Rivers State Government has stated that it would not participate in the Federal Government’s Ruga settlements for herdsmen.
The Rivers State Government, in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, noted that the state has no land for the implementation of such a policy.
It noted that in his second term, Governor Nyesom Wike, has prioritised commercial agriculture, hence all available arable land in the state would be needed to drive commercial agriculture across the state to create employment for Rivers youths.
The state government emphasised that it has not given any approval for the sitting of Ruga settlements anywhere in Rivers State.
It added that no such approval would come from the Rivers State Government for the Ruga settlements.
The statement reiterated that Governor Nyesom Wike would continue to defend the interest of Rivers people, who have overwhelmingly rejected cattle colonies, Ruga settlements and any such policy.
“Rivers indigenes are hereby advised to join the state government to protect all arable lands by reporting any form of encroachment under whatever guise”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), yesterday, said the Ijaw ethnic nationality has no land for the proposed RUGA settlement for Fulani cattle rearers.
The council also admonished the governors of the six South-South states and Ondo in the South-West region not to bow to pressure from the Federal Government in their own interests.
The President of the council, Pereotubo Oweilaemi, who disclosed this in a statement, also asserted, “We reject Fulani Vigilance Group in our territory and we do not have land to accommodate foreigners.
“The desert North is big enough for the Fulanis to rear their cattle. We will not accommodate people whose ultimate goal is to carry out religious jihad against their hosts in order to establish their Islamic caliphate.
“The Fulanis, who have been terrorising the indigenous people in the Meddle Belt as well as some parts of Southern Nigeria are seen as a trojan horse to us.
“IYC rejects in its entirety the move by the Federal Government to establish the said Ruga settlement for the Fulanis. The government should not by act of omission or commission instigate ethno-religious crisis in the country.
“The genocide being perpetrated against the Middle Beltans by these Fulani warmongers under Buhari’s government has not been addressed by the latter with a determined effort.
“At the height of the killings by the Fulani terrorists, the Presidency only said the Middle Belt people should relinquish their ancestral lands to the killer herdsmen or be ready to be killed continuously. How can we cede our land to such persons, who take delight in massacring innocent people under the gleeful eyes of the Federal Government of Nigeria?
“We will not invite such trojan horses to our land in order not to betide future generations. We are warning the six governors of the South-South states together with the governor of Ondo State not to accept that dangerous proposal.
“Should any of them being politically cajoled to accept the proposal then we will take a bloody revolution against them and their imperial interest. This is not a warning. Ijaw people are ready to defend our land even with the last drop of our blood,” he added.
Oweilaemi stated, “On the Fulani Vigilance Group, our message is the same. We do not need any vigilante group by the world number four terrorist organisation. If the government of Nigeria cannot protect us, then the Ijaw nation is able to protect our lands and people.
“We are able to protect our territorial integrity to ward off internal and external aggressors, including criminal syndicates. The security of lives and property is constitutionally vested in the government.
“If , however, the government is unable to protect us, then, we will set up our own security outfits to protect our lands. President Buhari should immediately call his Fulani people to order before they set the country ablaze.
“Nigeria is on the precipice heading to the cliff. The time bomb is ticking faster than expected. The antics of the Fulani ethnic group may ignite the conflagration that will consume the entire country. Our patient is running thin,” he said.
Also, opposition has continued to mount against the Federal Government’s Ruga settlement programme for herdsmen in the country, as the South East governors insisted, yesterday, that there was no land for it in the region, even as Benue State government debunked claims by the Presidency that land had been gazetted in Benue and other states for the settlement.
This is just as Southern and Middle Belt leaders, also yesterday, challenged the Presidency to release the Ruga settlement gazette number and its content, wondering in what capacity the Federal Government gazetted land in all states of the federation.
Similarly, Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, and Agbekoya Farmers’ Association described the proposed Ruga settlement as dead on arrival, while Benue State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, accused the Federal Government of nursing a hidden agenda with the introduction of Ruga settlements for herdsmen in Benue and other parts of the country.
Governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman of South-Easst Governors Forum, Dave Umahi, said in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Uzor, that there is no plan to establish Ruga settlement in any part of the South-East and South-South zones.
He said the region did propose a deal with the members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, as panacea to achieving lasting peace between farmers and herdsmen.
He, however, denied any plan by governors of the zones to cede any part of their land for Ruga settlement.
He said: “There is no plan for any Ruga settlement in any part of South-East and South-South zones; but we made a proposed deal with MACBAN that can allow the zone to become very good business with sale of grasses to the herdsmen in exchange for meat.
“We actually proposed a deal with MACBAN to take their cattle to the northern parts where grazing reserves were established long time ago and rely completely on the grasses grown in the south for feeding of their cattle.” Umahi, who was chairman of the technical committee on farmers and herdsmen clash, carved from the National Economic Council headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, said the committee had recommended the revamping of existing grazing reserves in Nigeria.
In another development, Renowned Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has urged the President Buhari-led government to handle the issue of RUGA settlement carefully as “there cannot be any kind of society where cattle take priority over human beings.”
Soyinka, who was a special guest at the official launch of Solution 17, an initiative geared towards youth empowerment and sustainable development, maintained that the practice of herders’ settlement across Nigeria is neither strange nor mysterious.
Fielding questions from newsmen, he said: “Ruga is going to be an exclusive issue and it had better be handled very carefully. Why is it that we fail to take our models from successful performers? There are ways in which people deal, and have dealt for decades—for centuries with cattle everywhere.
I travel everywhere. It is nothing so strange; there is nothing mysterious about cattle rearing. “Why should cattle become a problem just because we like to eat beef? I don’t understand it. There are solutions which are very simple.
“People have talked about ranching, but the ranching has got to be done in places which are environmentally congenial to that particular kind of trade and at the same time do not afflict humanity.
“What’s the point in trying to provide food and the food chokes us; which is what cattle and cattle-rearers have been doing? We have a situation where cattle walk up to my own door in Abeokuta which is supposed to be a residential area.
“There is a problem when cattle go to Ijebu-Ode and eat up Sodipe’s (a furniture maker’s) planted seedlings. And this is someone who is working towards a guaranteed environment by planting trees to replace the trees (timber) which he has used.
“And then cattle come and eat up all of that and you expect people to sit down and be quiet? “And then Buhari took such a long time. For me, he deserved—and I have written this down— to have lost the last election if only on account of the lackadaisical attitude which he took to the issue of cattle-rearers.
“People have been killed in hundreds till today and it is only because of the failure of leadership at the critical time.
“That is the most important thing and the cattle rearers have been given a sense of impunity: they kill without any compunction; they drive farmers also who are contributing to the food solution of the country away; burn their crops; eat their crops; and then you come with Ruga.
“I think there is going to be trouble in this country if this cattle-rearing issue is not handled imaginatively and with humanity as the priority. There cannot be any kind of society where cattle take priority over human beings. It is as elementary as that”.
2019 Rivers Guber Poll Tribunal: PDP Tenders Polling Units’ Results To Affirm Wike’s Victory …Election Held In Substantial Compliance With Electoral Act -Counsel …Conduct Of Poll Peaceful, Lawful, Akawor Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, yesterday, tendered strategic polling units’ results from different local government areas to the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal to justify the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The polling units’ results were tendered in respect of the petition filed against the election of Wike by the Governorship Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi.
Tendering the polling units’ results from the Bar, counsel to the PDP, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) said the polling results were from 356 polling units.
Obla told the tribunal that the result sheets were from some of the polling units in Obio/Akpor, Khana, Ogu/Bolo, Bonny, Akuku-Toru, Ahoada East, Opobo/Nkoro and others.
He informed the tribunal that the PDP resolved to tender results to prove that elections held across the state at the polling units and declarations made under very peaceful atmosphere.
The counsel added that since INEC and Wike have called witnesses to prove that the Governorship Election was conducted in line with the Electoral Act, the PDP chose to prove the conduct of the elections through documentary evidence.
Addressing journalists after closing the PDP defence, Godwin Obla said that from documentary evidence and oral testimonies of witnesses, it was clear that the 2019 Governorship Election in Rivers State was held in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and that Wike emerged victorious.
He said: “This morning on behalf of the 3rd respondent, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), we tendered a total of 356 exhibits in support of our case. We feel satisfied that the requirements of the law required of us, have been fully met and that is why we decided to close our case today.
“Don’t forget that the 1st respondent, INEC, called witnesses, the 2nd respondent, Governor Nyesom Wike, who is the candidate of the 3rd respondent, PDP, also called witnesses and tendered a lot of documents that relate to this same subject matter. The interests of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents are actually the same”.
Also speaking, counsel to ADP, Mr Dolapo-Telle Attoni, said “The PDP presented from the Bar a bundle of electoral documents they claimed INEC used in conducting the governorship election. They tendered about 356 alleged polling units’ results. We had asked for few minutes to study these same documents, and also obtain Certified True Copy of the said documents which was not complied with by INEC”.
Following the PDP closing its case, the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal has adjourned till September 16, 2019 for the adoption of addresses by parties in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party and its governorship candidate, Mr Victor Fingesi.
Earlier, the Director-General of Rivers State PDP Campaign Council, Amb. Desmond Akawor, had said that the 2019 Governorship Election held throughout the state with Governor Nyesom Wike emerging victorious.
Testifying at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, last Wednesday, as the last witness for Wike in a petition filed by the candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi, Akawor said that the governor won the election by the lawful votes cast on March 9, 2019.
The former Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea told the tribunal that he received his party’s duplicate certified copies of election result sheets for all the units, wards and the 23 local government areas.
Responding to a question by counsel to the ADP governorship candidate on why the state government set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the 2019 Elections, Akawor said that the commission of inquiry was established to find out what happened at the collation centres, because voting took place peacefully at all polling units.
However, after closing his case on cross-examination of DW31 (Akawor), the ADP counsel sought to tender an application which is a certified copy of The Tide Newspaper of April 29 in respect of the commission of inquiry.
But Counsel to the governor, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) urged the court to refuse the application, arguing that the petitioner voluntarily closed his matter on July 16 with 23 witnesses.
Ukala noted that in accordance with the rules of the tribunal, each witness was cross-examined within the time given; adding that conduct of proceedings was guided by truth and not by sympathy.
Ruling on the application after hearing arguments from the counsels, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Orjiako, stated that “this application in our view cannot be allowed, the implication being that it should have been tendered within the time allocated to him, therefore, the application is overruled and refused”.
Justice Orjiako had adjourned the matter till yesterday for further cross examination.
In an interview, counsel for Governor Nyesom Wike, Emmanuel Ukala, explained that the ADP application was refused as a result of improper filing.
He said, “The 2nd respondent (Governor Wike) called all together 20 witnesses, and we closed our case. So, it is left to the PDP, if they wish to call any other witness. They may call, and thereafter, we will all address the court”.
Stop Deducting Money From Rivers Statutory Allocation, Court Orders FG
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court in respect of OML112 offshore and stop the deduction of the sum of N502, 298,943.03 or any sum whatsoever, forming the proprietary rights of the Rivers State Government.
The presiding Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, also ordered the defendants to make full refund of the accruable 13 per cent derivation illegally denied the plaintiff from crude oil and gas production within OML 112 and sale from September, 2018 till the determination of the suit; and thereafter.
The judge equally ordered the Attorney General of the Federation, the Accountant General of the Federation and the RMAFC to pay monthly interests at the various commercial rates at no less than 15 per cent per annum on the illegally deducted 13 per cent derivation due to the plaintiff from OML 112 until the liquidation of all outstanding and accruing debt.
Justice Taiwo further restrained the defendants, their agents, assigns, representatives, privies or howsoever called from disregarding the finality of the Supreme Court judgment delivered on March 18, 2011 in Suit No: SC/27/2010, between: Attorney General of Rivers State and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State & Anor as it relates to the proprietary rights of the plaintiff in respect of OML 112.
The suit was instituted by the Attorney General of Rivers State to challenge the deduction of the sum of N502, 298,943.03 accruing from OML 112 from the statutory allocation of the state by the defendants.
Biafra: Fresh Questions Over Future Of Campaign
Just as the recent physical attack on former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu in faraway Germany is trending globally for the bizarre affront it represents, so many questions are raging over the integrity and future of the campaign for the actualisation of the Biafra secessionist agenda. It is no more news that Ekweremadu was ambushed and attacked during his visit to Germany to participate as a guest speaker at a traditional Igbo ‘New Yam’ festival. The trailing reactions not only captured the wide divide between the proponents and the opponents of the ‘Biafra’ agenda across the world. It also betrayed and reinforced a more profound aspect being the unmasked, hysteric xenophobic mindset to which the most ardent proponents of the Biafra agenda subscribe to. Primary among these is the endorsement of the outrage of the assailants by Nnamdi Kanu, the now exiled leader of the IPOB, which is just one of the active groups canvassing for the actualisation of the Biafra dream.
From the now trending video clips of the incident,the aggrieved assailants could be heard lamenting about the killing of their kit and kin in the ‘Operation Python Dance’ military assaults on Iboland, at the peak of the IPOB domestic activism phase. Until that point, the German assault on Ekweremadu could easily have passed as a result of the bereaved lamenting and perhaps, over-reacting over the death of their loved ones at home. However, the intervention of IPOB especially with the claim that responsibility for the attack fell on its members changed the entire narrative. First of all, information in the public domain did not specifically mention that the occasion was organised by IPOB. Hence, the intervention of the organisation by persons later identified as IPOB operatives captures the event as having been hijacked by the IPOB for reasons strange to the organisers. Now, the blame or whatever ascription from the event goes to all Ibos, just as the proverb that when a finger picks up oil, it soon spreads it to all the other fingers.
And this is where the various stakeholders of the Biafra agenda, comprising the Igbo represented by the OhanaezeNdigbo, the Eastern minorities and even the entire country need to take the Ekweremadu attack with appropriate discretion. Whatever circumstances that will instigate members of a political pressure group to leave the shores of its home country and brazenly attack a home government official in public glare and in a foreign country, deserves more than a slap on the wrist. The situation calls for renewed discretion especially by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo which can be credited with the misfortune of living in a hut on which roof a snake has climbed. That is putting it in classical Igbo metaphor.
For anybody especially the leadership of the Ibos to see the situation otherwise, is to indulge in a mis-read of the festering situation, and expose Ndigbo to a future of miasma in the politics of Iboland as well as that between Ndigbo and the rest of the country. IPOB may remain a most divisive factor in the political calculus of the Ndigbo both at home and abroad as has been dramatically demonstrated in the German attack on Ike Ekweremadu, both for now and in the unknown future. And against the backdrop that not all Ibos and even Ohanaeze are members of IPOB, the need for the group to tread with care becomes most acute. Most Ibos simply want to be left alone to pursue their legitimate businesses in which they are already excelling, and do not want to be bothered by a pie in the sky called Biafra. After all, was it not the great novelist, Chinua Achebe who cited the Ibo proverb that all lizards lie on the ground making it difficult to know which one has stomach pain.
As for the Eastern minorities whose youth especially are being enamoured with flashes of paradise in the Biafra dream, all that needs to be said is that they should go and study the history of the previous Biafra, which occurred before they were even born. They will find out not only why it failed, but also why the mainstream of Ibo intelligentsia is not supporting the campaign – at least spiritedly. Fortunately for them, there are still some survivors of that failed exercise who can provide them valuable insights, to lead them aright. On a cautionary basis, let it be stated here that a child found toying with the very strain of mushrooms that killed his or her parents, is asking for nothing better than the very fate that befell the parents.
As structured today, the Nigerian federation cannot be restructured along secessionist lines without elaborate dialogue and negotiations, in place of a full scale war, no matter the grievances of its component ethnic parts. Meanwhile, IPOB has not demonstrated willingness or capacity for negotiations and the rest of the country is not ready for war. Until further notice therefore, Biafra and all it represents remain hanging in the balance.
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