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Flood Sacks A’Ibom Monarch, Villagers

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Ikot Obio Atai community in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has been deserted, the throne of monarch ravaged and the King sent on exile.
The community is not facing any war nor any other social upheaval like banditry but natural terror: flood, which has sent nearly half of the community packing.
Armed with no weapon or idea on how to combat the vicious flood, the village head, Chief Mkpong Okon Mkpong, fled from his palace at No. 85 Urua Ekpa Road to Udo Usanga Street in Uyo LGA, to rule over his community.
The flood, which has taken more than three kilometres of the village, equally affected many adjoining streets in the area, including Afaha Oku, Imo, Udo and Usanga, among others.
More than 120 houses have also been taken over by the flood, while more than 500 residents have been sacked from their houses, turning them to refugees in their homestead.
A dangerous gully erosion along Akpan Etong Street has swallowed some houses even as a man was reported to have died recently in the menacing flood
Though Ikot Obio Atai or Urua Ekpa Road is in Itu LGA, the affected communities are within Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA) and the flooded area is less than two kilometres from the main gate of the town campus of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO).
Kufreabasi Edidem, who represents Itu constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, who is also an indigene of Ikot Obio Atai, said he was the chairman of Itu Council Area during the administration of Godswill Akpabio when the flood menace started.
He recalled that all the state government did was to refer him to the then deputy governor, who facilitated officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to visit the village and share relief materials to the victims.
Edidem claimed that as a member of the House of Assembly, he brought the state Commissioner for Environment and Works to inspect the flood site.
He said he forwarded the complaint to the state government, with the hope that the flood site would be included in the 2022 Akwa Ibom State budget.
“By God’s special grace, I am sure it will be in the budget by next year,” he said
On why he has not brought the issue before the Assembly under matter of urgent public importance, Edidem retorted: “ Do you want the thing on the floor or you want the problem solved? So if you want the problem solved, it is when you are a legislator and you don’t have good relationship with the executive and the executive does not listen to you that is when you bring matter to the floor of the house to catch the attention of the executive. But if the executive is already listening to you. The commissioner for finance and commissioner for environment followed me, they made the engineering drawings and they are working on the next year budget. It has been put in the budget, so what do you want the matter on the floor? It is for sensationalism or what?”
A garri seller, who identified herself simply as Mercy, lamented that the flood had sacked many residents of the area and crippled their businesses as students of UNIUYO, who were the bulk of tenants in the area as well as patrons of businesses have left the environment.
She stated that there was no natural stream or body of water, rather the new roads like Udoette, UNIUYO and Itam Market areas, among others contribute to the flooding of the area which is the lowest point around.
A resident and a keke rider in the area, Titus Ekpe Sunday, said, “My room is flooded anytime it rains. When it rains for about two or three hours, we relocated from our rooms. If you were here the other day when it rained, you will not come up to this point.”
Sunday explained that they have no option than to live there because they do not have money to rent new accommodation or build new houses, stressing: “After the rain, we scoop the water and go back to our wet rooms.”
Mr. Ekpe Asukwo, landlord of 41 Urua Ekpa Road, lamented that residents cannot quantify their losses over the years because of the menace, appealing to the state government to come to their rescue.
The sacked village head of Ikot Obio Atai, Chief Mkpong, said the flood problem was beyond the village’s capacity to handle, noting that the community had written several letters to successive governments in the state to no avail.
“The community has written to the various governments but nothing has happened. Since 1999, nothing has happened. If it was possible, the community would have addressed the problem. It is difficult for us. Governor Udom Emmanuel should come and help us. We are all members of PDP. It is sad that even the village head ‘s house is under water yet they say that Akwa Ibom State is beautiful,” he said.

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School Retracts Statement, Apologises Over Alleged Abuse Of Female Student

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A private secondary school in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has retracted its statement over the alleged abuse of a female student by an official of the school.
The school, King Solomon Secondary School, has also apologised to the girl’s parents over the incident.
The school’s initial position was that the 16-year-old girl who is in SS3 was indecently dressed to school and had muttered “offensive words” when confronted by the school official.
It had also said a report of the incident posted on Facebook by Celestine Mel, a relative of the girl, was exaggerated.
Mr Mel’s Facebook post has photos of the student with bruises all over her body allegedly inflicted by the official, identified as Ndifreke.
“The charge was that her school uniform was too short, and goes against the Bible, which forms the moral pillar of the school.
“She wanted to strip the child down. The child tried to run away. Ndifreke (the official) descended on her, using every weapon within her reach: cane, stick, planks. From the head to her back, shoulder, thighs, legs, etc,” Mr Mel wrote.
Continuing, he wrote: “There were bumps, blood and bruises. She looked like a lucky survivor, out from bombed-out rubble in a war zone. The head bulged out. The eyes blood-shot. Her skin peeled here and there, lacerated and bleeding. She left the school by foot and in pain, and walked home by foot, several kilometers away.

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Dep Gov Wants MDAs To Boost Bayelsa IGR

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The Bayelsa State Government has charged various revenue generating ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to redouble their efforts in the drive to improve the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the state.
The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the charge while declaring open the ninth Bayelsa Tax Advisory and Review Committee (TARC) meeting in Yenagoa, recently.
He reminded members of the committee that it was high time they explored new and better ways of generating revenue in order to boost the revenue profile of the state.
He pointed out that the state was not where it supposed to be, in terms of income generation, noting that Bayelsa’s IGR would not rise until better methods were employed.
Ewhrudjakpo, who commended members of the committee for their support and contributions to the implementation of the present administration’s fiscal policies in 2021, implored them to be more passionate about their responsibility this year.
The Bayelsa number two citizen who also doubles as Chairman of the State Tax Advisory and Review Committee (TARC), urged the Committee to scale up efforts in their revenue drive to enable government pay workers’ salaries as and when due without depending on monthly federal allocations.
To achieve this, the deputy governor said, some tough and proper decisions would be taken not only to expand the state tax net but also identify and plug areas of revenue leakages in the system.
He however, assured the law abiding and tax-paying public of the present administration’s readiness to eradicate multiple taxation as part of its investment promotion strategy.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank members of TARC for their support and contributions that took us to where we were last year. But clearly, that is not where we ought to be.
“Although we are not where we used to be, we also are not where we supposed to be as a state in terms of IGR. This therefore means, some more determination as well as passion is required for us to get there.
“If what you know cannot change you, then you have to change what you know. And so, if what we are doing cannot give us the dividends we need, then we need to change what we are doing.
“Until we forage and also explore new avenues, our revenue profile will remain what it is and we can never change. And so, we should not be afraid of daring because without daring, we cannot win.
“We should be seen to be written on the positive side of history that, ‘yes, progress was made by the previous TARC but that better progress was made by this present TARC.
“We still have a lot to do to increase our IGR. We should be able to pay our workers’ salaries as a state with what we generate even though we may not be well resourced as some states in the country,” the Deputy Governor said.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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Judges, Judicial Staff, Others Extol Chief Judge’s Virtues

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Justices of the Bayelsa State Judiciary and others have commended the Bayelsa State Chief Justice Kate Abiri for her leadership qualities.
The Tide reports that the commendations came on the side line of the 64th birthday celebration of the Chief Judge which held at the Judges’ quarters in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Speaking as Chairman of the occasion, Justice Ken Aganaba in his opening remarks, described Justice Abiri as a woman of excellence known for her brilliance, sagacity and honesty, adding that the Bayelsa Chief bencher was a prudent manager of resources.
He pointed out that the Chief Judge was dependable and have cemented a good working relationship between the bar and the bench as well as with other arms of government in the state.
While thanking God for the enablement given Judicial officers to perform their duties, Justice Aganaba also prayed God to grant the celebrant good health to complete her tenure in the next one year before retirement.
In an exhortation tagged, ‘Benefit of the Lord’, Pastor Amatari Zuofa, advised the living to celebrate God, noting that Justice Abiri has enjoyed good health even at 64 due to her love and service to the Lord and humanity.
“The matters that mattered most are inside us as nobody has ever worked on his or her internal organs. God has been very faithful to everyone. We must fear and serve the Lord, let’s all adore and worship the Lord”, the clergy said.
The Tide reports that the Bayelsa State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Biriyai Dambo, proposed the toast for the Chief Judge’s birthday celebration, wishing her long life and prosperity in health, wealth, wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
Meanwhile in their separate goodwill messages, the duo of the President of the State Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Ayah, and the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Sayo, as well as the state Chairman, Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), Comrade Keme Dirikebamo and the Yenagoa Federal High Court Judge, Justice Isa Bashiru, described Justice Kate Abiri as a role model who have demonstrated love, care, commitment to duty, saying she has encouraged others to succeed.
They noted that the Chief Judge’s calm disposition has enabled her to forge a good working relationship with the Bar and the Bench and the entire staff of the state Judiciary.
Giving her vote of thanks, the celebrant, Justice Abiri, thanked guests for creating time out of their tight schedules to come celebrate her. She said that her 64th birthday celebration is a ‘dress rehearsal’ to 2023 when she will retire from active service.
Abiri described the work of judges as a sacred one, noting that the judiciary in the state is one of the fastest growing in the country; she thanked God for keeping her alive and expressed gratitude to judges, magistrates, lawyers and staff of the judiciary for their support and show of solidarity for her leadership.
She also lauded her husband, Mr Patrick Abiri, for his understanding as well as the wife of the first Chief Judge of the state, Mrs Ungbuku, retired Justice, Margaret Akpomienmien, Pastor Amatari Doutimi, the district minister of Greater Evangelism World Crusade and other ministers of God for their prayers and support, praying God to bless them beyond their imagination.
Dignitaries present at the occasion included, newly appointed justice, and wife of the Bayelsa State Governor, Patience Ama Diri, Justice Timi Cocodia, Justice I. Eradiri and Justice Eneni Opoko. Abraham.
Also present were, Hon. Justice T.Y Abas, Justice E.T Okara, and another newly sworn-in Justice of the state Judiciary, Christine Omo Enegesi, Hon.Justice Simon Amadou Bowa, and Dame Grace Fiepere, amongst others.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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