The committee set up by the Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to investigate increasing cases of electoral violence in the state has indicted the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Submitting the committee’s report to Rivers State APC Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, on Monday at the party’s state Secretariat in Port Harcourt, its Chairman, Prince Peter Odika, said the committee was able to list 150 sins committed against APC by PDP leadership and members in the course of the ongoing campaign for the 2015 elections. The report included an alleged plot to kill the party’s governorship candidate, Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside.
“These sins revolve around attacks against APC faithful, billboards, and LG secretariat by the misguided PDP elements in Rivers State ahead of the March/April 2015 general elections,” Odika, who is the Rivers State APC deputy chairman, said.
He pleaded that the report should be treated with the urgency it deserves before PDP engulfs the state into crisis that will not only send more APC members and other innocent persons to their earlier graves but also truncate the country’s nascent democracy.
Odika disclosed that at the top of the list is the violent disruption of APC’s campaign rally in Okrika last Wednesday, which culminated in the death of a policeman.
He alleged that the attack was principally targeted to eliminate the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.
“If they had succeeded, these enemies of our democracy would have engulfed the state in an unprecedented crisis the end of which no one could have predicted,” he said.
Receiving the report, Ikanya congratulated Odika and his committee for a job well done.
He assured them that the aim of setting up the committee would be actualised as the report would be sent to the United Nations, Amnesty International, ECOWAS and other major international bodies without delay.
“I commend the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, for directing that the attempts on our lives in Okrika should be investigated. We wish that those behind this devilish attack are promptly arrested; if not our lives will not be safe anymore,” Ikanya said.
Looking ahead to the elections, the party chairman said: “To the people of Rivers State, the choice of stopping further promotion of violence lies in their hands by ensuring that all the candidates fielded by PDP in Rivers State are voted against to punish them for making our state a mockery before the international community.
“The choice before them is to choose between darkness and light, devil and God, between occult forces and Christianity, between democracy and anti-democracy forces. The choice is ours to make,” he stated.
Ikanya appealed to the international community to come to the party’s aid, saying: “We can no longer fold our arms and watch while we are being viciously attacked and slaughtered by people whose mission and vision in politics is to spread violence as their own way of grabbing power, having seen that they have been overwhelmingly rejected by the electorate.
“What makes the situation more pathetic is that security agencies in Rivers State, including the police and the Department of State Security (DSS), have failed to make any arrest or call the PDP leadership to order simply because they are controlled by the PDP-led Federal Government, which is desperate to take over Rivers State at all cost.”
The fact-finding committee inaugurated on 19th January, 2015 had Deputy Chairman of Rivers APC, Prince Peter Odika, as chairman; the Rivers State APC Youth Leader, Barr. Sogbeye Eli, as secretary.
Other members were Secretary of Rivers State APC, Chief Emeka Bekee; Women Leader, Evangelist Carol Nagbo; Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze; Okrika Chairman of APC, Hon. Israel Asiamaka; Andoni APC Chairman, Chief Victor Ere; former Asaro-Toru Local Government Chairman, Hon. Ojukaya Flag-Amachree; Chief of Staff to the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Awongo Ikalama; and Barr. Obinna Chukwu.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has disagreed with the APC on the allegations raised by the committee, and described them as baseless and unfounded.
The Director, Media and Publicity, Rivers PDP governorship campaign organization, Barr Emma Okah, said that in a telephone interview that it was wrong for the APC to claim that it lost 30 persons to political violence in the state.
Okah, who is a former Commissioner for Information in the state, pointed out that some people had died as a result of cult activities and communal clashes, adding that the APC was trivialising death by linking such deaths to political violence.
Explaining that it is not in the character of the PDP to be violent, the party chieftain challenged the APC to show proof that it (PDP) was behind the attacks on its members.
He said, “People who are aggrieved cannot ventilate their anger through due processes. Occasionally, you have cult-related activities; we have conflicts that could have been resolved ordinarily through litigations being resolved by the resort to jungle justice or by people taking laws into their hands.
“It is not in the character of the PDP to resort to violence. The PDP has never even done that to anybody. We challenge them to show evidence. It is not enough that you are showing pictures of dead bodies and all that. I am saying that if today, you kill a PDP person for example, the PDP would take steps to alert the police and it is left for the police to investigate.
“Why is APC insisting that the PDP is responsible for the death of its (APC) members? So, what it (APC) is saying is that wherever a death occurs and that death is a violent death that touches any APC person, it means that the persons behind it is a PDP person. It doesn’t follow,” he said.
Okah, however, recalled how a staunch PDP member in the state was nearly assassinated, adding that the party (PDP) only called the police to investigate the incident and did not accuse the APC.
“What of those who are cult members and as a result of cult related activities, one of them got killed? What if they are members of APC? Are they also going to be pointing fingers at PDP?
“What of communal crisis? What of land crisis? You know that people can’t go to court athe only option left to people now is to seek self-help at all material times because they will not let the courts open,” he added.
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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