The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has called on the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to join hands with him to develop the state.
In a state broadcast in Government House, Port Harcourt, to mark the landmark Supreme Court Judgement striking out the appeals by Rivers APC, yesterday, Wike said that Rivers State stands to benefit more if all leaders are united.
He said, “Although the present politics of acrimony and bitterness may have strayed from the noble path of the past, I still believe that we shall be of better standing and working together for our state and our people.
“I, therefore, appeal to the APC and the Minister of Transportation to join hands with us to move our dear state forward. We cannot as leaders continue to remain divided and expect government to deliver on its responsibilities to our people. Let us from henceforth seek the common ground instead of allowing our differences to be exploited to retard our march to progress.
“I appeal to our people to eschew all acts of acrimony, criminality, unrest and violence throughout the state. I wish to recommit myself to continue to do all that is humanly possible to ensure the unity and peaceful co-existence of all our people irrespective of political affiliation”.
He directed the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to review all pending criminal cases linked to politics before the 2019 elections and make necessary recommendations to promote reconciliation.
He said, “I hereby direct the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to review all pending criminal proceedings filed against any person by the state and directly related to political activities prior to the 2019 general election, and make appropriate recommendations to me for necessary action to promote reconciliation among us”.
Wike pledged to run an inclusive government aimed at promoting the development of the state.
He said, “Today, I recommit myself to be the governor for all the people of Rivers State for the next four years. Accordingly, we shall form an all-inclusive government to advance the collective interest of all our people, irrespective of party, ethnic or religious affiliations.
“We have come a long way in the last four years, and accomplished a lot to be proud of. But there’s still a lot more to do to advance and realise the ultimate vision of our founding fathers for a truly united, secure, and prosperous state and we need the support of all our people to realise this bold vision.
“We salute the opposition for their courage to fight within the confines of the law to the end. Now that the legal battle is over, the task of building the state must take precedence over all other considerations”.
Wike expressed gratitude to God for the Supreme Court judgment, and assured Rivers people that with the judgement all legal tussles have come to a close with the people having nothing to fear.
He said, “Few hours ago, the Supreme Court of Nigeria struck out the consolidated appeals of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Tonye Cole for lacking in merits.
“With this decision, all legal issues regarding the fielding of candidates by the APC for the 2019 National Assembly, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in Rivers State have finally and permanently been put to rest. What this further means is that the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidates in the 2019 National Assembly, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections is legally safe, secured and protected.
“I wish to assure you that there is nothing else to fear or be worried about, as there is nothing more the APC or any other person can do to deny us the victory you freely gave to the PDP and its candidates”.
He added, “Let me also express my deepest gratitude to the people of Rivers State for the opportunity to serve you as your governor for another four years. I am truly humbled by your continued trust and, I will not take this support for granted.
“For me, the collective interest of the people of Rivers State is the reason I am in politics. When you gave me the mandate about four years ago, I committed myself to be the governor for all the people of Rivers State and stayed through to that commitment”.
Earlier yesterday, the Supreme Court had struck out three appeals filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC), Architect Tonye Patrick Cole and members of his faction of the party, against the judgment that excluded the APC from fielding candidates in the last elections in Rivers State.
A seven-man panel of the apex court, led by Justice Tanko Ibrahim Muhammad, held that the three appeals were defective, incompetent and could not be heard by the court.
The appeals are: SC/295/ 2019 filed by APC, with People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) listed among respondents; SC/266/2019 filed by APC, with Senator Magnus Abe and others as respondents and SC/267/2019 filed by Tonye Patrick Cole, with Senator Magnus Abe and others as respondents.
Muhammad, in the first ruling delivered on SC/295/2019, upheld that argument by PDP’s lawyer, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), to the effect that the notice of appeal filed by the APC was defective.
The judge noted that rather than heading a portion of the notice of appeals “Reliefs sought from the Supreme Court,” it was wrongly headed “Reliefs sought from the Court of Appeal.”
He said the implication of that error was that the appellant did not seek any relief from the Supreme Court, and thereby contravened the court’s rules, a development that rendered the appeal incompetent.
The same errors were noticed in the other two appeals, which made the appellants’ lawyers, Jibrin Okutepa (SAN) and Tuduru Ede to withdraw both appeals, following which the court struck them out.
The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, in a lead judgment, sustained the preliminary objection by PDP Counsel, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN).
The acting CJN said that, “The Preliminary Objection is meritorious, accordingly the appeal, is incompetent and is hereby dismissed”.
It would be recalled that Counsel to the PDP, Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, had urged the court to strike out the appeal or dismiss it in its entirety as the reliefs sought by the APC could only be granted at the Court of Appeal and not the Supreme Court.
Okala argued that the appeal by APC was filed outside of the time provided by law, maintaining that the Supreme Court takes seriously its rules on filing of notice of appeal, saying that the non-compliance to those rules renders the process incompetent.
Earlier, Counsel to the APC, J.S. Okutepa (SAN), had urged the Supreme Court to overrule its decision on earlier judgement delivered in the consolidated appeals, which held that the appeal before it was a pre-election matter.
He argued that the Supreme Court could set aside its decision, if it was taken contrary to constitutional provision.
Counsel to INEC, Don Umalor, who did not file any brief, said that INEC would like to remain neutral and non-partisan in the matter before the court, submitting that the commission would want the apex court to decision based on what was available to the court.
The Tide recalls that the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had on January 7, nullified the direct and indirect primaries conducted by the two factions of the APC in the state.
Justice Kolawole Omotosho, who presided over the case, also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from presenting Tonye Cole and Magnus Abe as governorship candidates in the 2019 General Election.
Following the court order, INEC excluded the APC from the ballot.
The elections have been concluded with Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike duly re-elected.
Meanwhile, the factional leader of Rivers State APC, Senator Magnus Abe has stated that he was not surprised that the Supreme Court struck out his motion seeking to validate direct primaries held by his faction because the apex court had written him a letter before the election, explaining that it would hear the pre-election matter after the conclusion of 2019 elections.
Speaking during a Channels Television Programme, last Tuesday night, Abe said that the Supreme Court had premised its decision to hear the pre-election matter after the 2019 elections on a petition written by the Chibuike Amaechi-led faction of the Rivers State APC, which challenged the integrity of the panel hearing the matter at the time.
He said that the Supreme Court’s letter, which implied a judgment, said a new panel would be constituted after the elections had been concluded.
Abe said as a senior lawyer, he understood the implication of adjourning a pre-election matter to after the elections.
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court had repeatedly declared the primaries and congresses of Rivers State APC null and void on the premise of the judgment of Justice Chinwendu Nwogu.
It was on the premise of that judicial pronouncement by the apex court that the Independent National Electoral Commission removed APC from the ballot for 2019 General Election in Rivers State.
The APC accepted its fate and declared an alliance with the African Action Congress (AAC) during the elections.
Abe said, “Because of the delay in hearing the matter, the Supreme Court actually wrote a letter to us, a week before the election to say that the matter could not be heard because the other Rivers State APC faction had written a petition against the judges.
“Therefore, the Supreme Court had decided that the matter could only be heard after the elections, when a new panel had been constituted.
“For me, as a lawyer, I read that to mean a judgment of the court as far as the issue was concerned. This was clearly a pre-election matter. The effectiveness of the pronouncement would have affected the party going into the election when the court wrote that letter; I saw it as a decision on itself.
“When the suit was struck out, it didn’t come to me as a surprise. As far as we were concerned, the decision to strike out the suit was taken when a decision was taken not to hear the suit before the election”, Abe said.
Abe noted that the failure of Rivers APC to respect existing order of court at the time led to her misfortune during the 2019 elections.
The senator said, “I think that people have to have some basic understanding of what actually happened. As you will recollect, the NWC of APC had asked that the state should make a determination as to the kind of primaries they would use, whether direct or indirect.
“As there was an existing court order that nullified the new state executive for the party – so, the existing executive made a request for direct primaries to avoid the existing complications that were already evident at that time. That is the end of the road, legally nowhere else for us to go.
“It is really unfortunate; everybody in Rivers State knew that the APC crisis will only benefit Wike. Anybody who pretends that he did not know that the situation we had will benefit our opponent, is not being truthful.
“The beginning of this crisis was when members of our party bought forms from the party to participate in our congresses, and a decision was taken that they are no longer members of the party, that wasn’t what the Constitution of the party says”, he clarified.
Abe noted that no leader of Rivers APC can solely determine the fate of the party.
“This whole issue has been about trying to prove that certain people are irrelevant and certain people don’t matter; that some people are the party, and they can do without others. I want to say clearly that they cannot.
“The whole idea of only one person trying to deliver the APC in Rivers State without the participation of others and inclusion of others in the party is a mirage, and it will not work.
“We are not baby politicians, we knew after the 2015 elections, that there will be elections in 2019, and we had the same time as other political parties to put our house in order to take over Rivers State. But because of the attitude and the imperial nature of certain persons trying to prove that some people are irrelevant, we found ourselves where we are”, he said.
Speaking on the same programme, Counsel to Senator Magnus Abe, Barrister Henry Bello, said they were in court to urge the apex court to pronounce that the direct primaries were valid because the Supreme Court had already invalidated the indirect primaries conducted by the Amaechi faction.
Bello said, “We wanted the direct primary elections conducted in Rivers State which was not tainted by disobedience of valid and subsisting orders of court to be recognized by the Supreme Court in Umar v APC reported in 2018”.
Ateke’s Reign As King Has Brought Peace To Okrika, Wike Confirms
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has said that the recognition of King Ateke Michael Tom as the Amanyanabo of ancient Okochiri Kingdom by the Rivers State Government has brought peace, stability and security to Okochiri and entire Okrika communities.
The governor acknowledged that without the support of traditional rulers, it would be difficult for any government at whatever level to achieve peace.
Wike stated this after he was conferred with the traditional title, “Se Taribo 1st of Okochiri Kingdom (a man who has love for his people),” at Okochiri in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, last Saturday.
The governor said: “The recognition of Ateke Tom by government as the Amanyanabo of Okochiri has brought peace in this domain, and the people are happy with his leadership. And that is why, today, you can see that there is peace that reigns within the environment of Okochiri, and to greater extent, the entire Okrika Local Government.”
The governor noted that when a person is saddled with the responsibility of presiding over the affairs of the people, once his administration is predicated on justice, fairness and equity, it would yield peace and happiness for those governed.
“It is one thing to be traditional ruler, it is another thing to live up to the expectation of a traditional ruler. You have kept your kingdom as one, you have kept your kingdom in peace, you have kept your kingdom united, and that is what is expected of a traditional ruler.
“You’re not just a traditional ruler to confer chieftaincy title on us; you’re also a traditional ruler to help government to maintain peace in your domain; because without the traditional rulers, it will be difficult for any government at whatever level to achieve anything.
“Governance without peace, governance without security is no governance. Governance is predicated on protection of lives and property.”
Wike noted that the massive turn out of people from all walks of life to grace the fourth anniversary of the coronation of King Ateke Michael Tom as the Amanyanabo of Okochiri, and dedication of his new palace, was a demonstration of their appreciation of his leadership.
“Ateke Tom has brought peace. Don’t see him as Ateke Tom that fought for the Niger Delta, see him as Ateke Tom, the traditional ruler, the Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, whose traditional duty is to make sure peace reigns in his domain”, Wike told the people.
Wike, who commended the king for being supportive of the Government of Rivers State, promised to complete all ongoing infrastructural projects started by his administration in Okochiri and the entire Okrika Local Government Area.
The governor urged the people of Okrika and the rest of the country to rally round, and collectively ensure that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was ousted from power in 2023.
“It’s only God that is holding us today. Things are very difficult day by day. The government at the national level has failed us, and therefore, it’s time for Nigerians to rally round to make sure we have a government that will take care of our people.”
In his remarks, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo said the recognition of the ancient Okochiri Kingdom stool by the governor has brought peace, joy and development to the entire Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Subsidy Removal’ll Worsen Nigerians’ Suffering, PFN Tells FG
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has told the Federal Government that removing fuel subsidy would worsen the suffering of the majority of Nigerians who are already impoverished.
The President of PFN, Bishop Wale Oke, urged the government to shelve the proposed policy in order not to worsen the hardship and trigger crisis in the country.
Oke said this in a statement, yesterday, on the proposed subsidy removal.
He explained that the implementation of the policy would lead to hike in the price of fuel and this would have a ripple effect on prices of goods and services
Oke warned that the implementation of such policy would increase the hardship currently being experienced by the people of the country.
The cleric said prices of foodstuffs and other daily needs were increasingly going out of reach of the people, noting that if the proposed subsidy removal was effected, it would exacerbate the hardship of the people of the nation.
Oke further said the situation in the country was very bad because of the steady decline in the purchasing power of Nigerians as a result of the continuous fall in the value of the nation’s currency.
The statement read, “Everybody will feel it, particularly the less privileged. The negative effects will surely outweigh the positive.
“The cost of transportation for human and goods across the country will skyrocket and other things connected which will have a spiral effect on general living standard of the populace; the suffering will be multi-dimensional. Please let all stakeholders be sensitive to this avoidable path and do the needful.
“By whatever means, let the Federal Government put its heart into ensuring that our refineries are back to life. In addition, in order to stem the rising cost of living, farmers and others connected to them should be encouraged. This is what can help our economy.”
He said the PFN would always support policies that would enhance good governance, but charged the government to this effect to put in place tangible palliative measures that could ameliorate the hardship being experienced.
He said, “Without begging the issue, there should be well defined palliative measures in place that can cushion the effect of the hardship being experienced by Nigerians, especially the commoners. One is not talking about political palliatives that never last. We have seen enough of such.
“An increase in the price of petroleum from its present N165 to N340 per litre can trigger tension and crises in the country which in turn can paralyse our economy if not handled with utmost care.
“Again, the planned introduction of N5,000 for 40million poor Nigerians is to create a cesspool of corruption. How do you define the poor? They, mostly, don’t use telephones. They, mostly, don’t have bank accounts. How will the money get to them?”
Oke advised the government to be wary of policies that could jeopardize the conduct of the 2023 general elections, insisting that all hands must be geared towards steering the wheel of the country to safety.
As a panacea to the rising cost of food items, the PFN President advised that farmers and relevant stakeholders should be empowered with relevant tools and funds through loans with little interest.
Oke, who is also the presiding Bishop of The Sword of the Spirit Ministries, implored the government not to relent in its efforts at ensuring that security challenges in the country become a thing of the past.
Similarly, the Leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Primate Elijah Ayodele has warned President Muhammadu Buhari against the proposed fuel subsidy removal.
In a statement released by his media aide, Osho Oluwatosin, Ayodele warned the government to withhold plans to remove fuel subsidy in the interest of the poor masses because a lot of things would be affected by it.
He made it known that the Nigerian economy isn’t in good shape at the moment and removing subsidy at a critical economic situation would cause more damage than good for the Nigerian economy.
He noted that some banks, companies would be affected and that the debt profile of the country would keep on increasing unless the government swings into action.
Furthermore, he warned Buhari not to be carried away by wrong advice because it would lead his government to nowhere.
‘’The removal of fuel subsidies at a time like this is not advisable because the economy of Nigeria isn’t in good shape. Already, the people are faced with enough hardship and removal of fuel subsidy will only worsen the situation.
‘’When the report came up last week that the government will be replacing subsidy with N5,000 transportation grant for 40million poor Nigerians, I smiled because that plan is not sustainable, there is no provision for it in the 2022 budget, then what’s the plan?
‘’I have said it before that I foresee a massive protest against hunger which will involve everyone in the country, the government doesn’t have to wait till this happens, that’s why I warned them ahead, but the path they are toiling right now is moving towards the direction of the protest. They have gotten it wrong and a time will come when political leaders will regret their positions because there will be attacks against them from everywhere by those who elected them.
‘’I advise the Federal Government to hold on with the plans to remove subsidy for the sake of the masses and for peace to reign in the country. If not, there will be an uprising,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of the Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma has asked the Federal Government to jettison the idea of paying N5,000 palliative to 40million Nigerians.
The government said the decision was to cushion the effect of the planned removal of fuel subsidy.
But Chukwuma, who rejected the removal of subsidy, described the proposed N5,000 palliative “as a huge disgrace.”
He said this during a press conference on the activities lined up for the 50th Anniversary of the Enugu Diocese, Anglican Communion.
While noting that the Enugu Diocese was concerned about the level of governance of Nigeria, he added that “we are also concerned about peace and the unity of Nigeria, as well as infrastructural development.”
He called on the government “to be sensitive about the situation of Nigeria; we frown against the killings, the banditry, the kidnappings, inequality, injustice and all the evils.
“Of late, we can see how ‘Mkpuru Mmiri’ is destroying our youths, it is highly condemnable. We are calling on our youths to please avoid this so that they don’t get their heads out of order. This is not how they will become future leaders.
“Right now, I want to say that the government of Nigeria has not treated the South-East fairly; particularly now that we are getting into the yuletide, Enugu-Onitsha Expressway is a total disaster, Enugu-Port Harcourt they are putting it to use but it is not yet complete.
“We are calling on the minister of works to stop playing pranks and politics with the roads in the South-East. Rail transport should also be extended to the South-East; we see no reason the minister of transport should neglect his own zone.
“It is important for our government to know that most youths are angry; they are angry because they are hungry. I just heard about giving N5,000 to 50million Nigerians, it is a disgrace. It will not bring any positives on our people. We are also frowning at galloping inflation.
“Our naira is becoming useless and something must be done about it. E-naira or whatever is not the solution at all.”
He also called on the residents of South-East not to toy with the on-going voter’s registration exercise, stressing that “these things count; South-East should stop shortchanging themselves; that’s the only way they will have a say in 2023.”
On the church’s anniversary, Chukwuma disclosed that, “It became a Diocese in August, 1970; exactly last year August, Enugu became 50 years of its inauguration with the first Bishop, Rt. Rev. Gideon Nweke Otubelu. By the grace of God, he championed the course of Enugu Diocese for 27 years.
“Last year, when it became 50 years of Enugu’s inauguration as a Diocese, we could not celebrate because of COVID; we had to shift it to this year.
“Right now, we have mapped out a one-week anniversary programme to celebrate the 50 years of Enugu Diocese. We started with a crusade which is going to last till Sunday and we have decided that from last week of this month, we will have activities from church to church, and rally, and then end it up with thanksgiving service on the 5th of December at the Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd.
“More importantly, the two days out of it all are the 4th and the 5th of December. On the 4th, we shall be having a rally at the Christ Church field, where all the churches will assemble to have a rally for the 50th anniversary and they are going to march, church by church, archdeaconry by archdeaconry and so on.
“There, we will also have a dedication anniversary of the diagnostic centre of our hospital at the Good Shepherd Specialist Hospital, Uwani, Zik Avenue. The diagnostic centre is necessary to complement the hospital because we believe in health care, we believe in mission; on that same 12th, we are also going to dedicate a building built by the women at the Brethren Home Convent.
“Then on the 5th of December, which is Sunday, will be thanksgiving day, during which all the churches in the diocese and the dioceses created out of Enugu, 11 of them will also participate. Enugu has given birth to 11 Dioceses, with Enugu making it 12, forming what is now the ecclesiastical province of Enugu, for which I’m the Archbishop. We have the Nsukka Diocese, Abakaliki, Oji-River, Enugu North, Awgu-Aninri, Nike, Mgbo, Afikpo, Udi and Eha-Amufu Dioceses.
“Enugu Diocese is out to execute pragmatic evangelism; Enugu Diocese is out to make sure that we care for the poor, the less privileged, the widows, orphans and those who are displaced.”
Qatar Airways Begins Flights To PH, Enugu, Kano Airports
Qatar Airways has concluded plans to resume flying to Port Harcourt, Enugu, and Kano airports following bouts of bilateral trade agreements between Nigeria and the Qatari government.
The two governments are also considering a partnership that would lead to the development of gas in both countries.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb Gabriel Aduda, said collaboration in the areas of air travel and gas development between Nigeria and Qatar would enhance economic growth and development.
A statement by the Embassy of Nigeria in Doha, Qatar, quoted Aduda as saying this when he met with the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, Dr. Ahmed bin Hassan Al Hammadi, in Doha.
The envoys appreciated the cordial bilateral relations both countries enjoy since the establishment of diplomatic relations about a decade ago in 2013.
They agreed that the good service being offered by the Qatar Airways by launching direct flight to Abuja will be expanded to Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt while acknowledging the contributions of the State of Qatar to the improvement of livelihood of many Nigerians in some states of the country through Qatar Charity and similar organisations.
Aduda was accompanied to the meeting by the Nigerian Ambassador to the State of Qatar, Yakubu Ahmed, and the Head of Chancery, Mr. Kimiebi Ebienfa.
According to the statement, the Federal Government was currently deepening natural gas utilisation to enable it to boost investment in power and gas-based industries.
Aduda called for investment in gas exploration and infrastructure, technology exchange, skills acquisition and knowledge sharing, manpower development in safety and environment.
He also listed other areas of potential partnership to include gas shipping and marine transportation, advocacy and collaboration in campaigning for gas as fuel of choice in the midst of climate change and global energy transition.
As a result, Aduda called for relaxation of visa restrictions on Nigerians who intend to visit Qatar as well as easing of work visa for Nigerian professionals.
In his response, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, Dr. Ahmed bin Hassan Al Hammadi, recalled the robust relations between Nigeria and Qatar, and lauded the proposal for cooperation between the two countries.
According to him, Qatar was ready to provide training for Nigerian diplomats.
To achieve this, he said the Head of the Diplomatic Institute would meet with the Nigerian side and agree on the terms and develop a framework to actualise set objectives.
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