Fire has destroyed property worth billions of naira in Rivers State after a tanker loaded with Automotive Gasoline Oil (AGO) rammed off the G.U. Ake dual carriage way in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state and ditched into a flower garden.
The fire destroyed a church, Christ Living Miracle Church, a hotel, four shops, an event centre and a flower garden near Eliozu flyover on the G.U. Ake Road.
It was learnt that the tanker, which was trying to manoeuvre a bend on the road, had fallen into a flower garden along the road and exploded in flames.
The General Overseer of the affected church, Bumi Grace noted that the incident happened around 5a.m., yesterday, adding that none of the victims was able to save any of their belonging.
Grace said: “When the tanker fell and fire started, the electricity transformer close caught fire, exploded and the fire spread the more. Before fire fighters came, the fire had gone far.
“The incident will affect our service, but we must gather to worship God. What was destroyed here is over N300 million because we did not remove anything here.
“I was in the house when I received a call that my church is on fire. I got a vision of fire incident, and we organised a prayer and fasting. We finished prayers yesterday and this morning this thing happened.”
Also, one of the shop owners, Amaka Ugu disclosed that this is the third time tanker has fallen on that spot and called on the government for prompt attention.
“What I have lost is over a million naira, but my neighbour lost over N12 million because he just came back from market. He sells rugs.
“When I woke up somebody called me that another tanker had fallen. This is the third time tanker is falling here this year. The government has to do something about this.”
An event and catering centre worth over N500million was burnt by the fire.
According to an eyewitness, Master Jacob Nkem, the driver lost control and the tanker burst into flames.
However, it took the efforts of personnel of the Rivers State Fire Service and those of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to bring the situation under control.
“This is not the first time a tanker carrying diesel has fallen in this area”, a taxi driver, Master Job, who plies the Air Force, Rumuokoro route stated.
“Three months ago, a tanker loaded with petroleum products lost control, somersaulted and burst into flames as buildings, cars and property were destroyed alongside the tanker.”
The taxi driver wondered why the drivers and conductors were not hurt in these two separate incidents.
He went further to state that the accident happened at the same hour and almost at the same place.
A middle-aged woman, who chose to remain anonymous, narrated how at about 5.00am, yesterday, a tanker rammed into her shop, and fire consumed all her property, including her academic certificates.
Reacting to the incident, the state Commissioner for Special Duties, Emeka Onowu regretted that the tanker accident was the third of such unfortunate incident at that same spot in three months, and promised to liaise with his counterpart in the Ministry of Works to construct speed breakers around the area to check over-speeding by motorists.
In his remarks, the state Commissioner for Works, Hon. Dumnamene Dekor, described the incident as sad and pathetic, adding that the accident was as a result of human error.
He said: “The incident would have been avoided. The damage is enormous. It would have been averted because I believe it occurred as a result of some human error.
“I have not ascertained the product, but from what we can see, it is a petroleum product because that is what can cause this level of damage.
“The incident has also damaged this road. We have lost over 200 metres of this road. The impact is so heavy. The only thing we need to do is that we will ensure that at this bend, we will ensure devices are built to make drivers reduce their speed on this roads.
“We will take certain steps to put this to a stop. We are encouraging every user of our road to apply caution. We appeal to those who have lost anything here to remain calm while everything will be addressed.”
The Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council, Prince Solomon Abel Eke has described as most unfortunate the tanker explosion along Air Force/Eliozu Road which destroyed residential buildings and business concerns.
Eke, who stated this after visiting the scene of the incident, yesterday, appealed to drivers plying the route to be conscious when approaching the bend before the Eliozu over-head bridge.
The Obio/Akpor chairman, therefore, empathised with those affected by the tanker explosion, and prayed God to strengthen them.
Emeka Sabastine Igbe
Atiku Vs Buhari: CUPP Exposes FG’s Plot Ahead Of S’Court Battle …Says FG Has Ordered Bands To Release Account Details Of Justices …Timi Frank Seeks Visa Ban Against Presidential Election Tribunal Judges
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has alleged that the Federal Government’s has ordered onslaught against judges in Nigeria in form of a request from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) that all banks release details of bank accounts of all Justices of the Supreme Court.
Its spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, in a statement, yesterday, alleged that this was simultaneous with another request from one of the security agencies to all mobile telecommunication companies to furnish them with the phone log of the Justices and other listed Nigerians from 1st August, 2018 till 10th September, 2019.
It said this followed the tribunal ruling which gave President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) victory over the Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The statement said: “We note that while the government tried to hide behind one finger by adding members of the National Assembly to the list of those whose bank accounts are under surveillance, it did not succeed in hiding its intention because it was clear that there was no mention of any member of the executive arm of government in the NFIU letter.
“Or are there no corrupt persons in the Executive arm of government? We would not have been so surprised by this latest government action since the same government had earlier ordered a midnight raid on houses of some judges and also removed a sitting Chief Justice of Nigeria in a most controversial manner.
“The same government sent security agents to lay siege on the National Assembly with a view to forcing a leadership change.
“Our concern, however, is that these directives to invade the privacy of the justices clearly guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution is coming at a time the coalition presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is approaching the Supreme Court to contest the judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
“Basking in the euphoria of the success of their arm-twisting plot at the Court of Appeal, they are at it again now in the Supreme Court. We make bold to say that this latest onslaught is part of coordinated plans to blackmail the justices of the Supreme Court, intimidate them and instill fear in them. But this move will backfire. It will fail.
“We call on all justices of the Supreme Court to stand firm, endure the onslaught of the emperor and his ruthless agents and use the word of their mouth on judgment day to bring his reign of terror and stolen mandate to an end and liberate Nigeria from this current nightmare.
“We, therefore, call on all lovers of democracy across the world to pay more attention to happenings in Nigeria as the nation’s democracy is being threatened daily by government’s actions.”
Meanwhile, a political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has called on the international community to place visa restrictions on the five justices of the Appeal Court that presided over the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) over gross miscarriage of justice and flagrant breach of the Constitution.
Frank also called on the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Supreme to review the tribunal’s ruling and sanction the Justices for deliberate perversion of justice.
Reacting to the recent judgement of the PEPT in favour of the presidential candidate of the APC, Frank in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, said it was obvious that the judgement was written by elements in the Presidency.
Frank said that he is convinced that the PEPT’s ruling that it is not necessary to present certificates to contest for political offices in the country has created problem for the nation’s education sector as it would now be difficult to convince children to go to school or tell those in school to study hard to attain excellence in their educational pursuit.
He, however, called on the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom, United Nations and other critical democratic stakeholders to take a punitive step against the five justices led by Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba, by placing them and their families on visa ban.
According to Frank, both local and international election observers had raised questions about the conduct of the election, particularly unjustified interventions by security forces in favour of Buhari and the APC, “they said the voting process wasn’t transparent and the Nigerian civil society group, a coalition made up of over 70 civic groups that monitored the balloting also said the outcome wasn’t credible.
“Yet the presiding justices of the PEPT in giving their judgment said the election was credible and dismissed the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“I, therefore, call on the international community such as the US, UK, EU and others to place a visa ban on the five justices of the PEPT and members of their immediate family.
“The onus is on the Supreme Court to show Nigerians and the world that the Judiciary is indeed the hope of the common man; it is incumbent on them to show that they are indeed independent and have not been colonized and made a rubber stamp of the Executive in view of the unthinkable verdict of the five justices of the PEPT.
“They simply turned the Judiciary into a black market where justice was measured and sold to the highest bidder. The Executive has always accused the Judiciary of corruption and the five justices have just confirmed it by this judgment.
“They have brought shame on the Nigerian Judiciary and must be sanctioned appropriately by the NJC to serve as a deterrent to others and restore sanity to the Judiciary,” he said.
Frank called on the international community to help Nigeria, saying the country “is at a point where it may have civil unrest or a break up as many regions have resumed agitation following the hope-dashing verdict.
“The international community should place visa restrictions on these five Justices like they have done to some corrupt politicians that participated in rigging the last general elections.
“Since these five Justices have traded away the opportunity to redeem the country’s democracy by ridding it of electoral fraud, the Supreme Court must now be courageous enough to rectify this judicial fraud in order to save Nigeria from collapse. Show Nigerians that the Judiciary is still the last hope of the common man,” Frank said.
Frank called on the apex court to save the Judiciary from the onslaught against it by the executive, and failure to reverse PEPT’s ridiculous verdict would inevitably render the Judiciary toothless.
Rivers Guber Poll: Awara Abandons Concocted Police Results, Documents …As Ex-SARS Commander Fails To Tender Results
An ugly drama ensued at the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, last Saturday, as ex-Second-in-Command to the former Rivers State Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Commander, ACP Akin Fakorede, SP Solomon Egba, attempted to tender concocted governorship election results.
Egba, who claimed to have been a subpoenaed witness for the governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Engineer Biokpomabo Awara, could not produce an authorisation to represent the police.
Following questions raised by defendant counsels, Egba abandoned the concocted results and fled the court premises.
No attempt was made by police personnel in the court premises to arrest him.
Egba, a superintendent of police, worked with his Fakorede in the Ogoni axis during the 2019 Governorship and State House Assembly elections.
They were accused of invading the Collation Centre in Bori, where the PDP Governorship Collation Officer, Dr Ferry Gberegbe, was murdered.
After the election, Fakorede was transferred from Rivers State while Egba was transferred to the Rivers State Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) from Finima in Bonny where he was a Divisional Police Officer (DPO).
Counsels told journalists that Egba was a subpoenaed witness who came from the office of the Inspector General of Police.
Contacted, the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni said he was not aware of any authorization for the former second-in-command to Fakorede to testify at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.
In an interview at the tribunal, counsel to INEC, Woyike Livingstone said that the AAC counsel made an application in respect of pleaded documents, and he prayed the court to admit the documents in evidence.
Livingstone said that he raised objection praying the court to decline the application because it was caught up by the ruling of the tribunal which struck out certain paragraphs from the petition filed by the AAC Governorship Candidate, Biokpomabo Awara.
Meanwhile, indications have emerged that the Governorship Candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Engineer Biokpomabo Awara, yesterday, formally abandoned the concocted results brought in by Superintendent of Police, Solomon Egba, former second-in-command to Akin Fakorede to the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.
Awara had brought in Solomon Egba, former second-in-command to Akin Fakorede to the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal as a subpoenaed witness to tender concocted results/documents, but counsels to the defendants opposed their admissibility because they were part of paragraphs already struck out by the tribunal.
At the resumed hearing, yesterday, counsel to Biokpomabo Awara, Mr Emenike Ebete said the AAC Governorship Candidate decided to abandon the police documents because they were of no value because they were dumped on the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.
Ebete explained, “We will not be tendering the documents brought in by the police. They are of no value to us. We hereby abandon the documents brought by the police”.
Also speaking, Counsel to the Rivers State Governor, Emmanuel Ukala, told the Governorship Candidate of the AAC that no subpoena was served on the office of the Inspector General of Police as the tribunal registry indicates.
The Governorship Candidate of AAC, Biokpomabo Awara was petitioner witness, yesterday.
He was cross examined by the counsels of the African Action Congress (AAC), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Nyesom Wike and the PDP.
The Rivers AAC Governorship Candidate admitted under cross examination that the results marked Exhibit which he tendered were not signed, without INEC official stamp, had no names of collation officers and were not signed by party agents.
He said that the said results had no authenticating features because that was how his agents received them from the field.
Under cross examination by counsel to the AAC, Henry Bello, Biokpomabo Awara admitted that other than the official INEC results he has no other results.
He said though he had no campaign rallies in any of the 23 local government areas of Rivers State, he did a few consultations in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area.
The Governorship Candidate of the AAC under Cross Examination by counsel to INEC, Steve Adehi (SAN), admitted that he did not tender all the results declared by INEC after the Rivers State Governorship Election.
He also admitted that results were declared for Obio/Akpor Local Government Area after due collation.
Awara expressed surprise that most of his agents agreed before the tribunal that the election was free and fair and conducted under a peaceful atmosphere.
He further stated that INEC has the sole responsibility to conduct, collate and declare governorship election results.
Awara said even though the state collation agent of the AAC, Chukwuenenye Kocha conceded defeat after the collation of Rivers State Governorship Election results, it was not his personal opinion.
The AAC Governorship Candidate said even though he has not spoken with his former running mate, Chief Akpo Bomba Yeeh, from affidavits and publications tendered at the tribunal, Chief Akpo Bomba Yeeh withdrew his candidacy long before the declaration of the governorship election results.
He said though he pleaded results of 15 local government areas in his petition, he tendered results of 11 local government areas.
The tribunal adjourned to today for the second petitioner, African Action Congress to open its case.
Wike Congratulates Buhari, Why Not?
To the range of stories twisted out of context and rendered in a scurrilous form to injure the reputation of the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has been added that of his congratulatory message to President Muhamadu Buhari, over the latter’s victory at the Presidential Electoral Petitions Tribunal (PEPT).In the wake of the tribunal’s verdict which dismisses the petition of Abubakar Atiku of the PDP challenging the election of Buhari as President of the country during the February 2019 polls, congratulatory messages flowed to the President from several quarters- most of such coming from stakeholders in his party, the APC. It was in this ambience that Wike also sent his own goodwill message to Buhari- only for his traducers to go to town with venom-laced diatribes against the Rivers State governor. The plank on which the query for congratulating Buhari rested was the different political parties they belonged to. Buhari is of the APC while Wike is of the PDP. In the cauldron of Nigerian politics, elements in opposing political parties are expected to be not only in mortal rivalry but acrimony and even enmity with each other.
Remarkably, Wike‘s response to such attacks featured his characteristic down to earth common sense trivialisation, which often reduces their intended impact to nothing more than the burst of a soap bubble. Hence, to the question of why he congratulated Buhari, Wike argued that politics is a game of interests and that he only acted as it is traditional to give due compliments to a victor in a court battle. This is just as he called on the President to be more altruistic in administering the country – especially in carrying all of its parts along. Where then is the sin in that attitude, one may ask?
Against the backdrop of the flood of misgivings over the verdict by the PEPT, it is trite to observe that many Nigerians would wish the dispensation would simply go away like a bad dream. While the camp of the petitioner, Atiku Abubakar had gone to bed thinking that it had a watertight case, that would reverse the result of the polls and bring their principal to power, they only woke up to be confronted with a judicial outcome that proved unpalatable. As many in the PDP fold rose up in a band wagon pattern to condemn the development, others of the same political persuasion and were more discerning, went beyond the simplistic discredit of the situation to address themselves to the way forward. In the context of the way forward lies the need to de-escalate political tensions and acrimony, which tallies with Wike’s response to Buhari’s victory.
Seen from a detached angle, there are many reasons why a governor that knows his onions needs to congratulate the President over such a judicial outcome which perhaps constitutes the most significant challenge to the President’s tenure in office, difference in party affiliations notwithstanding. Firstly, it demonstrates the governor’s abhorrence for politics with bitterness, since as Wike had clarified earlier that balancing of interests defines the rhythm of political games. What would happen if the governor indulges in the pettiness of keeping malice with President Buhari and two of them meet at any of the statutory fora for leaders of the country? Hence, the wisdom in the cliché that there are no permanent enemies in politics but permanent interests.
Secondly, in the light of the unmistakable anti-Wike crusade in the APC hierarchy both at the Rivers State and national levels, as well as even the Presidency, who knows how much denigration has been visited on his person,and which may be associated with the serial denial of the state of even the statutory refund of funds it spent on federal government projects. This is even with the representation of the state at the highest level of the Federal Government by no less a person than the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi whose considerable clout in the ruling APC is not in doubt. It is public knowledge that the Minister’s personal disposition of acrimony towards Wike has a lot to do with the deprivations of the state, of several dividends from the federal government.
From all indications, the latest anti-Wike diatribe is coming as part of a stream of coordinated salvoes in an agenda of deconstruction which the sponsors are groping for any opportunity to cash in on. Expectedly, therefore, more of such may be coming as the grouse of the detractors may not have been assuaged. In fact, there is every reason to expect that failure of past efforts to deconstruct Wike, may rather embolden these agents of mischief and launch them into more desperate activities.
This is where the spate of venom -attacks on perceived political foes that hardly address issues of development in Nigeria, constitute the demon that needs to be collectively addressed by all well-meaning Nigerians, given their potential to disrupt the processes of governance, by distracting public officials who may be bothered by their virulence. This is also where the typical response by Wike to such salvoes remains eminently elegant as it portrays a man that maintains his cool in the face of provocations.
By the way, beyond level-headedness and calm in the face of storms, where else lies the inner strength of true leadership?
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