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Niger Delta

Press Freedom, Critical To Democracy, Dev -Stakeholders

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Pupils of Ash-Merlyn International School, Port Harcourt, in a group photograph, during an excursion visit to Rivers State Newspapers Corporation, publishers of The Tide newspapers in Port Harcourt, yesterday     				                 Photo: Ibioye Diama

Pupils of Ash-Merlyn International School, Port Harcourt, in a group photograph, during an excursion visit to Rivers State Newspapers Corporation, publishers of The Tide newspapers in Port Harcourt, yesterday Photo: Ibioye Diama

Stakeholders in the Nige
rian Project have highlighted the critical role absolute press freedom could play in accentuating the unfettered democracy, enhancing good governance, and facilitating sustainable development and economic growth across the country.
The stakeholders, drawn from the media, government, civil society, military and security institutions, the academia, among others, agreed that for Nigeria to achieve sustainable peace, economic growth and democratic stability, while reinforcing confidence and national cohesion, all tiers and arms of government, including the military and security agencies must uphold and respect the sanctity of the press and media practitioners.
They spoke while dissecting the lead presentation by Associate Professor of Mass Communication at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Gabriel Okon, titled: “Freedom, The State And The Press: Emerging Parameters For Enhanced Professionalism, Security And Wellbeing Of The Citizenry”, during the 2016 World Press Freedom Day celebration organised by the Rivers State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Port Harcourt.
Okon had highlighted the enormous powers of the press in consolidating democracy, enhancing peace and security as well as facilitating sustainable development, arguing that the press was the only profession recognised by the 1999 Constitution, which in Section 22, empowers “… the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media to, at all times, uphold the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy … and the responsibility and accountability of government to the people.”
Juxtaposing Section 39 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution and the First Amendment to the United States’ Constitution, Okon said: “freedom of the press is the enabling environment a society grants to the press, through statutes, to carry out its cardinal responsibilities”, and added that for the harmonious interplay of social stability, sustainable democracy and economic development, the symbiotic interface between the press, security agencies, governments and the citizenry, must be perpetuated and sustained.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Niger Delta

Eno Sacks Commissioner For Special Duties

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Akwa Ibom State Governor, Umo Eno has relieved the Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr Bassey Okon, of his appointment with immediate effect.
Secretary to the State Government, Mr Enobong Uwah, disclosed this in a statement in Uyo on Monday.
Uwah, who did not give reasons for the commissioner’s sack, directed him to hand over all state government properties in his possession to the Permanent Secretary.
He thanked the former commissioner for the period he served the state, and wished him well in his future endeavours.

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Niger Delta

Check Oil Pollution In N’Delta, Stakeholders Urge Oil Firms

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Stakeholders in host communities have demanded that oil companies be compelled to address adverse health impact of oil exploration in the Niger-Delta.
They made their position known on Monday during a public presentation of the research report on the impact of oil extraction on women’s health in Otuabagi community in Bayelsa.
The Tide’s source reports that Dr Emem Okon, Director, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, an NGO, championed the event.
The source also reports that Otuabagi Community within the Oloibiri District in present Ogbia Local Government Area is where crude oil was discovered in commercial quantity in Nigeria in 1956.
Okon said the report highlighted the adverse consequences of oil extraction which had profound negative impact on health and livelihood of women in Otuabagi community.
She said research revealed that several of the participants had hydrocarbons in their blood sample more than World Health Organisation (WHO) threshold and therefore demanded for compensation from oil companies and government.
“There is, therefore, a need to demand for compensation and restoration of polluted sites as well as health actions to keep us alive and to resist death, poverty and injustice”, she said.
She stated that the findings and data would serve as a tool for policy makers, community leaders and all those who strove for a more equitable and sustainable future.
Meanwhile, Dr Bieye Briggs, a public health physician and head of the research team, said from the findings of the report, it was revealed that there was very high and unacceptable level of exposure of the people to hydrocarbons.
Briggs advocated for the Federal Government to carry out health audit in Otuabagi community and other oil producing areas in the Niger-Delta region.
He explained that such audit was with a view to instituting intervention program to halt and reverse the impact of oil exploration.
Similarly, Chief Daniel Amangi, the traditional ruler of Otuabagi community, commended Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre for undertaking the project and urged the Federal Government to focus on developing the community.
Amangi also called for the immediate implementation of the recommendations of the research findings for the overall benefit of the people.
In the same vein, Alagoa Morris, a stakeholder, lamented that life expectancy was lower in the Niger-Delta region than in other parts of the country due to the hazards caused by oil exploration.
He called for compensation to be paid to host communities to ameliorate the health impact of oil extraction in the region.
The ceremony also featured a drama presentation by Otuabagi women and panel discussion on the findings of the report.

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Niger Delta

Court Orders AAU Graduate’s Car, iPhone’s Forfeiture To FG

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A Benin High Court on Monday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to sell a Toyota Venza 2012 model, recovered from a graduate of Biochemistry from Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Osadolor Edomwonyi.
The EFCC charged Edomwonyi with internet fraud.
Delivering judgment, Justice Efe Ikponmwonba, sentenced Edomwonyi to three years imprisonment.
The judge also ordered the forfeiture of an iPhone 13 Promax, recovered from the convict .
He also ordered that balances in his Opay account, Kids Bank account and Access Bank with which he was charged and convicted to the Federal Government through EFCC and the accounts be parmanently closed.
The convict prayed the court for a plea bargain agreement.
Ikponmwonba, however, gave him an option of fine in the sum of N100,000.
Earlier, the EFCC counsel, Mr I K Agwaisaid, said the convict committed an offence contrary to the provisions of Sections 6 and 8 (b) of the advance free fraud and other fraud-related offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.
The prosecutor said in a plea bargain agreement, Edomwonyi pleaded guilty to the one-count charge of possession of fraudulent documents.

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