The entire courtroom of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal was stunned to silence, last Friday, as two witnesses presented by the defeated Action Democratic Party (ADP) Governorship Candidate, Mr Victor Fingesi, confessed that they were procured to lie on oath.
The two witnesses, Mr Madume Wali from Ikwerre Local Government Area and Igonikon Gbeinyaa from Buguma in Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, who impersonated members of Action Democratic Party (ADP) told members of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt that they were hired and bribed to testify against the election victory of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Our correspondent reports that trouble started when the two supposed ADP witnesses, under cross-examination by Counsel to Wike, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), drew the attention of the tribunal to an election data tendered before the tribunal on the discrepancies surrounding the identity of the witnesses, and informed the tribunal that the two were impostors and false witnesses employed by the ADP to raise false allegations against his client.
That observation by Wike’s lawyer put off the first witness and the impersonator, Mr Igonikon Gbeinyaa, which made him confess to the tribunal that he was not Mr Stanley Okereke from Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, who served as collation agent in Ahoada West Local Government Area during the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial election but that he was paid to impersonate actual collection agent at the tribunal.
Also testifying before the tribunal, the second witness, Madume Wali, during cross-examination, told the tribunal that he was battling with his conscience to confess the crime.
He said that he collected money from the ADP governorship candidate, Mr Victor Fingesi, to lie before the tribunal, adding that the statement of witness on oath as tendered before the tribunal by the ADP governorship candidate was not from him.
It took the intervention of the lawyers at the tribunal to intercede on behalf of the two false witnesses for the tribunal judges led by Justice J. A. Orjiakor, to let them go free as the tribunal judges were bent on having them punished for lying on oath.
Speaking to journalists outside the courtroom, Counsel to the ADP, Dolapo Anthony said the testimony of their witnesses came to him as a surprise and shocking, adding that the duos were not bribed by anybody.
On his part, a member of the legal team representing the PDP, and Governor Nyesom Wike in the tribunal, Godwin Obla urged the ADP counsel to apologise to the tribunal for bringing false witnesses to the court.
It would be recalled that the tribunal, had earlier dismissed the petition of the Action Alliance Congress (AAC) and its candidate in the governorship election, Engineer Biokpomabo Awara against the victory of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Wike of the PDP winner having polled 886, 264 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Biokpomabo Awara of AAC, who scored 173,859.
Meanwhile, residents and motorists in Port Harcourt City have commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for the commencement of preliminary works aimed at fulfilling the pledge to construct a flyover at the Garrison Roundabout on the ever-busy Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway.
In his address after taking the oath of office for a second term on May 29, Wike announced that his administration would construct flyover bridges at Rumuokoro, Garrison and Artillery in Port Harcourt.
The residents said that by taking steps to fulfill his pledge, Wike has proved that the people were right to have re-elected him.
A resident, Ifeanyi Nicholas noted that the governor was working hard for the development of Rivers State and the construction of key infrastructure projects.
He said: “Mr Projects is trying for the people of Rivers State. The fact that he is constructing this flyover shows that he means well for the people of the state.”
Another resident, Ola Olaniyi said that the flyover was needed at this time to resolve the traffic congestion at the area, and thanked the Rivers State governor for addressing the challenge.
“We have been expecting a flyover at this point for several years. We are happy that Governor Wike is constructing the flyover at Garrison. We are happy that the contractor is already on site, and they are taking the measurements to begin work”, he said.
On his part, Innocent Uya thanked Governor Wike for his commitment to making the lives of Rivers people easy.
Uya said: “We are happy that the governor is committed to making our lives easy. This flyover is necessary, especially now that more Rivers people are buying vehicles in line with the growing economy.”
“There is also the fundamental that all leaders continue to respect the purpose of their election by serving the people like Governor Wike”.
Other respondents while thanking the Rivers State governor for taking steps to construct the flyover, said they were looking forward to using the facility.
Enyinna Advance said: “It is a welcome development that the governor is taking steps to fulfill his pledge to the people because the roundabout at the place is becoming choked up.
“A new flyover at the Garrison Roundabout will resolve the traffic gridlock along Aba Road and help us ease traffic on this important road.
“We are happy with this welcome development. The people know that he is Mr Projects, that is why they voted for him for a second term”.
For Ezenye Felix: “This roundabout is now causing traffic congestion and a flyover will help resolve the challenge.
“I pray God to protect him to continue to do the best for Rivers people. He is a hardworking governor who loves the people of the state”, he added.
Trans-Kalabari Road: Banigo, Stakeholders Condemn Abduction Of Expatriate
Kalabari traditional rulers and stakeholders have condemned the recent abduction of an expatriate staff of Lubric Construction Company working on the Trans-Kalabari Road.
Speaking at a meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt, last Friday, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo said she was deeply pained by the unfortunate incident carried out by unknown miscreants.
According to the deputy governor, who said that the State Chief Executive Officer, Nyesom Wike, was desirous to bring more development projects to Kalabari Kingdom, regretted that this act was capable of discouraging him.
“I want to reiterate that our governor is very desirous to do more developmental projects in our communities, there are many more things he has in the card to do for us, and if we allow this ugly thing to surface, that attitude will discourage him”, the deputy governor noted.
Banigo, who said that perpetrators of the heinous crime did not drop from the sky, insisted that they were community people, and must be fished out and dealt with decisively, while calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the abductee.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, expressed regrets that a project as important as the Trans-Kalabari Road would be tampered with by persons who do not mean well for the Kalabari people.
“If their intention is to run down the good works of our dear governor, over a project which the Kalabari people have been yearning for over the years, then, I am sure God Almighty will not allow them to get away with this dastardly act of kidnapping one expatriate”, Alabraba stressed.
Alabraba further said, “It is important that we talk to ourselves and ensure that everything possible is done to ensure immediate release of the victim, and ensure that measures are put in place to forestall this type of thing in the future”.
Presenting a seven-point communique, Amanyanabo of Minama, King Iboroma Talbot Pokubo, who represented the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disreal Gbobo Bobmanuel, demanded for the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate, and reassured Governor Wike of their unwavering support for the governor.
Buhari Approves Incorporation Of NNPC, Appoints Board Members
President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited be incorporated.
He also approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited with Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as chairman.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, was appointed chief executive officer.
This was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, saying that the president acted in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, has directed the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
“This is in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, which requires the Minister of Petroleum Resources to cause for the incorporation of the NNPC Limited within six months of commencement of the Act in consultation with the Minister of Finance on the nominal shares of the company.
“The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kolo Kyari, has, therefore, been directed to take necessary steps to ensure that the incorporation of the NNPC Limited is consistent with the provisions of the PIA 2021.
“Also, by the power vested in him under Section 59(2) of the PIA 2021, President Buhari has approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited, with effect from the date of incorporation of the company.
“Chairman of the board is Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, while Mele Kolo Kyari and Umar I. Ajiya are chief executive officer, and chief financial officer, respectively.
“Other board members are; Dr Tajudeen Umar (North-East); Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North-Central); Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North-West); Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South-East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South-South); and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South-West).”
Reject Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request, SERAP Tells NASS
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; to reject the fresh request by President Muhammadu Buhari, to borrow $4billion and €710million.
SERAP said if such request must be granted, the Federal Government should publish details of spending of all loans obtained since May 29, 2015.
The group also expressed fear that if the fresh request is granted, it may take Nigeria’s to over N35trillion.
Buhari recently sought the approval of the National Assembly to borrow $4,054,476,863 and €710million, on the grounds of “emerging needs.”
The request was contained in a letter dated August 24, 2021.
In an open letter dated September 18, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation expressed “concerns about the growing debt crisis, the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans that have been obtained, and the perceived unwillingness or inability of the National Assembly to vigorously exercise its constitutional duties to check the apparently indiscriminate borrowing by the government.”
SERAP said, “The National Assembly should not allow the government to accumulate unsustainable levels of debt, and use the country’s scarce resources for staggering and crippling debt service payments rather than for improved access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic public services and human rights.
“The country’s public debt has mushroomed with no end in sight. The growing national debt is clearly not sustainable. There has been no serious attempt by the government to cut the cost of governance. The leadership of the National Assembly ought to stand up for Nigerians by asserting the body’s constitutional powers to ensure limits on national debt and deficits.
“Should the National Assembly and its leadership fail to rein in government borrowing, and to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of public loans, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly to discharge its constitutional duties.
“SERAP notes that if approved, the country’s debts will exceed N35trillion. The government is also reportedly pushing the maturity of currently-secured loans to between 10 and 30 years. N11.679trillion is reportedly committed into debt servicing, while only N8.31trillion was expended on capital/development expenditure between 2015 and 2020.
“Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of loans by the government and cutting the cost of governance would address the onerous debt servicing, and improve the ability of the government to meet the country’s international obligations to use maximum available resources to ensure the enjoyment of basic economic and social rights, such as quality healthcare and education”, SERAP added.
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