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Protect Judges From Intimidation, Wike Tells Judiciary

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has noted with regret the seeming inability of the nation’s Judiciary to always protect the judges.
The governor said if judges, who are committed to upholding the rule of law and giving judgement on the merit of the case before them, were not protected by their colleagues, they would remain victims of intimidation.
Wike made the observation while swearing in four new judges of the Rivers State High Court at Government House, Port Harcourt on Friday.
The four new judges are Popnen Sylvester Sunday, Daketima Gabriel Kio, Chinelo Chidubem Odili, and Chinwe Amanda Nsirim.
Before their elevation, Justice Popnen S. Sunday and Justice Daketima G. Kio were both private legal practitioners, while Justice Nsirim and Chinelo Odili were chief magistrates.
The governor said that with the peak of political activities to set in in 2022, there would be an increased level of intimidation of judges.
According to him, most political gladiators are bent to always have their way in every legal matter that involves them and never believe judgement to be against their prayers before the court.
Wike pointed out that when judges know that their colleagues would rise in their defence, they would be courageous to handle cases, including political matters without shying away.
“If what is going on now is not stopped by NJC, I can assure you no political matter will go before any judge and that judge will have any courage to handle such matter.
“The intimidation by NJC on these judges is quite alarming, and I have to say it clearly, if you don’t give your judges support to do what they’re supposed to do, then let us better forget that in 2023 that we will have it easy.
“From next year (2022), it will be very turbulent, and so, matters will come before judges, allow them to dispense the matters the way they think it is. That is why there is always an appeal.
“But the moment any judge gives a decision, we politicians we must always write petition. That you cannot take away. No politician losses any case and thinks that there is nothing that went wrong.”
Wike charged the new judges to take their job seriously, promote a healthy work culture, and avoid needless adjournments that delay the time taken to dispense with cases.
The governor urged them to understand that every office and position has associated challenges and it behooves on them to strive to be the best possible they can be.
“But frankly speaking, yes, you’ve been appointed as a judge, but again there are responsibilities too. Some of you were private legal practitioners,  two of you were former chief magistrates. As private legal practitioners,  you’re used to blaming judges of not sitting on time, of not being serious with their work.
“But by the grace of God, you have joined the league so that you’ll begin to sit on time and then take your work very seriously, and make sure that judgements are given the way you wanted it when you were private legal practitioner.
“When a date is fixed, there should not be excuses to say that the judgement is not ready. Make sure that there is no unnecessary adjournments when judgement is fixed to be given.”
Speaking further, Wike said that the New Year banquet has been canceled as a measure taken to contain the further spread of Coronavirus in the state.
According to him, there is already an alarming figure of not less than 100 cases recorded daily in the state.
Wike said his administration has already urged churches to reduce the number of worshippers to 50percent.

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Oil Theft: Army Uncovers 40 Wells In Rivers

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The war against illegal oil bunkering and oil theft received a huge boost on Wednesday as troops of the 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt uncovered over 40 dugout crude oil wells in Rumuekpe community, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The troops uncovered the site during a sweep-and-clear operation on the Trans Niger Delta Pipeline.
The operation was led by the General Officer Commanding 6 Division, Maj. Gen. Jamal Abdussalam.
Speaking to journalists after the operation, Abdussalam said the oil wells, which were about 40 feet deep, were the latest technique employed by criminals in stealing crude oil from underground.
The GOC described the discovery as an eye-opener for the Army in the war against oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
He explained that the miscreants had invented a technique of digging deep into the ground until they reached the crude oil deposits.
Abdussalam stated, “We have been conducting in the past two days and the aim of the operation was to clear the trans-Niger Delta pipeline because we have been receiving complaints from the SPDC of breaches on the TNP and based on that we decided to conduct an operation to sweep and clear the pipeline.
“It was in the course of that operation that we came to this particular location and you (journalists) have seen what we have seen.
“If you are not here, you may not believe what we are seeing. In this area, our troops have discovered more than 40 dugouts and these dugouts are not meant to access pipelines, they are dug out directly into the ground like well and surprisingly have access to crude oil.
“This is the first time I’m seeing this type of thing. You can see all around us are pits and very deep, you will need ladders to have access to them and at the bottom is crude oil. So, they are just fetching crude just like water from a well.”
The COG described the discovery as saddening.
“It is entirely a new dimension. This is not an issue of pipeline vandalism, this one is digging directly into the ground and having access to these resources,” he remarked.
Abdussalam said he would notify the authorities of the development, pointing out that troops would be permanently stationed at the site to halt the illegal operations at the site.
“I will bring the attention of the relevant authorities to this site so that they can come and see what can be done.
“But in the meantime, our men would be deployed so that we can stop people from accessing the area because it is even dangerous to the people involved in this because a little fire will kill everyone conducting this dastardly act.
“It is also not good for the system. See how the whole place has been dug out. It is also very dangerous for people who are not even aware of this because they can come blindly at night and fall inside this pit and that is the end.
“We would do the needful; we would not get tired until we rid this area of these criminals”, he said.
He further said some suspects arrested at the scene were still in the custody of the army as investigation continues.
“Few people have been arrested, they are in our custody, we hope they will give us useful information that would lead to the arrest of others that are involved in this act.”
Answering questions from newsmen, one of the suspects confessed to the crime, saying the wells belonged to different families in the community.
He revealed that sometimes diggers die in the process of digging the wells when they inhale the smell of the gas, saying they were usually paid about N40, 000 to excavate a well of about 15 feet.
The suspect, whose name was not revealed as of the time of filing this report, stated, “It is owned by the community and not by one person.
“To get oil, sometimes if the place is like here, we dig like 10 to 15 feet. When we dig it and notice that the gas is rising, if you do not run out on time people might suffocate and we bring them out half-dead, but the unlucky ones die.
“When we bring them out, we pour water on them and give them coke. After the gas the oil will come out and another set will come to fetch it after we have finished digging it.”

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RSG Promises Payment Of Workers’ Benefits

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The Rivers State Government has reiterated its commitment towards the implementation of all agreed statutory benefits to workers in the State.
The Rivers State Head of Service, Dr George Nwaeke, made the pledge during a courtesy call by members of the Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) in his office in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
He assured the union that the government of Governor Siminalayi Fubara has a human face and is ready to meet the legitimate demands of workers in the State.
According to Nwaeke, the state government will soon implement all statutorily agreed financial benefits to all workers as long as those benefits are being enjoyed by their counterparts at the Federal Government level.
The Head of Service revealed that Fubara will soon constitute all commissions and boards yet to be constituted to enable them conduct promotion interviews for staff that are due.
He added that the Fubara administration has zero tolerance for undue victimization of workers in the State.
The Head of Service, however, cautioned against a situation where employees tarnish the image of employers through unfounded allegations or bad publicity, warning that anyone caught doing that will be handed over to the law enforcement agents for prosecution.
He advised the union to always dialogue with the Management of Rivers State University Teaching Hospital to fine tune the modalities for engagement of internships for deserving dental therapists.
Nwaeke also assured of government’s unwavering partnership and urged the union to work assiduously to make the State a progressive haven for everyone.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Union, Mr Otaraku Jonathan Oye, had congratulated the governor on his electoral victory at the Supreme Court.
He also congratulated the Head of Service on his appointment by the governor.
Oye thanked the governor and the HOS for the Christmas bonus enjoyed by workers in the state describing it as unmatched.
The chairman used the occasion to enumerate series of problems affecting his members which includes non promotion of senior cadre of staff in the last promotion exercise due to absence of a constituted board.
He intimated the HOS on the difficulties faced by members to access internships at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital as dental therapists.
Oye further stated that his members were yet to benefit from the newly approved hazard allowance which has taken off in many states in the federation and pleaded for consideration of his union.
He assured the HOS of full allegiance of his union to the policies of the State Government in order to move the State forward.
In a vote of thanks, the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare, Office of the Head of Service, Dr (Mrs) Inyingi Brown, thanked the union for the courtesy visit and wished them God’s guidance.

John Bibor

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Gov. Fubara Pays Tribute To Herbert Wigwe, Assures of Immortalizing Some of His Legacies

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Governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalayi Fubara says the late Herbert Wigwe lived an impactful life, affecting society positively and his administration is determined to immortalise him as a worthy son of the State.

Sir Fubara made the promise at the Night of Tributes in Port Harcourt on Tuesday evening, an event that was organised by the Port Harcourt City One Love Family, to reflect, celebrate and eulogise the life of late Herbert Wigwe.

Governor Fubara described as double loss the death of Herbert Wigwe, first as an in-law, and second as a trail blazing son of the state who exhibited daring spirit known of Rivers people in pursuit of their dreams and became successful in his career with reckonable social impact.

“I have come to understand something about life, those that God has favoured, blessed and truly cherish, He does not like them to stay too long on earth because he doesn’t want them to get corrupted.

“But the wicked ones, the cruel, that you are praying to die, will stay and they will not die. So, you should understand that what has happened to our brother and his family, is truly painful to everyone. But at the long)

The governor said no matter the wealth acquired, in death, nothing is taken along and advised that people live life of value, and be at peace with people they encounter daily.  “So, it is for us to appreciate the mystery of life.

Governor Fubara also enjoined members of the Port Harcourt One Love Family to uphold and continue with those social impact endeavours that late Herbert Wigwe devoted his time to.

Chairman of the Port Harcourt One Love Family, Ambassador Idaere Gogo Ogan said the death of Herbert Wigwe has caused an unbearable and lamentable pain.

He however, noted that in their grief, God provided strength and they were honouring a man who was a pillar and a potent force in this Port Harcourt City and selflessly committed his time and resources to promote the state and offered enduring help to so many persons.

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