Speculations over the health situation of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua may come to an end as the president spoke encouraging words to Nigerians from Saudi Arabia.
In his first interview since November when he left the country for heart treatment, Yar’Adua told the BBC, yesterday, that he was recovering and hoped to make “tremendous progress” which would enable him to return home and resume duty.
Nigerian opposition parties had continually asked about the true state of Mr Yar’Adua’s health. The president’s absence has generated a lot of concern. A rally was called for Tuesday, mainly to protest over his absence. There are three different court cases underway calling for power to be transferred to the Vice-President, Goodluck Jonathan. Mr Yar’Adua is also known to have kidney problems.
Speaking by telephone, Mr Yar’Adua said he was making a good recovery..
“At the moment I am undergoing treatment, and I’m getting better from the treatment. I hope that very soon there will be tremendous progress, which will allow me to get back home,” he said.
“I wish, at this stage, to thank all Nigerians for their prayers for my good health, and for their prayers for the nation.”
Rumours had been rife that he was critically ill and unable to return to the presidency.
Under the banner Enough Is Enough, an organisation called the Save Nigeria Group called people onto the streets of the capital, Abuja.
There is a perceived danger of a power vacuum in a country which only saw the back of military rule just over 10 years ago.
The opposition plan is to march to the national assembly where senators are expected to be discussing the president’s health.
Prominent opposition politicians and lawyers, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and the Biafran secessionist leader, Chief Emeka Ojukwu, were expected at the rally.
Nigerians may be worried about their absent president but whether their action will be strong enough to make any difference is yet to be seen.
It would be recalled that rumours were rife in the country last Monday that President Yar’Adua was dead. Special Adviser to the president on media and publicity, Olusegun Adeniyi had in reaction to the rumour asked the public to discountenance the story, insisting that the president was not only alive but very conscious and getting better.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Senate has resolved to invite the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to brief the distinguished house on the state of health of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
The resolution came on the heels of the adoption of a motion sponsored by Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and 33 other senators expressing worry over the wide spread anxiety following the long absence of Mr. President.
Though Sen. Garba Lado (PDP-Katsina) made an attempt to stop the Senate from discussing the issue raising order 3 (5) of the Senate standing rules to the effect that the Senate could not discuss the issue because the matter was in court, he was over ruled by the Senate President after many Senators rejected his line of view on the note that the motion was just a harmless one.
According to Sen Chukwumerije“All we are doing is finding out the true state of health of the President”.
Presenting the motion, Senator Ekweremmadu noted that the President had been out of the country for about seven weeks on ground of ill health.
“While the Senate was on the Christmas and New Year recess, the anxiety of Nigerians over the absence of the President assumed worrisome dimensions as expressed in several media across the country.
“Worried that in the midst of all these there is no authoritative and authentic information on the true state of affairs regarding the health of the President,” he said.
The Deputy Senate President also expressed concern that since his long absence, there had been no formal communication to the National Assembly pursuant to Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution which would empower the Vice President to act and perform the functions of the President.
He therefore commended the Vice President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, GCON on his effort to carry on the affairs of the country in the absence of the President.
He continued“Whilst conceding that the President is entitled to attend to his health no matter how long that may take, we note that there is need for the Senate to be certain of the true state of affairs to enable her take appropriate action as the entire country now looks up to it for direction,”
Senators who contributed to the debate noted that every Nigerian had a right to know the health condition of the President.
They called for the amendment to Section 145 of the constitution which made it optional for the President to transmit a letter to the National Assembly on his absence.
Sen. Joy Emodi recommended that the ongoing constitutional amendment shall look seriously into amending Section 145 of the constitution.
Th senate however did not buy the prayers of the sponsors of the motion asking the senate to send a delegation to Saudi Arabia to ascertain the situation and report back to it within one week.
Sen. Nuhu Aliyu (PDP-Niger) said that the President should speak to Nigerians through a local media to allay their fears.
His words“My fear is that even if we send senators to Saudi Arabia, how are we sure that they are going to see him?.
“Let FEC that has the constitutional power to look into the health of the President go and see him,” .
Briefing Senate correspondents, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Media, Sen. Ayogu Eze, berated the NTA for failure to grant a live coverage to the Senate debate on the President’s health adding that the Senate would conduct an investigation into what happened, adding that it was done in bad taste.
At the House of representatives a similar motion was debated and the Federal Executive Council was urged to formally communicate the House on the Situation to enable the house take necessary actions.
Nneka Amaechi- Nnadi, Abuja
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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