The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has identified the unfortunate tendency of citizens to tolerate and accommodate people of questionable characters around them as one of the major problems promoting criminality in the state.
Wike, who stated this while declaring open the 2016 Triennial State Delegates’ Conference of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said the people have contributed to the promotion of an environment characterised by crime and criminality.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Kenneth Kobani, the governor was worried that some citizens of the state were in the habit of harbouring criminals, thereby exacerbating the security situation of the state.
The governor further emphasised that his administration has zero-tolerance for criminality, adding that all vices would be forced to give way and be replaced with attitudes that enhance peace and development.
Wike also reiterated that despite the dwindling economy of the state and the N3.5billion state allocation from the federation account, the government will continue to ensure that workers’ salaries and pensioners allowances are paid, adding that his administration was working hard to eliminate the scourge of ghost workers and multiple salary payments.
He urged workers to bear with his administration as the biometric exercise would help boost the state’s financial base.
The governor commended the outgoing TUC Chairman, Comrade Chika Onuegbu for his pragmatic approach in handling labour issues, and urged the new leadership to emulate the legacies of past leaders in ensuring peace and industrial harmony in the state.
In his remarks, the outgoing TUC Chairman, Comrade Chika Onuegbu, stated that the union has grown from a relatively unknown state council in 2009 to a vibrant and resilient brand capable of enhancing labour rights and welfare in the state in particular and the nation at large.
He said that the conference, with the theme: “Democracy, Human Development and Social Inclusion In Nigeria,” aims to galvanise the labour movement in the state for greater productivity.
Onuegbu said, “I am convinced, however, that we will continue to maintain that position against all odds, if we allow God to continue to lead us,” and promised TUC’s readiness to work with government to ensure industrial peace and harmony in the state.
In his address, President of the TUC, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, said the theme was apt and strongly appeals to labour movement in view of cogent and urgent need for our country to embrace and practise true democracy, pursue people-centred development and social structure that guarantees the empowerment of our people to actualise their greatest potentials for optimal collective advancement.
Kaigama stated that the Comrade Chika Onuegbu-led administration made it top priority to promote workers’ welfare and maintain a functional secretariat with sound administrative and organisational competence.
Highlights of the event was the TUC Rivers State election which produced, the Chairman as Comrade Austin Jonah, Vice Chairman in person of Comrade Chris Mbata, Secretary as Comrade Chima Charles Igwe, Assist Secretary as Comrade Dinipre Agbozu, Treasurer as Comrade Beatrice Fombu, and the State Woman Leader, Comrade Abigail Adeku.
In his goodwill message, the Elder Statesman, Comrade Milten Dabibi called on the state labour movement not to mix up union issues with politics, but should always fight to ensure that staff salaries are paid in order to reduce corruption.
He added that dedication must be given first to your Union as our priority is to protect the job, economy and company we are working for.
Also, in her good will message, the Nigeria Labour Congress Leader in Rivers State, Mrs Beatrice Itubo reiterated the robust working relationship between TUC and NLC, noting that election was not a do or die affair, and as such, urged fellow comrades to take the outcome of the election in good fate.
RSHA: Amaewhule-Led Lawmakers Defy Court Order, Elect New Leaders
The crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly took a new twist on Wednesday as lawmakers loyal to the former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, sat under tight security in the complex.
This is contrary to the court order asking the two factions of the State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit filed by the Edison Ehie faction.
Recall that Ehie faction had obtained a court order that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit seeking to sack Amaewhule as the House Speaker.
The Rivers Assembly had become factionalised following an unsuccessful move to impeach Governor Siminialayi Fubara.
The Amaewhule-led lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and political godfather, Nyesom Wike.
It was learnt that ahead of Wednesday’s sitting, cleaners had on Tuesday been deployed to clean up the Assembly complex, which had been under locks, since October 29, following an explosion in the complex the night before.
One of the cleaners said they were instructed to tidy up the complex ahead of a sitting on Wednesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday sitting was held for about two hours as a team of riot policemen and security vans were stationed in front of the House to prevent any breaches.
It was gathered that the lawmakers elected a former Chief Whip as the new Majority Leader of the Assembly.
The member, representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 1, Frankline Nwabochi, was named the new Chief Whip.
An unsigned statement sent to the Assembly Press Corps obtained by The Tide said the two new principal officers accordingly took their oath of office.
Amaewhule congratulated them, charging them to be committed to their new responsibilities.
According to the statement, the lawmakers also passed the first reading of a Bill seeking to amend the Rivers State Local Government Law, No. 5 of 2018.
They also debated on the Rivers State House of Assembly Funds Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023, which passed second reading on Wednesday.
Amaewhule who described the Bill as important, expressed his conviction that Governor Fubara would assent to it after the lawmakers finally pass it.
He hinted that the governor had withheld funds meant for the Assembly for the month of November.
He said the lawmakers were determined to perform their constitutional duties despite the distractions.
He thereafter referred the Bill to the House Committee on Public Accounts for public hearing and further legislative scrutiny.
The other faction of the Assembly led by Ehie, and loyal to Fubara, had yet to react to the Wednesday development as of the time of filing this report.
Ogoni Group Mulls Recall Of Lawmakers Over Foiled Fubara’s Impeachment
An Advocacy group in Rivers State, Ogoni Development Drive (ODD), says it has begun the process to recall four Ogoni lawmakers from the Rivers House of Assembly over their alleged roles in the botched impeachment of Governor Similanayi Fubara.
The lawmakers are Dumle Maol (PDP, Gokana constituency), Barile Nwakoh (PDP, Khana), Aforji Igwe (PDP, Eleme) and Bernard Ngba (PDP, Tai).
The group’s Convener, Comrade Solomon Lenu, made this known at a news conference in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Recall that Fubara survived an alleged impeachment plot on October 30.
ODD said it had on November 10 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the four Ogoni lawmakers who partook in the plot that attempted to serve an impeachment notice to Governor Fubara.
The four lawmakers, now suspended, were asked to apologise to the Ogoni people whom they represent and to Gov. Fubara for denigrating his exalted office or risk being recalled.
“Instead of heeding this advice and embracing the olive branch extended to them, they rather embarked on an egocentric escapade,” the group said.
Lenu further said the lawmakers rather than heed to the advice by ODD, engaged in various meetings that purportedly plotted to unseat the governor.
“Governor Fubara was collectively voted for by the entire Rivers people, and as such, the action by the lawmakers has not gone well with all men and women of conscience.
“It is illogical for the erring assembly members to think it is right to impeach an innocent governor for no just cause but wrong to recall them for erring against their constituents.
“The suspended lawmakers called a bluff of ODD ultimatum, and so, we have decided to carry out this recall process in earnest, to put our democracy aright,” he said.
Lenu said the group had already reached an advanced level in sensitising and mobilising the lawmaker’s constituents to recall them.
He said that ODD had also obtained the comprehensive voters’ register of all voters in the four local government areas and constituencies.
According to him, an electronic capture form has also been created to make the petition process easier for students at various tertiary school campuses and those on holiday to sign the petition.
“So far, the response from the aggrieved constituents has been very impressive, and we shall in a few weeks’ time complete the compilation of the required signatures.
“The signatures are required for INEC to call for a referendum, which shall be carried out in branches with strict security guidance, to abort any sinister counterplot against democracy.
“We know this process is not going to be easy, but we are ready to go all the way, to create a sense of responsibility in our elected leaders,” he said.
Lenu said instilling a sense of responsibility in politicians and elected leaders would further entrench democratic tenets in the country.
The ODD convener called on the people of Ogoni to come forward and sign the petition, to end political “jamboree and illicit godfatherism” in the state.
The Tide reports that 26 lawmakers on Oct. 30 proceeded to impeach Fubara but were stopped by four pro-Fubara lawmakers led by Ehie Edison (PDP-Ahoada East II).
Mr Martins Amaewhule (Obio Akpor constituency), a close ally of a former governor, was later ousted as Speaker and Ehie sworn in as the new Speaker.
However, Amaewhule insists that he is still the Speaker of the House of Assembly, resulting in some form of confusion over the office of the Speaker.
FRSC Commander Faces Sanction Over Unauthorised Comments
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), yesterday, disowned the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, over his recent statement on Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services.
Ibrahim was quoted to have said that VIO officials did not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
But Deputy Corps Marshal, Bisi Kazeem, in a statement, yesterday, said Ibrahim’s comment was not the position of the Corps.
Kazeem added that the concerned official had been recalled to the national headquarters for necessary disciplinary action.
The statement read, “The Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to make a pertinent clarification regarding the pronouncement by the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, that Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services, do not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
“The general public is advised to disregard the statement as it had no approval of the Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali Biu, and does not in anyway reflect the corporate or general position of the Corps.
“It is important for the public know that the laws establishing VIOs/State Traffic Management Agencies give them the statutory mandate to make arrests on different offences depending on the state within which they operate. As such, the agencies should be given the maximum cooperation for the enhancement of safety on our roads.
“On this note and in line with sustaining the Corps’ resolve that road safety is a collective responsibility, and in acknowledgement of the roles the State Traffic Management Agencies like the Vehicle Inspection Officers play in complementing the statutory responsibilities of the FRSC through enforcement of traffic laws, the Corps Marshal has ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Unit Commander to the national headquarters for necessary administrative and disciplinary actions.
“The public is admonished to always comply with all established traffic regulations and cooperate with security agencies deployed to maintain law and order on the highways, irrespective of their corporate mandate.”
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