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Calls To Head COVID-19 Team Handiwork Of Mischief Makers Says Rivers State Deputy Governor, Ipalibo Banigo

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has dissociated herself from calls by mischief makers urging the Governor to let her head the COVID 19 Team in the State.

In a statement from the Government House in Port Harcourt on Friday, the Deputy Governor expressed regret that despite the concerted efforts by Governor Wike to protect the Rivers People and stem the spread of Covid 19, some faceless enemies of the State sponsor e-rats to publish junk in the social media, what an absurd way to play politics.

The Deputy Governor of Rivers State is a part and parcel of the Governors team in this fight against the Killer Virus and she is contributing her quota, she must not head the team.  There is no law that says she should head the team so why the fuss.

Governor Wike is the leader and he has demonstrated great capacity and leadership in the Country not only in the quest to defeat Covid 19 but in providing democratic dividends to the Rivers People and beyond.

Governor Wike was the first to close his boarders even before the Federal Government thought of it, decontamination of public places is on-going, he has put strict restriction on social gathering, imposed lockdown, curfews, provided all the necessary logistics for health professionals to do their jobs efficiently, intensified public enlightenment campaigns, etc.

What these mischief makers and their political sponsors do not realize is the fact that Covid 19 is not just a Medical or Public Health issue. It goes far beyond health, it is also a security as well as a Socio -economic and political issue, so flaunting the resume’ of Dr. Banigo as a Public Health Physician

and urging Governor Wike to make her head the team is an exercise in futility.

We are facing a novel corona virus; Covid 19 pandemic which no one knows enough about. It is a war and we must all be on board to fight it. This is not the time for distractions.

Please obey all the protocols as elucidated by NCDC and the Rivers State Government which includes the correct wearing of face masks, regular washing of hands with soap and running water as well as the use of alcohol based hand sanitizers, improve personal hygiene, avoiding crowded environment and stop stigmatization of people with the virus. Together we will win the war against Covid 19.

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PDP Condemns Attack On Wike’s Father’s Church …Urges FG To Allow Govs Control Security Agencies

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned, in very strong terms, the devilish attack on the church of the father of the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, in Port Harcourt, last Saturday night.
The PDP also demanded for a comprehensive investigation into the explosion that rocked the Christian Universal Church, in the Azikiwe Street area of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Making its position known in a statement, yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Our party condemns this dastardly attack on the church, which we believe was well planned and targeted to cause harm to worshippers and persons close to Governor Wike, particularly, his father.
“The PDP is disturbed by the intentions of the attackers in detonating an explosive in a religious place, particularly given the large number of persons that usually gather at such places.
“While we demand for a thorough investigation into the attack as well as prosecution of all those involved, we hold, as a party, that the time has come, more than ever in our contemporary history, for the amendment of our extant laws to allow state governors to be in charge of the security of their respective states.
“We restate our call for the amendment of relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution (as emended) to allow states more control of security issues in their respective domains.
“Our party, however, commends the people of River state for their alertness, which led to the arrest of the attackers. Such courageous act by the people also points to the need to allow greater participation of communities and state governments in the handling of security issues in their environment.
“The PDP, especially commends Governor Nyesom Wike, for his efforts towards ensuring the security of his state despite the daunting challenges.
“The PDP urges Governor Wike, the members of the Christian Universal Church and the people of Rivers State not to be deterred by this attack but to remain at alert, especially at this critical time”, the statement added.
Earlier, the Rivers State Police Command had confirmed the attack on the church of Governor Nyesom Wike’s father in Port Harcourt, last Saturday night.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the state command, SP Nnamdi Omoni, who confirmed the development, yesterday, said that three suspects have already been arrested.
Omoni, who promised to give more details of the development, said: “I can confirm the attack on the church, and three suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack.
“They (arrested suspects) are helping us in our investigation. The church has been swept by the Bomb Department. More details will follow later.”
It would be recalled that two suspects, who allegedly detonated dynamite at Governor Nyesom Wike’s father’s church, popularly called, Christian Universal Church International at #25, Azikiwe Street, Mile 3, Diobu, Port Harcourt, last Saturday night, around 12midnight were nabbed by vigilant youths of the area shortly after attempting to detonate the explosive device.
It was gathered that the youths, who gave the suspects the beating of their lives, also handed them over to the police, on arrival at the crime scene a few minutes later.
One of the youths, who is the Assistant Chief Security Officer of the area, Collins Johnbull, in an interview, said that they saw five men entering the church at about 9pm adding that the youths had assumed that the suspects were church members.
Collins disclosed that after some minutes, they heard a loud sound suspected to be dynamite, explaining that shortly after the explosion, they saw the hoodlums running out of the church with guns.
The assistant chief security officer said that he quickly mobilised his men, and arrested two of the suspects before arrival of the police.
Johnbull said, “On Saturday, 28th day of November, 2020, while I was on my duty post, we observed some movements around 8pm to 9pm, and we were on the alert, before then, we saw some strange faces, about five of them, that entered into the governor’s father’s church, and we thought they were church members having their normal evening programme, but we were suspicious of them because of the way they were moving.
“About five minutes after the boys entered the church, there was an explosion, we heard a banging noise like that of a bomb from the church, and we immediately approached the church, and saw them (the suspects) jumping out of the church wearing masks and carrying guns, and they started shooting at my men.
“By God’s grace, we were able to apprehend three of the criminals that attacked the church, while two escaped. We did everything in our power to apprehend the hoodlums. As we are talking now, one of my men who was hit by a bullet, is receiving treatment.”
Another member of the security team, Uche Brown, said one of their members was in the hospital because of the injury he sustained while going after the hoodlums, but also corroborated Johnbull’s narrative that three suspects have been taken into custody.
According to Brown, “Around 8.43pm, some hoodlums who attacked the state governor’s father’s church at Azikiwe Street tried to bring down the building by throwing dynamites into it but (they) did not succeed.
“When they noticed that the security men were approaching them, they tried to escape, and we apprehended three of them, while two escaped, before the arrival of the police who took them into custody.”
They pleaded for assistance from the governor to ensure the payment of medical bills of the security personnel, who helped in the arrest of the suspects.
When The Tide visited the area, yesterday, there was heavy presence of security agents around the area, including Omoku/Azikiwe to UBA through Azikiwe Street, as the entire area had been cordoned off from vehicular traffic.
It was also discovered that a little part of the window glass in the building was shattered.

 

By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Boko Haram Still Very Strong In Borno, Gov Admits

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The Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum, yesterday, admitted that the dreaded Boko Haram sect are still existing strongly in many parts of the state, especially in the Sambisa Forest, River Fringes of Koshobe and Lake Chad Basin posing threats to over 6 million people in the state.
Zulum spoke after he attended the mass burial of rice farmers/fishermen slaughtered on Saturday in Koshobe in broad daylight at Zabarmari community in which, 44 corpses have been recovered by security operatives and volunteers, while other corpses are still not recovered in the bush of Koshobe village, with scores missing at press time.
Koshobe, located north-east, an agrarian community under Jere Local Government Area, where most Hausas engaged in farming and fishing is about 25kilometres drive from Maiduguri, the state capital.
Zulum said, though his administration has launched a security outfit called ‘Agric -Ranchers’ comprised of military, paramilitary and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force, including Hunters/Vigilantes to safeguard farmers, there is the need for collective responsibility, especially from the parts of the Federal Government, and governments of border countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun Republic to team up and address the lingering Boko Haram crisis in the region.
He regretted the escalating killings perpetrated by armed insurgents in some parts of the state, and assured that his administration will soon recruit additional Civilian Joint Task Force to complement efforts of the security operatives in the fight against Boko Haram.
“With what happened in Koshobe/Zabarmari community, yesterday, I can admit that the dreaded Boko Haram sect are still existing strongly in many parts of our state, especially in the Sambisa Forest, River Fringes of Koshobe and Lake Chad Basin posing threats to over 6 million people in the state.
“As you are aware that this administration has launched a security outfit called ‘Agric -Ranchers’ comprised of military, paramilitary and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force, including Hunters/Vigilantes safeguard farmers, there is the need for collective responsibility, especially from the parts of the Federal Government, and governments of border countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroun Republic to team up address the lingering Boko Haram crisis in the region.
“You have seen this morning; we buried 44 recovered corpses according to Islamic rites. I was informed that over 70 farmers were slaughtered while harvesting their rice in Koshobe village, but as it is, more corpses are still lying there waiting for evacuation.
“I assure you that this administration will soon recruit additional Civilian Joint Task Force complement efforts of the security operatives in the fight against Boko Haram”, Zulum said.
He, therefore, prayed God/Allah to grant eternal rest to the souls of the deceased and their families to bear the irreparable lost.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Rice Farmers Association in Zabarmari, Mallam Hassam Maina, in an interview, described the incident as a “Deadly Blow”.
He called on the government and the security agencies to live up to their responsibility in protecting lives and property in the state.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed grief over the killing of farmers on rice fields at Zabarmari in Jere Local Government of Borno, describing the terrorist killings as insane.
The president made the condemnation in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja, yesterday.
Buhari said the government had given all the needed support to the armed forces “to take all necessary steps to protect the country’s population and its territory.”
He said, “I condemn the killing of our hardworking farmers by terrorists in Borno State.
“The entire country is hurt by these senseless killings. My thoughts are with their families in this time of grief.
“May their souls Rest In Peace.”
About 43 farmers were murdered while an unspecified number of others were unaccounted for when Boko Haram insurgents launched attacks on rice fields at Zabarmari.
Nine of the victims were believed to be settlers in search of greener pastures from Zamfara, seven from Kebbi and eight from Sokoto while the remaining were indigenes of Zabarmari town.
Reacting, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, condemned in the strongest terms, the killing of “about 50” rice farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State, by Boko Haram insurgents.
Gbajabiamila, who expressed sadness over the killing of the farmers, said the incident had once again brought to the fore the need for more military action against the terrorists.
This is contained in a statement, yesterday by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, titled, ‘Gbajabiamila condemns killing of Borno rice farmers, calls for more military action against insurgents.’
The Speaker said it was unfortunate that “about 50 of the farmers were killed in a most gruesome manner” at a time the country was focusing on self-sufficiency in rice production.

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Ignore Restructuring, Fiscal Federalism At Your Peril, Wike Warns Buhari

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari, to heed the clamour for fiscal federalism and restructuring, to douse brewing tension in the country.
Wike, said stakeholders in the South-South and other geopolitical zones that met with the delegation led by Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, have expressed their grievances, which must be genuinely addressed.
The Rivers State governor, stated this when he featured as a guest on Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, yesterday.
The governor noted that stakeholders in the South-South, last Tuesday, in Port Harcourt, ventilated their expectations, and what was now required was political leadership and will by the President to implement the demands.
“President Buhari, has an opportunity today, that Nigerians are saying these are the things we want; these are the things we think can move Nigeria forward. And you have to show leadership by saying, ‘I have listened to you and these are things we can implement’. You may not necessarily implement everything that the people are talking about or people may want. But let people say that under President Buhari, has been able to implement one, two, three and four demands by the people.
“But if he does not take this opportunity now, and does not implement some of these requests, I don’t think it will be very good for Nigeria and for his legacy. I don’t think that will mean well.”
The governor stated that despite reservations in some quarters about the readiness of the Federal Government to address issues raised, Buhari must avail himself the rare opportunity to address nagging issues militating against the stability of the country.
“If the president does not do this, given the opportunity he has now, then, he will put Nigeria on fire.”
Wike acknowledged that some of the salient demands of the South-South zone will require constitutional amendments to actualise, but implored the President to ensure that whenever the National Assembly passes constitutional amendment as it concerns restructuring, true federalism and resource control, he does not refuse to assent to it.
“But, again, if constitutional amendment is being made and the President vetoes or says no, he will not sign it like he did against the Electoral Act, then, it will become a problem for Nigerians.”
He dismissed insinuations by the Deputy Senate President, Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, that National Assembly members and ministers from the zone were not consulted before Tuesday’s meeting with the presidential delegation.
“We are playing politics with issues that concern Nigerians; issues that concern the region. I don’t need to be told, assuming I am a legislator, and something like this happens, I will rush back to the state to meet the governor; to meet the stakeholders, and say: what do we do? You don’t need to wait for the governor to call you! It is your own responsibility as representative of the people. You heard that your state has been burnt down, for example, you don’t expect somebody who is bereaved to begin to call, to say I am bereaved.”
He described as regrettable the absence of the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, who arrived the Government House, Port Harcourt, with the Chief of Staff for the crucial stakeholders meeting on Tuesday, but failed to participate in the event for inexplicable reasons.
“When I asked the Chief of Staff: where is my own minister? he was also shocked, because he knew that the minister was at the airport with them.”
Wike noted that President Buhari has done the needful by appointing people to manage the affairs of NDDC for the interest of the region, but, regrettably, that those appointed were politicians who have refused to work with PDP governors in the region.
He accused the NDDC of pervasive corruption to the extent of claiming projects done by the Rivers State Government, as its own.
“Rivers State Government went to court and challenged NDDC that, you cannot do what you are doing without consultation, without approval of the state government. And the court agreed with the Rivers State Government. NDDC, you cannot do what you are doing. You are distorting the physical development of the stat”, Wike stressed.
The governor, lamented the continuous politicisation of security in the country to the extent that it has prevented the take-off of operations of the State Neighbourhood Safety Corps.
He accused the Nigerian Army, which ironically, has given tactical support to similar outfits in APC-controlled states like Lagos and Kogi, of preventing the State Safety Corps from operating, despite legislative backing.
He also wondered why the state Police Command would be contemplating community policing without the involvement of state governors.
“You are talking about community policing, and then, state governments are not involved. Who pays these officers or the men who are involved in community policing? You stay in Abuja, you take a decision, you recruit, then, you come and tell the state governments to come and pay, it does not work that way.
“And what do you mean by community policing? You are talking about how to provide security in various communities. Who is in-charge of these communities? And that is the problem we have in our own federal structure. You cannot say you operate a true federal system when you have only one police command”, Wike argued.
The governor dismissed claims that the state government owed personnel of the Rivers State Transport Company, and explained that state does not have such employees on its database.
He explained that before the advent of his administration, the state transport company had been operating as a franchise, without remitting proceeds to the state government.

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