This the concluding part of this story, In this place of horror first published last Friday. Read on:
By God’s grace, together with the purification of memory demanded by this place of horror, a number of initiatives have sprung up with the aim of imposing a limit upon evil and confirming goodness. Just now I was able to bless the Center for Dialogue and Prayer. In the immediate neighborhood the Carmelite nuns carry on their life of hiddenness, knowing that they are united in a special way to the mystery of Christ’s Cross and reminding us of the faith of Christians, which declares that God himself descended into the hell of suffering and suffers with us. In Oswiecim is the Center of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, and the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. There is also the International House for Meetings of Young people. Near one of the old Prayer Houses is the Jewish Center. Finally the Academy for Human Rights is presently being established. So there is hope that this place of horror will gradually become a place for constructive thinking, and that remembrance will foster resistance to evil and the triumph of love.
At Auschwitz-Birkenau humanity walked through a “valley of darkness.” And so, here in this place, I would like to end with a prayer of trust – with one of the Psalms of Israel which is also a prayer of Christians: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me … I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long” (Ps 23:1-4, 6).
Pope Benedict XVI – May 28, 2006
New Flyover Projects Excite PH Residents
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, last week, flagged off construction of the three flyover bridges which he promised the people of the state during his electioneering campaign for second term in office.
The flyover bridges are sited at Garrison Junction (to be named Rebisi Flyover) in Port Harcourt Local Government Area; Artillery Junction (Rumuogba Flyover) and Rumuokoro (Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover) both in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state in order to make for easy traffic flow and reduce inconveniences to motorists, commuters and other road users as is currently being experienced in Port Harcourt and its environs.
Our team, comprising Bethel Toby and Gift Tasie, went round the city to sound out residents on these projects. Here are excerpts:
Prophet Chinecherem Oliwe (Politician)
The proposed flyover projects of the present administration in Rivers State will boost economic and communication advancement of the state alongside other states of the South-south and South-East.
I have no doubt in my mind that the three flyover projects will encourage free flow of traffic and curb death tolls on our roads which had claimed many innocent lives.
Issues of this nature had previously produced nothing. Hence, I call on the state government, the contracting firm and the people of these areas to shun the temptation of demanding for kick-backs and marching grounds, and allow the projects to be completed for the public good.
Dr Clementina Njoku (lecturer)
Governor Nyeson Wike of Rivers State, a development field marshal has carved a development niche for himself within the past four and half years in the governance of the state, especially on infrastructural development, such as roads construction, rehabilitation and reviving of the state’s economy that was previously moribund.
On the three flyovers which are to be sited at Garrison, Rumuogba and Rumuokoro, they will definitely curb road mishaps and encourage free flow of traffic.
I have to implore Governor Wike to take bold steps by actualizing the completion of the earmarked projects.
I commend the initiative and enjoin Rivers residents to join forces with the governor to build better leadership in the Treasure Base of Nigeria.
Mr. Emmanuel Jack (Driver)
For me, the planned flyover projects embarked upon by the Rivers State Governor under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike is something of joy at this auspicious moment; planning a project is good, but its completion matters a lot.
May I crave the indulgence of those involved in executing the designated projects to ensure their timely completion for the good of road users.
As a driver, there are many deaths on the roads following the federal government’s uncaring attitudes to the state of these roads.
However, I pray that the ongoing flyover projects would definitely encourage free flow of traffic for easy communication among the populace. While the projects are in progress, efforts should be made to create alternative routes for motorists as to reduce inconveniences.
Dr Geneva Igwama (Ophthalmologist)
Most significantly, may I commend Governor Nyesom Wike for his exemplary leadership style all these years, where he had performed excellently despite so many obstacles by the opposition parties.
Embarking on the three flyovers certainly will end the long hours of hold-ups and reduce to the barest minimum the deaths of innocent Nigerians due largely to poor roads both in the city and the rural communities.
I deeply commend the talk-and-do governor, but also advise him to ensure their early completion.
Rev. Livingstone Okere (Cleric)
This idea of Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike’s is a welcome development, but there is need for him to actualize the course of constructing the three earmarked flyover projects, sited at Rumuokoro, Garrison and Rumuogba axis of the state. The projects to me should be seriously followed, and the contracting firm needs to be checkmated for prompt action.
Apart from that, I use this opportunity to call on the governor to concentrate not only in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor LGAs, rather the rural communities especially Oyigbo internal roads that have become an eyesore and death trap all these years.
Miss Gift Adiele (Student)
I think the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has carved a development and leadership niche for himself by embarking on flyover projects at these strategic areas of the state capital. I commend his dexterity, but urge him to also concentrate deeply on other roads especially those of them in the rural communities. Most rural roads are currently moribund and people are suffering. There is need for such concentration for the benefit of the rural folks.
Ms Kate Ogbonna (Businesswoman)
Governor Nyesom Wike’s plan to build three additional flyover projects is a welcome development to help cushion the effect of daily traffic jams at these selected sites.
One thing is certain; the governor should also look into our various internal roads, especially those of them in the rural areas and urgently rehabilitate them for use. Due to poor road networks, some business activities have been paralyzed. Hence, something tangible should be done to enhance the ease of doing business in the state.
Is CCT Right In Slamming Asset Declaration Charges Against CJN?
On January 10, 2019, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) filed six charges of corruption against the Chief Justice of Nigeria at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), accusing him of asset declaration offences.
The trial commenced, last Monday, at the premises of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Jabi, commercial neighbourhood in Abuja, with Wole Olanipekun (SAN) leading more than 50 SANs and 70 other senior lawyers in defence of the Hon Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, who became the Chief Justice of Nigeria in March, 2017, less than six months after the homes of several federal judges, including those of the Supreme Court, were searched in an anti-corruption raid in October, 2016.
Two judges of the Supreme Court were amongst those whose houses were raided. They were charged for corruption, but none of them has been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
The government said it was only in 2016 after the controversial crackdown on judges that Onnoghen partially declared his asset, and cash in Union Bank branch in Calabar, but still failed to declare a series of bank accounts, denominated in local and foreign currencies, linked to him at a Standard Chartered Bank branch in Abuja.
The charges, triggered by a group, the Anti-Corruption and Research-based Data Initiative (ARDI), had sent a petition to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleging suspected financial crimes and breaches of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended against Onnoghen.
After laying bare the suspected transactions in the accounts between March, 2011 and August, 2016, the group accused Onnoghen of “Non-declaration of assets immediately after taking office in several capacities prior to becoming the Chief Justice of Nigeria contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; Non-declaration of assets immediately after taking office as the Chief Justice of Nigeria contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; Non-declaration of assets at the statutory intervals after taking office throughout his career as a federal judicial officer contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act; and False declaration of asset, and in particular, concealment of significant and declarable assets in the form of sundry bank accounts and the balances therein, contrary to section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act.”
The group also requested the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to conduct comprehensive statistical analysis of cash transactions on all the accounts for cases of suspicious transactions; and determine whether Standard Chartered Bank has not breached statutory duties to the Nigerian State in favour of, or in connivance with, His Lordship on Suspicious Transactions Reporting (STR). It also urged the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to determine whether the disclosed financial transactions are justified by His Lordship’s lawful remuneration.
Onnoghen was alleged to have failed to declare his asset upon assumption of office as provided in Section 15 (1) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act C15, punishable under Section 23 (2) (a) (b) and (c) of the same Act.
His reaction to the allegations, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter S. N. Onnoghen, described his non-declaration of the domiciliary accounts as a mistake.
In a statement addressed to the CCB investigators, last Friday, Onnoghen also explained that the undeclared foreign currencies found in his Standard Chartered Bank were sourced from his estacodes and medical allowances, including funds from his days in private practice between 1979 and 1989.
He further explained that the withdrawals from his Pound Sterling and Euro accounts were for the school fees and upkeep allowances of his children abroad.
“My Asset Declaration Form No SC N 00014 and SCN 00015 were declared on the same day 14/12/2016 because I forgot to make a declaration of my assets after the expiration of my 2005 declaration in 2009,” the CJN stated.
“Following my appointment as Acting CJN in November, 2016, the need to declare my asset anew made me to realise the mistake.”
The CJN further explained that he did not include the funds in his domiciliary accounts because he believed the accounts were not opened during the period covered by the declaration.
Here are some Nigerians’ reactions.
Reacting, Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), asked the Federal Government to urgently withdraw the charges against Justice Walter Onnoghen as such move will amount to prosecutorial misadventure.
According to Falana, “The charge against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen ought not to have been instituted at the Code of Conduct of Tribunal in view of the case of Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR 43391 wherein the Court of Appeal held that a judicial officer who has not been investigated by the National Judicial Council and sanctioned for misconduct cannot be arraigned in any criminal court in Nigeria.
“As all authorities are bound by the Court of Appeal verdict, the case should be withdrawn by the Attorney-General of the Federation without any delay because it is likely to be a prosecutorial misadventure,” Falana added.
In a swift statement condemning the action, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate in the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said, “I have received the news of the sudden charges about to be filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, with apprehension and suspicion especially as such a move against the head of an arm of our government is coming so close to an election in preparation of which the Buhari administration has shown growing desperation.
“My suspicions are further exacerbated by the fact that the Buhari government is pressuring an independent and self governing arm of government with the aim of getting CJN Walter Onnoghen to resign or be pushed aside.
“I stand on the side of the rule of law and believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
“If Justice Walter Onnoghen is guilty of the charges about to be preferred against him, let his guilt be determined by a competent court of law and not by the Buhari administration. The executive cannot usurp the role of the judiciary. Nigeria is still a democracy and not a fascist dictatorship as President Buhari may wish.
“Any attempt to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate his office, 4 weeks to an election for which the unpopular Buhari administration has shown every intention to manipulate, is a move pregnant with negative meaning.
“I see no reason whatsoever for the ongoing pressure by the Buhari government to force Justice Walter Onnoghen to vacate office when he has not been convicted for any offence.
“I, therefore, call on the President to respect the principle of separation of powers and abide by the rule of law on this matter and stop any interference or pressure on Justice Walter Onnoghen or the judiciary and allow the law and the Constitution take its full course”.
In his reaction, Elder Statesman and Leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and South-South Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, condemned the Federal Government decision to arraign the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, over assets declaration offences.
Clark said the arraignment of the CJN is a shock as Onnoghen has been carrying out his responsibilities as Nigeria’s top jurist diligently, adding that “PANDEF will resist any form of harassment of the CJN.
“The news of the arraignment of The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, before the Code of Conduct tribunal (CCT) on Monday has come to us as a shock because there is nothing to show that this man has not been doing his job properly,” Clark said.
”There is nothing to show that he is corrupt; simply because they want to rig this election, they want to remove him to put somebody who will do their bidding after the election otherwise there is no basis for harassing the judiciary.
“Yesterday, it was the acting director general of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), Matthew Seyeifa, who was removed and somebody who was retired was appointed to take his place. We deserve some respect. So, we will resist this one, and I understand that our governors had a meeting on this matter too and we will all come together,” he said.
Also speaking, a Journalist and Corporate Administrator, Chief Soye Wilson Jamabo said, “The strength of the Tripod upon which sits the pot of good governance depends on the balance and equality of all legs, but if a leg is unduly elongated and another shortened, its fall is eminent. Such is the move by the Executive to investigate, prosecute and judge the chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
“The military style fashion, the timing and urgency of the drama smacks of desperation and fear of the unknown, this is impunity stretched too far. And to be silent is to watch the man in us die without any rescue effort.
“None is above the law, but same law that grants the Executive immunity from criminal prosecution recommends the National Judicial Council (NJC) as the constitutional body to handle cases of judicial officers not the CCT, an arm of the Executive. That will make an arm to be a judge in its own case”.
Activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), accused the Federal Government of engaging in unnecessary political witch-hunt.
Ozekhome maintained that the six-count criminal charge FG entered against the CJN over his alleged failure to declare his assets, was politically motivated, querying the time the alleged infractions were discovered.
Noting that the CJN, by virtue of his position, will play a major role in constituting the 2019 presidential election petition tribunal, Ozekhome, insisted that under the 1999 Constitution, as amended, Justice Onnoghen could not be forced to vacate his office, until when his guilt is established.
According to him, “The CJN can be removed from office either if he has been convicted or if under section 291 of the Constitution, the Senate affirms a request by the President to remove him by two-third majority vote.
“Our system of justice being Anglo-Saxon based, which is accusatorial, meaning that the innocence of a person is presumed.
“It is different from the criminal justice system of the French model which is inquisitorial, wherein the guilt of an accused person is presumed.
“This doctrine has been encapsulated in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, that the person’s innocence is presumed until he has been proven guilty.
“Assuming for example that Senator Bukola Saraki had been forced to resign his office when charges were brought against him before the same Code of Conduct Tribunal almost three years ago, what would have happened and what would have been his fate when the Supreme Court eventually discharged and acquitted him of the charge, following judgments and earlier order of the Court of Appeal and the Code of Conduct Tribunal itself?
“If you ask me, I sense serious political undertones oozing from this so-called imminent arraignment of the noble CJN. Question, when did they discover the alleged offence for which they now want to charge him on Monday?
“Was it just yesterday, was it last week, two weeks or six months ago? The CJN has been in office now for well over one year, how come that this misconduct or whatever offence that he is being alleged, was not seen up to now?
“How come, that it is just less than 40 days to the 2019 Presidential election, when the CJN is going to play the major role in constituting the Presidential election petition tribunal, that he is being moved against? Who is afraid of the Judiciary? Who is afraid of Justice Onnoghen and his impartiality and straight forwardness?
“How come we are reducing governance in Nigeria to one of impunity, one of despotism and one of absolutism.
“Don’t this people know that the world is laughing at us? Did we not see how Dino Melaye was yanked out from police hospital and taken to DSS quarters when he had no business or case with the DSS and DSS had no case against him.
“Did they not see Dino Melaye, a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sleeping in the open yesterday? Do they go on social media and do they watch international televisions?
“Do they know how the whole world is deriding us in this country? That governance has been reduced to mere witch-hunt, very opaque, very unaccountable, very un-transparent and very fascist! Can’t they see that?”, Ozekhome queried.
Rivers Residents Dissociate Wike From APC Crisis
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State is unabating. None of the factions of the party is seemingly prepared to compromise its entrenched position even as the general elections are fast approaching. They are still singing in discordant tunes. More worrisome is the fact that some members of the APC loyal to the Rotimi Amaechi faction are placing the woes inflicting the party on the doorsteps of Governor Nyesom Wike who belongs to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But residents of the state, who spoke with our correspondent, completely exonerated the Governor. Excerpts.
Hon Prince Israel Wobo, former Chief of Staff, Port Harcourt Local Government Council
In respect of the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike has been a factor of the day, and the political icon of Nigeria, he has nothing to do with APC crisis and the court judgement.
I want to stress the fact that Chief Wike has done his best in terms of infrastructural development in Rivers State despite the fact that they have been caging him, he does not have a hand in what is happening in APC, but something is certain in life, whatever a man sows, that he must reap.
The former Governor of Rivers State, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi believes he is the owner of Rivers State. He made a declaration that over his dead body would any one succeed him as governor of the state. Rotimi Amaechi while he was governor of Rivers State, Governor Wike was his Chief of Staff and Wike was very loyal to Amaechi’s-led government then, so why can’t Amaechi drop his pride and be ready to support the development of the state instead of causing problems in the state.
Today, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi , our own son is there as a Transportation Minister and should support Rivers State for development. Look at how Onne and Port Harcourt sea ports are wasting away, also major federal roads need our leaders’ attention. Why can’t something be done in this direction by Amaechi? I don’t see anything wrong that Chief Nyesom Wike has done to Amaechi.
I want to tell the world that Chief Wike is doing his best to ensure that peace and development are brought to Rivers State, therefore, he should be allowed to continue the good works he is doing. Thanks to Vice President, Osinbajo, who nicknamed Wike, ‘Mr Project,’ God has blessed the governor in all ramifications.
I want to appeal to Amaechi to bring down his wings and obey court procedures, as the crisis rocking APC is an internal one that would require only God’s intervention for the party to have peace because APC has failed Nigerians and God is not happy with APC as a party.
The crisis rocking the party is a natural phenomenon because whatever a man sows, that he would reap. The judgment is that APC cannot benefit from its stupidity and so Chief Wike has no hand in their crisis.
My humble advice to APC is that they should go and ask God for forgiveness. The entire crisis in APC is caused by one man, Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi right from the day he brought a man and declared him aspirant of Rivers State House of Assembly. The Bible says for one man’s sake, I will destroy a nation and for the same man’s sake, I will build a nation.
So, I make bold to say that Amaechi is responsible for the problems and the court judgement declaring the party of not having a governorship candidate and not Chief Nyesom Wike. Generally, I will like to say that the APC crisis is caused by stupidity of the highest order and pride.
Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi should humble himself and should know that he is not god over other members of his party and to me, APC would only be accepted in Rivers State in the year 2023 when the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike is prepared to handover.
Alhaji Ibrahim, a Muslim adherent
What I see in the APC is that they know too much and no one is ready to learn or hear from anyone. They don’t have respect for each other and as such, everything happening to them is their own fault and not caused by anyone else.
Take for instance, when APC decided to proceed with primaries in the state despite the court order against its earlier congress, the court on October 10, 2018 declared null and void, the nomination of Mr Amaechi’s man, Tonye Cole, as the governorship candidate of the APC on grounds that Senator Magnus Abe’s supporters were excluded from the party congress.
This is what happens when disobedience dominates one’s life, so they should take it the way the court has judged and not to look for PDP to apportion blames as being responsible for the court judgement
Tejudeen Asifat, a Muslim leader
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has nothing to do with the court judgement. I don’t believe the rumours making the rounds that he has a hand in it, rather, I would say that the problem rocking APC is their internal problem and their fault that the judgement went that way.
Governor Wike cannot control the Federal High Court, so how is the judgement his own fault?
Due to the court judgement, the All Progressives Congress (APC) may end up not having candidates for the governorship, Senate, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State in 2019, going by the Supreme Court ruling and other pending legal hurdles before the party.
The Supreme Court’s ruling invalidated the stay of execution order issued by the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, against an earlier order of a high court in Rivers State which nullified the APC congress in the state.
I see the legal battle happening in APC and the oil-rich state as part of power-struggle within the APC between the Minister of Transportation, Rt Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abe, while Mr Abe wants to run for the governorship of the state under the APC, Amaechi wants Tonye Cole to go for governorship of the state on the platform of the same party. Things are not done right in a house where there is no understanding and unity.
While Mr Amaechi has allegedly been applying rough tackles to shut Mr Abe and his supporters out of the party, the Senator is using the court to fight back, and he seems to be successful in it, as evidenced by the Federal High Court ruling.
The High Court order on the party’s congress, which has just gotten the Federal High Court’s backing, nullified the APC congress which produced the factional state chairman of the party, Ojukaye Amachree, who is Mr Amaechi’s ally.
All these are responsible for the lots of problems they have and so nobody should link it to the Rivers State Governor as being responsible for the APC crisis.
The APC as a party is not in order and the party members caused this problem for themselves and not Governor Nyesom Wike because if the party were to be in unity, they would have produced one candidate from the beginning to be their governorship flag bearer and not two or three candidates coming from one party. They behave like children that need guidance, yet not ready to be guided.
As you can see, the APC has failed to put its house in order. Look at the comment by Senator Magnus Abe after the court judgement, he hailed the court, saying that the decision taken was “historic,” as it would amount to “political rascality of the highest order” for anyone to continue to parade himself as the APC governorship candidate in the state, afterwards.
Senator Abe is insisting that the APC should do the right thing and what is that right thing since the other primary was done in clear violation of an existing order of a court of competent jurisdiction, that the party should forward his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s recognised governorship candidate in Rivers State, which of course, we all know that Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi would never allow that to happen. This is why I said the house is not in order. They lack unity and this is a serious problem for them.
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