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Drama As Saraki’s Trial Resumes …90 Lawyers In Defence

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Programme Director, British Council Nigeria, Louisa Wadlingham (left), with the Principal Investigator, UCL Institute of Education, Elaine Unterhalter, presenting the report of findings on teacher education, teacher practice, gender and girls schooling outcomes in Abuja on Monday

Programme Director, British Council Nigeria, Louisa Wadlingham (left), with the Principal Investigator, UCL Institute of Education, Elaine Unterhalter, presenting the report of findings on teacher education, teacher practice, gender and girls schooling outcomes in Abuja on Monday

The trial of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on a 16-count charge of false assets declaration resumed at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), yesterday, with controversy over how many of the over 90 lawyers representing the defendant can speak for him and cross examine the first prosecution witness, Micheal Wetkas.
The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, rose up in protest immediately after Kanu Agabi, SAN, the lead defence counsel, told the court that Paul Erokoro, SAN, another member of the defence team will continue the cross examination of the witness.
The prosecution counsel who had earlier expressed the hope that the defence will end the cross examination of the witness which has been on for about four days, argued that though the defendant may have many lawyers, only one counsel is entitled to speak for him at a time.
He further told the Chairman of the tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, that he should not give opportunity for the defendant to use many “voices” in the cross examination.
“My submission is that a party is only entitled to one audience in one proceeding. A counsel who starts a cross examination should conclude it. The fact that the defendant has four SANs does not mean each of them should do it. Not that one when person is tired another person will take over. It (the cross examination) will be endless.”
But Erokoro opposed him arguing that there is no law that limits the number of counsels that a party can use in a case.
He argued that it is for the very reason that a counsel may get tired that the law allows a party to a case to have many counsels.
Erokoro described the request by the prosecution that the defence should end its cross-examination of the first prosecution witness today as absurd, stressing that they will not allow themselves to be rushed.
“We are going to take our time and do the case properly. We will not be rushed; we will not be stampeded. If the prosecution doesn’t like it, he should withdraw some of the exhibits. We are going to take the court through all the exhibits,” said Erokoro.
In reply, Jacobs said his point is that the defendants cannot have several voices at the same time, over the same case and the same witness.
“He can have several counsel, but not all of them will speak at the same time. That’s why we have lead counsel. They can have several lawyers. That’s why they have 90, but only one voice. So, the lead counsel who has started the cross examination is bound to conduct his case.
In his short ruling, Umar said the defence team has the discretion to conduct the defence in a way it deems fit.
He also added that the tribunal is bound to give every opportunity to the defendant to defend himself and the court cannot stop him.
However, the trial continued with the cross-examination of the first prosecution witness by Erokoro.
But Counsel to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Paul Erokoro, SAN, yesterday, alleged that the Federal Government has something to hide.
Erokoro made the allegation when the principal witness involved in the ongoing trial, Michael Wetkas, an operative with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was unable to give explanations to the letter the commission wrote to the Presidential Committee on the Implementation of Sales of Government Properties in relation to one of Saraki’s property.
EFCC, in its evidence, tendered before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), claimed it had written a letter to the Presidential Committee on the Implementation of Sales of Government Properties in respect to Saraki’s property on MacDonald Street in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The commission claimed the property was one of those the Senate President did not declare in his assets declaration form.
Responding to Erokoro, Wetkas said, “Sometimes when we write to these committees or government agencies, their reply sometimes is compiled, the committee did reply in another letter not here.
Following Wetkas’ reply, Erokoro declared, “So, from the evidence, the committee did not reply the letter?
“Those prosecuting or whoever is prosecuting definitely has something to hide.”
Meanwhile, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, yesterday alleged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal sitting in Abuja that his assets declaration form of 2003 has been tampered with, hence the reason the original copy of the form was not presented before the tribunal.
Saraki is standing trial over alleged false assets declaration, while he was the governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
At the resumed trial yesterday, the counsel to Saraki, Paul Erokoro (SAN), levelled the allegation while cross examining the prosecution witness, Michael Wetkas.
Under cross examination, Wetkas was asked whether he saw the original copy of Exhibit 1, which is Saraki’s assets declaration form , in the cause of investigation.
Wetkas initially stated that he never saw the original copy but on a second thought he reversed himself and said he sighted the form from one Samuel Majemu of the CCB.
When asked why the original copy of the form was not brought before the tribunal, Wetkas stated that he always worked with the Certified True Copy furnished by the CCB because it is a replica of the original and it serves the same purpose.
It was at that point that Erokoro submitted: “Whoever is prosecuting the defendant is hiding something by not having bringing the original copy before this tribunal.
“If it is important for the investigative team to see the original, then why is it not important for the tribunal to see it?”

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Our Policies Are Geared Towards Protecting Rivers Interest -Fubara

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has declared that all the policies and programmes of his administration are tailored towards the protection of interest of Rivers people, especially the youths.
This, he said, is borne out of the importance his administration attaches to youths’ development and empowerment as leaders of tomorrow.
Fubara, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nelson Chukwudi, disclosed this when he received the youths of Emohua Local Government Area under the auspices of “Emohua Youths For SIM” on solidarity visit to Government House, Port Harcourt, last Friday.
He said that his administration has put in place modalities that will boost the livelihoods and well-being of Rivers citizens, which youths of Emohua will also benefit when they materialise.
The governor, who spoke through the Rivers State Head of Service, Dr. George Nwaeke, pointed out that the recently awarded Elele-Omudiaga-Egbeda-Ubimini-Ikiri-Omoku Road, the ongoing Emohua-Kalabari Road, reinstatement of illegally sacked workers of Emohua Local Government Area and the approval for electrification of the area, are part of deliberate measures to open up the area to make life conducive and more meaningful for the people.
According to him, “Everything about the governor is putting the interest of Rivers State first. He is looking at and taking action on those things that we need to do to restart the wheels of progress in Rivers State.
“There are many things the governor has planned and is already doing that will boost the life and welfare of every citizen of Rivers State, but most importantly the youths.
“Growing up, I learnt that Egbeda is one of the biggest communities in the whole of Ikwerre, and it’s predominantly an agrarian community. They have food in Egbeda, they have food in Ubimini, they have food in Omudiaga and other natural resources. The whole world is tilting to agriculture, and this is the way to go.
“The Elele-Umudioga-Egbeda-Ubimini-Omoku road, when completed, will open up the area for real development. Your food and everything you produce there will now have value, they will no longer be thrown away. In all these, you the youths are going to be the utmost beneficiaries.”
He added, “Same will be applicable to the Emohua-Kalabari Road which will also, trigger development in the area, and you will be the greatest beneficiaries. When the LGA is also electrified, you will be having 24 or 20 hours of electricity, and those things the youths can do with electricity, you can stay at home and create wealth for yourself and children.
“All the totality of what the governor is doing, when they are completed, or even as some are completed now, the youths are going to be utmost beneficiaries.”
While acknowledging that youths are the true leaders of tomorrow and any government that fails to carry them along in the scheme of things is doomed to fail, the governor assured them of his administration’s commitment to always address issues concerning youths and ensure that they are part of his government.
He commended the youths for toeing the path of truth by identifying with his administration, urging them to sustain the tempo and shun evil, as his government will ensure that the trend whereby politicians turn youths to beggars are over.
He said, “Youths are, indeed, the leaders of tomorrow. The time of youth is a very important time. It a time that your parents or whoever is your leader at that time have to make the greatest investment in you. And any Government that decides to only carry the elderly, chiefs aling and abandon the youths is bound to fail,” he asserted.
“But I am happy that Governor Fubara has concentrated his energy on everything that will benefit the society, especially the youths.
“And based on these, I want to thank you for recognising what is good and calling it good, for shunning what is evil, for saying the Governor is standing for you.
“Let me tell you, you are on the right direction. Let me tell you again, Rivers State is the bride of Nigeria. The whole Nigeria is looking at what will happen here. As they look here and see you standing on the path of truth, this is a very important step that you have taken to right all the wrongs of the past, to make Rivers State stand on the tripod of justice, peace and security. That is what we are going to gain through the governor, taking all the wise actions that he has already initiated.
“The projects the governor is embarking on are meant to prepare nets for the youths to fish and put food on their table, hence you should continue to follow him.
“The SIMplified Movement brought upon by the governor will ensure that Rivers youths stop the habit of going to bow down before politicians, pledging loyalty before they can eat.”
Earlier, spokesman for the Emohua Youths for SIM, Comrade Ovamale O. Ovamale, had said that the visit by youths from the 14 political wards in Emohua Local Government Area was to thank the governor for the award of the Elele-Omudiaga-Egbeda-Ubimini-Ikiri-Omoku road, the approval for electrification of the area and reinstatement of sacked workers of Emohua Local Government Council, of which the youths were mostly affected.
According to him, “Siminalayi Fubara of recent has given Emohua Local Government road that links Elele to Omoku, which comprises over four communities in the local government.”
“Emohua Local Government has also been in darkness for eight years. No community in the local government that has light. But, of recent, because of the passion and love the governor has for the people of Emohua, he has approved the electrification of the local government.
“Also, the illegal sack of Emohua Local Government workers, for which the youths were mostly affected and without the approval of the Local Government Service Commission, the governor, in his compassionate nature, has reinstated them, and that is why we said we must come and thank His Excellency”, he said.

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Our Legacy’ll Leave Lasting Impression On Rivers People -Fubara

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has assured that his administration will collaborate and continue to consult widely in delivering a liberated State experiencing enduring peace.
Fubara said, in doing so, he would not operate as a dictator but as a member of a team that has the best interest of the State at heart and determined to leave a lasting legacy that can be celebrated.
The governor spoke during the formal presentation of Certificate of Recognition and Staff of Office to the Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, King Ateke Michael Tom, as first class tradition ruler, at Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Fubara stated that, during the Sixth State Executive Council meeting, N80.8billion was approved with 50 percent contract value paid already as the Government awarded the construction of the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road.
He said the project will be funded from the savings from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to underscore his administration’s prudence without also borrowing to complete the project.
“We are at a crossroad in our State where we all need to stand for what is right. It happens once in a life time. So, for now, be one of those people that will be in the course to liberate and free our dear State.
“And I know strongly that having the support of a peace-loving Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, having the support of the wonderful Council of Chiefs, having the support of the great people of Rivers State, we will bring peace in our State. We will do those things that are right to develop our State.
“We will continue to consult. We will not act as dictators. We will act as people who know that one day, we will leave, and when we leave, the way we have acted will speak for us. We will not force people to talk good about us. Our legacy will be a signature for how we led”, the governor said.
Fubara explained that he acted within the ambit of the law to upgrade the traditional stool upon which King Ateke Tom sits in recognition of his efforts in promoting peace in Okrika, and indeed, the State, and urged him to continue to do justice to everyone.
In his speech, Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Hon Charles Amadi, congratulated King Ateke Tom for being formally presented with the Certificate of Recognition and Staff of Office as first class traditional ruler.
Also speaking, former Transport Minister, Chief Abiye Sekibo, thanked the governor for fulfilling his promise of upgrading the traditional stool of Okochiri Kingdom, and pledged the support of Kirike Se people to his administration.

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We’re Determined To Leave Legacy Of Quality Education -Fubara

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has promised to give the best attention to the education sector so that standard and quality learning will never be compromised in the State.
The governor emphasised that in achieving such legacy, schools in the State will be driven with a curriculum that will equip school-aged children to become competitive, innovative and self-reliant.
Governor Fubara made the assertion while inaugurating the Governing Council of Rivers State University at Government House in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
He said: “There is a lot of noise everywhere: people asking what we are doing; that we are not focused, and that we don’t have direction.
”But I want to tell the world that we are focused and aware that we cannot grow if our energies are not channeled to education. Not just education, but purposeful education.
”Education that is creative. Education that gives you independence. We have left the era in the world when you speak too much grammar. We are in such times when it is what you can do with your hands.
”Our purpose for education is that we should bring back our academic programmes to where, at the end of your studies, you don’t need a job but you create jobs. When one creates a job, you automatically employ others. That is what I want this council to see as their task.”
Governor Fubara noted the non-existence of public secondary schools for the male child in the Diobu axis of Port Harcourt.
He said such negligence leaves children in that area who have completed primary education, and whose parents cannot afford sending them to far away secondary schools, to roam the streets, and therefore becoming willing tools for criminality.
Governor Fubara assured that such fundamental problem will be addressed by his administration as a measure to curb the negative impression associated with Diobu axis of Port Harcourt.
The governor said he trusts in the capacity of the members of the Governing Council of Rivers State University to bring about positive change in the institution while also contributing their quota to improving the general education standard in the State.
”I charge you, not just in terms of administering the affairs of the university, but let us add something different from the normal things that we already have to see new things.”
In her response, on behalf of the other members, the Pro-Chancellor of the Governing Council of Rivers State University, Justice Mary Odili (rtd), thanked the governor for finding them worthy to serve in such capacity.
Justice Odili assured they will work assiduously as a team to solve the problems that agitate the mind of the governor and ensure their contributions form part of the legacy that will be bequeathed by his administration.
The members included Justice Mary Odili (rtd) as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council with Barrister Mela Oforibika and Chukwuma Chinwo, Esq.
Others were Adata Bio-Briggs, Esq., Dr. Jonathan Nimi Hart, Ngo Martins-Yellowe, Dr. Nancy Nwankwo, Dr. Igoni William-Park, and Mr. Ogbugbu Barisua.

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