President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua pressed on with his amnesty package for militants as he insists on strict adherence to the United Nations (UN) standards in reintegration and rehabilitation of militants in the Niger Delta.
The Federal Government also named special centres where the armed men can submit their guns in some states in the oil-rich region and military formations.
Also yesterday, President Yar’Adua directed the chairman of the Presidential Panel on Amnesty and Disarmament of Militants in the Niger Delta, Maj Gen Godwin Abbe (rtd) to arrange a meeting with Mr. Henry Okah and formally offer him the amnesty as proclaimed.
Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, said last night that because the amnesty was voluntary and could not be done by proxy, it was necessary for Okah’s acceptance of it and its terms to be obtained before government could proceed with the next line of action.
Adeniyi explained that “the diplomatic side of the Okah’s matter would be tidied up as soon as his acceptance of the offer is obtained. If it is obtained, government is expected to finish with that in a couple of days.”
As the government forged ahead with the state pardon deal, some armed men yesterday continued with their sabotage of oil firms’ operations.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which destroyed two well clusters owned by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Forcados, Delta State, claimed that it killed 23 soldiers and sank a gunboat belonging to the Joint Task Force (JTF) during a gun duel.
In a prompt reaction, JTF admitted the attack on the oil facility but denied any confrontation with MEND fighters. The military team said no gunboat was sunk because the destroyed facility was in an unmanned area.
To the Presidential Implementation Committee on Amnesty and Disarmament, Yar’Adua charged it to comply fully with all UN provisions in the operation of the centres in the Niger Delta states.
It was learnt that headquarters, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu will serve as the coordinating centre for disarmament and the demobilisation of militants, who accept the amnesty offered them by the President.
Under the arrangement, weapons surrendered by the militants in centres in the Niger Delta will be kept at the Enugu Army formation.
A breakdown of the centres, shows that Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States will each have four collection points and two re-integration centres while Edo, Akwa Ibom and Ondo states, where militant activities are less pronounced will each have two collection points and one re-integration centre.
Media Coordinator of the Implementation Committee, Dr. Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, said yesterday that Enugu was chosen “because of a presidential directive that a neutral state outside the Niger Delta be used as coordinating centre.
“We are out in the field to inspect the centres that have been identified by the state governors, for upgrading where necessary to ensure it meets the UN standard as it concerns disarmament and demobilisation. We just arrived in Port Harcourt from Enugu where we have inspected the coordinating centre and we are now in Port Harcourt to look at the location on the invitation of the state government; that will serve as collection and integration centres with adequate facilities that are suitable in line with UN standard.
“The UN standard includes a recreational centre, a functional catering centre, adequate accommodation (hostel) complete with necessary facilities like water, electricity.
Shell, which also confirmed the attack, said it had stopped production in the area as a precautionary measure while it investigates to determine what precipitated the action.
Of late, Shell has been the target of MEND, whose spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said the sincerity of the government on the amnesty came into question again at the weekend when Interior Minister, Maj.-Gen. Godwin Abbe tied the release of Henry Okah to the outcome of Nigeria’s consultations with the governments of Angola and Equatorial Guinea.
MEND alleged Monday that Hurricane Piper Alpha had struck at the Shell Forcados offshore platform in Delta State yesterday at about 0330 hrs.
“Cluster 11 and 30 are currently on fire after a massive explosion.
“A military gunboat patrol on noticing the fire stumbled upon heavily armed fighters and the confrontation resulted in the sinking of the gunboat with all the occupants numbering between 20 to 23 soldiers.
“We have made it clear that patrols must not open fire at us as our target is the oil infrastructure. This unheeded warning resulted in the death of these soldiers,” MEND said.
But JTF said pipelines belonging to Shell were vandalised by militants at an isolated area off Forcados, in Warri South West Local Council of Delta State.
Shell spokesperson, Mr. Precious Okolobo, who confirmed that incident, explained that the attack occurred on two clusters at the Estuary field in the Western swamp operations. He, however, declined to indicate the barrels of crude oil that were affected.
MEND, which alleged that the government had offered N1 billion to each of its camps, accused Abbe of lying when he said Okah travelled to Equatorial Guinea. According to the group, Okah “never set foot in that country; not even on transit .”
Gbomo said: “MEND will negotiate as a group when the time comes.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Merchant Navy has advised the government to reduce the number of creeks in the region as it provides infrastructure in the Niger Delta.
They appealed to the National Assembly to quickly pass the Coastal Guard Bill into law to allow the maritime police combat the Niger Delta crisis.
At a press conference in Sagamu, Ogun State yesterday, the Nigerian Merchant Academy, which described the crisis in the Niger Delta as a national embarrassment, canvassed adequate training for youth in the area for gainful employment. The Director of Information of the organisation, Capt. Banjo Akintunde, said the training of the youth in maritime related courses and subsequent engagement would stem insurgence in the zone.
NBA Shuns Call To Bar Event Over Olanipekun’s Refusal To Resign
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), yesterday, boycotted the Call to Bar ceremony of 4,711 new lawyers that were admitted into the legal profession.
The legal body, in a statement by its National President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), said its decision to shun the ceremony was based on the refusal of the Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), to resign.
NBA, the umbrella body of legal practitioners in the country, said it had in a letter it also copied to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, asked Olanipekun to step aside as leader of the BoB.
The call followed a claim by a leading partner in his chamber, Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, that he influenced judges to deliver favourable judgements for his clients.
The NBA said it had, in view of the weighty nature of Ogunde’s claim and the negative impact it has on the overall image and integrity of the legal profession in the country, urged Olanipekun to allow his Vice, Justice Mary Odili (rtd), to preside over the Call to Bar ceremony scheduled for yesterday and today.
In the statement made available to newsmen, Maikyau, noted that he had in the said letter dated December 4, made position of the association known to the BoBchairman.
“In that letter, I requested the chairman of the BoB to recuse himself from presiding over the Call to Barceremony scheduled for December 6 and 7, 2022, for reasons clearly articulated therein.
“I sent the letter to the chairman and all Benchers by email on December 4, 2022, I also submitted a hard copy of the letter on December 5, 2022 to the Secretary of the BoB along with 150 copies of the letter for circulation to all Benchers.
“It would be recalled that my predecessor-in-office had, on July 22, 2022, written to the chairman of the BoB to recuse himself from office on the same grounds set out in my letter.
“But the chairman refused to acknowledge the said letter nor bring it up for consideration more than five months since its delivery to the BoB.
“My present letter is to bring to attention the earlier call made by my predecessor and to emphasise the damage being done to the legal profession by reason of our collective silence over such devastating issue, with the expectation that the chairman will see reason to show remorse and for the BoB to ask the chairman to recuse himself knowing that no one is bigger than the legal profession.
“At the meeting of the BoB held on December 5, 2022, I drew the attention of the chairman to my letter and called for deliberations on same, since it directly impacts on the propriety of the chairman presiding over the Call to Bar ceremony.
“But these were neither done nor were the hard copies of the letter distributed to the Benchers.
“The meeting of the BoB was adjourned to January, 2023, on a date to be fixed by the chairman.
“In the circumstances, therefore, having regard to my firm persuasion that the matters raised in my letter should have led the BoB to ask the chairman to recuse himself in the interest of safeguarding the integrity of the legal profession, I am in good conscience unable to attend and participate in the Call to Barceremony.
“The NBA under my leadership cannot be part of the ceremony superintended by the current chairman of the BoB for all the reasons stated in my letter under reference.
“To do so will be to endorse, celebrate or condone a practice that I consider unwholesome and unprofessional, by virtue of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.
“I assure all members of the NBA that the sole motivation for my letter to the BoB is my conviction on the need to salvage the image, reputation, and integrity of the legal profession in Nigeria, which has been negatively impacted by the email by a Partner in the Law Firm of the Chairman of the BoB,AdekunbiOgunde.
“I congratulate our colleagues – the new wigs, for the great feat they have attained by fulfilling the requirements for joining the noble profession of Law.
“I pray that God Almighty will keep and preserve them as they contribute their quota in building the legal profession and the nation at large.
“The NBA remains committed to the protection of our legal space and shall spare no effort to stop any external incursions or actions amongst members that can destroy our dear profession of law.
The BoB is a statutory body that is responsible for the formal call to Bar of persons seeking to become legal practitioners as well as disciplining of erring lawyers.
Members of the body are categorised into Benchers and Life Benchers.
According to the NBA, Olanipekun’s partner, Ogunde, sent an email to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd to solicit for a brief, after the Rivers State Government preferred charges against the company over allegations of $130million fraud.
Though the firm of Henry Ajumogobia (SAN) was already defending the company, however, Ogunde allegedly told the management to consider hiring Olanipekun& Co to take over the case.
NBA noted that Ogunde had in the said email, claimed that her principal, Olanipekun(SAN), has more “influence” with judges across all courts.
“A quick research about WoleOlanipekun& Co. will show that the law firm is the leading litigation firm that has helped other multinationals in sensitive, highly political matters.
“It will also reveal that the presence of our lead partner, Olanipekun in the matter will significantly switch things in favour of SAIPEM.
“Chief Olanipekun is currently the chairman of the Body of Benchers, which is the highest ruling body in the Nigerian legal profession, made up of Supreme Court Judges, Presiding Justices of the Court of Appeal and Chief Judges of all State High Courts, including the Rivers State High Court.
“In order words, Olanipekun is the head of the entire legal profession in Nigeria.
“WoleOlanipekun& Co. has also helped other multinationals, such as in the famous cases of MTN tax dispute, Shell Petroleum, Equinor (former Statoil) dispute etc., avoid huge pay outs in more complex, sensitive and highly-political matters,” NBA quoted Ogunde’s email to have read in part.
It insisted that Olanipekun’s resignation will help to salvage the image, reputation and integrity of the BoB and the legal profession.
Meanwhile, in his speech at the Call to Bar ceremony, Olanipekun, maintained that though the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), is under his chairmanship, he stressed that the committee operates independently and “not controlled in any way or manner by either the Body or its chairman”.
He said: “Howbeit, may I caution that proceedings before the LPDC should not be politicised, sensationalised, publicised and advertised in advance or while the proceedings are ongoing, by complainants for whatever reason, howsoever, as so doing negates the principle of fair hearing, which all lawyers subscribe to.
“This is apart from the fact that such steps might pre-empt and prejudice the proceedings band decisions of the LPDC”.
On his part, the Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa HayatuChiroma(SAN), said the 4,711 new lawyers that were admitted into the Bar, yesterday, met all the required conditions that were set by the Council of Legal Education.
…Warns Against More Attacks On Integrity Govs ….Tells Atiku To Call PDP PCC To Order Wike’s Projects Laced With Poverty …Reduction Contents -Mimiko
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has urged the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to call to order members of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the party, and stop them from attacking the G5 governors.
Wike warned that any further attack would attract the wrath of the Integrity Group, threatening that together with the G5; they would not hesitate to strike back.
The Rivers State governor gave the warning, last Monday, at the flag-off of the Indorama-Agbonchia-Ogale-Ebubu-East-West Link Road in Eleme Local Government Area of the state.
Former governor of Ondo State, Dr.Olusegun Mimiko, performed the flag-off.
Wike stated that the G5 governors were lovers of peace, and believe that all party members should embrace peace so that together, they can work to secure electoral victory for the party in the 2023 elections.
“Now, what I want to tell the presidential candidate of PDP is: we need peace. We want all of us to be together for the party to win election. But let me say it clearly: if your boys continue to attack the G-5 (governors), continue to attack the leaders of our party, we will strike back. If anybody, again, dares in the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, to insult the PDP governors (G-5), insult our leaders of Integrity Group, we’ll fight back. Enough is enough.”
The governor also said it was ludicrous for persons who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), and abandoned the PDP at its trying moment, to dictate to him and his associates what to do in the party.
“We want peace. All we want is equity, fairness and justice. Nobody should take us for granted. I cannot understand people who just left APC two days ago, two weeks ago, are talking about PDP that we stayed and suffered to build. Even if anybody will talk about us, not these miscreants”
Wike described the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, YakubuDogara, as a man who cannot stand by his word.
The governor remarked that soon, he would reveal content of discussion both Dogara and the former Secretary to the Federal Government,BabachirLawal, had with him at his residence when they visited.
“At the appropriate time, I will talk about how Dogara and Babachir visited me, and what we agreed. You know what I don’t like in life is people that don’t have character. I can’t stand it. At the appropriate time, I will challenge them for a debate.”
He recalled how Dogara had evaded an appointment they were to have, and surreptitiously left the PDP to join the APC.
“Dogara was to see me. Unknown to me, he gave me an excuse, and I was watching Dogara on TV being received by President MuhammaduBuhari that he has gone to APC.”
Speaking further, Wike reiterated that the Executive Order 21 was still in force in the state to protect public facilities.
He remarked that people had gone to misrepresent the intent of Order 21 before the Inspector General of Police, claiming that his administration was preventing other political parties from campaigning in the state.
Wike told political parties wanting to hold their events within government facilities and schools, to apply and meet the terms.
He said those who were threatening to disobey the Executive Order of the government should be prepared to bear the consequences.
The Rivers State governor explained that the request for the construction of the road was made by PDP political leaders from Eleme who were desirous for the development of their community.
Wike urged the people of Eleme to thwart the senatorial ambition of former Nigerian Ambassador to The Netherlands, Hon Orji Ngofa, who hails from there for his gross failure to attract any dividends of democracy to the area.
The governor assured the people that PDP governorship candidate, Sir SiminialayiFubara, and others, when elected, would move the state forward in terms of development.
Performing the flag-off, former governor of Ondo State, Dr.OlusegunMimiko, described the project delivery mantra of Wike as phenomenal.
The project in focus, he noted, was part of the different and impressive dimensions in which Wike had continued to deliver massive infrastructure to drive development both in the urban, suburban, and rural areas of the state.
Mimiko, yet again, commended the tremendous strides made by Wike in infrastructure and human capital development.
He said the projects executed by Wikewere patterned in a way that they can create jobs and reduce poverty in the state.
“I am happy to be invited for the fourth time in the last one year for project commissioning and flag-off in Rivers State. I was here on December 9, 2021, to commission the Rumuola Flyover, and again, on September 5, 2022, to flag-off the Azikiwe-Iloabuchi Road. It is interesting that project commissioning and flag-off activities have not ceased in the state since then.
“There is no question about the fact that there is poverty reduction content to Governor Wike’s road projects. Your commitment to human capital development is also commendable.
“When the commissioner for works was describing the project, he said it is 10.3kilometre-long with about 8metres wide. I asked: could this huge project be completed in six months? But I have no doubt because Wike has maintained the record of completing projects in a short time.It is also evident in the way the people are rejoicing over the project; it is obvious they have no doubt about its completion too,” he added.
“The practical manner in which Governor Wike’s focused leadership has enhanced the value of Rivers people, has earned them respect across the land.
“It is that his integrated infrastructure development one of the greatest catalysts for equitable, bottom-up economic growth. This is inclusive growth; the type of growth that addresses rural poverty in its practicality; not the type that emanates from tortured statistics and dubious metrics.”
Mimiko emphasised that agitation for responsible management of the country’s diversity, which was at the root of what Wike represents in Nigeria’s politics today, was not a North vs South issue.
He said the clamour for equity in politics brings to the fore the place of identity in a multi-ethnic polity like Nigeria.
According to him, to suggest that identity can be discounted in such a context iwas to be untruthful.
“It is actually a patriotic call for unity based on fairness. Yes, it certainly is not an end in itself, but it is a necessary route to national cohesiveness and inclusivity. It is, indeed, the ultimate destination of responsible leadership and a pan-Nigeria responsive followership – inevitable partners, as it were, in the drive towards comprehensive socio-economic development!”
Providing the project description, the Commissioner for Works, Dr.DakorinimaAlaboGeorge-Kelly, said the Indorama-Agbonchia-Ebubu-Ogale-East-West Link Road was a landmark project.
“We are here for the flag-off the construction of a landmark project. This project is 10.3kilometre-long, it will have drains on both sides, making it a total 20.6kilometres length of drains. The size of the drains is 1metre by 1.2metres cross-sectionally, 150millimetres thickness of wall, and 150millimetres base concrete.
“It will have 12 culverts at various sections; we are going to do a very serious soil replacement between 500millimetres and 1.2metres height. The road is going to have an average width of 8metres because we expect a lot of vehicular movements on the road when completed.
“We are going to have 150millimetres thickness of stone base materials, 050 compacted. 60millimetres thickness of binder course, and 40millimetres thickness of wearing course,” the commissioner stated.
IPOB Dismisses 5-Day Sit-At-Home Order In S’East
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has disowned the video circulating in the social media which ordered a five-day sit-at-home throughout “Biafra land beginning from December 9 to December 14, 20223 .
This is as the pro-Biafra movement has urged anybody willing to vote in the 2023 elections to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), without fear, declaring that the movement has not ordered any boycott of the exercise.
A voice at the background of the vital video threatens to kill anybody found outside in “Biafra territory” during the period of the lockdown.
But in a swift response, IPOB distanced itself from the video which it said was the handiwork of sponsored agents of darkness working against the Biafra struggles.
IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, in a statement, yesterday, said that the authors and promoters of the video were recruited by the enemies of Biafra to create panic in the region and pitch the people against IPOB.
“IPOB under the command and leadership of our great prophet and indefatigable MaziNnamdiKanu wishes to state unequivocally to the people of Biafra, friends of Biafra, and lovers of Biafra freedom that IPOB leadership did not issue any sit-at-home order on 9th,10th, 11th, 12th, 13th or 14th of December 2022”, the statement said.
It urged members of the public to ignore the said order and go about their lawful businesses without fear of molestations.
It read in part:”IPOB never issued any sit-at-home order on these days mentioned above because we are not miscreants, senseless, or jobless people.
“Every Biafran and residents in Biafra Land should ignore such order from untrained and brainless individuals whose agenda is to make Biafra agitation unattractive to our people. Every Biafran must go to their normal business on those days.
“IPOB which is concerned about our people, cannot issue such brainless uncaring 5-day consecutive sit-at-home order to suffer our people during this critical time of the year when people are trying to make-up in their businesses for the year.
“The conception of consecutive 5-day sit at home by a Nigeria agent and his sponsors is to show the level of wickedness and hatred they have against our people. Their agenda is to create insecurity and unnecessary hardships to make our people jettison Biafra freedom.”
IPOB vowed to resist anybody who attempts to enforce the purported sit-at-home order.
“Our people should be prepared and ready to confront any fool who dares to enforce such wicked sit-at-home. Moreso, ESN operatives and IPOB volunteers will be out on these dates to protect our people and the markets.
Biafran youths should also be ready to confront anybody who comes to force them to close their businesses on these days.
“The idiots who are issuing this brazen sit at home order should know that IPOB leadership has never authorized anyone to issue order of such magnitude in Biafraland, therefore, it will not work out for them.
“Our people should go to their businesses without fear. IPOB has put the propagandists and their foot soldiers in Biafra land on check.
“Biafra restoration is moving well and we must exit this cage called Nigeria by the grace of Elohim.”
IPOB further said it had not ordered for the boycott of the 2023 polls, urging anyone willing to vote during the exercise to collect their PVCs and exercise their civil responsibilities.
“Again, everyone has his or her rights to go and collect his or her PVC from their pooling and registration centre without molestations. IPOB never boycott election and has nothing to do with Nigeria shambolic elections.
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