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Again, Police, Shi’ites Clash In Abuja …Protests Over El-Zakzaky Spread To Lagos

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A group of protesters under the auspices of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), yesterday, stormed the Eagle Square, Abuja, throwing the area into confusion with fear-stricken workers at the Federal Secretariat, scampering in various directions.
Our correspondent, who was caught in the confusion, reported that the situation obstructed traffic flow as motorists were forced to either stand still or run into one another.
The protesters also blocked all major routes leading into the National Assembly, with the confusion getting even worse when security agents threw tear gas canisters in a bid to disperse the protesters.
The cause of the protest is still uncertain, but a police source said that the protesters were members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.
It would be recalled that members of the IMN had stormed the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, last Tuesday, with some of them scaling its fence to force their way in.
Reports had indicated that the protesters disarmed some policemen stationed at the gate of the complex, injuring some of them in the process.
A police source also confirmed that 40 members of the group were arrested after the Tuesday clash with security personnel, with some of them set to be arraigned in court.
In Lagos, members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) also stormed the streets and major roads to protest the continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, asking for his immediate release.
The protest was in continuation of their demand for the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been detained by the Federal Government.
In the protest held at Maryland intersection, Ikeja, yesterday, they chanted several songs demanding that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration respect court orders directing that the IMN leader be released.

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Judiciary, Most Powerful Arm Of Govt, Wike Affirms …Moves To Reclaim Lands Belonging To GCSS, PH

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has affirmed that the Judiciary was the most powerful arm of government, regretting that the strength of the Judiciary has been lost due to fear.
Addressing the Governing Council of the Eastern Bar Forum during a courtesy visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Wike noted that it was the responsibility of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to strengthen the Judiciary.
“In terms of being powerful, the Judiciary is the most powerful arm of Government. But they have lost that power due to fear.
“The NBA needs to strengthen the Judiciary. People are saying that the NBA is now a toothless bulldog. I am not the one saying so, people are saying it.
“As lawyers, we have the responsibility, as conscience of the society, to make sure that the right thing is done”, he said.
Wike said that the Rivers State Government would partner with the Eastern Bar Forum to promote the rule of law, adding that the state government would continue to work with associations with the right disposition.
On street trading and illegal motor parks, Wike explained that with the successes recorded by the task force, the state government would establish an agency to consolidate on the gains.
He urged the Eastern Bar Forum to work together and promote a common front, saying that individual interest should not supersede the group interest.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Governing Council of Eastern Bar Forum, Long Williams commended the governor for his support to the bench and Bar.
He said the Rivers State governor has developed the right infrastructure to promote the rule of law.
Williams also praised the Rivers State governor for the general development of Rivers State.
He invited the governor to the last quarterly meeting of the Eastern Bar Forum, pointing out that the meeting was one of the most important meetings of lawyers in the country.
He commended the Rivers State governor for the successes recorded by the Task Force on Street Trading and Illegal Motor Parks, saying that it should be transformed into an agency for sustainability.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has directed the commencement of the reclamation of lands belonging to Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Port Harcourt for the restoration of the lost glory of the institution.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the Executive Committee of the Comprehensive Old Boys Association (COBA), yesterday, Wike directed the state Surveyor General, the Permanent Secretary, Lands; and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education to commence the process for the restoration of the school.
The governor said: “We will work together to reclaim the school. The surveyor general must start immediate works to map out the original lands belonging to the Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Port Harcourt.
“By Monday, the Permanent Secretary, Lands will start issuing quit notices to those illegally occupying the lands of the school. The quit notices should be for a month.
“The Honourable Attorney General will be notified to look out for any frivolous orders. On this matter, we are prepared to ensure the restoration of Government Comprehensive Secondary School”.
The governor decried a situation where residents of the area would illegally encroach on school land, and appealed to members of Comprehensive Old Boys Association to help the state government educate members of the public on the need for the restoration of the school.
Wike said that the need to restore the institution should not be subjected to unnecessary sentiments, adding that the state government would not shy away from resolving the challenges facing the education sector.
He said that the state government would not fold its hands and allow illegal occupants ruin the school, insisting that the illegal squatters must be fenced off.
On the plea by COBA for the Rivers State governor to recall the sacked Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Lands, Wike said the former permanent secretary sabotaged a government programme, leading to the sanction placed on him.
In his remarks, the National President of COBA, Dr Sodum Abe congratulated the governor for his victory at the polls, describing it as duly earned and well-deserved.
He commended the Rivers State governor for his investment in the education sector, especially the restoration of old schools across the state.
Abe said: “Your administration is the only one that is reconstructing schools it is selfless governance that places education at the forefront. Great leaders take education seriously, and Rivers people are fortunate to have a great leader in you.”
He appealed to the Rivers State governor to take steps to dislodge illegal squatters at the Government Comprehensive Secondary School and also reconstruct the school.
Abe also urged the Rivers State governor to restore the curriculum of the school.

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PDP Senators Kick As Senate Approves N10bn Refund For Kogi

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate has protested against the Senate’s approval of the refund of N10.06billion to the Kogi State Government for road projects it executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
According to the opposition lawmakers, the refund should be delayed by one week so that the money will not be diverted to fund the state governorship poll due for Saturday.
The legislative approval followed the presentation of the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, headed by Senator Clifford Ordia, seeking approval for the issuance of N10.06billion promissory notes programme to the state government and a bond issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations for projects executed on behalf of Federal Government.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter a fortnight ago to the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, requested for an approval for the refund to be made to the state government.
Presenting his committee’s report, Ordia, said “the approved sum is in capital expenditure, which has to do with refund to the state government for monies spent in the execution of Federal Government projects in the state.”
According to him, key officials of the state government were invited to brief the committee during its legislative work.
Ordia added that the committee also assessed all submissions made by the Federal Ministry of Finance, alongside documents from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the state government.
He said the committee undertook an oversight visit to Kogi State to assess the projects and ascertained that they met the required standard by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
The projects inspected by the committee were: reconstruction of Shintaku-Odugbo road, reconstruction of Ganaja-Ajaokuta road, reconstruction of Idah-Onyedega road and dualisation of Lokoja-Ganaja road.
Other executed federal projects were: reconstruction of three-span bridge along Shintaku-Odugbo road, reconstruction of four-span bridge along Shintaku-Odugbo road, and reconstruction of Iyamoje-Igagun-Ifeolu-Kptun-Ponyan-Jegede road.
But in his objection to the approval, Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, while raising a point of order, urged the Senate to delay the approval until after the governorship election.
He said: “I have the mandate of the minority party to request that the payment be delayed till next week as we feel this is not the right time to release the money with Kogi governorship poll few days away.
“The delay will ensure that the refund is not misused so it can be delayed for only one week and after election they can get their money as it is meant for the good people of Kogi State.
“States that have done the work of the Federal Government should be paid. I agree they should be paid, what I don’t want is the misuse of this fund. I have the mandate of the minority to say this can wait until next week. Let’s delay for only one week, after elections then they can be paid.”
In a counter argument, Lawan explained that the state was entitled to be paid all monies it spent on the execution of Federal Government projects.
According to Lawan, the state was denied an approval for refund while 24 other state governments got theirs under the Eighth Senate.
“Kogi State applied for this refund in the last Senate. All the states that applied were approved here by the last Senate. Now as the Ninth Senate, we have seen the necessity and are doing justice. We have done justice to others, and we have to do justice to Kogi State. When it is done is not the matter,” he added.
The Senate eventually approved the president’s request for a refund to Kogi State Government after a voice vote called by Lawan.

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Community Shuts SPDC Flow Station For Lack Of Power Supply

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A section of Omudioga Community in Emohua Local Government Area, led by its Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman, Barrister Chikweri Ogbugo, yesterday, shut down Ahia Flow Station operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) due to the company’s failure to provide electricity to the people.
The protesters, who spoke through the CDC chairman, during the protest, said it was unfortunate that SPDC could live them without power supply despite their peaceful nature.
According to him, the community had been in darkness for about one year since an energy company disconnected them of the national grid.
He pointed out that the decision was reached when the company could not respond to their repeated request to provide the community with alternative means of power supply.
Ogbugo further hinted that the community may take more drastic measures should Shell fail to do the needful after the expiration of the one-week ultimatum.
“We are here today to register our grievances against SPDC. We are here to let the world know that my people have been short-changed for too long; my people have suffered for up to 50 years. SPDC has been in our community since 1961, and till now, there’s nothing to be proud of the company in the community”, he said.
“Apart from one kilometre of road since 1961, they gave us light that didn’t last for two years. Around 2002 and till about 2005, we didn’t see light again. Five years ago, we got light from Sahara Energy, a company operating in our neighbouring town, Omoku but only this year, they came and disconnected us, saying that we should go to SPDC to give us light. And for us, they are right about it because SPDC is our tenant”, he added.
The community leader also expressed regret that his people could still suffer hardship from the oil giant with the presence of over 30 oil wells, and a flow station that gathers crude oil from other neighbouring communities.
Another point of their grievance, he noted, was Shell’s failure to award N9million contract for a restore power to the community, which he said, dashed their hope.
“We can’t negotiate for other things. Shell is still giving us fake hope, my people are angry, and we have shut down the flow station. We are not leaving here until we receive positive change”, he said.
Also speaking, the representative of the chiefs, Chief Tony Assobinawu, said that the chief and elders were in support of the protest against SPDC.
Assobinawu, who corroborated the views of his CDC chairman, hinted that they have been neglected for too long, complaining that the community has no good water, and no paved internal roads.
In their separate speeches, the woman leader, Mrs Comfort Chuku and the Youth Leader, Mr Daniel Akpelu, said that the company must do something meaningful in the area to justify its presence in the area for almost 50 years.
Some of the placards they carried read, “Shell must give us light”, “We need Shell scholarship in Omudioga community”, “Youth empowerment is our priority”, among other things.
When contacted, the spokesman of Shell, Mr Michael Adande confirmed the development, but said he was yet to get details.

 

King Onunwor

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