16 Perish In Lagos Air Crash; As Agagu’s Remains Leave For Akure …Mark, NGF, Others Mourn Victims
The Associated Airlines Plane conveying the corpse of late former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Agagu, which crashed during take-off yesterday morning at about 9.20 am at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, en-route Akure, claimed 16 lives out of the total of 20 persons on board.
The management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) yesterday officially confirmed that 20 passengers and crew members were on board the Associated Airlines plane.
However, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has assured that the two black boxes of the Associated Airlines plane, which crashed in Lagos yesterday, have been recovered.
The Director of Engineering, AIB, Mr. Emmanuel Dialla, said the two black boxes had been retrieved from the accident scene.
Dialla said, “AIB has succeeded in picking the two black boxes, which will give us an insight into what really happened.”
Meanwhile, the management of Associated Airlines has released the names of passengers and crew members of its flight 5N-BJY which crashed yesterday morning in Lagos shortly after take-off from the domestic terminal at Lagos’ Murtala Mohammed International Airport.
This is even as the management of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) has released the names of four survivors.
While Feyi, the only son of late former Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, is among the survivors, Deji, the son of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, could not make it. Deji was a Commissioner in the Ondo State Government.
Contrary to earlier reports, Gbenga, son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, was not on board the flight; nor was Dr. Agagu’s widow.
The chartered plane was heading for Akure, the Ondo State capital, with the remains of Dr. Agagu, a former governor of Ondo State, who died on September 13, and were scheduled to be buried this weekend.
Meanwhile, Aviation Minister Stella Oduah yesterday said the ministry has commenced investigations into the plane crash at the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
Oduah, who made this known in Abuja at a news conference, said the ‘Black Box’ of the aircraft had been found.
Oduah said the Black Box had been handed over to the Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau to determine the cause of the accident.
“The Federal Ministry of Aviation deeply commiserates with the families of the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time,’’ Oduah said.
She urged members of the public to be patient while the investigation progresses, and assured them that it would be thorough.
The minister assured Nigerians that the country’s airspace “remains safe and secure’’.
Meanwhile, Rescue Coordination and Trauma Centres had been set up at the Annex of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to provide necessary information and support.
Reacting to the incident, the Senate President, Senator David Mark, said the death of some passengers of the Associated Airlines aircraft, which crashed in Lagos yeserday, is more than a double tragedy.
A statement issued by the Special Adviser (Media) to the Senate President, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said that Mark described the deaths as “sad, disheartening and cruel.
“This is one tragedy which tempts one to question the essence of human existence. But as ordinary mortals, we lack the locus standi to question our creator.
Mark said that the Senate shared in the pain, stressing that it was, indeed, grieved over the unfortunate incident.
He prayed God to give the nation, especially the immediate families of the deceased, the fortitude to bear the painful loss.
He also prayed that the souls of the departed would rest in peace.
Similarly, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, described the crash as a double tragedy and called on all well-meaning Nigerians to pray for the nation.
“It is, indeed, a double tragedy; not only for the late Chief Olusegun Agagu’s family, the government and good people of Ondo State, but for the nation as a whole.
“I feel most saddened over this unfortunate incident; I send my heartfelt condolences to all the affected families and pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of all those who lost their lives,” he said.
Ekweremadu called on all Nigerians to pray for the nation, adding that Nigeria needed the divine intervention of God, in addition to the government’s efforts to mitigate such occurrences.
Speaker Aminu Tambuwal of the House of Representatives yesterday called for a thorough investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the Associated Airline plane crash in Lagos.
Tambuwal said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, in Abuja, that the crash was “tragic and sorrowful”.
The speaker particularly expressed sympathy to the Agagu family, saying they needed all the support and encouragement of all Nigerians “in this dark period”.
In the same token, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the leadership of Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje has expressed shock over yesterday’s plane crash in Lagos, describing it as an unspeakable tragedy.
The party, in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, condoled with the bereaved families as well as the Ondo State and federal governments.
“As confirmed by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Associated Airlines chartered flight heading for Akure, the Ondo State capital, took off at roughly 9:30 am (0830 GMT) from the domestic terminal at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, but the engine failed on takeoff and it crash-landed and burst into flames,” Eze said in the statement.
“We urge Nigerians to remember the victims and their families in their prayers and to intensify prayers for our dear nation in these difficult times,” the party said.
However, the Government of Ondo State yesterday confirmed that one of its commissioners was among the passengers of the Associated Ailrines flight heading for the state capital, Akure, but which crashed shortly after take-off from the domestic terminal at Lagos’ Murtala Mohammed International Airport.
A statement issued by Chief Press Secretary to Governor Olusegun Mimiko, Eni Akinsola, also confirmed that “family members, associates and other top government officials were also involved in the crash.”
In like manner, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State also commiserated with the government and people of Ondo State over the death of some government officials in a plane crash in Lagos.
The governor’s condolence is contained in a statement issued in Ilorin by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Malam Abdulwahab Oba.
Ahmed, described the incident as very shocking, saying that the state had lost some of its vibrant officials at the time their services were needed most.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State described yesterday’s plane crash as a national tragedy.
In a statement issued in Abeokuta by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mrs Funmi Wakama, said the incident was regrettable.
The governor condoled with Nigerians and the families of the deceased.
“I join the entire nation, especially the government and people of Ondo State, in lamenting this monumental disaster,’’ Amosun 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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