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For The Record

High Court Judgement On Soku Oil Wells

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IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT ABUJA
ON MONDAY THE 16TH DAY OF DECEMBER, 2019
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP, THE HON. JUSTICE I. E. EKWO
ON SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/984/2019
BETWEEN:
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF RIVERS STATE …… PLAINTIF
AND
NATIONAL BOUNDARY COMMISSION ……….. DEFENDANT
JUDGEMENT

The originating process in this case was issued on the application of the Plaintiff dated 15th August, 2019 for the determination of a sole question to wit:
Whether having regard to the provisions of section 3(a) of the National Boundary Commission Act, Cap N10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and the undertaking contained in the Defendant’s letter dated 3/7/2002, the failure of the Defendant to rectify the erroneous interstate boundary between Rivers State and Bayelsa State as contained in the extant 11th Edition or the Nigerian Administrative Map constitutes a breach of’ the Defendant’s statutory duty and a flagrant disobedience of the Order of the Supreme Court contained in its judgment delivered on 10/7/2012 in Suit No. SC.l 06/2009: Attorney General of Rivers State vs Attorney General or Bayelsa State and which has occasioned continuous denial of the Plaintiff or its constitutional right to be paid the 13% derivation funds, accruing from the Soku Oil Fields/Wells located within Rivers State.
The Plaintiff seeks the following reliefs upon the determination of the sole question:
(a) A declaration that the continued failure and/or refusal of the Defendant to rectify its admitted mistake in the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria since 2002. which erroneously showed San Bartholomew River instead of River Santa Barbara as the interstate, boundary between the Plaintiff State and Bayelsa State constitutes a breach of its statutory duty and ·a flagrant disobedience of the Order of the Supreme Court contained in its judgment delivered on 10/7/2012 in Suit No. SC. 106/2009.
(b) A declaration that the continued reliance on the said defective 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria by other Government Agencies/Statutory bodies especially the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the Accountant General of the Federation in computation of the revenue accruable to the Plaintiff from the Federation Account has resulted in the continued unjust/unfair denial of allocation of derivation funds/money accruing from the Soku Oil Fields/Wells situate within the Rivers State to the detriment of the Plaintiff.
(c) An Order of mandamus or mandatory injunction compelling the Defendant to rectify forthwith in the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria the erroneous interstate boundary between’ Rivers State and Bayelsa State as contained in the extant 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria.
(d) An Order, pending the formality of compliance with the order of mandamus or mandatory injunction in (c) above, deeming the administrative boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa States to be River Santa Barbara in accordance with the admission of the Defendant as per its letter of 3/7/2002 and the definitive Orders of the Supreme Court entered and made on 10/7/2012.
(e) An Order, upon the grant of the above reliefs, directing that notice of the decision of this Honourable Court be served on the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the Accountant General of the Federation.
The facts of the Plaintiff’s case are to be gleaned from their is-paragraphed affidavit deposed to on 22nd August, 2019. I consider the salient averments thereof to be found in paragraph 4-17. Therein it is averred that in 1996, Bayelsa State was created out of the old Rivers State. The geographical entity known as Rivers State
Included Soku Oil Fields/Wells from which derivation fund were paid to Rivers State. Upon creation of Bayelsa State, the administrative structure or unit hitherto known as Brass Division was excised from old Rivers State and constituted into Bayelsa State; while Degema and the remaining Divisions became present Rivers State with both States having their boundary as River Santa Barbara. This was the position from time immemorial and was so reflected in several Administrative Maps of Nigeria including the 10th Edition. Sometime in 2002 when the Plaintiff noticed that the 11th “ Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria changed the natural boundary between it and Bayelsa State from River Santa Barbara to San Bartholomew River, the Plaintiff protested the change to the Defendant and the Surveyor-General of the” Federation (Exhs. A, B and C). In response to the protest letters, the Defendant in its letter dated 3rd July, 2002 admitted its mistake in the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria which placed the boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa States at San Bartholomew River and undertook to correct same in its 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria (Exh. D). When the Defendant failed to redress the mistake in spite of its undertaking to’ correct same, and, in spite of repeated demands by the Plaintiff to do so, the Plaintiff in 2009 instituted an action at the Supreme Court in its original jurisdiction in Suit No. SC.106/2009 – Attorney General of Rivers State v. Attorney General of 8ayelsa State and Attorney General of the Federation, On 10th July, 2012 the Supreme Court of Nigeria in a unanimous held that based on the admission of the mistake made by the Defendant and its undertaking to rectify the error of the interstate boundary between Rivers State and Bayelsa State in its 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria, the Plaintiff’s suit was accordingly struck out but the Court made an order against the Defendant to wit:
”From the tone of this letter, the fixing of St. Bartholomew River as the boundary between the plaintiff and the 1st defendant is an error acknowledged by the National Boundary Commission which it has undertaken to correct. Consequently, it is the order of this court that. the 2nd Defendant; the National Boundary Commission produces the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria expeditiously correcting all the alleged error in the 11th Edition.”
It is then averred that the Order of the Supreme Court contained in the said judgement was delivered by Adekeye, JSC (as he then was) and is reported in Attorney General of Rivers State v. Attorney General of Bayelsa State & Anor. (2013) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1340) 123 at 167 paras D-E (Exh. E), and, the letter referred to by the Supreme Court In the judgement is to be found in Exh. D. Notwithstanding the Defendant’s undertaking to rectify the error and the Order of the Supreme Court that it should do so expeditiously, the Defendant till date has failed and/or refused to amend the interstate boundary between the two States contained in its 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria. The Defendant has recently been bandying a preliminary Administrative Map purportedly as the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria (Exh. F) which did not correct the anomaly complained of in the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria. When the Plaintiff became aware of Exh. F, the Plaintiff wrote a letter dated 19th July, 2019 (Exh. G) to the 1st Defendant complaining of the defects contained therein and demanded a withdrawal of the said document from circulation and also demanded compliance with its undertaking and Order of the Supreme Court within 21 days which period has since elapsed without compliance by the 1st Defendant. Unless compelled by this Court the Defendant will not produce an authentic 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria in compliance with its undertaking and the Order of the Supreme Court. Consequent upon the failure of the Defendant to correct the said anomaly, other Governmental Agencies/Departments/Statutory bodies have continued to rely upon the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria to unjustly/unfairly deny the Plaintiff State of its entitlement to be paid the derivative funds/money accruing from the Soku Oil Fields/Wells which said Oil Fields/Wells are situated within Rivers State. Unless this Court makes a deeming Order that the boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa States is the River Santa Barbara in accordance with the admission of the Defendant as per its letter of 3rd July, 2002 and the Orders of the Supreme. Court thereto, pending the formality of compliance with the mandatory rectification Order sought in this Summons, other Governmental Agencies including, but not limited to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the Accountant General of the Federation, will continue to deny the Plaintiff the derivative funds/money accruing from the Soku Oil/Fields/Wells.
In reaction, the Defendant filed a 14-paragrahed counter-affidavit deposed to on 12th November, 2019. I find the salient averments thereof in paragraphs 4-13. It is averred therein that there has been a lingering boundary dispute between the plaintiffs’ State and Bayelsa State in which the Plaintiff’s State claims River Santa Barbara as the boundary while Bayelsa State claims San Bartholomew River as the boundary. The Defendant has initiated several actions towards the resolution of the boundary dispute between the Plaintiffs State and Bayelsa State, and while the process of resolving the dispute was going on, the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria was produced in error because action on the boundary has not been concluded (Exh. A). The Defendant does not know exactly where the boundary between the Plaintiff’s State and Bayelsa State is unless and until action is conclusive. A Joint Meeting of Officials convened on Wednesday 30th November, 2011 to receive and discuss the Joint Technical Report of November, 2007 and also chart a new road map towards fast-tracking the boundary dispute resolution process could not proceed due to a pending Court case at the instance of Plaintiff’s State (Exh. B). Action on the boundary definition and delineation between the Plaintiff’s State and Bayelsa State could not continue due largely to the fact- that the Plaintiff’s State withdrew from further deliberation during a Joint Meeting of Officials held on Wednesday 30th January, 2013 (Exh. C). The conclusion of the boundary dispute resolution can only be possible where all the stakeholders participate in the process. The Plaintiff’s State refused to participate in the Joint Meeting of Officials recently convened on 24th – 26th September, 2019 aimed at resolving the boundary dispute. Even when it acknowledged receipt of letter of invitation from the Defendant, it took no step to reply to the letter showing why it could not participate in the meeting, and, the Joint Officials Meeting could not take place (Exh. D). The 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria mentioned in paragraph 13 of the Plaintiffs Affidavit is Provisional Administrative Map and cannot be relied upon by any authority or person in view of the fact that action on the disputed boundary has not been concluded. The Defendant has a procedure of defining and delineating boundary which must be exhausted before taking a decision on any boundary line including that of the Plaintiffs State and Bayelsa State, and the request by the Plaintiff to compel the Defendant to produce an authentic 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria is premature. The Defendant is not aware and does not know any agency of the government/statutory bodies that rely upon the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria neither does the Defendant know where the Soku Oil Field/Well or any other Oil Wells/Fields are located. The Defendant cannot unilaterally define and delineate any boundary as between states, communities’ and local government areas in Nigeria, the Plaintiff’s State and Bayelsa State boundary inclusive, and to conclude work on the ‘disputed boundary- between the’ Plaintiff’s State and Bayelsa state, stakeholders must resume resolution process.
The written .address of the Plaintiff is predicated on the sole question formulated for determination. It is asserted ther.ein that it is trite law that in the interpretation of statutes, (including the Constitution) where the words are clear and unambiguous, the law compels the Courts to accord them their plain and ordinary meanings; reliance is placed on Barbedos Ventures Ltd. II. first Bank of Nigeria PIc. (2018) 4 NWLR CPt. 1609) 241 at 286. It is then submitted that the relevant statutory provisions contained in S.3(a) of the National Boundary Commission Cap. N10, LFN 2004 ought to be given their plain and ordinary meanings. By S. 3 of the Boundary Commission Act, it is the duty of the Defendant to determine and intervene in the boundary dispute between Rivers State and Bayelsa State and the proper placement of the Soku Oil Fields/Wells in the Administrative Map of Nigeria; reliance is placed on Attorney General or Rivers State v. Attorney General or Bayelsa State (supra). Therefore when the Plaintiff protested the wrong placement of the boundary between Rivers State and Bayelsa State by the’ pt Defendant at the River San Bartholomew instead of River Santa Barbara as contained in the 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria, that is, Exhs. AI Band C. The Defendant admitted the error and undertook to correct the error in its 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria (Exh. D). The Defendant having failed to do so, the Plaintiff sued in Attorney General orRivers State v. Attorney General or Bayelsa State (supra) wherein the 1st Defendant maintained that it made an error in the 1i th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria and its undertaking to rectify same in the 12th Edition. The Court said the excuses given by the Defendant why it had not effected the correction and reflect same in the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map, were “lame excuses”; reliance is placed on Attorney General or Rivers State v. Attorney General of Bayelsa State (supra) at p. 154 paras C-E. At pp. 166 to 167 paras E-E of the judgement in the Law Report. The Defendant was ordered to produce the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria expeditiously correcting all the alleged errors in the 11th Edition. It is now more than 17 years when the Defendant in Exh. D. to the supporting affidavit undertook to correct the boundary error in the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria and more than 7 years since the Supreme Court ordered the Defendant to produce the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria and correct the error in the 11th Edition “expeditiously”. The Defendant is yet to produce the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria and effect the correction it admitted it made in the 11th Edition of the Map concerning the proper interstate boundary between the Plaintiff State and Bayelsa State. The failure of the Defendant to produce the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria constitutes a breach of its statutory duty and also constitutes a fragrant disobedience of the Order of the Supreme Court and it is trite law that orders of Court are meant to be obeyed, and must be obeyed; reliance is placed on Chemiron International Ltd. v. Stabilini Visinoni Ltd. (2018) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1647) 62 at 83, Ezim II. Menakaya (2018) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1623) 113 at 136, and, APC v. Karfi (2018) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1616) 479 at 519.
The failure of the Defendant to so comply has continued to rob the Plaintiff State of its entitlement to be paid the derivative funds/money accruing from the Soku Oil Fields/Wells which are situated within the Rivers State. The Plaintiff State is being denied this entitlement because other government agencies/ departments/statutory bodies such as the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, and the Accountant General of the Federation are still relying on the defective 11th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria in determining the derivative revenue accruable to the Plaintiff State. Therefore, it will be in the interest of justice to make a deeming Order that the boundary between Rivers State and Bayelsa State is the River Santa Barbara in accordance with the Defendant’s ‘admission in its letter of 3rd July, 2002 and the Order of the Supreme Court pending when the Defendant will comply with the production of the 12th Edition of the Map in line with S. 287(1) of the 1999 Constitution. This Court is constitutionally vested with the power to enforce the Order of the Supreme Court contained in its judgement delivered on 10th July, 2012. By the provisions of S.14(1) & 2 of the Federal High Court Act, Cap F12 LFN 2004 (hereinafter the FHCA), this Court has the powers to make an Order of mandamus or mandatory injunction requiring any act to be done and such power may be exercised notwithstanding that the Order is made against an officer or authority of the Federation as such; reliance is placed on Ohakim v, Agbaso (2010) 19 NWLR (Pt. 1226) 172 at 228, and, Associated Discount House Ltd. v. The Hon. Minister of the Federal Capital Territory(2013) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1357) 493 at 509. It is posited that in the context of the facts of this case, all the Plaintiff seeks in this case is an Order compelling the Defendant, who has shown no respect for the Court of law and who has shown clearly the “shirking of its statutory responsibilities” to perform its statutory duty as claimed in this action. In conclusion, this Court is urged to answer the sole question for determination in the affirmative and grant the reliefs sought.
In the written address of the Defendant, a sole question is formulated for determination to wit:
Whether this action is competent in view of the fact that it centers on and seeks order of Mandamus or Mandatory injunction against the Defendant?
It is their argument that by Order 34 Rule 3 (1) and (2) of the FHCCPR 2019 an application for an order of mandamus, prohibition or certiorari; or an injunction restraining a person from acting in any office in which he is not entitled to act, shall be made by an application for judicial review in accordance with the provision of this Order. The application for judicial review shall not be made unless the leave of the Court has been ‘obtained, and, the application for leave shall be made ex parte to the Judge and shall be supported by a statement setting out the name and description of the applicant, the relief sought and the ground on which it is sought, an affidavit verifying the fact relied on, and, a written address in support of the application for leave. Non-compliance with the provisions of Order 34 of the FHCCPR 2019 by the Plaintiff renders this action incompetent, and as such has divested this Court the jurisdiction to entertain this suit; reliance is placed on Dr. Gabriel Olusoga Onagoruwa & Anor. v. IGP & 5 Drs. (1’991) 5 NWLR (Pt.193) 593 at 639, and, Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 2 SCNLR 341. It is submitted that Court Rules when made are applicable and binding on all authorities and persons they relate to, they are not mere flowers to decorate the statute book. It must be obeyed and the repeated use of the word “shall” throughout the provision of Order 34 is an affirmation that compliance with the provisions of the Rules of the Order is mandatory and not optional. Accordingly, this Court is urged to resolve this question in favour of the Defendant and strike out this suit.
I have noted the argument of the Plaintiff in their Reply on Point of Law wherein it is stated that the claim of the Plaintiff relating to mandatory injunction or order of mandamus is made under a purely private law setting or ordinary claim and not under the procedure of judicial review under Order 34 of the FHCCPR 2019; reliance is placed on Ohakim v. Agbaso (supra). It is also submitted that under S. 14(1) and (2) of the FHCA this Court is vested with power to make order mandamus requiring any act to . be done. The exercise of this power is not restricted only to claims brought by way of judicial review procedure. This Court is urged to discountenance the argument of the Defendant.
I have to say that the response of the Defendant to the case of the Plaintiff in their written address is quite a procedural novelty in my opinion. It is a very rare form of defence and perhaps procedurally· extraordinary if I may say. This is because the averments in the counter-affidavit appears to constitute what I may consider as the defence of the Defendant. The written address attached to the counter-affidavit elucidates nothing concerning the averments in the counter affidavit but addresses what is apparently an objection to the competence of the suit of the Plaintiff. This is done by formulating a sole issue to be determined by the Court on whether this action is competent in view of the fact that it centers on and seeks order of mandamus or mandatory injunction against the Defendant? Their argument thereon is that by Order 34 Rule 3 (1) and (2) of the FHCCPR 2019 an application for an order of mandamus, prohibition or certiorari or an injunction restraining a person from acting in any office in which he is not entitled to act, shall be made by an application for judicial review in accordance with the provision. It is contended therein that the application for judicial review shall not be made unless the leave of the Court has been obtained, and, the application for leave shall be made ex parte to the Judge and shall be supported by a statement setting out the name and description of the applicant, the relief sought and the ground on which it is sought, an affidavit verifying the fact relied on, and, a written address in support of the application for leave. It is their conclusion. that non-compliance with the. provision of Order 34 of the FHCCPR 2019 by the Plaintiff renders this action incompetent, and as such has divested this Court the jurisdiction to entertain this suit.
By and large the written address of the Defendant constitute a preliminary objection on the competence of the case of the Plaintiff. Now, where a competence of a suit is being challenged, it is Order 16 of the FHCCPR 2019 that applies. It is stated therein thus:
Order 16 (1) – There shall be no demurrer allowed.
(2) (1) – A party shall be entitled to raise by his pleading any point of Jaw, and any point of law so raised shall be disposed of by the Judge who tries the cause at or after the trial.
(2) A point of law ‘so raised may, by consent of the Parties, or by order of the Court or a Judge in Chambers on the application of either party, be set down for hearing and disposed of at any time before trial.
Cont’d on p. 28

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RSG’ll Not Tolerate FIRS’ Attempt To Undermine Our Authority-Wike

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Being a text of the State wide Broadcast by the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on Monday, September 6, 2021. Excerpts.
My dear people of Riv
ers State
As we all know, following the recent judgement of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, which upheld the constitutional right and authority of State Governments to impose, collect and utilize value added taxes (VAT) within their respective territorial jurisdictions, the Rivers State Government enacted the Rivers State Value Added Tax Law 2021 to regulate the effective administration of VAT in Rivers State.
As expected, the Federal Government, through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), disagreed and filed an appeal coupled with a request for stay-of-execution of the judgment before the Federal High Court.
While the appeal was pending and without any stay-of-execution of the subsisting judgement, the FIRS went about to bully corporate bodies and business entities from paying the VAT to the Rivers State Government even when they knew that an appeal does not serve as a stay neither was there anything to stay in a declaratory judgement.
As a mere agency of the Federal Government without any political authority, the effrontery and impunity exhibited by the FIRS against the Rivers State Government was ill-advised and highly provocative. 
However, being a government that believes in the rule of law, we decided on our own to suspend the enforcement of the Rivers State VAT Law 2021 pending the outcome of the FIRS’s application for stay-of-execution.
Today, the FIRS has failed in its attempt to frustrate the enforcement of the State’s Law on VAT with the Federal High Court’s dismissal of its application for stay-of-execution of the judgement. 
It is important to reiterate the fact that we did no wrong in exercising our legal right under our constitutional democracy to stop the continuing breach, denial and curtailment of the constitutional right of States to lawfully impose and collect value added and other related taxes within jurisdiction to the exclusion of the Federal Government.
And in doing so, our singular and progressive objective was to contribute to the advancement of fiscal federalism by enabling the federating States to explore and exploit their potential and capacity for generating greater internal revenues with which to fund their development goals and reduce the outdated over-reliance on pitiable Federal allocation and other handouts.
Naturally, some States with presently low economic activities and ethically restrictive social policies with economic implications may be adversely affected for now. 
But, this is not our own making. Like the right to derivation, this is also a constitutional prescription, which we all swore as political leaders to respect and defend as the supreme law of the land.
 Above all, fiscal federalism remains the right path to economic self-reliance and sustainability for all our States and the benefits derivable from this case by all the States in the long run far outweigh the immediate revenue loss that some States may presently suffer. 
All that is required is for all of us to wear our thinking caps as elected Governors to collectively fight for the greater devolution of resources, responsibilities and powers to the federating States. 
It is therefore very unfortunate that some State Governors led by that of Katsina State are vainly conspiring to truncate this progressive reality in favour of the inequitable status quo so that the Federal Government can continue to rob Peter to pay Paul as the nation’s self-imposed tax master-general.  
For us in Rivers State, we will continue to ensure and project our constitutional rights to access all possible resources we can take hold both within and outside our geographical boundaries to advance the progress of our State.
And with today’s judgement, the way is now clear for the administration and enforcement of the Rivers State Value Added Tax Law 2021 across the entire State until otherwise decided and set aside by the Superior Courts.
Consequently, I hereby direct the Rivers State Revenue Service (RSRS) to ensure the full and total implementation and enforcement of this law against all corporate bodies, business entities and individuals with immediate effect.
All corporate bodies, business entities and individuals are advised to willingly, truthfully and promptly comply with their tax obligations under this law to avoid the full weight of the stipulated sanctions, including having their business premises sealed-up.
Let me warn that the Rivers State Government is fully in charge of the State and will not tolerate any further attempt by the FIRS to sabotage or undermine our authority to freely administer our tax and other related laws in our own State. Those who play with fire risk having their fingers burnt. Enough of the shenanigans.
I wish to further assure every resident that we shall as usual make effective use of the expected proceeds from this tax to accelerate the development of our State and improve the wellbeing of everyone. 
Fellow citizens, let me also draw your attention to the alarming rate of transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic in our State.
The daily figures released by the NCDC show that both the transmission and death rates in the last two weeks have consistently been on a rising spiral because residents and visitors to the State have largely abandoned their responsibility to comply with the existing COVID-19 Protocols.
Clearly, we are headed for a serious health disaster of profound consequences if residents and visitors continue to behave as if the pandemic no longer exists or impotent in Rivers State. 
This is a big lie and we cannot afford to continue to close our eyes to the dangers such irresponsible behaviour poses to the health, lives and livelihood of everyone.
Accordingly, I wish to remind residents of the subsisting protocols on regular washing of hands and use of alcohol-based sanitizer; maintaining social distancing; wearing of face masks at all public places, including transport vehicles and going for immediate testing and treatment whenever you notice any of the symptoms.
Furthermore, it has been proven that vaccinations are saving lives here and across the world and those refusing to take the vaccines for no certified medical reasons should know that they are endangering the rest of the citizens.
I therefore appeal to all residents to help protect yourself, your loved ones and the rest of the citizens by getting your jab at the designated health centres in the 23 Local Government Areas of the State as they become available.
I also appeal to religious leaders and churches to convince and encourage their followers and members to please go out and take the vaccines and comply with the covid-19 protocols in addition. 
Although it remains our desire to keep the State open and allow citizens to go about their social, religious and economic activities unimpeded. 
But we may be constrained to re-impose the suspended COVID-19 lockdown measures across the State if the transmission of the disease continues to increase beyond tolerable limits.
Finally, we wish to reiterate that the ongoing demolition of shanties was borne out of the compelling need to safeguard lives and property across the State. 
Our objective, which is gradually achieving is to deny the criminals these sanctuaries and hideouts from which they embark on their criminal activities and safely return to. 
We therefore refuse to be blackmailed by those unpatriotic elements who are trying to stir false ethnic, religious or tribal sentiments around our patriotic commitment to advance the safety and security of residents.
Furthermore, we refuse to be intimidated by such baseless pranks. Rather, we will not rest until we clear the State of all shanties wherever they are located and restore sanity to our environment and achieve a better sense of comfort and security for everyone.
Once again, thank you all for your support, prayer and understanding as we continue to work together to advance our collective security, peace and progress.
Thank you and may God bless Rivers State.

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For The Record

Wike, Face Of Nigeria’s Democracy – Nsirim

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This is a text of a media briefing by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim on the second phase of the advocacy campaign of #OurStateOurResponsibility message in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Excerpts.
Protocol
I most heartily welcome you all to this media briefing aimed at bringing you up to speed on the advocacy campaign with hash tag #OurStateOurReponsibility.
You may recall that on the 31st of July, 2019, the Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications commenced an advocacy initiative with the hash tag #OurStateOurResponsibility campaign aimed at mobilising those living and doing business in the State to join hands with the government to change the negative narratives about our dear State.
The initiative is aimed at promoting the giant strides of the administration of His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and showcasing the proud heritage of a people known for their traditional hospitality.
Two years after we rolled out the advocacy campaign, it is gratifying to note and appreciate the overwhelming and massive buy-in by people from all walks of life resident in Rivers State. We are glad to report that indeed the people of Rivers State, including non-indigenes who reside and do business here, proudly received and took ownership of the message of the advocacy campaign.
Thus, having noted the high level of reception of the message of the campaign, the Ministry is now ready to launch into a second phase of the advocacy campaign which aims at taking further steps to plant the message in the hearts of our citizens, both young and old, with the overall aim of ensuring that everyone becomes a major stakeholder in the Rivers State project and portraying the State in its true positive status as the most hospitable in Nigeria.
To this end, the State Ministry of Information and Communications is entering into a second phase of the advocacy campaign which would involve input from members of the public in line with our philosophy of ensuring a further buy-in from all stakeholders.The second phase of the advocacy campaign would stretch beyond solidarity campaign to engage residents of the State on essay writing, theme song, skits and short film competitions which would attract cash prizes.
The essay competition which would centre on the #OurStateOurResponsibility is aimed at inculcating in the minds of our young ones the ideas and ideals behind the advocacy campaign, as future drivers of the advocacy. It would be open for youths between the ages of 16 – 25 years. They would be required to write an essay of between 250 – 500 words, in their own handwriting, which they would scan and forward to this email address: rsministryofinformationandcoms@gmail.com within two weeks from Thursday, 2nd September, 2021. The deadline for the submission of the essays is on Wednesday, 15th September, 2021.
To ensure originality and transparency of the exercise, twenty three best scripts would be selected by judges and the chosen participants would be required to appear physically for a second round of essay writing at the Ministry of Information and Communications on Wednesday, 22nd September, 2021.
As an incentive, the Ministry of Information and Communications has earmarked cash prizes for the first, second and third place winners of the essay competition, while the best essay would attract a Fifty Thousand Naira cash prize, the second and third placed winners would smile home with Thirty Thousand Naira and Twenty Thousand Naira respectively. There would also be consolation prizes for the fourth, fifth and sixth placed participants. In addition to the cash prizes, the winners would also be presented with memorable plaques for their efforts on October 4, 2021.
In furtherance to creating more awareness that will give greater visibility to the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign, the Ministry would also call for entries from members of the public, including members of the Advertisers Practitioners Council of Nigeria, Port Harcourt Chapter, for the theme song selection, skit competition and a short film competition, centred around the hash tag.
While the skit is not expected to go beyond sixty seconds, the theme song would be between three to five minutes long and would be judged based on the lyrics, creativity, rhythm and originality of the work.
Apart from the monetary incentives that would accompany the best of each category, the works would receive reviews on the media platforms of the Rivers State Ministry of Information and Communications, plaques would also be presented to the winners. Moreover, winners of the various categories would become Ambassadors of the Ministry of Information and Communications and would be specially invited in all activities of the Ministry for the quarter (three months) of their reign.
Gentlemen of the Press, you would recall that when we first embarked on this advocacy campaign which took us round on visits to different media organisations, traditional rulers, various professional bodies and associations, including faith-based organizations, our mission was clear. It was focused on etching into the psyche of all those living and doing business in the State to know that Rivers State belongs to them and therefore the need for them to uphold the virtues that portray the State in good light and counter the evil political, religious and ethnic bigots whose stock in trade is to run the State down.
As you can attest, the performance of His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in his six years of governance of the State has been remarkable in so many positive ways. The avalanche of projects commissioned and flaggedoff in the last two months gives credence to the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike remains the hope of Nigerians that democracy can actually work to favour the common man.
When we started this advocacy campaign, we promised it was going to endure for a long time. We were clear of the direction we were headed and we are glad to say that it has been worth the effort.
It is our fervent hope that this second phase would bring even greater success as the Ministry is poised to let the world know the truth about Rivers State and for our people to tell our story in a way that would counter the mischief of a few who are overwhelmed by the achievements recorded by the present administration ably led by Nigeria’s face of democracy Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. 
I thank you for your attention.

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For The Record

Delivering Quality Projects, Soul Of My Administration-Wike

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Being a text of Governor Nyesom Wike’s address at the presentation of the six years progress report to mark the 2nd year of his second tenure on Monday, July 12, 2021.
Excerpts.

Protocol,

As you know, our government was first inaugurated on the 29th of May 2015 with a four years’ mandate. When it ended, we sought for and got a renewal in 2019 to continue in office for a second and final term.
The 29th of May 2021 therefore marked two historic milestones in our government. First, it marked the 2nd anniversary of our second term in office and second, it also meant that we have been in office for six consecutive years.
First of all, I wish to thank God Almighty for the grace to lead our State for the last six years and the strength, wisdom and enablement to deliver our vision of progress and transformation to the good people of Rivers State in the midst of very daunting challenges.
For us, our duty is to govern, and govern well. But it is for the people to judge whether we have done well or not taking all the circumstances into consideration.
That is why we have gathered our people to, yet again,present to you our account of stewardship for the last six years.
Let me therefore welcome and thank you all for honouring our invitation to this important accountability event as I proceed with my presentation.
Precisely six weeks ago, we kick-started the celebration of the second anniversary of our second term in office with the flagging-off and commissioning of new and completed projects.
For 40 days, we traversed the length and breadth of the State to either commission or flag-off various development projects cutting across different socio-economic sectors, including roads, bridges, education, healthcare, housing, social welfare, sports and rural development.
The entire nation was witness to this phenomenal harvest of projects in Rivers State as the sounds and sights of the happy and grateful beneficiary institutions, communities and people were beamed on live telecasts.
You may wish to recall that this is rather the third phase of the series of project commissioning events that our government has carried out since late December 2020.
Before you, or shortly to be distributed to you, is a compendium of 536 pages, which captures the fundamental achievements of our administration in the last six years in road infrastructure, rural development, economic progress, education, healthcare, housing, administration of justice, security,agriculture, social welfare, sports,as well as culture and tourism.
Going through this compendium, you will see, with facts and evidence,the claims and assertions on what we have delivered in practical terms to advance the progress of our State and well being of our people in the last six years.
From the very beginning, we stated that the mission of our administration was to mobilize and deploy all available resources to build a State that works for everyone; a State that every Rivers person and residents can all be proud of and be happy to live and raise their children.
We reaffirmed this commitment during our second inauguration and further pledged to continue to build on the foundations already laid to make our State a land of peace, justice and development.
We promised to continue to grow our economy, expand our revenue base and create viable economic opportunities for everyone to explore for the benefit of everyone and to the exclusion of no one.
We promised to continue to deliver on our equitable development agenda that guarantees the spread of public goods and services, including quality socio-economic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, health and education facilities to all parts of the State.
We also promised to continue to advance the progress of our rural communities with modern internal roads and other social amenities to spur their economic viability and stem the rural-urban drift.
We also promised to deliver some specific important roads and projects, including the long awaited trans-Kalabari road and the Ogoni – Andoni – Opobo unity road.
We further promised to continue to transform and elevate the infrastructural status of our capital city, Port Harcourt and the adjourning territories with our urban renewal programme and make Rivers State one of the preferred business and leisure destinations in Africa.
We also promised to continue with our responsibility to build a virile judicial system, support the security agencies to protect lives and property and make Rivers State more safe, convenient and welcoming for residents, investors and tourists.
It is six years into our journey of renewal, transformation and consolidation; a journey to build a new Rivers State with a better life and future for the present and generations unborn, and we are very proud with what we have so far accomplished.
Recall that we came into office at a time the national economy was and is still in turmoil with much reduced revenues accruing to the State governments.
You also know that we inherited a State with visibly decrepit infrastructure, litany of abandoned projects coupled with a hopeless economic and security situation as businesses were closing shops in their numbers.
Everyone knew that Rivers State, prior to our administration in 2015,was asphyxiated and in urgent need for the restorative oxygen of rehabilitation, reconstruction and renewal.
But with determination, commitment to purpose and prudent management of available resources, we have drastically changed the development trajectory of the State for the better with many more progress to be delivered before we exit the stage for the next government.
Most of you, if not all, will agree with us that fulfilling promises and delivering quality projects is the mind, body and soul of our administration.
From the economy to the provision of roads, security, and administration of justice to the provision of education, healthcare, housing, rural development, and in the advancement of sports, social welfare, culture, recreation and tourism, the constant, consistent and recurrent narratives of the last six years under our watch have been unprecedented delivery of projects, transformation and progress.
Our economy has not just recovered from regression; it has grown and far more robust, stronger and generating greater revenues for government now than when we came in six years ago.
Although the long failing national economy continues to be drag on our own growth prospects and projections, the fiscal policies and measures we have put in place have and will continue to sustain and increase our economy to create more opportunities for business, jobs and empowerment.
The Rivers Cassava Processing Company alone is a game changer in the long-subdued potential of making Rivers State the foremost hub in cassava production in Nigeria. We will leverage on this facility as well as the cassava value chain to create wealth, income and jobs for our teaming youths who are willing to take to the business of agriculture.
Our performance in the provision of quality infrastructure, especially roads, has generally been described as phenomenal with the echoes being felt, heard and commended everywhere across the nation.
With over a thousand kilometres of Trunk-A roads already delivered, no government has increased and improved the State’s road networks and connected as many communities to the State capital and other parts of the State with good quality roads as we have done in the last six years.
We will be happy to be contradicted, if any, but it is rather humbling to say that, not even the Federal Government, has embarked on the simultaneous construction of ten arterial flyovers, with three already commissioned, and the others at various stages of completion,to improve connectivity and traffic flow within a record period of two years as our administration has done.
Today, we have efficiently reconstructed and regenerated the entire road networks at the Old Government Reservation Area, Amadi Flats and substantial parts of new Government Reservation Area in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas to further improve connectivity, restore environmental sanity and enhance the socio-economic conditions of the population that live and do business in these areas.
It is historic that the ancient coastal community of Opobo has been connected to the rest of the State and the country by a tarred road and we are as excited as the good people of Opobo for being the government that ensured this glorious reality in the infrastructure and socio-economic lives of this important and famous community after one and half century of existence, 61 years after Nigeria’s independence and 54 years after the creation of Rivers State.
Again, with us, the construction of phase one of the trans-Kalabari road is underway while the remaining portions of the Ogoni-Andoni would soon be completed to connect the coastal communities of Ngo, Ikuru and other towns along that way after decades of impossibility by the previous governments.
As at the last count, we have turned and transformed not less than 18 major single lane roads, including Igwuruta – Chokocho road, Saapkenwa – Bori road, Tam David West Boulevard, Rumuokwurishi – Eneka – Igwuruta road, Reumepirikom – Rumuolumeni road, Rebisi – Trans-Amadi – Oginigba road, Justice Iche Nduroad, Eagle Island – Illoabuchi road, Elelenwo – Akpajo road, Birabi road, Emeyal road, Tombia road, Forces Avenue, Olumeni road, Abacha road, and Harley street to dual carriage ways with street lights, pedestrian walkways and covered drains, while the dualization of, Ahoada – Omoku, and Egbema Omoku roads is also underway.
Even now, a lot of roads connecting and interconnecting several more communities across the State, including Phase one of the Ahoada – Omoku dual carriage way, the Bori – Kono dual carriage way, the Eastern bypass – Ogbum-nu-Abali dual carriage way, the Ezimgbu dual carriage way, the Tombia Extention dualization, the Woji – Aleto – Alesa road and the Wakama – Ogu – Bolo road, are underway. These roads and many more would be delivered to further expand the State’s existing road networks in the next one year.
Similarly, we have continued to step-up investments in the provision of internal roads, jetties, land reclamation, water and shore protection as part of our new development deal for the rural areas across Rivers State.
Elele-Alimini, Isiokpo, Rumuche, Okochiri, Amadi-Ama, Omoku, Odiokwu Bolo and some others now have a new lease of social and economic life with the internal roads we have provided, while those for Ogbakiri, Omerelu, Okochiri phase 2, Omagwa and Igwuruta are also already underway.
The reconstructed Bonny/Bille Waterside and the Okrika, Isaka and Witt and Bush Jetties are some of our interventions in the transport sector serving the social, economic and commuting interests of our people in the riverine communities.
Furthermore, we have reclaimed vast swathes of sand-filled land for some of the coastal communities, including Abalama, Bakana, and Kulato advance their development, just as, we have also started the sand filling of 55 and 42 hectares of reclaimed land for Abonnema/Obonnoma and Okrika communities respectively to drive the growth and expansion of these ancient and major communities. Last week Saturday, we further committed the government to sand-fill 25 hectares of land for Ogu community.
Also, construction has resumed on the shore protection works at Aze-Azaga, Isukwa, Owikwu, Obiofu and Utu communities in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area to prevent the continuous erosion of their shorelines.
The justice sector is another important area that has received special and consistent attention from our government. In the last six years, we have built, furnished and equipped both State and Federal Courts, provided life-long accommodation for all State Judges and enhanced their movements and comfort with new official vehicles as well as built official residences for judges of all Federal Courts in the State.
The new Rivers State High Court complex, the new Federal High Court, the New National Industrial Court, the new Court of Appeal complex, and the new judges’ quarters for the State and Federal Courts all testify to what we have structurally achieved for both the State and Federal Judiciaries in Rivers State.
We have also automated the case management system, ensured the employment of more Judges and Magistrates and sustained the administrative and financial autonomy of the State’s judiciary.
Contrary to the chaos we inherited, there is no doubt that the justice system in Rivers State has been restored and what we have now is a system that meets international standards; a judiciary that is working well in advancing the administration of justice and contributing to the socio-economic progress of our State.
Our development agenda also prioritizes the provision and access to quality education and healthcare.This is why funding for education and healthcare delivery have always been next in quantum only to road infrastructure in our annual capital budgets, since 2015.
With the increased funding we have provided over 1200 classrooms and nearly 14,000 desks to over 200 primary and junior secondary schools. We have also reconstructed, furnished and equipped several secondary schools with modern classrooms, laboratories, libraries, sports facilities, staff quarters and paved interconnecting road networks.
We have continued to implement our free primary and secondary education policy with the payment of WASCE, NECO and JAMB examination fees in public secondary schools as well as stopped the collection of illegal levies by school administrators.
As a result of the concrete and targeted interventions, the education system is becoming more and more effective and qualitative in the State with enrollment and transition rates of over 98 per cent, while over 80 per cent have consistently recorded 5 credits and above pass rates, including Mathematics and English in WASCE since 2015.
At the tertiary level, we have elevated the structural quality of our tertiary institutions with new faculty, administrative and other buildings, strengthened the governance systems and enhanced staff welfare with the new salary structure.
Apart from the College of Medical Sciences, we have also implemented a multi-campus structure for the Rivers State University with the establishment of new campuses at Emohua, Ahoada and Etche Local Government Areas,thereby increasing the carrying capacity of the University and providing more access to quality tertiary education for our children.
Equally worthy of note is the approval we have received and our commitment to deliver the Port Harcourt Campus of the Nigerian Law School in the next six months to advance legal education in the State. I wish to reassure you that the Port Harcourt Campus will be the best Law School campus in Nigeria.
In the health sector, we are also very pleased with the progress we have made so far. In the last six years, we have built some new primary healthcare centres for under-served communities, renovated some existing primary health centres and general hospitals, commissioned the 132-bed Mother and Child specialist hospital, established the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, built the senior doctors quarters and rebuilt and upgraded the Government House Specialist Clinic, while a junior doctors quarters is also under construction.

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