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Alleged Fraud: Court Grants N500m Bail To Saipem MD, Others

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A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt has granted bail to the Managing Director of Saipem Contracting, Mr. Walter Peviana, and Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe with N500million.
On January 11, the duo were remanded at the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre over an alleged conspiracy to defraud the Rivers State Government the sum of $130million.
At the resumed hearing, for bail consideration, the trial Judge, Justice Okogbule Gbasam, granted bail to the defendants in the matter filed by the state government as registered in suit number PHC/3106/CR/2021.
The prosecution in the matter is the Government of Rivers State, while the defendants are Saipem SPA (1st defendant); Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited (2nd defendant); Mr. Walter Peviana (3rd defendant); Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe (4th defendant); Giandomenico Zingali (5th defendant); Vitto Testaguzza (6th defendant), and Davide Anelli (7th defendant).
Earlier, the counsel for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th defendants, Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), and the counsel for the 4th defendant, relying on Sections 194 and 169 of the Administration of Criminal Justice and Sections 35 and 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, pleaded for the bail of their clients.
The counsel told the court to grant the defendants bail considering the facility where they were detained, explaining that their clients could fall ill following the spread of the COVID-19.
Ajumogobia urged the court to grant his client, Peviana, bail owing that he is the “managing director of one of the largest company in West Africa (Saipem),” and would not jump bail.
The counsel pleaded that the court has the power to grant bail to the defendants.
But the applicant counsel, Godwin Obla (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the bail application for the defendants.
Obla argued that the money involved in the allegation, if converted to Nigeria currency, would amount to N32billion, which he said is about 6.7percent of the total state budget for the year.
He argued that the 4th defendant counsel filed application of bail a day to the client arraignment in court, saying the application did not comply with the law; hence, the court should dismiss such.
The counsel further argued that: “It shows the seriousness of the crime the accused persons were charged with and reason why the accused should not be granted bail.”
Ruling on the bail application, Gbasam noted the error in filing a bail application before the defendant appears in court.
The judge said: “The anticipation is that bail should come before arraignment, arrest or remand. The application made on January 10, 2022, was merely speculation and presumption. The 4th defendant should have filed his application after the case has been brought to court.”
He stated that the application was null and void.
Gbasam, who also expressed the discretion of the court in granting bail to the 2nd and 4th defendant, ordered that they should present two sureties each, and surety for the 2nd defendant must be a principle officer of the 1st defendant (Saipem), and must own a landed property in the state with Certificate of Ownership.
Also, as the bail condition, the judge said the defendants should deposit their international passports to the court and that sureties must deposit original papers of their landed property in the court.
However, the court adjourned the matter till February 2, 3 and 4, 2022, for accelerated hearing.
Speaking with newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel for the applicant, Obla, explained that: “The matter came up today (Tuesday) for plea as previously scheduled by the court, and the plea of the defendants were all taken to the 15 count-charge, and they moved their application for bail.
“We opposed the application for bail but also left a window for the judge to also exercise his discretion.
“He has now granted bail to the 3rd and 4th defendants in the sum of N500million each, two sureties to provide landed property, the surety for the 3rd defendant must be a managerial level with the second defendant.
“The case has been adjourned till February 2, 3, and 4, 2022, for hearing on the day-by-day basis.”
Also speaking, counsel for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th defendants, Ajumogobia, lauded the court for granting bail to his clients, but noted the high conditions of the bail.
He said: “Bail is at the discretion of the court. We made an appeal that the court should issue conditions that are not too stringent. I think the court was gracious enough to issue difficult conditions, but we will try and see how we can meet those conditions-I mean N500million is not a small amount of money for the two of the defendants.
“But at least the challenge now is to meet those conditions for bail so that they can come out of the prison,” he said.

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2023: I’m Only PDP Presidential Aspirant To Defeat APC–Wike

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Rivers State Governor and leading presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Nyesom Wike,has said that he remained the only PDP aspirant that could win election against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Wike, in company of some PDP chieftains, made this remark when he met national delegates of the Lagos chapter of PDP in Ikeja, last Saturday.
The aspirant, who noted that he was not running to be vice president to anybody, said that if elected, peace, security of lives and property would be prioritised to strengthen the nation’s sustainable infrastructure, food security, prosperity and economic turnaround.
He said the nation needed a strong and courageous leader like him now, adding that with a courageous leader, difficult decisions would be taken to tackle the nation’s challenges.
“The issue now is who can win election for PDP. Who has the capacity to face the APC? Who will win election for PDP? That is me here.
“I will face APC squarely. If you give me this ticket on May 28 and May 29, go home and sleep with your two eyes closed,” Wike said.
The governor said that PDP must do everything possible not to lose the 2023 presidential election.
“If we lose the presidential election in 2023, we can as well forget PDP.
“I have been tested in terms of performance. Mine is ‘talk and do’,” he added.
Wike, who promised to replicate his outstanding performance in Rivers State across Nigeria, said that he would provide a leadership every Nigerian would be proud of, home and abroad.
The aspirant pleaded with the Lagos delegates and leaders to be united and work for his emergence at the primaries.
“I know APC very well, allow me to face them. I am begging you, delegates, allow me. Support me to take the power from APC and bring back to PDP.
“I depend on the South-West, if the South-West gives me the votes, I have won the election. Donate all your votes to me,” he said.”
The PDP chieftain lamented that some party leaders aspiring to contest for PDP presidential ticket now, were the ones that threw the former ruling party into being opposition when they left the party in 2015.
Wike, who noted that he had been with PDP since 1998, said: “I will never leave this party. Whatever I am today, by the grace of God, God used PDP for me”.
He, however, said that he would never leave PDP even if he did not win the primaries, pledging to support whoever won.
The governor, who appealed to the Lagos PDP to end all infighting and division, said that if the party was not united, it would not win in the state.
In his remark, former Governor of Gombe State, Dr Ibrahim Dankwambo, who led Wike’s delegation, described the presidential aspirant as a fearless and courageous leader, with strong capacity to drive Nigeria forward.

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Army Bombs B’Haram Commander’s Convoy, Kills Scores, Destroys Gun Trucks

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Troops of the Nigerian Army under the auspices of Operation Hadin Kai have bombed a convoy of a Commander of Boko Haram in Sambisa forest, Abubakar Sarki, killing scores of terrorists who were with him.
Sources said the offensive was coordinated by the General Officer Commanding 7 Division, Nigerian Army and Commander Sector 1 North East Operation Hadin Kai (OPHK), Maj-Gen Waidi Shaibu on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at Yuwe location, within the Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State.
The Army was said to have deployed a massive artillery gun after sighting eight moving convoys conveying Abubakar Sarki and unconfirmed numbers of fighters in devastating hits.
The source said that based on intelligence information, Abubakar Sarki and his team were heading toward Abu-Ubaida’s camp to engage its rival fighters from the Islamic State of the West African Province (ISWAP), in a battle of supremacy.
Counter Intelligence expert with knowledge of terrorists activities in Lake Chad, Zagazola Makama confirmed the artillery bombing of the BH Commander’s convoy.
“A ground assessment confirmed that three guntrucks with all its occupants were completely destroyed, while the remaining five vehicles, including Abubakar Sarki escaped” the source said.
The source added that the terrorists, however, aborted the mission and evacuated the dead and wounded fighters towards the axis between Pulka and Banki.
The sources said that the troops were mandated to go after the fleeing terrorists and eliminate them completely.
The infighting between the two terrorists groups had intensified with the ISWAP hunting Boko Haram during the day time while the Boko Haram are coordinating reprisal attacks at night because of their knowledge of the terrain.

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NDDC Fund, Account For Alleged N700b, Inaugurate Board, Monarch Tasks FG

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Barely three days after some ministers resigned, including Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, the Paramount Ruler of Idjerhe Kingdom of Delta State, King Obukowho Monday Whiskey, yesterday, called for urgent inauguration of the already screened and confirmed board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) just as he called on the Federal Government to the over N700billion he alleged has been allocated to investigate the commission in the last three years.
He said these steps by the government would help resuscitate the agency and rekindle hope of the people whose regional resources, he alleged, were criminally plundered by the leadership of Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
In a press statement personally issued by the monarch and made available to journalists in Benin City, Whiskey said, “Having voluntarily resigned as Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, our beloved son, Obong Godswill Obot Akpabio, should come out clean to explain to fellow Niger Deltans the whereabouts of the three years running budgetary allocations of the NDDC which inside sources claimed were more than N700billion.
“For presiding over the ongoing illegality in NDDC, Akpabio is not fit to be president.
“The Federal Government and Akpabio, who held the region perpetually captive and denied her of her developmental agenda because of an inglorious forensic audit that never brought out anything should now explain to our people of our collective regional wealth.
“The father of the nation, Mr. President must have seen now that those he entrusted with the developmental agenda of the oil and gas bearing communities of Nigeria had their own nefarious intentions to swindle and cause more havoc and deny the people their collective dreams of development.
“It is instructive to note, Mr. President, that three options are still available to the Federal Government of Nigeria. The first being the immediate inauguration of the screened and confirmed board of the NDDC under the Chairmanship of Dr. Pius Egberavwe Odubu, and Olorogun Bernard Okumagba as managing director. Secondly, immediate dissolution of the illegally constituted sole administrator that is alien to the NDDC Act 2000, and thirdly, every of the allocation to the NDDC from 2019 to 2022 except for those used for staff salaries and sundry expenses, every other monies of the over N700billion be recovered from whoever were part of the Macabre dance of shame in the past four years.”
The traditional ruler stressed that the inauguration of the already screened and confirmed board would rekindle hope and restore the Federal Government’s integrity before Nigerians and the international community.

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