in the Diaspora as well as development partners at various levels shall determine the success we shall collectively achieve.
The state and local governments have major roles to play. Business organizations, the civil society, religious and faith-bases organizations, individuals, social clubs, community members and residents of AKULGA, including our gallant security agencies whose unrelenting efforts and sacrifices we must commend, shall be required.
Let me thank Your Excellencies, Your Royal Majesties, Chiefs, political leaders and the AKULGA community for the support expressed by your presence to participate in this initial effort to bring lasting peace and security to our homeland.
In closing, let me read from the book of 2 Corinthians 4:8-
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed”.
May the good Lord bless you all and thank you.

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For The Record

As AKULGA Sues For Peace …

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The following is an excerpt from a keynote address presented by Pst. Christopher Briggs, mni, JP (Permanent Secretary Emeritus) at the Akuku-Toru Peace and Security Conference held at the Multi-Purpose Hall, Abonnema, on Saturday, August 3, 2019.
Topic: Strategic Response To Sustainable Peace and Security in Akuku-Toru LGA.
PROTOCOLS: PREAMBLE:
I am extremely grateful to the organizers of this conference, particularly His Royal Majesty, King Barr. Disrael Gbobo Bob-Manuel, the chairman of the AKULGA Council of Traditional Rulers and Amanyanabo of Abonnema for inviting me to present the keynote address at this first-ever Akuku-Toru Peace And Security Conference.
As providence would have it, a similar privilege was extended to me as homilist at the special church service held at the St. Paul’s Nyemoni Lutheran Church Cathedral, Abonnema on the 6th of March this year, to mark the end of the mourning period declared by His Majesty following the sad and most unfortunate events of 23rd February and 2nd March 2019. His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State personally led a delegation of the State Executive Council and high ranking political leaders in the State to commiserate with the Akulga community at this special church service. In my reckoning, the goals and aspirations of the Akuku- Toru Local Government Council of Traditional Rulers and Chiefs which organised the special church service were, among others:
(a) to commiserate with all the bereaved families in remembrance of the numerous young men and women, including soldiers, whose precious lives were needlessly wasted in their prime;
(b) to rekindle our faith and confidence in the Almighty God who preserved Abonnema in particular, in spite of the gravity of the violence and criminalities that transpired during the days and weeks after the mayhem, and
(c) to reassure and appeal to all those (indigenes and non-indigenes) who vacated Abonnema in their numbers, out of fear of reprisals and further escalation of the crisis to return and continue to live their normal lives.
In pursuit of the same goal of restoring sustainable peace and security in the local government area, His Royal Majesty in-Council, with the full support of the Local Government and the good people of AKULGA, undertook a very successful PEACE RALLY on the 13th of July 2019 to publicly renounce all forms of violence, criminality and lawlessness.
This one-day Peace and Security Conference therefore is another laudable dimension initiated by the organisers, led by His Royal Majesty to provide a more robust interactive platform for all stakeholders in the local government to share our thoughts and experiences as a people with a view to finding lasting solution to the growing culture of violence, criminality and security.
My role today as Keynote Speaker (without claiming any superior knowledge whatsoever on the subject matter) is simply to set the tone of discussions at this conference by stimlulating our thoughts with some details of what we may already know too well, and provoke objective, sincere and mutually beneficial interactions. At the end, it is my hope that we shall collectively appreciate the urgent need for an articulated response that requires the buy-in and active involvement of all AKULGANS.
This paper, therefore, shall attempt to identify the likely immediate and remote causes of incessant conflicts and insecurity, violence and criminality in the local government area. Secondly and most essentially, we shall take reasonable time to highlight and discuss within the limits of available time, practical ways and means of dealing with this scourge, to guarantee sustainable peace and security of lives and properties in the local government.
Background:
We are here today not because there have never been unsettling, even life-threatening situations and conflicts in our history that challenged the peace and security of lives and even our continued existence as one indivisible people. We are Nigerians, Niger Deltans for that matter and Kalabaris to be exact. We are no strangers to conflicts. Conflicts have been with us from our very foundation as a people. Wars have been fought; internal rifts between families, compounds, chieftaincy or war-canoe houses as well as inter and intra community feuds have been common place with us. Nevertheless, our ancestors and founding fathers of blessed memory, to their credit, had the godly wisdom of managing conflicts with measured restraint no matter how provocative, without compromising the lives and destinies of their people.
When the need justified it, they utilized established judicial channels to seek redress, not brutal force and violence. Some were chronic litigants, using readily available traditional arbitration options or engaging the best in the legal profession for full-blown litigations even to the Supreme Courts of their days, over matters that may seem very trivial. That was the hallmark of their civility and respect for the dignity of lives without compromising the peace and security of the community.
They were ever mindful of the abominable implications and consequences of shedding the blood of a fellow Kalabari son or daughter on the soil of Nyemoni or any part of Kalabari kingdom. Remember, “Furo tubo ombie kiri la laa” and they never forgot the maxim: “ama bebe buru, ngaribo buru pakiri”. They knew that their strength was in their unity. They lived by these rules to regulate and guarantee peaceful co-existence.
Never in the history of Abonnema, which today is the headquarters of AKULGA have we witnessed, in design and magnitude, the mindless carnage, the use of sophisticated military hardware, the wanton killings and destruction of hard earned properties of fellow indigenes. In the words of His Majesty, King Disrael Bob-Manuel “it was unbelievable that in peace time the people could suffer more than they did during the civil war”, noting further that even his palace was not spared. Most surprisingly, the key actors on both sides of the divide were sons and daughters of the land. Even blood brothers pulled the trigger against one another. Some were former school or class mates, former allies and political associates; in some cases, in-laws.
Can we pause to ask: How did we get here? What brought us this low? What was at stake to justify such display of brutality in our motherland? Whose interests were being protected and at what cost?
Immediate cause(s) of violence and criminality in AKULGA.
The events of 23rd February and 2nd March 2019 may have passed with time but the ugly memories will out-live everyone here. Sadly, it is not only going to be an indelible part of our history, it shall remain a stigma that shall negatively impact Akulga and particularly Abonnema until we make concerted efforts to re-write the damnable narrative and reclaim our lost identity and glory. This peace building conference is a laudable effort in the right direction and should be sustained.
AKULGA, and particularly Abonnema, once reckoned as a land of internationally celebrated intellectuals and academics, jurists, legal luminaries, astute managers and administrators of men and resources, oil magnates, diplomats of high repute, decorated military top brass, distinguished clergymen and women etc. is now rated as the most volatile and politically corrupt community following the 2019 elections. We have been reduced to a land of violence, awash with blood thirsty, trigger-happy, vulnerable and visionless people.
Today, the major concern and challenge facing residents of Abonnema goes beyond the struggles of returning home to rebuild whatever is left of their shattered lives and dreams. It is the morbid fear of a possible future re-occurrence knowing the antecedents and the modus operandi of the key actors and their unrepentant sponsors. It is not “IF” but “WHEN”.
This concern is genuine for many reasons and must not be wished away too quickly. Akuku- Toru, like other flash points in the country, particularly the Niger Delta, is now noted globally to have a history of election violence. In a country were major elections are held every four years, with the Local Government elections sandwiched in between, this is a matter for serious concern. We all can recall the eleetions of 2015 and 2019. They were nothing short of brutal and undemocratic “show of strength” against perceived enemies, with the bare-faced support of armed security personnel. Most disturbing is the fact that the violence associated with the 2019 elections was escalated to make the 2015 edition a child’s play. It is therefore logical for the people to be apprehensive of what the future holds come 2023 which is just by the corner.
Mr. Chairman Sir, the world is waiting for the reports and follow-up actions of the various investigative panels set up by both the Federal and State Governments on the 2019 crisis in Abonnema. The questionable and high handed role of the military must not be swept under the carpet. If nothing concrete or tangible is done to appropriately deal with the sad incidents of February and March 2019, then we are only laying the foundation of the worst.
From the above narrative, we can all agree that the primary and immediate cause of the conflict, violence and insecurity and threat to the peace of the local government were ELECTIONS and misguided POLITICAL activities.
Setting The Tone: Dealing With Insecurity In AKULGA
Bearing in mind that SECURITY embodies every mechanism put in place to avoid, prevent, reduce or resolve violent conflicts as well as threats that originate from external and internal structural, socio-political and economic factors, there is need to rightly identify and situate the prevailing conditions within our local communities in Akuku – Toru that lead to insecurity.
To be Cont’d.

In this presentation, INSECURITY shall be considered to be any breach of the peace that contributes to incessant or recurring conflicts which, more often than not, results in violence, wanton destruction of lives and properties and other forms of criminality.
In setting the tone for meaningful discussions in this conference, please permit me to draw needful attention to some 18 salient points of concern:
No AKULGA son was among the contestants during the Presidential election. The two main contending candidates were from Northern Nigeria and were of Fulani extraction; bound by tribe, religion and language. No violence of any form was reported in their home towns or home States.
We in AKUKU-TORU (and Abonnema in particular) were not at war with any declared aggressors or sworn enemies.
Few days to the presidential elections, Abonnema was reported to have been virtually invaded and occupied by strangers, mostly youths who were neither indigenes nor known residents of the community. These strangers were transported into Abonnema mainly by road, meaning they had to pass through the only inlet/outlet to the community which is the Abonnema bridge, with a mounted 24-hour military check point. Also within walking distance was the Abonnema Divisional Police headquarters with the closest proximity to the only entry point into the town.
The vehicles that conveyed these “troops” could not have been too few not to be noticed. They passed through several check points from the East-West Expressway, through the Emuoha/Ogbakirijunctions and the several 24 hours militaIy and Police check points to Tema junction and the Harry’s Town military base. No one suspected, queried, intercepted or prevented these questionable movements? .

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