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Traders, Landlords Lose Millions As Fire Razes Another Market, Houses

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There was uncontrollable wailing, yesterday, as traders and some residents woke up to the sad news that fire had destroyed the Timber Market at Marine Base in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State.
It was gathered that the fire gutted the popular market in the state around 11:30pm, last Wednesday and continued burning until the early hours of yesterday.
It was gathered that the mysterious fire razed the entire market and some residential buildings within the area.
A source in the area, who gave her name simply as Gift, narrated that activities had closed for the day before the fire engulfed the makeshift market.
Gift noted that they had called the state fire service when the incident started, but quickly added that the service’s response could not turn up because of lack of personnel.
She said, “There was heavy fire last night at Marine Base market. The fire burnt down the market. Traders in the market lost every of their goods.
“The fire started around 11:30pm, when the market had already closed. Nobody died in the incident but traders lost everything they had to the fire.
“When the fire started, we called fire service. They said they would come. After about 30 minutes, we called the line again; a lady picked the call but said they can’t come because their men were not on the ground. They have gone for another duty.
“People have lost goods worth millions of Naira. Some of the shop owners came in around 12:30am, and met their shops razed, while some came and saved few of their goods.”
Another victim, who was seen wailing over the loss of his merchandise, said, “Last night around 11:35pm, the fire started, and the fire is still raging this morning as you can see. There were series of calls put across to fire fighters, but none responded up to this moment (morning).
“The fire actually affected areas where we are selling planks for buildings. Even shops where they sell caskets were also affected by the fire.”
One of the victims, who simply gave his name as Onyema, said that he became hypertensive patient as a result of incessant fire outbreaks at the Timber Market.
Onyema noted that when he got calls from some of his colleagues about the fire, he refused to rush down due to his health condition.
Another victim, Chidi Ogbomma, who sells building materials said, “I was at home around 11:30pm to 12midnight when I was called that there was fire at the market.
“I don’t know where to start from,” Ogbomma lamented as his machines, industrial woods and finished products were completely consumed in the fire.
The Chairman, Marine Base Timber Market, Isaac Amaewhule, said he was called at about midnight that the market was on fire, but could not race down because he stays far away.
“When I came, the security told me that the fire started from the coffin (casket) side. They said they were very surprised to see such huge fire. They said they didn’t know what caused it.
“I am using this opportunity to call on the state government to help us because we are all Nigerians. Even people selling pure water, food, and so on, come here to sell and sustain themselves and their families,” Amaewhule pleaded.
Some of the traders lamented that they had suffered several fire disasters in the past, estimating the latest loss to over N300million.
They regretted that anytime fire outbreaks occur, they lose virtually all their property as rescue operations have always been difficult.
They appealed to the Rivers State Government to come to their aid in terms of financial assistance and construction of a befitting market for them to forestall future recurrence.
The cause of the fire outbreak could not be ascertained by the time of this report.
However, it was learnt that the fire started from the casket section of the market, even as those affected said no fire-fighters came to put out the inferno.
When The Tide visited the scene of the inferno about 7:30am, yesterday, it was observed that the fire was still raging in some parts of the wood section.
The incident occurred barely five days after a similar fire outbreak on February 20, razed property worth over N10million at the popular Mile 3 Market in the state capital.
The cause of the section of the Mile 3 Market fire incident, which mostly destroyed several shops, including cold rooms on the Bishop Okoye Line, is yet to be determined.
The second fire incident also occurred along Chief Odum Street in the Ogbumnabali area of Port Harcourt; where over 20 shanties were destroyed rendering hundreds of residents homeless.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Improve Fortunes Of Rivers People, Wike Urges New LG Bosses

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has urged the newly elected chairmen of the 23 local government areas of the state to deliver dividends of democracy in their respective councils.
Speaking when he received them on a ‘thank you visit’ at Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Wike told them not to abuse the opportunity that has been given to them to serve the people at the grassroots.
Wike stated the need for them to avoid the pitfall of chasing after money because it would distract them from offering service to their people.
“Contribute your quota. Make your mark and create impact. Improve on the lives of the people. If God has given you the opportunity, don’t abuse it.
“Opportunities come and it is how you use it that matters. I was a council chairman. Today, I am a governor. Some of you think becoming a council chairman is where you’ll make money.
“If you check history, no former council chairman has succeeded apart from few of us: myself, Tammy Danagogo, Felix Obuah, Fred Kpakol, and Emeka Woke. All the other chairmen have all gone. Why? So many people don’t know that privileges are not rights”, he said.
Wike also advised them to get closer to the people, relate with them and solve the challenges they face as individuals and the entire council area.
“It is a shame that you’ll serve for three or six years and you don’t have any project executed. You may claim you pay salary. You have to pay salary, of course. But also be concerned about what legacy to leave behind and what you can be remembered for.
“Show how you can enhance the chances of the party in your areas and make it popular. We are doing something at the state level, so do something too.
Speaking further, governor urged them to respect the existing leadership in their council areas.
According to him, “Before you became a chairman there was a leader. Don’t go and divide the local government. Stoop to conquer. There’s nothing wrong rallying round your leaders.
“Don’t be stingy. No stingy man succeeds in life. If there is a problem, see how you can bring everybody together. Stay in your local government and work.
“Also, work with your vice, don’t do everything alone. Don’t sit down and point everybody alone. Give others responsibility, and work as a team.”
The governor congratulated Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) for conducting a free and fair election that was devoid of violence.
He further commended the security agencies for providing security during last Saturday’s election.
Speaking on behalf of the elected 23 council chairmen, the Mayor-elect of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, Allwell Ihunda, noted the opportunity the party gave to them and the support from the governor contributed to their victory at the polls.
According to him, the election was free, fair, credible and violence free because of the capacity shown by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC).
He vowed that they will perform when they get sworn-in.

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US Court Convicts Chauvin For Floyd’s Murder

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Former Minneapolis Police Officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted, yesterday, on all counts against him in the killing of George Floyd, nearly one year after kneeling on Floyd’s neck in an incident that sparked global protests against police brutality.
After less than 24 hours of deliberations, the jury returned guilty verdicts against Chauvin, finding him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd on May 25, 2020.
Under Minnesota law, Chauvin can appeal his conviction after the court enters the judgment and he receives his sentence.
Hennepin County Judge, Peter Cahill, said sentencing will take place in eight weeks.
Chauvin’s bail was revoked, and he was remanded to custody.
Chauvin was accused of murdering Floyd by keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck — depriving Floyd of oxygen — during an arrest.
Over the course of the 14-day trial, jurors heard from more than 40 witnesses from both the state and Chauvin’s defense team and viewed video footage from the incident, including that filmed by police body cameras.
Prosecutors argued throughout the trial that Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck despite Floyd’s cries for help and acted against Minneapolis Police Department policies when he restrained Floyd — an assertion that was supported by several high-ranking police officials who testified that Chauvin’s conduct was unnecessary and excessive.
“On May 25, 2020, Derek Chauvin put his knees upon (Floyd’s) neck and back, grinding and crushing him until the very breath, the very life, was squeezed out of him,” prosecuting attorney, Jerry Blackwell, told jurors on the first day of the trial.”

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PDP Sweeps LG Polls In Rivers

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The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been declared the winner of the highest number of votes in 4,442 polling units, and 319 wards across the 23 local government areas in last Saturday’s LG polls in Rivers State.
The Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) Chairman, Justice George Omereji (rtd), while announcing the results of the LG Elections, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, declared PDP winner of all 23 chairmanship seats and all the 319 councillorship seats in the state.
Addressing journalists, party agents, independent observers and other stakeholders at the RSIEC office shortly after the announcement of the results of the LG polls, Omereji said the election was free and credible, adding that few challenges arising from distribution of materials and other logistics affected the polls.
He congratulated the winners of the elections and called on the losers to accept the results in good faith and eschew the politics of acrimony.
While giving a breakdown of the full results, Omereji said that Barrister Benjamin Eke of PDP won the Ahoada East chairmanship contest with 35,483 votes.
PDP also won the 13 wards of the LGA for the councillorship polls.
However, the APC that did not take part in the election got 84 votes.
In Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA, Hon. Job Vincent of PDP scored 52, 484 votes to win the race while SDP garnered 218 votes.
Omereji declared Dr. Chidi Lloyd of PDP winner of the Emohua chairmanship seat poll with 93,980 votes.
The party also cleared the 14 councillorship seats of the LGA.
The PDP’s Obinna Anyanwu also won the Etche chairmanship seat with 27, 883 votes. The party cleared the 18 seats of the wards.
Also, PDP’s Deekor confidence won the Gokana LGA chairmanship seat with 54,578 votes; PDP candidates also clinched all the 17 councillorship seats.
APC got two votes for the chairmanship election.
In Bonny LGA, David Irimagha of PDP won the chairmanship seat with 18,408 votes. PDP also swept all the 12 councillorship seats.
The Returning Officer for the elections in Bonny LGA, Dr Kenneth Miebaka, had announced the initial results at the Local Government Collation Centre at the Ibanise Hall at about 1am, yesterday.
He declared the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the polls having polled 18,408 votes to defeat the African Action Congress (AAC), which polled 443 votes and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) with 206 votes.
The PDP’s Onengiye George also won Asari-Toru chairmanship with 63,727 votes, and PDP won all the 13 wards’ councillorship seats. Accord Party scored 787 votes while Labour Party got 9 votes.
Mr. Rowland Sekibo of PDP won Akuku-Toru with 54, 883 votes for chairmanship, Accord 176 while APC got 1.
In Andoni, the Chairmanship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Erastus Awortu, emerged winner in the just-concluded council poll, having garnered the highest number of 107,658 votes.
The Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) Returning Officer, Mr Michael Blessed, made the declaration, last Saturday, shortly after results collation in Ngo, headquarters of the local government area.
The returning officer stated that the election was keenly contested and all the party agents were also on ground to monitor the process.
“The results are as follows: total votes cast was 115,776, total valid votes was 113,776 and invalid votes was 1,487.
“Results breakdown showed that Accord Party had 34 votes, ADP 741, AAC 26, ADC 287, APM 59 votes.
“Others are LP 4,207 votes, PDP 107,658 votes, SDP 247 and 471 votes for ZLP.
“From the results, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has the highest votes amounting to 107,658 votes and returned winner.
“I, Mr Michael Blessed, by the powers bestowed on me as the Returning Officer of Andoni Local Government Area has announced the results of the local government election, today, April 17, 2021,” he stated.
In his acceptance speech, the Chairman-elect, Erastus Awortu, thanked the people for demonstrating confidence in him, and promised to honour the tenets of local government administration throughout his tenure.
In Degema LG, Omereji declared William Michael of PDP winner of the chairmanship seat with 21,223 votes; Accord 94 votes; SDP 247 votes; and Labour 913 votes.
In Oyigbo LGA, Okechukwu Akara of PDP was declared winner of the chairmanship election with 81,052; while SDP scored 31 votes.
In Ikwerre LGA, Engineer Samuel Nwanosike was re-elected chairman with 4,952
Labour Party scored 82 votes, SDP 388 votes, and APC 61.
The PDP candidate, Barrister George Ariolu, also won in Obio/Akpor LGA, with 287,347 votes.
Labour Party scored 122 votes and SDP got 705.
In Opobo/Nkoro LGA chairmanship elections, Enyiada Cookey-Gam of PDP won with 44,434 votes; while SDP got 456 votes.
In Eleme LGA, PDP polled 96,283 votes to win the election, with Accord Party scoring 671; and SDP 2,983 votes.
In Okrika LG Chairmanship contest, PDP’s Tobin Akuro candidate scored 23,890 votes to win the poll. Labour got 10; SDP 53; and APC 9 votes.
The PDP also won the chairmanship seat in Khana LGA with 53,439 votes; Labour Party 15 votes; and SDP 309 votes.
In Ogu/Bolo LGA, the PDP chairmanship candidate won the poll with 34,721; SDP 121 votes; and Labour Party 11 votes.
In Tai LGA, PDP’s Friday Mbakpone scored 53, 423; SDP 268; and Labour 73 votes.
In PHALGA, PDP’s Allwel Ihunda polled 17,747 votes to emerge winner; while Labour Party got 552 votes; and APC137.
The incumbent chairmen and candidates of the PDP for Abua/Odual, Daniel .O. Daniel; his Ahoada West counterpart, Hon Hope Ikiriko; also won the contests in their LGAs.
Omereji, however, advised losers of the elections to accept the result and support the winner to provide good governance at the grassroots while encouraging the winners to carry everyone along.
The RSIEC boss used the opportunity to announce that the Certificate of Returns would be issued to the winners today at the Commission’s Office on Aba Road.

 

By: Nelson Chukwudi, with reports from Enoch Epelle & Beemene Taneh

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