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Rivers Community Demands N2.5bn Compensation, Shuts Total E&P Gas Plant

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People of Obite community in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State have shut down a gas plant operated by Total Exploration and Producing Nigeria Limited over alleged neglect.
The protesters, drawn from the five villages of Obite community, accused the firm of refusing to adhere to a Supreme Court judgement that mandated them to pay compensation to the community for the land they acquired for their operations.
The residents, yesterday, took over the entrance into the Obite Gas Plant acquired by Total E&P from Elf, vowing that they would vacate the area only when the firm begins discussions with them on how their N2.5billion accrued bills would be cleared.
Speaking, during the protest, one of the plaintiffs in the suit that produced the Supreme Court’s decision, Mr. Daniel Uma, said that the firm (Total E and P) has operated in the area with total neglect of the owners of the land.
Uma stated that Elf acquired the area and refused to pay compensation to the community, adding that the community instituted a legal action for redress and got justice.
He said: “What you are seeing here today is as a result of total negligence from Total E and P. This thing started 22 years ago. Some of the people that started this matter have died.
“We started this matter when Elf came to acquire this land, 28.8 hectares of land. When this started, we told them to pay us compensation for our land, but the Land and Claim Manager of the company said the Land Use Act does not allow multinationals to pay for land acquisition.
“The communities went to court. In 2005, we got judgement in our favour in a court in Ilorin, Kwara State. They went to court and in 2006 the Appeal Court also ruled in our favour. They proceeded to the Supreme Court. On the 19th of January, 2018, the court also ruled in our favour”, he said.
Uma noted that every time the community begins process to get their compensation that the company would use the military to disperse them, stating that the firm forcefully added 98.4 hectares of land to the earlier acquired space with payment as well.
He said: “We sent the judgement to France and we copied them here to come for negotiation. Meanwhile, while the matter was in court, they came and acquired 98.4 hectares of land adding to the earlier 28.8. Till now they have ignored us. Anytime we come to seek the implementation of the judgement, they will use security men to intimidate us.
“We are here to tell the whole world what is happening to us here. They should come and pay us our land compensation. We are not interested in blocking this gate every time. So, we are going to remain here until we have settled the whole issues”, Uma insisted
He stated that the community won the case at the three levels of courts, expressing concerns why Total has refused to pay the sum awarded to the community by the court at all attempts.
He said: “What the Supreme Court gave in their judgement is that the company should compensate us against their own claims. The court that time awarded N25million for the 28.8 hectares. But, today, we are demanding N2.5billion. If they do not come for negotiation we are not leaving here.
“Another aspect of it is that we do not have running MoU with the company and we pleaded it on court. Implementation of bill of command from the community and youth employment.”
However, one of the top officials of Total, Sense Murray, in a swift reaction, said the company has cordial relationship with their host communities.
Murray added that the company would not join issues with their host, adding that they would send further position of the company to the media.
He said: “We are doing a reaction on the issue. But, we are a responsible organisation. We have cordial relationship with our host communities and we will not join issues with them”.

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Fund Police Recruitment, Training Adequately, Reps Tell FG … Plan To Probe Face-Off Between PSC, IGP

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The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government to make provision for the adequate funding of recruitment and training of police personnel in the country.
The lawmakers also resolved to investigate the standoff between the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, over the 2024 police recruitment.
The lawmakers’ resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion on urgent public importance moved by the member representing Ogbia Federal Constituency, Bayelsa State, Hon. Mitema Obordor, during yesterday’s plenary.
The House called on the Federal Government to provide adequate funding and resources necessary to support the recruitment and training of police officers.
The House also impressed on the Federal Government to increase the number of police personnel to be recruited and in doing so, ensure that the federal character provisions as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution are strictly adhered to.
This is as the Green chamber urged its Committee on Police to investigate the cause of the lingering dispute between the PSC and the IG with the aim of resolving the dispute, and proceed with the recruitment process without further delay.
Titled, “Urgent need to investigate and settle the lingering police recruitment dispute halting the 2023/2024 police recruitment exercise,” Hon. Obordor stated that in view of the population of Nigeria and the security situation in the country, the ideal police-to-citizen ratio in Nigeria ought to be one police officer to 200 citizens.
He lamented, however, that “The country currently has a ratio of one police officer to 650 citizens, indicating a significant shortfall in the Nigerian police strength, and far below the United Nations recommendation of one police to 450 citizens.”
Obordor recalled the lingering dispute between the PSC and the IG, which he said, has resulted to an impasse, and regrettably halted the ongoing recruitment process for almost 10 months.
He added, “The lingering dispute between the Police Service Commission and the Inspector-General of police which has resulted to a halt in the 2023/2024 recruitment process exacerbates the existing shortage of police personnel, undermining the police’s capacity to effectively respond to security threats.
“The House recognizes the critical need to strengthen the Nigerian Police Force by setting a ratio of one police officer to 200 citizen, or adopt the United Nations recommendation of a ratio of one police officer to 450 citizens to address the escalating security challenges facing our nation;
“The House recognises that the resolution of the lingering dispute between the police service commission and the Inspector-General of police, and the recruitment of additional police officers are crucial to bolstering Nigeria’s security and ensuring the safety of citizens.”
He further noted that the shortage of police personnel has reduced police presence in communities, “thereby, leading to a surge in crime rates as criminals take advantage of the situation especially in Bayelsa State, compromised public safety, eroded trust in the police force and the government’s ability to ensure security.”
He added that the House “is also worried that the dispute between the Police Service Commission and the Inspector-General of Police which has resulted to a halt in the police recruitment and the attendant capacity shortage and weakness of the Nigerian police may have a far-reaching national security implications, potentially emboldening terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements.”

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Youths’ll Find Expression In Our Sporting Competitions, Fubara Assures …Showers Cash Gifts On Laurel-Winning Talents, Teams

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has announced that annual sporting tournament will commence immediately in the State to provide platforms for youths to horn their talents and actualise their dreams.
The Governor has, therefore, directed the State Commissioner for Sports, Barrister Christopher Green, to design the structure of the competition, and liaise with his office in order to kickstart the tournament, adding that those who perform excellently will be celebrated at an award ceremony in December, 2024.
Governor Fubara made the announcement at the official presentation of trophies and medals from the Rivers United Under 17 Youth League, Rivers Hoopers Basketball Club, Rivers Angels Football Club, Rivers Table Tennis Team, Judo, Chess, Volleyball, Paralysis and Hockey teams at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
The Governor expressed delight over the number of trophies that have been presented to him by the various teams, and said he feels the most lucky representative of the State at a time like this.
Governor Fubara said: “You are making us proud. We will be encouraged to support you the more. We will support you to ensure that you go places.
“Let me say this: it is not about the money that is being pledged to you to encourage you. It is the spirit and the love that you have for our State that has enabled you to represent us, and also make us win in the comity of states.
“So, I want you to leave here, and be encouraged more. Continue to do the best you can to promote sports in our State. The only thing that brings people together is sports, and I think and believe that if we spend and invest in sports, it will go a long way to engage our youths, and reduce crime and criminality.”
Governor Fubara stated: “So, I am here authorising that the Commissioner for Sports should immediately commence a sports programme or festival that can engage our youths within this period.
“Be it football or whatever, but I want you to come up with a tournament that will engage our youths between now and December. I want the programme to be a programme that by December, we should be gathering to honour the winners of the tournament.”
Governor Fubara explained the essence of his decision, saying that instead of using the State’s resources to equip youths with explosive devices to cause mayhem or hire people for daily protests, it is better to spend it on a path that will further advance the good and peace-loving people of Rivers State.
He said, “Let me first of all congratulate, very specially, everyone of you that has worked tirelessly to make Rivers State proud. I want to specially appreciate the Commissioner. One thing is spending money, another one is getting results for the money. I think when it comes to issue of results, he brings results.
“And, he is not bringing the results because he is the Commissioner, he is getting these results because he is working with dedicated team players.
“I want to appreciate you people for everything that you have done, for your determination, because if you are not determined to win, we are not going to flog you: it will just be try again. But, you want to be winners, and that is why we are celebrating today.”
Governor Fubara, who also appreciated the management of the various teams, urged them to continue to do their best in making the State proud because posterity will not forget their contributions.
He announced cash gifts of between N2.5million and N30million for the individual and group winners of all the teams, including the Supporters’ Club.
In his speech, Rivers State Commissioner for Sports, Barrister Christopher Green, explained that the competitions were tough but with the support given by Governor Fubara, and determination of the players, gold, silver and bronze medals were clinched in different games played by males and females alike.
Barrister Green, who also said that new sporting records were created by Rivers teams, particularly in the Open Chess game, said a number of Rivers athletes emerged as most valued players and highest goal scorers, particularly in the U17 tournament played by Rivers United Football team.
On his part, Chairman, Governing Council of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka, acknowledged that the feat being celebrated is not only profound but novel in the sporting history of Nigeria.
Chief Amiesimaka, who thanked Governor Fubara for his support to the teams, which served to boost their morals, urged the players not to rest on their oars but strive for more laurels.
Also speaking, a notable sports administrator in the State, Dr Sam Sam Jaja, said it is easier to be a champion but more demanding to sustain that posture, and charged the players to get more focused on beating the world.
He charged the laurel-winning sports talents to continue to sustain the momentum, in order to keep the State on the global sporting map as leading champions.

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Alleged Misappropriation: Judge Orders Ganduje’s Trial Must Continue In Absentia

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A Kano State High Court yesterday, insisted that the trial of the Chairman All Progressive Congress(APC), Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, charged with alleged bribery and misappropriation must continue even in his absence.
The Tide’s source reports that the state government instituted an eight-count charge bordering on bribery allegations, misappropriation and diversion of public funds running into billions of Niara against the defendants.
Ganduje, alongside his wife,Hafsat Umar, Abubakar Bawuro, Umar Abdullahi Umar, Jibrilla Muhammad, Lamash properties Limited,Safari Textiles Limited and Lasage General Enterprises Limited are charged with eight counts of bribery , misappropriation and diverting public funds.
The source reports that the court had on June 5, granted an order seeking to serve Ganduje and seven others through substituted service.
In a ruling Justice Amina Adamu-Aliyu, dismissed the application of the state government seeking bench warrant on the defendant.
She entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the defendants and refused to strike out the charge.
“The trial of the defendants continues even in their absentia,” she held.
Adamu-Aliyu adjourned the matter until Oct.23, and 24, for hearing of the preliminary objection and the main charge.
Earlier, Mr Adeola Adedipe SAN, told the court that service of court processes had been effected on the defendants and affidavit of service filed June 6.
“My lord the 1st, 2nd,3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th respondents are not in court nor represented only the 6th respondent.
“The court should enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of the defendants who refused to answer the complaint in the charge pursuant to section 278(1)(2) of Kano State Administration of Criminal Justice Law(ACJL) 2019”
He urged the court to make an order pursuant to section 388 of Kano State ACJL on a bench warrant of arrest on the defendants.
“My lord the essence of arrest warrant is for the santity of the court because an order have been made for the defendants to appear before it and they refused”
Adedipe opposed the 6th respondent application on preliminary objection, affidavit of service and notice of appeal for stay of execution pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Counsel to the 6th respondent, Mr Nureini Jimoh, SAN, told the court that service was not effected on the respondent.
“We filed a notice of preliminary objection on jurisdiction of the court and filed an application for stay of execution before Court of appeal, restraining the prosecution from publishing any charges against the 6th respondent”
Jimoh urged the court to dismiss the prosecution’s application on warrant of arrest and plea of not guilty on the respondent

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