The Rivers State Police Command has vowed to end the menace of hotel killings in the State, just as it disclosed the arrest of another suspected serial killer at the Rumuokoro axis of Port Harcourt.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mustapha Dandaura disclosed this when about 74 women groups led by the Rotary Club protested to the command’s Headquarters in Port Harcourt, yesterday, over the killing of young women in hotels in the state.
Some of the groups that joined the protest include, ‘Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), the Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA), among others.
Dandaura further disclosed that the latest suspect was arrested while trying to strangle a young lady with a white towel in a hotel room they lodged; just as he said that no fewer than nine young women have been killed in the same circumstance in the state in the past two months.
He stated that two previous suspected serial killers arrested earlier were still in police custody and giving useful information, noting that the third suspect was picked up in the early hours of Tuesday.
The state police boss said, “We already have two suspects in custody. I am glad to announce to you that we have arrested a third suspect at a hotel in Rumuokoro.
“He locked the door, we had to force the suspect to open the door, and we now saw a lady there. A young lady and a middle-aged man so to say. We now asked them what happened. The lady said that he took her and booked that hotel room, and in the night while she was asleep, the man wanted to strangle her with a towel”.
Dandaura assured the protesting women that the command would arrest those responsible for the killing.
“We want to assure each and every one of you here that the command will not relent in our effort to see that these cultists who go around killing these innocent women are brought to book.
“It is a cultist activity. I discovered that all the victims that were killed, they used to put a white cloth round their waist or round their neck. So, it is a sign that it is a cultist activity going on.
“It is not only one person doing it. They are a group. We will continue to pursue them and make sure that we get rid of this menace that is going on. Efforts are on the ground to end this serial killing in Rivers and we will do that,” he assured.
Earlier, the protesting groups led by the Rotary Club, had asked security agencies to be tough on crime in a bid to fish out those responsible for the killing of young women in hotels in Port Harcourt.
The women said this during a peace walk to some institutions, including the State Police Command, the Department of State Services (DSS) and Government House, Port Harcourt during which they presented a petition to them.
President of Rotary Club, Port Harcourt South, Rita Marley, said that the women in the state were worried over the killings, and called on government and security agencies to step up their operations to ensure that perpetrators of the act were arrested and prosecuted.
“We are saying that a thorough, unbiased and speedy investigation by the police should be looked into in all the killings. We also want a public apology to be made by the police regarding the statement that all the women being killed are prostitutes. We are also saying that all hotels should have a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Camera.
Also speaking, former Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, stressed the need for people in authority to be held accountable on issues of security.
The group demanded justice for the families of female victims who have been murdered by the killers within the state.
The walk was a sequel to the alleged recent killing of women in some hotels in Port Harcourt.
With the dress code, ‘All Black’ which symbolises fear, mystery, death, evil, and aggression, authority, rebellion among other things, the groups came out en masse to register their grievances in the way to fish out the serial killers in the state.
From the premises of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) at Moscow Road, Port Harcourt, where the walk kicked off, the female groups in their numbers went around the city.
They carried placards with different inscriptions, including, “The serial killers who called a woman prostitute should apologize”, “We demand justice and for those victims who have been killed”, “We are not saved anymore”, among other things.
According to the groups, “Women should not be killed rather they should be protected from the hands of ritual killers and ensure that families of those killed get justice”.
Similarly, the Rivers State House of Assembly has joined in the crusade to condemn the recent murder of young girls in hotels across Port Harcourt and environs.
This formed part of the resolution of the House during plenary, yesterday, as a three-man committee headed by Hon. Kelechi Wogu was set up to liaise with other relevant agencies to check the menace.
The resolution was a result of a motion presented by Hon. Sam Ogeh of Emohua Constituency, together with Chairperson, House Committee on Women Affairs, Hon Linda Stewart of Okrika Constituency.
Both Ogeh and Stewart had through their motion, raised alarm over the recent murder of young ladies by yet-to-be uncovered syndicate at various hotels in Port Harcourt.
Already, the police had put the figures of victims at nine.
Ogeh submitted that, “It appears that there is no end to it and the recent protests by different women groups call for action.”
He emphasized that the hotels have the moral duty to protect the lives of their guests as provided by the law, and “it has come to a point such that as a responsible House, we have to add our voice to this problem”.
Before subjecting the motion to debate and vote, Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi -Owaji Ibani said, “This is a basic and underlying motion that should be taken seriously.”
He hailed the security agencies for the arrest so far made, while commending the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for the security measures put in place to secure lives and property in the state.
Kevin Nengia, Dennis Naku & Nancy Gbarabuleh
Army To Mobilise Troops, Military Equipment For Crocodile Smile IV
The Nigerian Army, yesterday, alerted the public that troops and military equipment would be mobilised frequently as Exercise Crocodile Smile IV kicks off in Lagos and Ogun states.
This was contained in a statement released by acting Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, Major Kamurudeen Adegoke for the 81 Division.
He appealed to residents of both states to stay calm at the sight of such movements noting that the exercise would run from November 19 to December 23.
Adegoke said exercise will commence with Beach Landing at Takwa-Bay Island on Tuesday morning, adding that Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will conduct the flag off.
“The event is aimed at enhancing troops ‘operational proficiency, inter-agency cooperation and civil-military coordination. Others include effective training on Rules of Engagement, handling of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in line with international best practices.
“The exercise is also designed to curb the prevalent contemporary security challenges such as kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, ritual killing, and pipeline vandalism among others within the division’s Area of Responsibilities (AOR)
“During the period of the exercise, there will be free medical outreach, maintenance of some selected roads as well as donations of educational materials to some schools within Lagos and Ogun states. Participants will include members of the military, paramilitary and other security agencies.
“In view of the above, 81 Division wishes to advice members of the public not to panic on sighting troops and movement of military”, he added.
‘Buhari, Redeem Six Years Of Failed Power Privatisation’
Contrary to all expectations, the power sector privatisation has turned out to be an unreserved fiasco. The optimism of economic and social revolution touted as an inevitable accompaniment of a steady and uninterrupted electricity supply has come to naught. Six years after the privatisation was pulled off by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Nigerians are now yearning for an urgent intervention to save the sector from an utter collapse, which could be only a matter of time.
Encumbered by a public power sector that reeked of corruption, ineptitude and facility decay, Nigeria had readily embraced an option of reform, which could only be effectively implemented through privatisation. “To the Nigerian people, who have demonstrated such great patience and confidence, putting up often with darkness…I say better days are coming,” Jonathan had boisterously promised. But rather than carry out a transparent bidding process that would have attracted not just the much-needed investible funds but also the technical know-how, the exercise was mired in opacity.
In place of the experts and foreign investors that privatisation set out to attract, a motley group of Nigerians with practically no antecedent in power sector business and lacking the financial muscle was thrown up as the new investors. The result is now obvious; instead of an effective and efficient power sector that would guarantee constant electricity supply to light up homes and fire the industries, boosting the economy, Nigerians are now saddled with an albatross.
As currently structured, the power sector stands on a wobbly tripod, made up of the Generation Companies, the Transmission Company of Nigeria and the Distribution Companies. While it is the duty of the GenCos to generate electricity, the TCN, which is still wholly owned by the government, takes the responsibility for the transmission to the grid, from where the DisCos can then sell to the consumers. But none of them has been able to inspire confidence.
When the power assets were handed over to private investors on November 1, 2013, the electricity generated in Nigeria that day was 3,712.4 megawatts, from an installed generation capacity of 12, 910.40 MW and available capacity of 7,652.60 MW, according to data attributed to the Nigerian Electricity System Operator. For a population of 171.8 million then, this was ridiculous. But despite the generation capacity of 12,910.40 MW, the transmission could only boast a wheeling capacity of 8, 100 MW, while 5,375 MW remained the peak that had ever been generated.
Six years down the line, with a population of about 200 million, very little has changed. The distribution capacity is still estimated at around 4,000 MW, barely over the 3.712.4 MW of November 1, 2013. The Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, was quoted in a report two months ago as saying that installed power generation had improved to 13, 427MW (as against 12,910.40 MW in 2013), while the TCN Managing Director, Usman Mohammed, said the national grid had the capacity to transmit 7,000 MW.
These figures remain mere academic, as long as they do not translate into improved electricity supply to consumers. What is however undeniable is the fact that the DisCos, which directly interface with the consumers, have emerged as the weakest link in the electricity supply value chain. They keep complaining about cost-reflective tariff, even though they have been found wanting through and through.
They whine over the reluctance of consumers to pay when more than 55 per cent of those consumers are not metered, and access to electricity remains a mirage. For sure, the GenCos are not generating enough and the TCN is not transmitting adequately, yet, even the little that is available is rejected by the DisCos. For example, 9,310.64 MW of electricity was reportedly rejected between August 13 and August 20.
Rejecting loads when there is not enough to go round may sound outrageous but there are other weighty issues that pointedly betray the investors as utterly out of their depth. Particularly, funding has remained a knotty issue. Having raided the local banks for money to buy the firms, the local investors have not been able to fund the needed facility upgrade that should have brought about improvement in electricity supply.
Although a REUTERS report put the cost of the purchase of the power assets in 2013 at $2.5 billion, the TCN MD said the DisCos alone would require a whopping $4.3bn investment to make the desired impact. Shorn of credit options, following challenges in servicing their loans, the investors are now at their wits’ end – uncertain of what step to take next, except perhaps to let go of their majority shares and pave the way for a takeover by capable foreign investors.
As the designated revenue collectors on behalf of other operators in the industry, the DisCos are heavily in debt and have failed to remit money collected to the others. As of July, the TCN said it was being owed N270 billion by the DisCos. The former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had also said last year that the Discos’ indebtedness to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Company stood at N500 billion. “NBET also owes GenCos N325.784 billion, which can be settled if NBET collects what the DisCos are owing,” he said.
This debt burden has completely thrown the power sector off balance. Admitting that it would be difficult to pay, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, Sunday Oduntan, said only a monthly revenue of N725 million by each of the DisCos could guarantee them meeting the 35 per cent threshold remittance requirement. Yet, the regulatory authority, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Authority, appears helpless.
As Osinbajo has contended, only a recapitalisation can solve the problem. The government has already made some strides in this direction by bringing in Siemens, whose three-phased road map is expected to ultimately deliver 25,000 MW. The deal involves the German government and Siemens collaborating to increase electricity transmission and distribution capacities in Nigeria.
Although the government, which owns 40 per cent equity in the DisCos, has been castigated for not discharging its responsibilities satisfactorily, it has still taken some notable steps to pull the power sector out of its current mess. Apart from a loan intervention of N213 billion in 2014, another sum of N701 billion was announced two years ago to guarantee the NBET to be able to pay GenCos for two years. In August, President Muhammadu Buhari announced another intervention of N600 billion.
It is time for President Buhari to intervene decisively in the power sector logjam. The government cannot just continue to shell out public funds in this manner for a sector that has been privatised. Nobody needs to be told now that the privatisation was shoddily done but something drastic has to be done to salvage the situation in the national interest. The government has to take advantage of the performance review due in December to see whether to continue with the status quo or not.
Power remains a big incentive for economic and social development. When the government manages to get rid of the current investors, efforts should be geared towards targeted foreign investors, as is currently the case with Siemens, to get replacements. In Singapore, the system of Open Electricity Market is adopted. It allows consumers to migrate to other companies if they are not satisfied with the services they are getting. Nigeria will benefit immensely from such a system. What obtains now is still a monopoly that was in place before privatisation.
IYC Tackles Amaechi Over Warri Port Dredging Accuses Minister Of Anti-N’Delta Activities
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has taken a swipe at the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi over his poor handling of the dredging of Warri Port in Delta State, accusing him of playing anti-Niger Delta politics with the project.
In a statement signed by the IYC President, Eric Omare, Esq, and made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, the Ijaw youth think-tank said that Amaechi’s behaviour portrayed him as a politician who was against the development aspirations of the Niger Delta people.
The statement read, “The attention of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has been drawn to a statement credited to the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to the effect that he would have stopped the planned dredging of the Warri port, if he was not from the South-South region over youth disturbances.
“Amaechi was reported to have made the comment at the Palace of the Ovie of Uvwie in Delta State during the reception in honour of the Minister of State, Labour and Productivity, Chief Festus Keyamo on Thursday, November 14, 2019. When the story was reported in the media, we had initially thought that the minister was quoted out of context. However, having waited for more than three days without a correction from the minister’s media office, we wish to correct the wrong impression created in the said media report.
“That the IYC completely condemn the statement made by Rt. Hon. Amaechi that youths are disturbing the commencement of the proposed Warri Port dredging because it is very far from the truth and calculated to paint the youths of the Niger Delta region in the wrong light before the Nigerian public.
“On the contrary, we state clearly without fear of contradiction that there is no existing contract to dredge the Warri Port that is being delayed by youth disturbances.
“For the purpose of clarity, we state that sometime in 2018, the Federal Government announced its intention to carry out dredging of the Warri Port channel so as to allow bigger vessels use the Warri Port and make the port functional.
“In response and to create the conducive environment for the project to take-off, the youths of Ijaw and Itsekiri under whose area the dredging was supposed to take place at their own initiative and expense organized a sensitisation workshop and indeed set up an advocacy team which went round the communities affected to allow for peaceful dredging in the interest of the Warri economy. This initiative was widely reported by the media and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) management was excited by the initiative of the youths.
“The Warri Port dredging was supposed to be in three phases; which are the dredging of the Escravos bar, construction of the breakwater and the dredging of the Warri Port channel from Escravos to Warri.
“After the sensitisation workshop organized by the Ijaw and Itsekiri youths, there was supposed to be a meeting between the affected communities and stakeholders with Federal Government officials before the commencement of the first phase of the work which is the dredging of the Escravos bar.
“However, instead of meeting with the communities and stakeholders, Rt. Hon. Minister Amaechi as Minister of Transportation directed and handed over all community rights to a party chieftain from Delta State from one of the ethnic groups at the expense of the generality of the communities and stakeholders without regard to the multi ethnic sensitivity of the Warri area.
“However, the Ijaw leadership saw that this was another attempt by Rt. Hon. Amaechi to create room not to go on with the dredging as he is now doing. Therefore, the affected communities did not raise any issue and allowed the dredging of the Escravos bar to go on without any problem. In this dredging, the communities and stakeholders were not involved in anyway, hence they are not in a position to know if the dredging was actually done up to specification or not.
“The Escravos bar dredging was done without any disturbances whatsoever despite Minister Amaechi’s provocative conduct. Therefore, we are amazed that Hon. Amaechi is now accusing youths of the South-South especially from the Warri area of acting as hindrance to the Warri Port dredging. If we may ask Amaechi, who are the youths disturbing the Warri Port dredging and when did the engagement with the youths took place? Is there a contract in place to dredge the Warri Port by the Federal Government and who is the contractor and when was the contract awarded?
“To the best of our knowledge, after the dredging of the Escravos bar, the next phase ought to be the construction of the Escravos breakwater and then dredging of the channel from Escravos to Warri and none of these contracts has been awarded. So, which dredging contract and youth disturbances is Amaechi talking about? Who are the youth or community representatives that have been arguing with Amaechi over the Warri Port dredging in the past six months?
“It is obvious that Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi despite being from the South-South is allergic to anything development of the region. He always hide under spurious reasons to opposed any developmental initiative of the region just as he did with the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko.
“Consequently, we call on the general public, especially President Muhammadu Buhari to completely disregard the claim by Minister Amaechi that youths are obstructing the dredging of the Warri Port channel. On the contrary the youths have been very supportive of the Warri Port channel dredging but the Minister Amaechi seems to be playing politics with the dredging.
“However, Minister Amaechi should remember that he would not be Minister of Transportation forever and at the end of this tenure he would be asked what he achieved for the South-South region just as he used to ask former President Jonathan”, Omare added.
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