The abductors of Pa Simeon Soludo have scaled down their ransom from N500 million to N300 million with a warning that “the worst” may befall him if their demand was not met immediately.
Pa Soludo, 78, father of the immediate past Governor of the Central Bank (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo was abducted from his residence at Isu-Anioma, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State on Tuesday as he was about taking his dinner.
Pastor Ugochukwu Soludo, a son of the kidnap victim said the latest demand was made yesterday while the abductors threatened to visit the worst on the old man if their demand was not met immediately.
Pastor Soludo faulted a report credited to the police that the family had not made a formal report on the kidnap. According to him, their eldest brother, Emmanuel, made a formal report the same day their father was kidnapped at the Ekwulobia Police Station in Aguata Local Government Area.
“The following morning, which was Wednesday, the police visited our home where Emmanuel and everybody that needed to be interviewed were interviewed and it was done in writing by the police team.
The issue that a formal report has not been made to the police is not true,” he said. Ugochukwu said though the family was worried about the safety and health of their father and want his immediate rescue, it was ridiculous that the family was made to engage in negotiations for the life of a 78 year-old man who did not commit any crime.
Their father, he said, is required to refix his artificial eye every three days. He expressed fear that his condition might have worsened in the last five days of his abduction. He also regretted that politicians were trivializing their father’s kidnap, adding that there was no way the family could have kidnapped him as some politicians insinuated.
Meanwhile, the South East Zonal Working Committee (ZWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed concern over the verbal war between the gubernatorial candidate of the party in Anambra State for next year’s election, Prof Chukwuma Soludo and a member of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Chris Uba, saying the development is not in the interest of the party.
The ZWC has, therefore, directed all the combatants to lay down their arms and channel their grievances to the National Working Committee (NWC) instead of ridiculing the party in the media.
Soludo, former Central Bank Governor and Uba, have lately been locked in a war of words following the kidnap of Pa Simeon Soludo which the former governor of CBN accused those opposed to his candidature as being the mastermind.
On the other hand Uba denied the allegation and declared that on no account would he accept Soludo as the candidate of the party in the state because, according to him, he (Soludo) has no stake in the party.
National Vice Chairman of the PDP in the South-East, Chief Olisa Metu who spoke on the development in Enugu, yesterday, said though the zonal party structure was constitutionally bound to support the candidature of Soludo being the candidate selected by the party’s NWC, it would no longer tolerate “the ongoing media war between the two leaders of the party.”
“The South east PDP is worried by the spate of accusations and counter accusations being carried out by major stakeholders of the party in Anambra in the media.
Accordingly, we are directing those involved to stop further media attacks. Henceforth, all further remarks and opinions on the situation in the state should be channelled to the state party in Anambra or to the NWC instead of ridiculing the party in the media,” Metu stated.
The party noted that such media attacks were capable of overheating the already charged political atmosphere in Anambra preparatory for the February 6 governorship election and, therefore, warned that further media remarks by the people involved would be meted with severe sanctions.
“We don’t want chaos and for the avoidance of doubt, for now there remains a recognised party by the NWC in Anambra State, nobody should further comment on the situation in Anambra.
What we believe in the PDP is that in as much as we have our own opinions on the situation in the state, we must abide by any decision taken by the NWC of the party in interest of the party and the people of the state.
“Anyone we are opposed to should be taken to the NWC not to the press; NWC will subsequently take it to the National Executive Committee. PDP is a responsible party and we expect our members to be equally responsible in their conducts especially as we prepare for the forthcoming election in the state,” Metu said.
Speaking further on the candidature of the former CBN governor, the PDP national vice chairman said that the party in the south east was constitutionally bound to give maximum support to the decision of the National Working Committee on Soludo, adding, therefore, that anybody who was opposed to that decision should follow the proper procedure to express his grievances instead of resorting to the media.
“We’ve ordered all parties to cease further media attacks; the party will not tolerate any violation of this order as it would be visited with severe sanctions. As a party, we’ve shown enough magnanimity and would no longer fold our hands and watch it to continue. They are making a mockery of the party by such action,” he said.
Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow
The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.
Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, appeared before the state High Court in Port Harcourt, to testify as a witness in an N7billion libel suit against THISDAY Newspaper.
Wike said he was in court to seek justice and clear his name as a person from the malicious publication by THISDAY Newspaper, which portrayed him as deceitful, untrustworthy person, who exerts subterranean influences on judicial matters and over court sittings in Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that Wike had in August, 2020, slammed a N7billion suit being damages for libel written and published in THISDAY’s Tuesday, June 23, 2020 edition captioned, “With Wike, Obaseki Meets His PDP’s Waterloo; Almost.”
The defendants in the suit are THISDAY Newspapers Limited, Leaders and Company Limited, Davidson Iriekpan, Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu.
Wike, while testifying as witness in suit No. PHC/1505/CS/2020 before the court presided over by Justice A. Enebeli, asserted that the defendants maliciously and falsely portrayed him as an unreliable friend/person.
“When you say somebody cannot be trusted; that cannot be a fair comment. When you say somebody is influencing the Judiciary, that cannot be a fair comment”, the governor said.
In his written statement on oath, Wike had stated that the defendants had accused him of influencing the decision of the court sitting in Port Harcourt that granted an injunction restraining Godwin Obaseki from participating in the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State in 2020.
He stated that the defendants maliciously accused him of undemocratically exerting influence on the primaries process of PDP in Edo State in aid of his ally, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who was the beneficiary of the court order restraining Obaseki from participating in the PDP primaries.
The governor, who told the court that he was not even aware of the aforementioned suit by Ogbeide-Ihama against Obaseki, said the publication was reckless, false and without regards for the truth.
According to him, contrary to well-known journalistic tradition and practices, the defendants did not investigate properly to ensure the information they relied on was accurate.
“They did not seek to verify the facts from me or in any manner oblige me with the opportunity to state my own side of the story before proceeding to make the false publication” the governor argued.
Wike stated that the defendants further denigrated him before the entire world as a fake democrat, who engages in meddling in the internal affairs of All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to get at his political foe, Chibuike Amaechi.
The governor explained that he was not a member of the APC and has had no hand in the internal crisis which has bedevilled the party both in Rivers State and all over Nigeria.
“By the letter of Messrs E.C. Ukala and Co., Solicitors, under the hand of Emmanuel C. Ukala, SAN, dated 23rd June, 2020, the defendants were given opportunity to retract, and recant the publication as well as to offer apology for the false publication but the defendants spurned the opportunity and ignored the letter completely.”
The governor, while responding to claim by lawyer to the defendants, Turudu Ede, SAN, that the essence of the lawsuit was to intimidate and harass his clients, said the whole essence of the suit was to get justice and clear his name as a man of substantial character, honour and repute.
“The essence of the suit is to get justice since they (defendants) refused to retract the publication or apologise. So, I sued them to clear my name.”
Speaking to journalists outside the court, one of the lawyers to Wike, Mr. Mark Agwu said his client was in court to seek legal redress.
“To challenge him as a person, it means you have made him untrustworthy, a deceit, a cheat, an influencer of the court, because the publication they made was that he had a role to play in influencing the outcome of that Federal High Court case. Nobody will take that lightly, and especially for a man who believes in the rule of law”, Agwu added.
The court adjourned the matter for further hearing to 12th, 13th and 14th of January, 2022.
$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others
The Rivers State Government has charged two construction firms, Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, to court over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the state of the sum of $130million, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.
In a 16-count criminal charge filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, C.F. Amadi for the Rivers State Attorney General, the state alleged that after collecting the said sum as advanced payment between 2011 and 2018, the defendants have not kept their obligation under the contract.
Others charged alongside the companies were Walter Peviana; Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe; Giandomenico Zingali; Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, who are directors and officers of the companies.
The defendants are charged with various offences ranging from conspiracy, cheating and obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to Section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State, amongst others.
Already, the Rivers State Government has issued a fiat to the law firm of Godwin Obla (SAN) to prosecute the matter before the state High court.
The defendants are equally charged for the offence of false Statements by Officials of Companies contrary to and punishable under Section 436 (b).
The prosecution specifically accused the defendants of obtaining credit of $130million by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $20,467,942.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b), obtaining credit of N7,000,000,000.00 only by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).
They are charged for obtaining credit of N318,640,173.54, by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); attempt to cheat $97million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; attempt to cheat $15million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; conspiracy to receive a credit of $97million by false pretences contrary to Section 518 (6) and punishable under Section 518; cheating $11million contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating N110, 097, 416.51 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating by collecting sums attributable to shared facilities already paid for in AFAM Phase I in AFAM Phase II contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421.
Obtaining N20, 467, 942 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; obtaining credit of $60,168,936.00 by false pretences or other fraud, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $1,512,034.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) all of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
According to the Proof of Evidence attached to the charge and the statement made by the Head, Power Generation/Mechanical of the Rivers State Ministry of Power, one Mr Temple Azunda M., the facts constituting the case in hand are as follows:
Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited and other officers of the duo, herein the Defendants, are Italian companies which services have been retained by the Rivers State Government, herein RSG, in several projects, prominent amongst which is the AFAM Phase II Power Plant Project.
By an initial tripartite agreement made on the January 20, 2010, the RSG under the auspices of the Rivers State Ministry of Power entered a contract with Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Saipem SPA for the construction of the OGCT power plant in Port Harcourt at a total cost of $119million consequent upon which the Rivers State Government made advance payments, in instalments, to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd and Saipem SPA amounting in total to a sum of $130million in all which the Defendants have acknowledged receipt of.
The Defendants were to be given an initial mobilization of 20per cent of the total contract sum which the RSG paid.
It was part of the initial agreement – and indeed a condition sine qua non – that, to access the 2nd tranche of payment of 25per cent from the Rivers State Government, the Defendants would mandatorily have installed the Gas Turbine into the foundations as referenced in ATTACHMENT 1 to VO 007 which states that:
CONTRACTOR shall be entitled to a payment corresponding to 20per cent of the VO No. 007 LS PRICE upon mobilisation to site and commencement of bush clearing activities at SITE.
Upon commencement of bush clearing activities at the site, the contractor shall issue the invoice relevant to the above payment and the owner shall pay such invoice within 14 days from its issuance.
The parties agree that no deduction for recovery of advance payment shall apply on the payment due to the contractor for invoices issued by the contractor in accordance with this paragraph.
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