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Wike Recommits To Promote Peace In Rivers …As RSG Warns LGs Against Illegal Education Levies, Fees

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has declared that no individual would be allowed to compromise the peace of the state.
He stated that his administration would always take decisive steps to promote peace in the state through key interventions in crisis-prone areas.
He spoke, yesterday, during a meeting between Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Mgbuesilaru Community of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Wike said: “My interest is peace in my state. Whatever will bring peace; that is where we will stand. Whoever is causing problems, the state will take it up with that person”.
The governor said that in Kula community, he has no business with Shell Petroleum Development Company operating in the area, outside the fact that the Federal Government has renewed their license and an enabling environment must be created for them to function.
He said: “Like I have told the Kula community, I have no business about Shell operating. But if the Federal Government has given Shell the license, I have a duty to make sure that Shell operates.
“If they did not give Shell and they give the license to another person, I have a duty to protect that person. I have no business with Shell. Mine is to do the right thing and to provide the enabling environment.
“Let nobody claim that he has contact in Abuja or elsewhere. I will not shy away from my responsibility to do the right thing”, the governor assured.
Wike said that he took oath of office to make majority of Rivers people happy, protect lives and property and develop the state.
“There is no single individual I cannot protect. Whether you are PDP, AAC or APC, it is my duty to protect you. Where things go wrong, I must come in”, he said.
On the Mgbuesilaru conflict, Wike said that he invited the community leaders and SPDC officials to discuss the issues and resolve the dispute.
He said: “Before I became governor, I do know that there was a problem at Mgbuesilaru community. I learnt that an agreement was to be signed and there was a fracas”.
In his remarks, Eze Oha Okporo Okwurusi Clan, Eze Morgan Nwenenda Amadi said that the Mgbuesilaru community and Shell had an issue of outstanding rent, which led to a legal dispute that got to the Supreme Court.
He said he was invited as a mediator and eventually worked for an out-of-court settlement between Shell and the community, explaining that rather than work with the genuine representatives of the community, Shell politicised the issue, and thereafter, refused to sign the agreement.
He said an attempt to sign the agreement at Hotel Presidential ended in mayhem.
Amadi said that on June 13, 2019, the community requested the Obio/Akpor Local Government Council to intervene and give the council headquarters for the signing of the out-of-court settlement agreement with Shell.
He said that Shell failed to turn up on June 18, 2019, when the community signed the out-of-court settlement.
Amadi urged the governor to prevail on SPDC to honour the out-of-court settlement and pay the community rent money, which was in arrears of 23 years.
Also speaking, General Manager, External Affairs of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr Igo Weli, said that the only interest of the company was to do what was right.
Weli said: “We want our place to grow. We want our place to develop. We want everything to be peaceful”.
He said when the rent issue came up, Shell agreed with Eze Morgan Amadi that it would be nice to settle out-of-court in the interest of the community, adding that the company was committed to the peaceful settlement of the issue.
Meanwhile, sequel to the meetings with local government chairmen, heads of government-owned primary, junior and senior secondary schools and proprietors of private schools, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has warned all LG chairmen and their agents to desist from imposing any other levy or charge apart from tenement rates on private schools across the state.
The governor, who gave the warning in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, in Port Harcourt, yesterday, also directed all proprietors of private schools to shun all demand notices for payments other than tenement rates, insisting that such payment must be paid into dedicated bank accounts for transparency and accountability.
According to the statement, “The general public is hereby notified that all fees, levies or whatever payments in government-owned primary, junior and senior secondary schools have been abolished.
“To this end, the general public is enjoined to report any government school heads or teachers, who make any demands for whatever payments from their pupils/students to the office of the governor via the named dedicated phone lines,” it added.
Danagogo reminded all concerned that, “All cash payments have been abolished. Proprietors of private schools and the general public are enjoined to report any officer or agent of local government council or any organ or agency of the state government, who demands for cash payment to the office of the governor through the said dedicated phone lines.
“The dedicated phone lines are: 0704-544-4471 (WhatsApp enabled), 0704-544-4472, 0704-544-4473, 0705-269-8118 (WhatsApp enabled), and 0909-065-4112”, the statement added.
The statement clarified that, “The Nigeria Police and the DSS have been notified to arrest and prosecute any agent or officer of local government councils or the state government caught in the act.
“Meanwhile, all proprietors of private schools are to submit their applications for approval/re-certification to the Governor’s Office at Room 312, Wing B, Point Block, Rivers State Secretariat Complex, Port Harcourt.
“Such applications should be accompanied with your last approval from the Ministry of Education and the approved Building Plan from Ministry of Urban Development,” Danagogo explained.
“Note that, no fee is payable for this application. It is free of charge,” the statement added.
Similarly, the Mayor of Port Harcourt City, Hon Victor Ihunwo, has once again made it clear that tenement rate was the only revenue collected by the council.
Making the clarification in a statement signed by the Press Secretary to the council, Bob Abayomi in Port Harcourt, yesterday, Ihunwo directed that, “All payments should be a made to the Port Harcourt City Council Account; United Bank for Africa UBA 1007510998”.
According to the statement, “In line with the directive of the Rivers State Government, the Port Harcourt City Council has only approved the payment of tenement rate by proprietors of private schools in the city and all payments should be made to the council’s account as stated above.
“Proprietors of schools should disregard any demand notice purportedly from the council for payment of any levy asides that for tenement rate, and such persons moving with the illegal notice for payment should be apprehended by the law enforcement agencies and prosecuted.
“The council has abolished all cash payment.
“Business owners and those doing business in Port Harcourt City should henceforth desist from patronising cash payments, as the council will not be liable for any discrepancy as a result of any cash payment during the revenue verification exercise of the council.
“Those selling liquor in the city should cooperate with the liquor license committee of the council and obtain their licenses.
“All enquiries should be directed to Dr Ezebunwo Nyeche in the council’s Secretariat, Moscow Road, Office of the Secretary of Council, or call: 08033097907″, the statement added.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion

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The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.

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FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer

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The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.

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Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media

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The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.

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