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Buhari Promises To End Corruption, Insecurity …Police Confirm Attack On APC Supporters In Rivers

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The Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd.) has identified corruption, insecurity and poor economy as the three major problems facing the country and promised to tackle them, if voted into power in February, this year.
Buhari told the mammoth crowd that witnessed his presidential flag-off campaign yesterday at the 40,000 capacity Adokiye Ameseimaka Stadium, Igwuruta-Ali in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, that the level of corruption in the country was intolerable and therefore should be checked.
The APC Presidential standard bearer assured that if voted into power, he would assemble a team of competent Nigerians to work with him to proffer solutions to the numerous problems plaguing the nation.
“The problem we are facing today is the problem of security and economy. We have gathered competent hands to manage the economy and tackle insecurity.
“The level of corruption in Nigeria is intolerable and we will make sure we succeed in fighting corruption when we get there. I wish Nigerians the best of luck and we believe in one indivisible Nigeria”, he said.
Buhari urged eligible voters to collect their permanent voters cards (PVCs) and use them to make a change in the affairs of the nation.
He said, “I appeal to you to mobilize yourselves to ensure that the end justifies the means.  I also urge you to collect your PVC to enable you vote to bring in the change we have been talking about”.
The former Head of State commended the Rivers State Governor; Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for his ability to mobilize people which, according to him, earned the governor the Director-General of the APC Presidential campaign.
“We congratulated the governor of Rivers State profusely for being the Director General of the presidential campaign organisation.
I thank you very much for accepting the responsibility to work with our great party.
“Amaechi has made enormous sacrifice. He earned it, he worked for it and I thank him for accepting it. He got it through a lot of hard work. The way Amaechi mobilizes people shows that he is the right choice”, Buhari stated.
Also speaking at the flag-off campaign, the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun described General Buhari as the agent of change, assuring that the APC presidential candidate would straighten the economy and wipe out corruption and insecurity in the country.
“Take a look at him (Buhari), he is as straight in character as he is in figure. If you want corruption wiped out, if you want insecurity tackled, if you want indiscipline eradicated, vote for Buhari”, Oyegun said.
The APC National Chairman said that General Buhari and his running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo were carefully selected as the party’s presidential flagbearers based on their integrity.
Earlier, Governor Amaechi had told the cheering crowd that a group of persons had money to remove him from office but they did not succeed.
He also condemned yesteday’s attack on APC members from Khana and Asari-Toru Local Government Areas of the state who were on their way to the party’s presidential flag-off campaign.
Amaechi said, I thank God for this opportunity. I never knew I would be governor.
Today, I am governor by the grace of God. I have stayed in office till 2015. By this time last year, the men who thought they were God, thought I would have been out of office.
‘By this time last year, men had collect money to remove us from office, but the God we worship never allowed it to happen.
“I want to thank all of you and thank Rivers people, as accepting to make me your governor.
I may not have been the best governor you have ever seen. I am not a perfect man at all, because I am human.
“When we came, we addressed insecurity.
In the past, we could not have had our rally here. We are gradually going back to that. I hear today that members of the APC from Asari-Toru and Khana Local Government Areas were shot at on their way to this place.
“The fact that they shot you brings to the fore the argument we put forward that currently, the government in power cannot protect you and I . why were we shot at? Who bought guns for those people? Who shot at our members?”
Amaechi urged Nigerians to collect their PVCs and vote for all candidates of the APC beginning from General Buhari.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives and guber flag bearer of APC in Sokoto State, Amimu Tambuwal has defended his defection to the APC.
Until October last year, the Speaker was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but he explained at Buhari’s flag-off campaign in Port Harcourt, that he believes Nigeria deserves a better leadership.
“When I defected to APC, many people were surprised but from a very privileged position what we saw was mind boggling,” Tambuwal declared.
He insisted that Gen Buhari candidacy holds better future for Nigeria based on the records of the former military head of state, as he expressed hope that Rivers people will decide to make a good choice to move the country forward.
Hon Tambuwal said the number of supporters who attended the rally was a testimony that the party will win in the state.
The Speaker commended the Governor of Rivers State, Rt.Hon Chibuike Amaechi for making his colleagues, Hon Dakuku Adol Peterside and Hon Asita Honourable as the APC governorship flagbearers in the state.
According to him, “Rivers State will be another National Assembly and we shall support them.
“When I defected to APC, many people were surprise, how can I leave a ruling party to an opposition, on the privilege position of the House of Representative that I presided for three and half years, what we saw and still seeing is a blind government”.
“According to information available to us, we do not deserve the current government and leadership. Nigerians deserve a better leadership. As God may have it we shall have an exemplary leadership led by General Muhammed Buhari come May 29”.
The speaker noted that General Buhari has character and discipline that would restore security in the nation and wipe out corruption in the country.
According to him, “When General Buhari served as minister, we know what he did, when he served as Head of State, his purpose was very clear, today, we have insecurity and corruption in the country, with these people of Rivers State here we have known where they will cast their votes.
He commended the people of the state for their support for change, assuring that APC would end the sufferings of the people.
Other dignitaries at the campaign rally included Lagos, Ogun and Imo State governors, Babatunde Fashola, Ibwkunle Amosu and Rochas Okorocha, respectively.
Others are former FCT Minister, Mallam Nagir el-Rufai, former PDP Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbe and some past and serving National Assembly members.
In a desperate attempt to stop supporters of APC from attending the rally, some masked gunmen in the early hours of the day shot at supporters from Kaani in Khana Local Government around Saakpenwa axis.
The Rivers State Governor and Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Chibuike Amaechi, in his opening speech, accused the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of masterminding the attack.
“They have guns, but we have God and people. We’ll confront them with our determination for change,” he said.
It was also learnt that those who sustained bullet wounds have been rushed to  undisclosed hospitals for treatment.
Comrade Celestine Akpobari, a prominent Ogoni and environmental rights activist told newsmen that “I’ m not only confirming that gunmen ambushed some Ogoni people going to APC rally in Port Harcourt, I’m telling you that about five persons sustained injuries from bullet wounds. They have been rushed to natives who specialised in bullet extraction in Ogoniland. The state government has ordered that after the extraction of the bullets they should be taken to the state owned hospital for treatment.”
Akpobari lamented that elections have not started but some people have started spilling other people’s blood.
“No politician is worth anybody’s blood. If you kill everybody, who will you govern,” he queried politicians who send people to kill their opponents.
Also, our correspondent learnt that there was a report about another attack by masked gunmen on APC supporters in their buses.
They were coming from Akuku-Toru and Degema local government areas when the gunmen opened fire on them at Okpo in Asari-Toru Local Government Area.
Meanwhile, the Rivers Police Command has confirmed that unidentified gunmen attacked All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters travelling to Port Harcourt to attend the party’s presidential campaign.
The presidential campaign flag off was held yesterday  in Port Harcourt.
DSP Muhammad Ahmad, the command’s spokesman, said in Port Harcourt that the unknown gunmen “opened fire on the APC supporters”.
Ahmad said that the supporters were travelling in group from Buguma in Asari-Turu Local Government Area of the state for the rally.
According to Ahmad, the initial report had shown that there were no casualties.
Ahmad said the command had commenced investigation into the incident, assuring that it would get to its root and bring the suspects to justice.

 

Boye Salau,

APC Presidential flagbearer, Muhamadu Buhari (middle) with Rivers State flagbearer, Dr Dakuku Peterside (right) at the party’s presidential campaign flag off, in Port Harcourt, yesterday. With them is presidential running mate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

APC Presidential flagbearer, Muhamadu Buhari (middle) with Rivers State flagbearer, Dr Dakuku Peterside (right) at the party’s presidential campaign flag off, in Port Harcourt, yesterday. With them is presidential running mate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

Enoch Epelle & Ike Wigodo

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Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY

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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.

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$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others

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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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Disregard Sentiment On More Law School Campuses, Wike Urges

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has said approval for any new campus of the Nigerian Law School in the country should be based on needs assessment and not on political sentiment.
He noted that with the paucity of funds being allocated to the Nigerian Law School by the Federal Government, states with capacity to build brand new campuses of the institution should be encouraged to do so based on the model provided by the Council of Legal Education.
Wike stated this when members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters led by its Chairman, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, paid him a courtesy call at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
This is as members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters have endorsed the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt, and declared that it has come to stay.
The Rivers State governor observed that due to the current insufficient carrying capacity of the Nigerian Law School, there has been clamour for proliferation of more campuses across the country.
He, however, cautioned that this must not be done on the basis of political sentiment.
“Most of us attended the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, and even at that time, it was not easy to have accommodation within the school. But, at least, we were able to attend classes. So, it is reasonable for everybody to say there is need to increase the carrying capacity. But that must be done with objectivity; that must be done with facts that must not be done by sentiment.”
He explained that two years ago when he attended the call to bar ceremony at the Abuja campus of the Nigerian Law School, he was appalled by the decrepit infrastructure in the school.
According to him, this was what spurred the Rivers State Government to build 900 bed space hostels and 1,500 capacity auditorium for students in Yenagoa campus, and then, the subsequent construction of a brand new campus in Port Harcourt.
“From the record I’ve checked, they’ve (Nigerian Law School) never gotten more than N61million to fund the law school yearly. And I made a special appeal to support to Council of Legal Education to rehabilitate the campus in Abuja, and the Director General said no, we have more problem in Yenagoa, leave Abuja.
“You’ll never allow your slave to attend the campus in Yenagoa. And I want to thank the DG for being a true Nigerian. As I speak to you today, Rivers State Government is investing not less than N5.1billion in Yenagoa campus. What is our interest? Our interest is to contribute to the development of legal education in Nigeria.”
Wike said based on the Federal Government’s inability to sufficiently fund the Nigerian Law School, any state government that desires to have a campus should approach the Council of Legal Education for approval.
“I will appeal, in solving this carrying capacity problem, let’s not also create other problems. It is a professional school and so we must be guided. If any state wants to have a law school there must be a model.”
The governor explained that the construction of Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt will cost the Rivers State government N16billion.
According to him, every thing that is supposed to be in a law school would be found in the Port Harcourt campus when it is completed early next year.
“We are not just merely building a law school; we have acquired investment to handover to the law school to use to sustain the school here. This is a model that a law school should be.”
The governor also disclosed once the project is completed and handed over to the Council of Legal Education, the state government would also provide subvention to the council to run the campus for the next four years.
In his remarks, Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, said they were in the state to assess the progress of work at the Port Harcourt Campus of the Nigerian Law School.
“Your Excellency, when we were all privileged to study law in this country and just as we are doing graduation, the Nigerian Law School was waiting to absorb us. We have children in this country who graduated some two, three, four years ago and they are still waiting to be absorbed into the Nigerian Law School.
“Was it based on the refusal by the Nigerian Law School to so admit them, no. But based simply on the fact that the Nigerian Law School, as presently constituted and as funded, is lacking the capacity to be able to respond to the corresponding needs of the Nigerian public, given the number of universities that turned out law graduates every year.”
He commended the governor for his intervention to build a befitting campus of the Nigerian Law School in Rivers State.
However, members of the Nigerian Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters have endorsed the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt and declared that it has come to stay.
The committee members gave the endorsement shortly after inspecting ongoing civil construction work at the campus as part of their oversight function in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
They were conducted round the project sites by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, first to the staff quarters beside the Hotel Presidential and then to the law school campus at Rumueme, Port Harcourt.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele said they were, no doubt, impressed with what they have seen in Port Harcourt.
According to him, their colleagues in the Senate, including the leadership of the Senate who have invested so much trust and put them in charge of the committee were waiting to hear from them.
But, he emphasised, that what they have seen was consistent with global best practice standard when it comes to providing legal education.
“And we are really excited about this for the future of the legal profession which is our own primary constituency, because ours is a committee where virtually, all members are lawyers and members of this profession.
“It was important for us to come here because we are not going to just write any report and take any decision based on sentiment. I mean, this is a nonpartisan legislative action.”
Bamidele noted that Rivers State is boldly setting a standard for legal education in the country and it does appear to be a high one.
“After inspecting the ongoing works, the governor also took us to inspect existing property that have been acquired for the purpose of surrendering these same property to the law school to use as a source of revenue. That’s why I’m saying there’s a Rivers standard.
“And of course, when you now come to the quality of what is on ground, more than any of the law schools that have existed before the creation of this, we have seen quality here that will distinctly place this on the world map when you’re talking about law school campuses that can stand the test of time.”
Bamidele explained that having come to determine what actually is on ground and also to see the quality of work, they are fascinated to see about 750 workers on the construction site.
According to him, that is something that gladdens their hearts because at a time like this, the Rivers State Government was able to provide such number of jobs to its people.
“There is a need for us to engage in activities that will create employment opportunities for our people. We have seen a lot of artisans here at work, contractors are here at work.
“A lot of building materials are being brought to this site and the economic implication of these are far reaching for Rivers State and on the long run for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We do not take that for granted. Beyond the employment opportunities that this is creating temporarily, we also know that an additional campus of the Nigerian Law School taking off in Port Harcourt would also mean a long term career job opportunities for people who will also work here as administrative staff.
“The number of lecturers that will increase, as career people. We feel that’s another reason why this deserve to be celebrated.”
Bamidele said except the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School that was created by an operation of law in 1962, the other five campuses were created by administrative action like the campus in Port Harcourt because it was approved by the President of the country.

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