The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has sworn in an Acting Chief Judge, Justice Adama Iye Iyayi-Lamikanra with a charge for her to sustain the judicial reforms started by her predecessor.
Wike while congratulating Justice Iyayi-Lamikanra on her new office shortly after her swearing-in at Government House in Port Harcourt, further charged her to dispense justice without fear or favour.
‘’We thank God that the judiciary is back, let the acting Chief Judge continue from where her predecessor stopped. Your predecessor has done very well, I am very proud to say this. Do your best and at the end of the day people will commend you”, the governor said.
Wike had during a valedictory court session in honour of Justice Okocha on Thursday last week announced that he will follow due process in the appointment of a successor to Justice Okocha.
The Acting Chief Judge of Rivers State, Adama Iye Iyayi-Lamikanra, is an indigene of Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State while her late husband hailed from Rivers State, and the present husband, a Yoruba.
Wike insisted that the rule of law and respect for the laid down succession be followed in the appointment. This is the first it is happening in the country.
Speaking during the swearing-in of the Rivers State reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to continue to accord women their rightful positions in government, no matter the circumstances.
The governor said that women will continue to enjoy more than 35 per cent of appointments in his administration, noting that women occupy about 70 per cent in different positions
He said: “Nobody should talk about twenty five per cent or 30 per cent, the women appointed since my administration came into power, has covered up to 70 per cent”.
Wike further advised the newly sworn in Acting Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Iyayi-Lamikanra to dispense justice to the people without fear or favour.
Responding, the newly sworn in Acting Chief Judge of Rivers State, Adama Iye Iyayi-Lamikanra while expressing thanks to the governor of Rivers State for finding her worthy for appointment as the acting chief judge of Rivers State, promised to dispense justice at all times.
Meanwhile, moved by the plight of widows of fallen military personnel in Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike has approved their inclusion in the N2billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) fund for women and youth empowerment of the state government.
Addressing a company of ex-service men and women in Government House to mark the 2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebrations last weekend in Port Harcourt, Wike assured that his administration will continue to work with the Rivers State Nigerian Legion to provide employment and improve the wellbeing of veterans.
He said the government will always ensure that the welfare of veterans and the families of those who lost their lives in defending the country are given priority attention.
The governor noted that the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration is significant because it provides Nigerians the opportunity to publicly appreciate the contributions of armed forces personnel.
He said: “As some persons have rightly observed, most often we are too inclined to take for granted the prevailing stability in our country. However, given our chequered history, the opportunities for national peace and security are made possible largely through the efforts, commitment and sacrifices of our armed forces to defend the sovereignty and territory integrity of our country.
“Let us continue to acknowledge and thank the men and women of our current armed forces who have answered the National call to service. Most significantly, let us resolve to use the lesson of self-sacrifice to re-dedicate ourselves to preserving the unity of our country”.
He called on Nigerians never to forget the sacrifices of the fallen heroes in order to encourage living officers to put in their best for the nation.
He announced that the state government will address the accommodation and logistics challenge of the Rivers State Nigeria Legion.
“For the families of our fallen heroes who are with us today, our deep thoughts and prayers are with you for the losses you have suffered. We encourage you to take solace in the significance of the recognition and honour the nation bestows on your children, daughters, parents, brothers, sisters and other children”, he said.
In his address, Rivers State Chairman, Nigerian Legion, Colonel Wilberforce Josiah, commended Nyesom Wike for his commitment to the welfare of the veterans, and appealed to him to always take action on issues that concern their welfare.
Highpoint of the celebrations was the laying of wreath for the unknown soldier by Governor Wike, Deputy Governor, Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Acting Chief Judge, Justice Iyayi-Lamikanra and service commanders and police commissioner in Rivers State.
There was also a 21 gun salutes and a minute silence in honour of the fallen heroes.
Meanwhile, widows of ex-service men have made a passionate plea on government to assist them through scholarships, jobs and loans to sustain their families.
Chairperson of the body in the state, Mrs Theresa Pepple, lamented that wives of legionnaires have over the years been side-lined by the authorities in the different loan schemes floated by government.
She said, “we have always been exempted from benefiting in the loan schemes for women in the state. They say we are wives of ex-soldiers and whenever we send our names they put it in the waste bin.”
Pepple related that despite several promises in the past four years nothing has been given to them.
The ex-servicemen wife leader pleaded on government to assist members in developing a land they acquired some years back for agricultural business.
The same view was expressed by Anna Sule, a former chairperson of the body who decried neglect by the authorities.
Sule stated that most their members have been unable to pay school fees, house rents and sustain their families after they lost their husbands in the defence of the country.
She called on government to assist them through jobs, skills and loans for small businesses.
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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