Following Nigerian President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s, death on Wednesday night at the age of 58, after a protracted illness, the Federal Government, yesterday, announced seven days of national mourning and declared one-day public holiday.
The late president was laid to rest in his family home in Kastina State. Acting president Goodluck Jonathan has been sworn in as president.
In accordance with the Nigerian constitution, the acting president Goodluck Jonathan was, Thursday, sworn in as president and Commander-in Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces at the council chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu at 9.20am.
The wife of the Acting President, Dame Patience Jonathan and Governors of Kwara, Bukola Saraki, Ogun, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Nasarawa, Aliyu Akwe-Doma, Zamfara, Aliyu Shinkafi, Enugu, Sullivan Chime, Benue, Gabriel Suswam, Imo, Ikedi Ohakim and Oyo, Alao Akala witnessed the swearing-in ceremony.
Also at the ceremony were the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, members of the National Assembly, Service Chiefs, as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed.
Ministers, the Inspector-General of Police Ogbonna Onovo, PDP Chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor and members of the Diplomatic Corps were also in attendance.
Yar’Adua died from a protracted heart disease called acute pericarditis, the inflammation of the outer layer of the heart.
Yar’Adua came to power in 2007 elections which he himself acknowledged were flawed. The country’s Supreme Court finally ruled in December 2008 that he could stay in office, dismissing objections lodged by rival candidates. This meant Yar’Adua became the first civilian leader in Nigeria to take over from another.
Even before he was elected, there were doubts about whether Yar’Adua had the physical strength to reform the most populous country in Africa.
His health problems that dated to the late 1990s when he was governor of his native Katsina state forced him to travel to a German hospital on several occasions.
However, Nigerian Nobel prize winner, Wole Soyinka, regretted that politicians handled Yar’Adua’s illness in a disgraceful way.
“My feeling is one of resentment for those who used him as a mere instrument for their diabolical political gains,” he said. “Yar’Adua should have been released from office ages ago to pay full attention to his health, but people who knew how ill he was refused to take the necessary steps towards preserving him in his last days as a human being. He was just used and I found it most disgusting.”
American President Barack Obama said Yar’Adua would be remembered for his personal decency and integrity, his deep commitment to public service, and his passionate belief in the vast potential and bright future of Nigeria’s 150 million people.
Indications that the ailing president may go the way of all mortals emerged last Thursday as he failed to turn up at the mandatory Friday prayers, despite an invitation by leading Islamic preachers.
Meanwhile, tears and tributes have continued to trail Yar’Adua’s demise, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan said he received news of the passage of President Umaru Yar’Adua with great shock and sadness.
“Nigeria has lost the jewel on its crown, and even the heavens mourn with our nation tonight,” he said yesterday in Abuja.
In a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Ima Niboro, Jonathan described the death of the President as sad, unfortunate and regrettable.
“As individuals and as a nation, we prayed for the recovery of Mr President. “But we take solace in the fact that the Almighty is the giver and taker of all life,” he said.
The statement quoted the acting President as offering heartfelt condolences to President Yar’Adua’s widow, Hajiya Turai Yar’Adua, the entire Yar’Adua family, the people of Katsina State and Nigerians both at home and the world over.
In his tribute, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Prince Vincent Ogbulafor expressed deep regret, sorrow and sadness over the demise of this great son of Africa”, adding “ one of the most glorious chapter in the history of Nigeria has suddenly drawn to a close”.
In their reaction, the All Nigeria People Party (ANPP) and the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) applauded Yar’Adua’s insistence on the rule of law, transparency and accountability in governance.
Alhaji Balarabe Musa, CNPP National Chairman ,who is also the leader of PRP, said in Kaduna that “Nigeria has lost a leader who tried to entrench rule of law and electoral reforms”.
He advised President Jonathan to continue with the good works of his predecessor toward strengthening the institutions of government and restore people’s hope in the polity.
Meanwhile, APGA condoled with Nigerians over the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, describing it as a great loss
The National Secretary of APGA, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi, said that the party received the news of Yar’ Adua’s death with “great shock’’.
He urged the new President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan to rise to the challenges of moving the nation forward.
In his reaction, the National Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress, Mr Lai Mohammed, commended the swearing in of President Goodluck Jonathan to succeed Yar Adua, describing it as ‘’a smooth transition’’
‘’ We are glad that there has been a smooth transition as the acting president has been sworn in in line with the constitution. This has shown that Nigeria has towed the path of constitutionalism.’’
Mohammed described the late Yar’Adua as a straightforward and candid personality who shocked members of his party by his admission that the electoral process which brought him into office was flawed.
Meanwhile, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed sadness over the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Obasanjo said: “I received the news of Yar’Adua’s death with heartfelt sorrow. “Our prayer is that God grants him repose and condole his family.’’
The former President spoke during a stop-over on his way to Beijing.
In his reaction, former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, said that Yar’Ádua was great in death, just as he was graceful in his life time.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr Kassim Afegbua, Babangida said that Yar’Adua battled death like a valiant man, adding, “he represented our daily struggle in life’s bramble forest.’’
Babangida said: “It is pathetic and utterly painful; every death brings with it tears and pain and sorrow of grief and discomfiture.
Also speaking, Senate President David Mark described the death of Yar’Adua as a monumental loss to the nation.
A statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, quoted Mark as saying that Yar’Adua left a legacy of selfless service that would be difficult to rival.
Victor Tew, Canice Amadi (Enugu), Friday Nwagbara (Calabar) with Agency reports
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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