The Rivers State House of Assembly has summoned management of Port Operator, West African Containers Terminal (WACT) to appear before its committee to answer questions bordering on Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Onne, Eleme Local Government Area.
The summon follows a petition presented before the House Committee on Local Contents, Youths and Employment by the Indigenous Contractors of Onne.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Igwe Aforji who disclosed this after meeting with the management of WACT, warned that the Assembly would no longer tolerate the attitude of companies who fail to engage Rivers people in their operations.
Aforji, who is the lawmaker representing Eleme Constituency in the State House of Assembly said the committee also summoned the Onne Community Liaison Officer (CLO) and mandated the company to provide all relevant documents of previous and present MoU’s it signed with indigenous contractors.
He noted that host communities should benefit from businesses operating in their domains and expressed sadness that companies hire hands from other states to occupy positions meant for Rivers people.
“So we want these companies to engage our youths, women, elders and their host communities in what they are doing. Never again would we allow any company to go to Lagos and bring people to work in the position that are meant for Rivers people.
“At this time, Rivers men and women should be ready to take their rightful positions in various companies within and around Rivers State. The State Assembly has sworn an oath to protect lives and property and the lives of every Rivers son and daughter will be protected according to the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Gone are the days when companies take our people for granted. Every host community must benefit from the facilities and businesses that happen within and around their community.”
The lawmaker stated that his meeting with the company reveals that the latter deliberately refuse to engage its host community in their operations.
“After interrogation and their submission. We (the committee) have discovered that no MoU and they deliberately refused to engage the Onne community in the contracting that is happening within the WACT Company.
“So, we have decided as a committee to summon the CLO of the company which they claim they have been relating with to come with documents to prove that they have been engaging Onne sons and daughters in their operations within the free zone.
“As a committee, we have set out 6th November (today) that the CLO appear with the top management of WACT, furnish the committee with details of all contractors from Onne working with WACT,” he said.
But speaking to newsmen, the CLO, Onne, Jima Osaronu said it is not true that WACT has not supported the advancement of Onne community and faulted claims the allegations made against the company by a group of contractors.
Osaronu stated that for over ten years of its operation, WACT has supported the community through the provision of schools, scholarships, youth empowerment, jobs creation and contract opportunities for indigenes.
“The company has done well in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility. In carrying out community development, renovation of schools.
The Onne State School was done by WACT in 2004/2005,” the CLO Stated.
Court Rules On Validity Of Ambode’s Suit Against Lawmakers, Feb 27
An Ikeja High Court will on February 27 rule on the validity of a suit filed by former Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, seeking an injunction restraining some of the state lawmakers from probing him over purchase of 820 buses.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya fixed the date after hearing the submissions of counsel to Ambode, Mr Tayo Oyetibo and counsel to the lawmakers, Mr Olukayode Enitan (SAN).
“This case is adjourned to February 27, 2020, for ruling,” Adesanya said.
Earlier, Ambode’s counsel told the court that the lawmakers should act in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
Oyetibo said that the former governor was seeking six regulatory reliefs and two injunctive orders against the lawmakers.
“The claimant (Ambode) has not come here to say that the lawmakers do not have power of investigation; he is saying that the exercise of that power is subject to the provisions of the Constitution.
“He is saying that his right under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution is violated.
His case is that the exercise of that power is subject to the provision of the Constitution particularly the right to fair hearing as contained in Section 36.
“Secondly, the court will determine whether the exercise of the power of the House of Assembly is subject to the provisions of the Constitution under Section 128.
“If the court answers the second question in the affirmative, it has the right to ask if those rights have been violated by the House of Assembly,” the counsel submitted.
According to Oyetibo, the first three of the six regulatory reliefs sought by Ambode deal with the scope of the powers of the House of Assembly as provided in Sections 128 and 129 of the 1999 Constitution.
He said that the fourth relief challenged the constitutionality of the Lagos State Appropriation Law, 2018.
“We are asking your lordship to determine the validity of a law or provision that will require the executive to come back to the House to seek disbursement of funds approved under the budget.
“The fifth relief is tied to the fourth relief: The lawmakers have been accusing the claimant of breach of budgetary approval. If there is no need for budgetary approval, they cannot accuse him of a breach,” he said.
He urged the court to dismiss the objection of the lawmakers with substantial costs.
Before Oyetibo’s submission, counsel to the lawmakers, Enitan, had via a preliminary objection dated November 14 2019, challenged the competence of the court to hear the suit based on three grounds.
“The first ground is that it is ultra vires (beyond legal power or authority) – that is, the power of the court to interfere with any investigation of the Lagos State House of Assembly or any arm of government based on the principle of separation of powers.
“The second ground is that the suit is preemptive and premature and not actionable, and the third ground is that it discloses no reasonable cause of action.
“I urge the court to decline jurisdiction as this suit is premature,” he said.
Enitan said that rather than accept an invitation to attend a probe sought by the House of Assembly, Ambode “rushed” to the court.
“The claimant has not been indicted; he has been invited to come and explain some things to us, but he ran to court.
“I urge the court to dismiss the suit,” he prayed.
Our corresponent reports that Ambode instituted the civil suit against the State House of Assembly, its Speaker Mudashiru Obasa and the House Clerk, Mr A.A Sanni.
Other respondents to the suit are Mr Fatai Mojeed, the Chairman of an Ad-hoc Committee set up by the House to probe the procurement of the buses, and eight members of the committee.
PDP Chieftains Cry Foul Over Suspension In Nasarawa
Three Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Bello Ramalan, Alhaji Mukhtar Mohammed and Mr Abdullahi Umar, have condemned their suspension from the party, describing it as unconstitutional.
Ramalan, a former Chief Whip of the state House of Assembly; Mohammed, a former Chairman of Keffi Local Government council and Umar, the party’s Organising Secretary in Keffi Council area, made their positions known at a news conference yesterday in Keffi.
Ramalan described their suspension by the local government chapter of the party as uncalled for, unconstitutional, illegal, lacking substantive evidence.
The former lawmaker said that he and seven others suspended from the party had written a petition to the PDP national headquarters and copied all organs of the party for necessary action on the purported suspension.
“I have been unlawfully suspended with other party loyalists in Keffi on the ground that I sponsored thugs to embarrass PDP leaders during our zonal meeting early this year in Keffi.
“To my surprise, we have not been given fair hearing and neither was any formal letter transmitted to us on the alleged offence leading to our suspension,” he said.
Corroborating Ramalan, Mohammed stated that as major party stakeholders in Keffi, the allegations against them were unfounded, baseless and could not be substantiated.
Mohammed, who was the PDP candidate for Keffi West constituency in the 2019 general election, pointed out that he had never been disloyal to party hierarchy and would never do.
He, however, said that the process of suspending him and others from the party was unfair, calling for the intervention of the PDP national leadership to ensure peace, progress and stability of the party.
Organising Secretary of the party in Keffi Local Government area, Mr Abdullahi Umar, also said that his suspension and those of others were based on fictitious allegations.
“They have suspended me along with seven others based on the allegation that we sponsored thugs to embarrass the party leaders during the zonal meeting held here (Keffi).
“We were not given fear hearing before our suspension from the party and this is contrary to the spirit and letters of the PDP constitution.
“In this respect, we have written a petition and submitted same to the national headquarters of our party and copied all organs of the party,” he said.
Our source reports that the trio and their supporters threatened to take legal action against the party.
LG Boss Restates Commitment To Oyigbo Dev
The Executive Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State, Prince Gerald Oforji, has restated the commitment of his administration to fast track development in the area.
Disclosing this at a new year message to the people, the council boss said the massive support he received from the people would spur him to redouble his effort to make the gate way local government area an envy of all in the areas of security, infrastructure, youth empowerment, human capital development and sanitation.
The council chairman called for more collaboration and support from the people to enable him deliver more dividends of democracy to them.
Iforji, who noted with delight the fact that Oyigbo was one of the most peaceful local government areas in the state, said he would give maximum support to security agencies in the area, as exemplified by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to make them work more effectively this year.
He lauded the professionalism security agencies exhibited especially during the Yuletide, noting that the support the security agencies received from the people of Oyigbo boosted their efforts such that the people celebrated the Christmas peacefully.
Oforji attributed his achievements to the massive support the State Chief Executive had given him since he assumed office, saying that the people of Oyigbo owe a lot to the Governor.
He said:” As a people, what we owe him is making sure that his developmental strides are totally replicated in Oyigbo , which no doubt, we have been doing.
“ Sanitation in Oyigbo has improved tremendously since we came on board. Empowerment of the people and infrastructure has often remained a duty we owe the people for electing us.
“ The recent Flag-off of Eke Ultramodern Market phase II shows our determination to deliver on electioneering promises. The project when completed would accommodate good number of people who sell on the road and engage idle youths.
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