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Guber Tribunal: Wike Opens Defence On AAC’s Petition

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, opened defence on the election petition filed by African Action Congress (AAC) and its gubernatorial candidate, Engineer Biokpomabo Awara before the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Port Harcourt.
Appearing as a witness for Wike at the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, yesterday, the former Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea and Director General of Rivers State PDP Campaign Council, Amb Desmond Akawor told the tribunal that the March 9, 2019 Governorship Election was conducted peacefully and in compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines across the polling units of the state.
Akawor said that Wike emerged victorious after the peaceful voting that took place across the state.
He said the Governorship Election was concluded across the polling units, results announced and collation done in the wards and local government areas.
The DG said that INEC only suspended the final collation after soldiers unleashed violence and attempted to hijack the process.
He spoke during cross examination by counsel to the Rivers State Governor, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) and counsel to PDP, Godwin Obla (SAN).
The Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal has adjourned to September 30, 2019 for adoption of written addresses by all parties involved in the matter.
Akawor tendered certified copy of Form EC8E, which is the declaration of the Governorship Election result, and also tendered the Certificate of Return issued to Wike.
The envoy also tendered certified polling units results from across Rivers State issued to polling agents during the March 9, 2019 Governorship election.
He further tendered Form EC8A containing Governorship Election Results from 16 local government areas and 129 wards.
Akawor told the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal that before INEC suspended the collation of results due to the interference by the Army, collation had been completed in 17 local government areas.
He referred the tribunal to Paragraph 12vi of the press release of INEC of 10th and 15 March, 2019.
He further tendered the affidavit of former deputy governorship candidate of AAC, Chief Akpo Bomba Yeeh denouncing the party and declaring that Nyesom Wike won the election.
Earlier, at the resumed hearing of the tribunal, last Wednesday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), tendered some documents to the court and announced its close of defence on the petition with no witness presented for cross examination.
Counsel for INEC, Steve Adeyi (SAN) had told the court that haven examined all evidence brought by the petitioner that there was no allegation made against it, hence the decision to close its case with no witness for defence.
However, after acknowledging the documents, the three man tribunal led by Justice Kingsley Ojiakor adjourned till yesterday for the 2nd respondent (Governor Wike) to open defence.
Speaking with newsmen at the court premises, INEC counsel, Steve Adeyi (SAN) noted that the commission has closed its case in the petition.
He said “What we did was not to waste the time of the court. We have examined all the evidence brought by the petitioner and our defence view that they have not made up case for us to answer.
“Like I said, not to waste the time of the court we decided to close up our case today”.
On his part, counsel for the 1st petitioner (Awara Biokpomabo), Emenike Ebete, said “This morning, the Independent National Electoral Commission was to present their witnesses to open their case. After yesterday (Tuesday) proceedings, it was their turn to open their case today (Wednesday) and we came to court, the INEC lawyer, after tendering some documents, announced to the court that he did not intend to call any witness and that they have closed their case”.
He said that, “It is his case, if he says he does not want to bring any witness to prove his case, we are okay.
Also speaking, co-counsel for Governor Wike, Dike Udenna, explained that “INEC is on top of its own game, it has looked at the evidence against it, and then come to the conclusion that there is really nothing against it, so, there is no point calling witnesses to deny when there is no allegation made against it.
“I think they are within their right to make that decision not to call witnesses, and there is nothing wrong with that, it is permissible under the law”.
He noted that, “The case has now been adjourned till Thursday for 2nd respondent that is Governor Nyesom Wike to open his own defence”.

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Leah Sharibu Alive, Doing Well, Freed Aid Worker Confirms

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A 26-year-old medical aid worker working with Alliance For International Medical Action, Jennifer Ukambong Samuel, who regained freedom from the Boko Haram captivity, said she didn’t meet with Leah Sharibu but she was told that Leah was doing well.
Jennifer, who arrived Jos, last Saturday amidst crowds after the Department of State Services (DSS) facilitated her release, told our source in Jos that they were not allowed to see other abducted girls but said they met with Alice, a lady who has been in captivity for long told her that Leah was doing fine.
“I don’t know how many of us that were taken but I think we were eight or nine in number. We started moving inside the bush and got to a place where they wanted to make video recording for us to speak to the Federal Government.
“They said we should tell Federal Government that if they want us to be released, they should release their people in government custody. When we got there, I saw Alice; the last day we were going, she was the only person we were allowed to see.
“I didn’t see Leah Sharibu but Alice said Leah and Grace were doing fine, that is what she told me. That if I had known her before she was abducted, I would have agreed that she is doing fine; she is very fat but she wasn’t fat before her abduction.”
Jennifer said they were kept in a tick bush for about three weeks, and said the insurgents gave them food, and urged them to request whatever they want for their comfort.
She noted that they were not harassed sexually but they were preparing them for the action when one of them said their religion permits them to have sex with their slaves.
Jennifer appreciated the Department of State Services, other security agencies, the Federal Government and spirited individuals who cried out for their release.

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Amotekun: Yoruba World Congress Holds Solidarity Walk, ’Morrow

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A solidarity walk organised by the Yoruba World Congress (YWC); an umbrella body of all Yoruba socio-cultural and self-determination groups in support of Operation Amotekun, a security network recently established by governors from the South-West to wage war against the spate of insecurity ravaging the zone will hold tomorrow across the entire region.
The congress has pleaded with the South-West governors not to back down and push the concept through.
A statement by the Director of Contacts and Mobilization of the group, Comrade Victor Taiwo, yesterday, said the walk would take place in all the South-West state capitals in Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Osogbo, Akure and Ado-Ekiti, simultaneously, from 9am.
The YWC is being led by Yoruba Leader, Emeritus Professor of History and Second Republic Senator, Banji Akintoye.
Taiwo said, “All Yoruba people are urged to come out in their millions anywhere they are in Oduduwa Land on Tuesday to show to the world that Amotekun has come to stay.
“We must show to the external forces and their internal collaborators who want to stampede our resolve to protect ourselves, safeguard our land from kidnappers and armed robbers, and put an end to consistent destruction of our farmlands, that enough is enough.
“Well-meaning Yoruba people and leaders of thought would be at designated venues to address the protest.
“We want to assure our governors that Yoruba people are behind them on Amotekun. We urge them not to shiver, and they must never shiver. It is no retreat, no surrender. We will not surrender Amotekun.
“On the meeting points, those in Lagos are to converge at Gani Faweyinmi Freedom Park, Ojota; Oyo: Opposite Agodi Cenotaph, Ibadan; Ogun: Pansheke Junction, Abeokuta; Osun: Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo; Ondo: Alagbaka Roundabout, opposite First Bank, Akure while those in Ekiti are to converge at Fajuyi Roundabout, Ado-Ekiti”, he added.

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RSG Tackles CBN Over N50 Stamp Duty Charges

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The Rivers State Government has vowed to check any form of double taxation in the state, just as it appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to review its N50 stamp duty charge on business owners using the POS in the state.
The state Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr. Peter Medee stated this during a meeting with Licensed Petroleum Products Station Owners Association in Rivers State (LIPPSOAR) led by its Chairman, Sunny Nkpe at his office in Port Harcourt, last Friday.
Medee explained that paying the extra N50 charge was a form of double taxation, which the state government under Governor Nyesom Wike was bent on stopping.
He said, “When the transporter goes to the fuel station to buy the product, and he is charged extra N50, he passes it on to the passengers in any way he can, but definitely he will pass it on, and by so doing exploiting Rivers people.”
Medee, in a five-point communique he jointly signed with LIPPSOAR Chairman, Comrade Sunny Nkpe, and read to newsmen, said the N50 petrol stamp duty fee by the CBN for the use of POS remains a merchant fee which should be paid by business owners and not the customers.
The commissioner charged the association not to allow their facilities to be used for any unpleasant activity that may negatively affect residents of the state and the environment.
The communique reads, “Government understands the challenges and difficulties the members of Licensed Petroleum Products Station Owners Association of Rivers State face on the implementation of the N50 stamp duty.
“That the N50 stamp duty is a merchant fee and should be so regarded. Further engagements will be made with the CBN for appropriate review of the N50 stamp duty charges, considering the fact that LIPPSOAR and operating in Rivers State, are adversely affected because their businesses are highly regulated.
“That LIPPSOAR members are advised not to allow their facilities to be used for any unwholesome practices that will adversely affect the residents and environment of Rivers State.”
In his remarks, LIPPSOAR Chairman, Sunny Nkpe, said the association would adhere to the decisions taken at the meeting, noting that his members have remained partners with the ministry and the state government.
He added, “On our part, LIPPSOAR and other stakeholders, we want to promise the commissioner, his team and the Government of Rivers State of our usual support and cooperation at all times.

 

Dennis Naku & Ruth Alpheus

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