With various complaints and pettitions by communities impacted by the activities of illegal sand dredging and mining in the Bayelsa State, the state House of Assembly has organised a public hearing on a bill to regulate the operations of sand dredging to ensure that the environment is not adversely impacted on.
The bill tagged ” Regulation of Sand Dealing and Dredging Operations Bill 2019″ according to the House Committee on Environment is aimed at gathering inputs from experts, technocrats and the public in order to formulate a people-friendly bill that will serve the best interest of Bayelsans.
The House Committee Chairman on Environment and member representing Nembe Constituency one, Hon. Ebi Ben Ololo noted that the public hearing became necessary on the need to remediate the environment and tackle the challenges posed by sand dredging operations in the state.
” The importance of this bill cannot be overemphasized because it can save lives. You are aware a number of times so many communities and their representatives have sent pettitions to this House, specifically the Chairman House Committee on Environment as per the environmental degradation that has taken place as regards the illegal sand dealing and dredging activities in various communities all around the state”, he said.
“With those number of complains and pettitions we thought it wise to put up a bill to take care of those issues. Most important thing is that we all know that public hearing is a mechanism by which parliamentary Committees obtain information, deal with the information obtained and also exchange views with experts and the public so as to fine-tune whatever bill there is for the public hearing to come up with a top class bill that will be people- friendly and also save lives of the people in Bayelsa”, he added.
” Lots of suggestions, contributions, opinions and interactions have been made as regards this very important bill, like we have assured the representatives of the various groups that we will go back in our committee, look at those very important areas where they have suggested and also fine tune the bill. So that in no distant time we will come up with a very formidable bill that will stand the test of time. That the people will benefit from”, Ololo reassured.
He lauded participants for their insightful contributions and opinions during the public hearing, promising that the Committee would do justice to come up with a bill that would meet the expectations of Bayelsans.
In her contribution, House Chief Whip and member representing Yenagoa Constituency 2, Hon. Ebiowu Koku Obiyai lamented the deliberate connivance between communities and the sand dealers, warning that if nothing is done to regulate the activities of sand dredgers Bayelsa communities will be eroded away.
The House Whip also expressed concerns on the activities of companies carrying out dredging business near bridges and sued a delibrate efforts by all in order to save the bridges from collapse.
By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.
Buhari Approves Deployment Of Nine Perm Secs
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the deployment of nine Federal Permanent Secretaries to Federal Ministries.
In a circular, HCSF/CMO/AOD/012/IX/59 dated August3, 2021, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, disclosed the deployment takes immediate effect and handing over and taking over process should be completed on or before Friday, August 6, 2021, with the exception of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health whose take over will be on August13, 2021.
The deployed Permanent Secretaries are, Bitrus Bako Nabasu from Ministry of Petroleum Resource is deployed to the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy; Dr Evelyn Ngige, Service Welfare Office, OHCSF has been deployed to the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment; Mammam Mahmuda, Career Management Office, OHCSF is now in the Federal Ministry of Health; Dr.Nasir Sani Gwarzo, Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment has been taken to Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Dr Anthonia Akpabio Ekpa, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs.
Others are the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries, Dr. Onwudiwe Maryanne Ngozi; Dr. Ogunbiyi Marcus Olaniyi; Yusuf Ibrahim Idris; and Adebiyi Olusesan Olufunso; who were deployed to Service Welfare Office, OHCSF; Career Management Office, OHCSF; Common Service Office, OHCSF and Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, respectively.
Court Orders EFCC To Unfreeze Dokpesi’s Account
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, yesterday, in Abuja, issued an order unfreezing the bank account of the Chairman of Daar Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi.
Justice Tsoho gave the order while delivering a ruling on Dokpesi’s application argued by Mr KanuAgabi, SAN.
The judge ordered that the account domiciled at one of the new generational bank be immediately ‘unfrozen’ since the criminal charges which precipitated the restriction on the account had been dismissed, and Dokpesi discharged and acquitted by the Court of Appeal.
The judge said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had no basis to put a post no debit order on the account in view of the subsisting and valid judgment of the Court of Appeal.
He held that there was no application by the EFCC for stay of execution of the appellate court’s judgment which quashed the criminal charges against Dokpesi.
Justice Tsoho said that in the absence of a stay of execution, the court was bound by law to recognise the judgment of the appellate court.
He ordered that the freeze order and post no debit on the account be immediately removed in compliance with the appellate court’s judgment.
Ruling on the claim by the EFCC that it had appealed the appellate court’s decision at the Supreme Court, the judge held that the notice of appeal filed at the apex court could not in law stay the execution of the subsisting judgment .
He added that the anti-graft agency ought to have obtained a stay of execution of the judgment.
He further ordered that all documents seized from Dokpesi should be immediately returned to him.
Agabi, while making arguments in support of the application, prayed the court to issue an order unfreezing Dokpesi’s bank account frozen on the strength of the alleged N2.1billion fraud charge against him.
The senior lawyer had submitted that the criminal charges in respect of N2.1billion had since been dismissed by the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division but the EFCC wanted to continue to hold his client in bondage.
Agabi had further argued that the charge which led to freezing of the account no longer existed following the decision of the appellate court on the matter.
He had tendered two judgements of the Court of Appeal to establish his claim that the criminal charges against Dokpesi had been quashed.
He held that until the judgments were set aside the EFCC could not continue to freeze his client’s account.
However, EFCC counsel, Mr Oluwaleke Atolagbe, had opposed the application on the grounds that the anti-graft agency had already filled a notice of appeal against the appellate court’s judgment at the apex court.
Atolagbe had urged the court not to unfreeze the account yet until the final decision of the Supreme Court in the matter, adding that the N2.1billion logged in the frozen account formed the basis of the charge.
He also opposed to the request for the release of Dokpesi’s document in possession of EFCC on the grounds that no specific document was mentioned in the request.
On April 1, a three-member panel of the Appeal Court in a unanimous judgment freed Dokpesi from the charges after it held that the prosecution failed to establish the ingredients of the charge.
The EFCC had in 2015 dragged Dokpesi to court, accusing him and his company of illegally receiving funds considered as proceeds of crimes from a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki(rtd).
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and went further to file a no-case submission after the prosecution closed its case in November, 2018, after calling 14 witnesses.
However, the trial judge, Justice Tsoho, rejected the no-case submission, and ordered Dokpesi and his firm to enter their defence.
Not satisfied, the defendants then approached the Court of Appeal, with a request to nullify the decision and free him from the charges on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.
In the unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Elfreda Williams-Dawodu, the appellate court agreed with the appellants that the case of the respondents lacked merit having “failed woefully to establish a prima facie case against the appellant”.
According to the judgment, for any case to be established against the defendants, it is necessary to first prove the ingredients of offence in the predicate offences in counts 1 to 4 of the seven-count charge which bordered on criminal breach of trust, division of funds, money laundering and corruption.
The court further held that EFCC failed to prove that the N2.1billion allegedly received by the appellant was proceed of breach of trust, and accordingly set aside the decision of the lower court which held that the appellants had a case to answer.
“No case was made against the appellant in counts 1, 2, 3 and 4 to warrant his being called upon to open his defence.
“There is no possibility that the appellant can be convicted because the evidence are manifestly unreliable.
“I am of the view that irrespective of the ingredients stated earlier, and those by the appellant and first respondent respectively, prior proof or establishment of the predicate offences in count 1,2,3 and 4 of the amended charge is sine qua non to the proof of the offences of money laundering specified in the said counts”, the court said.
Enugu Assembly Approves N200m Virement For Auditor-General Offices
The Enugu State House of Assembly has approved the virement of N200 million for the offices of the State Auditor-General and Auditor-General for Local Government.
The Tide source reports that the house also passed the 2021 State Audit Amendment Bill at an emergency plenary session.
The Leader of the House, Mr Ikechukwu Ezeugwu, said the approval of the virement became necessary to provide funding for the two newly created offices, which were not envisaged during the 2021 appropriation bill.
Ezeugwu said the funding would include capital and recurrent expenditures, adding that the N200 million would be provided by the office of the governor.
According to him, the virement would give the offices the needed independence to effectively discharge their statutory responsibilities.
Also contributing, the member representing Awgu South Constituency, Mr Johnson Chukwuobasi, said the new offices would be redundant without funding.
The Speaker, Chief Edward Ubosi, said the fund was meant to perfect the Audit Amendment Bill passed by the Assembly.
Ubosi said it would be an irony to create the offices without approving funds that would make them functional.
He said such a development would amount to building something on nothing.
In another development, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has forwarded a list of nominees for the State Civil Service Commission (SCSC) and Local Government Service Commission (LGSC) to the House for confirmation.
The nominees for the SCSC included Mrs Eucharia Offiah (Chairman), Mr Nathaniel Anike, Mrs Chinenye Odike and Mrs Stella Ekweremadu (members).
Also nominated for the LGSC were Prof. Ossy Okanya (Chairman), Mr Frederick Ugwu, Mrs Florence Igboji, Mr Peter Nnaji and Mr Eugene Odoh (members).
The Speaker directed the nominees to submit 25 copies of their Curriculum Vitae on or before Monday, August 2 to the House.
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