Niger Delta Affairs Ministry is coughing out a whooping $10.2m about (N1.7bn) from its 2010 budget for the sponsorship of the lingering World Cruiser Weight Boxing Tournament between Bash Ali of Nigeria and Gunn of United States, The Tide can now reveal.
The Guinness World Records’ tournament to be hosted by Nigeria at Tinapa resort, Calabar is at the instance of the Atlanta, Georgia – based International Boxing Union (IBU) and has received the endorsement of Nigerian authorities – the presidency, National Assembly, Sports Ministry and National Sports Commission (NSC). If Ali wins, his (and Nigeria’s) name could enter Guinness book of Records as the oldest boxer ever to win such a tournament.
The fight earlier slated for December 12, 2009 could not hold due to apathy and doubt about the authenticity of the fight on the part of Sports Ministry authorities which invariably affected the sponsorship.
To protect what he viewed as a deliberate attempt by the Federal Ministry of Sports to frustrate him, Bash Alli, Nigeria’s World Cruiser Weight Champion and holder of the highest national honour ever given to a Nigerian athlete, Officer of the order of the Niger (OON) resorted to staying at Force Headquarters Bus stop, directly opposite the Nigerian Police Headquarters, along Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja which he adorned with banners highlighting his plight.
The Tide learnt that the decision of the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry to sponsor the fight was borne out of the conviction of the Ministry’s officials, particularly the Minister, Chief Ufot Ekaette that the fight is a viable project that is good for the nation and indeed, the Niger Delta region, – Bash Alli being a Niger Deltan, from Delta State, although he grew-up in Lagos.
The Ministry first signaled its intention to sponsor the fight via a letter to the Chairman, National Sports Commission, dated August 27, 2009 and signed by one Dahaltu Sule for the Minister.
Titled; Membership in a Committee; with Reference No. CYD/01/07/VOL.1/45, the letter which copy The Tide got in the course of our investigation into the sponsorship of the imminent fight, reads: “I am directed to inform you that the Ministry is in the process of supporting an International Boxing Tournament between Bash Ali of Nigeria and John Keelon of Britain (the opponent of Bash Ali at the time)
“We are therefore seeking for your nominee to serve as member of the committee that will work out the modalities on how to arrange and finance the tournament. Your nominee should be an officer not below the rank of Assistant Director. Please accept the Honourable Minister’s best regard”.
Our investigation shows that although the letter was dispatched and stamped: “Received” on the same day that it was written (August 27, 2009), the National Sports Commission (NSC) did not nominate anybody as requested by the Niger Delta Ministry and that forestalled the composition of the Sponsorship and local Organizing committee for the World Boxing tournament.
The Tide learnt in Abuja that while the imbroglio occasioned by the NSC lasted, Ali protested to President, Umaru Yar’Adua via a letter dated September 28, 2009 and the office of the President reacted promptly by directing the Minister of Sports to “kindly treat as deemed appropriate”.
The President’s letter, dated September 30, 2009 with Reference No: SH/PSP/22/111 and signed by the Principal Secretary to the President, Mr. David Edevbie is titled: “Re: Bash Ali Boxing Project: Local Organizing Committee”
It reads: “I write with reference to a letter dated September 2009 (copy attached) to His Excellency, Mr. President, from Mr. Bash Ali, OON, World Boxing Champion, regarding the above mentioned subject matter. I should be grateful if you would kindly treat as deemed appropriate. Please accept, Honourable Minister, the assurances of my highest consideration and esteem.”
Our Abuja correspondent reports that there was still inaction in spite of the President’s letter, prompting the intervention of the House of Representatives which deliberated on a motion on the tournament on October 14 and directed the Minister of Sports and Chairman of NSC via a letter signed by Clerk of the House, Mr. Niyi Ajiboye on October 15 “to nominate a member to join the Local Organising Committee of the World Boxing Championship to enable Nigeria satisfy the condition precedent required for actualization of the hosting right which would expire on Friday 16th October, 2009”
The Tide learnt that it was at this point that Sports Ministry and NSC officials nominated a member into the tournament’s LOC but it was rather too late as the Niger Delta Ministry was said to have spent the money earlier earmarked for the championship, prompting the Minister (Chief Ekaette) to be invited by the House Committee on Appropriation and assured that the N1.7 billion if included in the Ministry’s 2010 budget, would be approved by the House.
Informed Sources at the House Committee on Appropriation told The Tide last week that the committee received assurance from Chief Ekaette that the amount would be reflected in the Ministry’s 2010 budget and would be used solely for the purpose – sponsorship of Bash Alli Guinness World Record Title Fight;
When The Tide called at the Ministry office yesterday in Abuja to confirm this, the Hon minister was said not to be on seat but his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Osamor claimed ignorance of the development, saying “I’m not aware of that”. However, Bash Alli when contacted at his Force Headquarters Bus Stop temporary abode confirmed the development.
Ali told The Tide “I met (Chief) Ufot Ekaette, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Ministry on December 22, 2009 at the National Assembly and he agreed before the chairman and members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriation that this is a viable project and it’s very good for the Niger Delta so they asked him to go and put it in his (Ministry’s 2010) budget, and that it will be approved so this is where we are, as at today.”
The world renowned pugilist who is referred to in New York Times as one of the greatest boxers to emerge from this part of the world thanked the Cross River State Government for donating the Venue of the fight and supporting with accommodation, food and drinks while berating Sports Ministry and NSC officials for their inaction which has delayed the fight till now and prompted its re-scheduling from December 12, 2009 to February 27, 2010, which is Ali’s 54th Birthday.
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.
Niger Delta2 hours ago
Bayelsa Wants Prompt Action On Boundary Dispute With Rivers
Entertainment1 hour ago
Pheelz, BNXN, Others Make FIFA 23 Soundtrack
Health3 days ago
Family Planning Leads To Healthier Children – Expert
News4 mins ago
Flood Engulfs Communities In ONELGA …As Ubie Monarch Cries For Help
Business2 hours ago
Rice Farmers Doing Fantastic In Nigeria – UN
Entertainment1 hour ago
Artiste Decries High Cost Of Music Production
Health3 days ago
Benefits Of Green Tea
News3 mins ago
PSC Appoints 2 DIGs, Promotes 12 CPs To AIGs, Elevates 417 Officers