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RSG Condemns Ex-Militants’ Protest In PH …Senate Decries Fresh Militancy In N’ Delta

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The Rivers State Government has condemned the protest carried out on Wednesday by some ex-militants in the state that obstructed traffic along the Port Harcourt Aba Expressway.
Reacting to the ex-militants protest, the Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on Amnesty Programme, Sir Kenneth Chinda, frowned at the attitude of the protesters for not utilizing available avenues before embarking on the action and called the youth to desist from such irresponsible protest.
Chinda noted that the way the protest was carried out suggests an orchestrated attempt to tarnish the reputation of the state government, and advised the youth not to allow themselves to be used as agents to destabilise the state.
The special adviser regretted that the ex-militants carried out the protest barely two weeks after the National Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme revalidated the names of those engaged in the programme for payment in the state.
He berated the youth for carry out such protest at a time the state government under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike was doing all within available resources to improve social and economic well-being of Rivers people.
Chinda warned that the state government would not fold its arms and watch hoodlums under any name constitute security threat to residents of the state, and lauded the police for their intervention.
“Some elements have been trying to score cheap political points by using the youth to create tension in order to degrade the good work of Wike in the state’, he said.
He said, Wike will ensure sustenance of all on-going  human capital development initiatives for the teeming youth in the state while urging them to remain calm and support the state government in its developmental plan.
Chinda intimated the youth that the office of the  Special Adviser to the Governor on Amnesty Programme was open and handles grievances on amnesty-related issues while protests should only be seen as the last option.
Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, condemned the blowing up of oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta area by suspected militants.
The upper chamber asked the Federal Government to take necessary measures to safe guard the pipelines in the interest of the country.
Chairmen of four committees of the Senate including committees on gas, petroleum (downstream and upstream) and media and public affairs stated this at a press briefing in Abuja.
Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Tayo Alasoadura, who read the position paper of the committee, said that the activities of the vandals who blew up the pipelines should be condemned in their entirety.
Alasoadura described as most unpatriotic the action of the vandals who decided to blow up pipelines especially at this time of national emergency when the dwindling price of oil and the insurgency in the northeast of Nigeria is confronting the country.
He said, “It is very disheartening that at a time when all hands should be on deck to revive the economy and ensure the survival of the country, some people could decide at this point in time in the history of the nation to further sabotage the efforts of the present administration to bring some sanity into our country.
“It is therefore apt for the Senate to condemn strongly and make an ambiguous statement about this dastardly act that portends to send the hands of the clock backwards.”
He noted that “this sabotage has led to the shutting down of two refineries that had just started working few months ago.
The militants, he said should give respite to Nigerians “so that we can see some governance.”
He added, “It is not good enough for an administration to be fighting one war there and they are waging another there, when will he have time to govern? So please help us appeal to them so that Nigeria can move forward.”
He appealed to the militants to stop “this mindless act by giving Nigerians necessary respite to allow this present administration to stem the tide of poverty and want ravaging our people.”
Chairman Senate Committee on Gas, Senator Albert Bassey Akpan noted that the explosion affected major gas pipelines in the country.
Akpan said that the committee on Gas had invited the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) who explained that the country will lose over 200 million score of cubic feet of gas on a daily basis with low supply of electricity.
He said, “this is the gas terminal that supplies Egbin and most of the NIPP along the South Western region of this country.
“In a period where we are grappling with the challenges of domestic gas supply, we believe very strongly that the act of vandalism should be condemned.”
Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (downstream) Senator Barau Jibrin, said that members of the committee are highly worried about the development especially when two refineries that recently came on stream had to be shut down.
Jibrin said that Nigerians should appeal to those behind the act of sabotage to stop their unpatriotic act in the interest and well-being of country.
He commended the assurance of the NNPC to restore normalcy as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, justified the allocation of N115 billion for the National Assembly in the 2016 budget.
This is coming as the upper chamber asked the government to explore all tax avenues to fund the N6.08 trillion budget.
Making his contribution in continuation of the debate of the general principle of the 2016 Appropriation Bill, Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, said N115 allocation to the National Assembly represents only 1.8% of the total budget figure of N6.08 trillion.
He said that some of those who criticised the allocation spoke as if the amount was provided for Senators and members of the House of Representatives alone to share.
The Osun Central lawmaker said that the provision was also made to pay the salaries and allowances of those in the National Assembly bureaucracy and agencies.
He said, “I want to point out that I have looked at the budget and in the light of all the opprobrium that has been heaped on the National Assembly in the press, I want to report that this year’s budget contains a total request of N115 billion for the National Assembly. This represents only 1.8 per cent of the N6.08 trillion.”
On how to fund the budget, he said that 54 per cent of the $3.8 trillion US budget is sourced from tax.
He said, “If we are going to move this country forward, we must go back to what we did in the days of Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and Nnamdi Azikiwe.
“Nobody in my village will go to his farm until he can produce his tax receipt; we need ingenuity to bring this to pass.”
He said that time has come to tax things like cigarette, alcohol including taxing heavily those who beat their wives.
“Text messages cost N3.81 a page; if we add just N1 to a page of text message and we say that the money belongs to government we will make billions.
“We must install toll roads but that is not enough: across the world, when you park at any airport you pay per hour; we must do what the rest of the world does.
“We must begin to tax allowances. Nigeria is the only country that shelters the bulk of the earnings of its workers and calls them allowances,”
Immediately he suggested that allowances should be taxed, Senator began to murmur and showed other signs of disapproval.
Adeyey asked, “You don’t want your allowances taxed? They will be taxed.”
He insisted that ‘if we are going to save this country, we must reduce the cost of government.”
He noted that “there are too many parastatals and when you look at these parastatals many of them have failed in their missions, we continue to protect them and give them money, it’s time for them to go.”
The Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Biodun Olujimi, in her contribution, noted that the budget is for all Nigerians.
She said that whatever criticism directed at the document is meant to strengthen the system and ensure that a better Nigeria is born.
Olujimi said that though she is not a financial expert, expenditure and deficit are the major problems of the budget.
She said, “Right now we have a deficit of $11 on every barrel of oil that we sell and in the budget we have a deficit of N2.2trillion that is $11 deficit in N2.5- 2.6 trillion, that’s not a serious problem, the problem is if we need to borrow to manage this N2.6 trillion it means we will be borrowing N500 million everyday of this year.
“Every day of this year this government will look for N500 million to borrow and that has not been fixed.
“To crown it all, there is nothing in this budget that suggests repayment for this; it is only expenditure nothing has been set aside to ensure that we pay back our loans.
“A country that borrows and does not plan to pay back has not done enough work at all.   If we borrow N500 million a day and cannot pay it in one year it rolls over to the next year and in four years you find that we are in deficit of almost N6 trillion.
“There are too many policy changes in the this system in the last six months, the policy somersaults in the foreign exchange regime in such that it will lead us back to our status of round tripping where our people were doing anything to make ends meet and our currency went to zero. We must not drive our people down to such a stage that would not be good for the nation.”
Olujimi continued, “In the budget what has been used is not zero budgeting, you find that it is still the envelope system.
The envelope system provides funds and they are broadly explained, the people who will operate it will wait for the projects to come and that’s what we have found in this budget, there is nothing about being zero based or being protected by the various ministries.
“The capital expenditure has increased and the inflow has decreased what it means is that this budget has a serious deficiency.
“This budget is not a budget of change yet, I think they are still looking for how to bring in the required change.
“There is need for retrospection, there is need for us to have a solid economic team and have economists who have the interest of Nigeria at heart so that they can look again at this budget and see where we can cushion the effects of all this for our people.”

L-R: Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Belema Wakama,  Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, and President, Ijaw Youth Council, Udengs Eradiri, during the visit of leaders of the council to the Ministry in Abuja on Wednesday

L-R: Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Belema Wakama, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, and President, Ijaw Youth Council, Udengs Eradiri, during the visit of leaders of the council to the Ministry in Abuja on Wednesday

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Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow

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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.

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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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