RSG Inaugurates Panel Of Inquiry On Fire Outbreaks
Rivers State Government has opened investigations into the causes of fire outbreaks in the state following the razing of the Bonny Jetty Port Harcourt, last Monday, the third incident in 72hours.
The state Commissioner for Special Duties, Emeka Onowu, who disclosed this to newsmen after inspection of the areas affected by fire in Port Harcourt, said Governor Nyesom Wike has directed that a panel of inquiry be inaugurated to probe the three fire incidents.
This is as the Federal Fire Service has fought 26 fire incidents (excluding Monday’s fire at Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty) in Port Harcourt and its environs from September to date with the loss of properties worth billions of naira.
It would be recalled that on Monday morning, there was fire outbreak at the newly commissioned Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty in Port Harcourt.
Sources alleged that the inferno started around 10:35am following a spark in one of the boats carrying drums of illegally refined fuel (Kpofire) around the jetty.
This happened barely 24hours after Zenith Bank building in Port Harcourt was razed on Sunday.
Earlier, fire had also razed parts of the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) in Isiokpo Street, D-Line, on Saturday and a building along the Rumuagholu/Rumuokoro axis, in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.
He warned that properties and land used by illegal bunkerers to store inflammable materials responsible for fire at D-Line and Rumuokoro may be confiscated if owners fail to appear.
Onowu blamed residents who conceal activities of bunkerers in their neighbourhood as accomplices, wondering why they should not report people who store petroleum products in their compounds.
He said investigations have commenced on the fire incidents, and warned residents to desist from storing petroleum and inflammable materials in their place of abode, as he reminded them that the dry season was near and can worsen the situation.
Speaking, the state Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr. Peter Meede, disclosed that investigations into the incidents would unravel the actual causes.
According to him, a full-scale investigation would not only reveal the causes of the fire, but would also provide a remedy to it.
He said, “There is the likelihood that it is petroleum products that are causing the fire. We cannot come to that conclusion now until there is a full-scale investigation. The report of the investigation will reveal the cause of fire as well as the remedy to it.
“If you watch, where the dealers of these products (black market fuel peddlers) keep them are places that are hidden. Like the fire incident that occurred in D-Line on Saturday night, that was a company premises; although the company is not in operation.
“Because the company is not in operation, it is absolutely difficult for somebody to know the kind of activity that is going on there. That is why we are calling on law-abiding citizens to be very vigilant in their neighbourhoods. See what they can do, watch what is happening in their neighbourhood and report to the government.
“The Rivers State Government has been able to set up two dedicated telephone lines for people to report unwholesome practices in the state. We have warned severally that when you see and you don’t report, when it happens, it is your own property that would be destroyed; it is your own life that will be lost.
“So, it is important for people to understand that it is patriotic for people to report these unwholesome activities. That is exactly the remedy to this situation”, he added.
Also speaking on the Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty fire, the Commander of the Federal Fire Service in Rivers State, DCF Abdullahi Audu Alfa said hoodlums had accused them of not responding in time to the fire incident, and added that for the safety of their lives and equipment, the fire-fighters had to turn back.
Alfa condemned the action of the members of the public, saying that efforts must be made to sensitise residents on how to respond to emergencies.
He also said that most times, they get the information about fire outbreaks late after individual efforts had failed.
Alfa said the problem of poor network of roads leading to the scenes of fire outbreaks and poor attitude of motorists who do not give the fire-fighters easy right of way at the time of emergency were also part of the causes of the delays in their arrival at the scene of incidents.
He added that the Federal Fire Service has fought 26 fire incidents (excluding today’s fire) in Port Harcourt and its environs from September to date with the loss of properties worth billions of naira.
Alfa added that his findings and experience show that most fire outbreaks in the state were caused by activities of illegal artisanal refiners and improper storage of petroleum products.
Reacting, the Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Barrister George Ariolu said that the Rumuokoro fire incident was caused by illegal trading and improper storage of petroleum products.
Ariolu, who said this during his visit to the scene of the fire disaster, lamented that members of the Community Development Committee (CDC), chairman of youth group and other stakeholders may be aware of the illegal dangerous business without reporting to either the local government or the state government.
“Fire incident don’t just happen, they’re caused by human activities, whether legal or illegal.
“If you go back to the point it started, you will see that this is a clear incident of illegal oil bunkering, that is what is there and that is the cause of the fire, which is condemnable.
“These are unpatriotic citizens of this nation; that is what we have discovered here”.
Community Development Chairman of Belema Community at Nembe-Bille Waterfront where another fire incident was recorded on Monday in Old Port Harcourt Township, Gospel Nengiye urged for the building of a fire station at Nembe-Bille Waterfront.
He spoke to newsmen following the fire that gutted about seven boats as a result of a faulty outboard motor engine that went into flames at the jetty.
Nengiye said the fire sparked by the faulty outboard motor engine entered spread to other boats as it was difficult to contain the conflagration.
There are claims that a woman and her baby lost their lives, but many properties and market wares consisting of fish, and consumables were gutted by the fire on Monday.
Earlier, fire-fighters had escaped mob action as a huge explosion at the newly commissioned Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty built by Rivers State Government in the outskirts of Port Harcourt metropolis resulted into a heavy fire outbreak early Monday.
An eyewitness said that, at least, two persons with serious cases of burn injuries were rushed to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH), for treatment as a result of the incident.
According to him, the environs of the Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty has been turned into a hotbed of illegal refining of petroleum products, popularly known as “Kponfire”, fuel causing massive pollution across Port Harcourt and its environs.
Another eyewitness claimed that the explosion occurred when a boat driver tried to kick-start his engine.
He said this resulted in a huge fire that quickly spread to other boats aided by petroleum products in the environment, alleging that four persons died as a result.
“However, fire-fighters from the Federal Fire Service narrowly escaped mob action after they arrived at the scene of the fire outbreak,” he added.
Meanwhile, hoodlums quickly took advantage of the fire incident to loot fish, crayfish and other food items from the jetty.
But it took the arrival of Naval personnel to restore normalcy to the tensed area.
All the fire outbreaks have been attributed to illegal refining or distribution of petroleum products, popularly called “Kponfire”.
By: Kevin Nengia &
Judge Warns Against Text Messages In EFCC’s N5bn Suit
Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, has warned those sending him private messages in the N5 billion suit filed by the EFCC against Sen. Stella Oduah and others to desist from intruding into his privacy.
Justice Ekwo gave the warning on Monday during the hearing of the matter.
The judge made this known after counsel for Oduah (1st defendant), Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, and lawyer to Crystal Television Ltd (7th defendant), Ogbu Onoja, SAN, informed that moves were ongoing to resolve the matter without going through trial.
The judge then said: “Somebody has been breaching my privacy on this matter by sending me messages concerning this matter saying it is part of a concerned group.
“I will send security agencies to fish him out. You cannot be intruding into my privacy.”
Justice Ekwo, who condemned the act, said his records were public documents that could be assessed by anybody after the public laws had been complied with.
Responding, prosecuting lawyer, Hassan Liman, SAN, who appeared for the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), also condemned the act.
He said even if the person was a party in the suit, he had no right to communicate with the judge.
Earlier, upon resumed proceeding in the matter, Liman told the court that the matter was slated for formal arraignment of the defendants pursuant to the order made in the last adjourned date.
He said he was ready to proceed.
But Ikpeazu said there were applications they planned to file and that they felt discussion should be had on this with the prosecution.
Onoja, who represented the 7th defendant, also informed the court that his client had approached the anti-graft commission and paid almost 95 per cent of the money alleged in the case.
“We are waiting for the commission’s response and almost about N80 million is remaining,” he said.
Liman admitted that it was true that counsel for the 7th defendant wrote to the EFCC, seeking for the discontinuance of the matter.
“I confirm also that Mr Ikpeazu spoke to me this morning,” he said.
The lawyer, who said that the matter was filed since 2020 said though he agreed that there was reconciliation move, he however argued that the defendants must take their plea once the matter had been filed in court.
“The money we are talking about is over N7 billion,” he added, saying it was not such amount Onoja was making allusion to.
Liman said though a letter had been written, he said the commission had not even considered it, despite making the payment.
He admitted that the delay in the prosecution of the matter was not the court’s fault.
“I urge my Lord to order them to take their plea,” he prayed.
Justice Ekwo, who said he was ready for the arraignment, said it would be better to dialogue with the defendants and if that failed, the trial could commence.
He consequently adjourned the matter until June 15 for report or commencement of trial.
Recall that the EFCC had sued Oduah, former Aviation Minister, alongside Gloria Odita, Nwosu Emmanuel Nnamdi and Chukwuma Irene Chinyere.
Others include Global Offshore and Marine Ltd, Tip Top Global Resources Ltd, Crystal Television Ltd, Sobora International Ltd and others.
The senator, who currently represents Anambra North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, was scheduled to be arraigned on alleged N5 billion fraud and financial misappropriation while she served as minister during President Goodluck Jonathan government.
In the 25-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/316/2020, they are accused of conspiracy, money laundering and maintaining anonymous bank accounts with a commercial bank.
RSHA Elects Amaewhule As Speaker
The Rivers State House of Assembly has elected former House Leader and the lawmaker representing Obio/Apkor constituency 1, Hon. Martin Amaewhule as the speaker of the 10th Assembly.
The House also elected the lawmaker representing Gokana constituency, Dumle Mao, as Deputy Speaker.
Amaewhule was elected yesterday after the 10th Assembly was proclaimed by Governor Siminalayi Fubara through a nomination by the lawmaker representing Okrika Constituency, Linda Somiari Stalwart and seconded by Major Jack of Akuku-Toru Constituency.
The Speaker in his speech, shortly after the oath of office, promised a top class Assembly that will come up with legislations that will stand the test of time.
Amaewhule commended members for voting him and assured them of a new assembly that Rivers people will be proud of.
He, thanked Governor Fubara for proclaiming the Assembly and also the immediate past governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his developmental strides in the state.
He also thanked the staff of the Assembly for assisting in the business of government.
Amaewhule is currently serving his fourth term as a legislator and was unanimously voted for by all members present.
The governor had earlier dissolved the 9th Assembly based on the constitutional provision as contained in the 1999 constitution as amended.
By: Ike Wigodo
Terrorism: Tinubu’s Charges Security Agencies On Synergy
President Bola Tinubu has charged security agencies in the country to share information in order to combat the negative effects of terrorism.
He said that hoarding such resources would be counter-productive in the fight against the menace.
The president stated this last Monday, during a tour of the new office of the National Security Adviser and facilities at the National Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in Abuja.
He said his administration recognised the relationship between security and economic revival, prosperity and development.
Tinubu said that terrorism is a global phenomenon that must be tackled with all resources in order to eliminate completely.
“If we as Nigerians are looking for economic revival, prosperity and development, then we have to give priority to security.
“What I have seen here is a demonstration of intelligence efforts to counter-terrorism. This must be backed by knowledge.
“Counter-terrorism that is not backed by knowledge and intelligence is not going to be of any service to any nation. We are going to work on that together.
“The effort of the entire armed forces of this country must be put together in a way that there will be one single focus on securing the country,” he said.
Tinubu, who described the tour of facilities at the new ONSA building as very important, said his administration would provide necessary support to the nation’s security architecture.
In his remarks, the NSA, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, thanked the president for making the visit his first engagement outside the Villa.
He said: “It reinforces his commitment, dedication and inflexible rigidity to ensuring that the security misfortunes of Nigeria and by extension the sub-region are overcome within the shortest possible time.”
Monguno pledged the total commitment and dedication of ONSA to ensuring that the president realises his promises to the people on security.
Editorial1 day ago
WED: Reducing Plastic Waste Generation
Rivers1 day ago
Northern Group Honours Monarch
Featured1 day ago
TUC Demands N200,000 Minimum Wage For Workers
SMEs1 day ago
IMF Tasks Nigeria On Revenue Generation, Debt Management
Crime/Justice1 day ago
DPO Lauds Monarch Over Support
Politics1 day ago
Keyamo Heads To Appeal Court Over ‘Money Laundering’ Suit Against Atiku
Sports1 day ago
Eagles Camp Opens June 12 … As Peseiro Scouts NPFL Super Six Play-Off
Business1 day ago
‘Infrastruction Deficit, Insecurity Limit Maritain Contribution To GDP’