The criminal case between the Rivers State Government vs. SAIPEM SPA and six others have been adjourned till January 11, 2022 for further hearing.
At a resumed sitting before Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the Rivers State High Court, Chief Godwin Obla, SAN, D. G. Adeyemi Esq. and I.D. Israel Esq., represented the Rivers State Government, while Mr Odein Ajumogobia, SAN and Patrick Osu, Esq appeared for the 1st and 2nd Defendants (SAIPEM SPA & SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd), respectively.
The 3rd -7th Defendants were unrepresented though duly served as ordered by court.
Counsel to Rivers State informed the court that Walter Peviani/3rd Defendant (SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd.’s MD), 4th Defendant/Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe, 5th Defendant/Giandomenico Zingali, 6th Defendant/Vitto Testaguzza, and Davide Anelli/7th Defendant have been served with the amended information and the proof of evidence via “i. publications in three National Newspapers, ii. Pasting by the Bailiff of Court at New Operational Base of the Defendants at Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, and by sending same to the Defendants’ Secretariat email address firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Obla immediately applied pursuant to Section 120 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2015 for the issuance of the warrant of arrest to compel the appearance of Mr Walter Peviani/the 3rd Defendant and the other Defendants in court at the next date for the criminal proceedings.
However, counsel to the 1st and 2nd Defendants pleaded profusely on behalf of the 1st -3rd Defendants, citing section 121 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Law for the court to indulge them for today and that at the next adjourned date the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants will be present in court.
The court noted that Ajumogobia announced an appearance only for the 1st and 2nd Defendant and cannot, therefore, urge anything in favour of any other Defendants.
At this point, Ajumogobia announced an appearance for the third Defendant also.
The court held that it has taken notice of the Defendants’ disrespect for the court despite the fact that they have all been served with the Amended Information and proof of evidence.
The court said as a criminal proceeding, the Defendants are bound to be present in court to take their plea and both Sections 120 and 121 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law empowers the court to issue a warrant of arrest to compel the appearance of the Defendants in court to take their plea at the next adjourned date.
However, after a plea from Ajumogobia, and his undertaking to ensure the presence of the Defendants at the next hearing, the court agreed to bend backwards and decided to keep the issuance of the warrant of arrest at bay till the next adjourned date, but promised to effect the full weight of the law to compel their appearance if they refuse to appear at the next adjourned date.
It would be recalled that the Rivers State Government had filed a 16-count charge against Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, its Managing Director, Walter Peviani and 4 others over alleged conspiracy, fraud, obtaining credit by false pretences, and cheating.
The offences run contrary to Sections 518 (6) and (7), 419 (A) (1) (b), Section 421 of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
Saipem and its top management staff are being prosecuted based on fiat to Chief Godwin Obla SAN, George Adeyemi, Esq and John Eche Okpe, Esq of OBLA & Co.
Charged alongside the duo are their Managing Director, Walter Peviani and other major officers including Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe, Giandomenico Zingali, Vitto Testaguzza and David Anelli who are charged, amongst others, for the offence False Statements by Officials of Companies contrary to and punishable under Section 436 (b).
Specifically, the defendants as contractors to Rivers State Government of Nigeria and officers of Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, in respect of the contract for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt between 2011-2018 conspired to cheat and with intent to defraud, obtained credit by false pretence from the Rivers State Government being advance payment of the total contract sum of $130million when they have not kept their obligation under the contract.
FG Mulls Introduction Of Private Firefighters
The Federal Government says it is proposing to broaden the scope of the National Fire Academy to accommodate private firefighters to address fire incidents across the country.
The plan, if carried out, would lead to the emergence of private firefighters in the country.
Speaking after his first official inspection tour of the academy, the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said the fire service could have certified private firefighters like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps’ private guards.
He added that private firefighters were needed to enhance the fire service’s operations as well as improve their response time.
This was contained in a statement by the Minister’s Media Adviser, Alao Babatunde, yesterday.
The statement partly read, “Today, we have over 3 million private guards certified by the NSCDC. We can have something similar for the fire service. We need private fire service men to enhance our service and response time. The President’s #RenewedHope agenda has charged us to be innovative if we must change the narrative.
“As a matter of fact, this is another innovative way to generate revenue because we expect that anyone looking to become a safety or security guard should get trained and certified by this academy.”
Tunji-Ojo urged all institutions and recreation centres to engage certified fire and safety personnel trained by the academy when the plan materialises.
He said: “A lot has been done, but there is still a lot more to be done. With what I have seen here, I can guarantee you that we will work very hard to see that this facility will not only be useful in training officers of the fire service but also for the private sector.
“We must make fire safety a personal affair. Every institution, commercial and social recreation centre should have certified fire and safety personnel, trained by this facility.
“All public and commercial buildings and infrastructure such as banks, hotels, malls, restaurants, or even government buildings should have first responders that can administer basic fire fighting remedy while waiting for the arrival of a full operation squad of the country’s Fire Service”.
Decentralise Pipeline Surveillance Contracts, Ondo Ex-Militants Urge Tinubu
A group of ex-militants in Ondo State, on Wednesday, called on President Bola Tinubu to revisit the pipeline surveillance project and decentralise the awarding of the contract.
The group, under the auspices of the Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard, said decentralisation of the contract would enhance the security of pipelines on waterways.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the group, Chief Lucky Ajiroba.
The statement is titled, ‘Call on His Excellency President Bola Tinubu to re-visit the pipeline surveillance contract.’
The group faulted the last administration for awarding the contract to only one company, saying the purpose for which the contract was awarded was not achieved as the security situation of the pipelines was getting worse.
The statement read, “We are the members of Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard. The group led by Akogun Job Omotuwa comprises ex-militants in the state who voluntarily submitted their arms and ammunition in response to the good gesture of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the amnesty programme in the year 2017, and we have shown our unwavering allegiance to the terms of the amnesty initiative of the government.
“The overall effects of all these are: it has increased considerably the quantum of oil production, it has substantially increased the revenue accruable to the Federation account, and ultimately it allows peaceful coexistence among the people of the oil-producing communities of the country.
“We are aware of the sterling enterprise of this administration to improve on the security architecture of the Nigeria state and all its apparatus, with a particular reference to the pipeline surveillance and secured waterways.
“The last administration made a giant stride by awarding the pipeline surveillance to a sole company in the Niger Delta Area. It is not out of place to state that the purpose upon which the contract was awarded for was not achieved as the situation of the security of the pipeline was worse than ever before since their collaborative effort was not enough to support the constituted military authorities.
“The failure of this was ascribed to the centralization of the contract. In view of this perennial failure, there has been avalanche of agitation from every quarter that the pipeline security contract should be decentralized for the purpose of achieving the desired goal of the Federal Government which is in the best interest of the entire citizens.”
The group, which commended the President for its efforts in repositioning the country’s economy, opined that each ex-militant leader in the Niger Delta Region be identified, and the pipeline security contract be split among them.
Assembly Tasks Delta Govt On Rising Prostitution, Drug Abuse
The Delta House of Assembly has passed a resolution urging the State Government to take drastic measures against rising cases of drug abuse and prostitution in the state.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Mrs Bridget Anyafulu (PDP-Oshimili South) at plenary in Asaba.
Presenting the motion, Anyafulu decried rising cases of open sex trade and use of illicit drugs among youths in the state, especially in Asaba and environs.
“Open sex trade and use of illicit drug is not a good example for our children.
“The situation is worrisome considering the fact that both issues are illegal,” she said.
Anyafulu, also the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Community and Social Development said that urgent measures must be taken to address the situation.
“The twin evil of drug abuse and sex trade represents great danger to the lives of our young people and the society at large.
“They both underline the physical, mental and social well-being of our young people and this will also jeopardize the development, peace and security of our dear state.
“So, I want to state that no nation survives without the youth, the youth and the young general are the life wire of our nation.
“Any nation that ignores the youth is heading for doom, so the importance of the young people cannot be over emphasized, it is therefore very important that we address this ugly trend,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Oboro Preyor (PDP-Bomadi) decried the negative impact of rising drug abuse and prostitution, saying it must be addressed.
‘‘If this ugly trend is not addressed, it would attract more young people into their folks,’’ he said.
He also urged the government to rehabilitate youths who were addicted to drug and to create other avenues of engaging them in productive activities.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers when put to voice vote by Speaker Dennis Guwor.
The lawmakers also called for support from law enforcement agencies to ensure the arrest and prosecution of illicit drug dealers and commercial sex workers in accordance with the law in order to curb the rising trend.
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