No fewer than five local government councils in Rivers State have honoured the sacrifices of fallen military heroes and raised the hopes of their widows and surviving family members of better days ahead.
The LGAs include Ikwerre, Degema, Akuku-Toru, Tai, and Andoni where tangible commitments were made to the families of fallen heroes and members of the Legionnaires.
In Ikwerre Local Government Area, the Chairman, Engr. Samuel Nwanosike declared war against oil thieves and vandals over worsening situation of soot in Ikwerre LGA.
Nwanosike declared the war, last Saturday while speaking during the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration at the Ikwerre Council Secretariat, Isiokpo.
According to him, “When I say that we are in a war situation, you know we are in a war against oil thieves and vandals.
“So, if you don’t know as a government official, know that Rivers State Government and Ikwerre Local Government are at war with oil thieves and vandals because they are the enemies that are eating us up now”.
Nwanosike called on the entire people of the LGA to join in the fight against oil thieves and vandals, urging them not to trivialise the efforts of the state and local governments over the fight.
He lampooned the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government for failing to keep to its promises to Nigerians.
The Ikwerre Council chairman said, “And they are also aware that the Federal Government, through the Vice President of this nation, visited the Niger Delta severally, even in the first term and part of their second term, to promise the people of Niger Delta that they are bringing a technology called modular refinery that will end the issue of vandalisation of oil installations that has taken over our environment. Since the Federal Government has failed, like they have failed all the promises they had made to Nigerians that brought them to power.
“They have failed on the issue of restructuring. They have failed on the issue of infrastructure. They have failed on fighting insecurity. They have failed on fight against corruption. They have failed in making our lives and our properties safe. They have failed in improving our welfare.
“So, since they have been failing, and we have been calling on them all these while to come to fulfil the promises they made to the people of Niger Delta over modular refinery, the Government of Rivers State, led by the people’s face of democracy, Chief Nyesom Wike, declared the fight to save the people of Rivers State, those who live and do business here. Because this air that we breathe, you have no equipment to stop the air from coming”.
He attributed the recent mysterious deaths in the various communities of the LGA to soot due to illegal oil refining.
Nwanosike vowed to battle with those responsible for the soot, saying that, “We hear all the threats they have been making. We have their names, we know their houses, their relatives, and we know those that even buy their products from them”.
He stated that the security agents would continue to declare them wanted, and advised them to make themselves available to the state government or security agencies so as to prove their innocence.
“Nobody, no matter how highly placed is exempted from this fight. If you like, be the chairman of our party in the state or the chairman of our party in this local government or the chairman of our party in the ward or anybody, whether you are a security agent, you are a traditional ruler, as long as we identify that you have link to these activities, you will be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the laws of Nigeria.
“We are not going to leave any stone unturned to see that we restore our environment”, the Nwanosike assured.
He commended Governor Nyesom Wike for the bold step he has taken in the fight against oil bunkering activities, saying that the people of Ikwerre LGA would support him.
Nwanosike assured the living and dead military heroes and their families that Ikwerre LGA would not forget their sacrifices, and continue to do its best to support them by improving their lives and welfare.
He noted that the council has redeemed its N1million pledge to the legionnaires, and promised the Ikwerre LGA Chapter another N1million to be used in running its offices and activities.
The Ikwerre Council boss also magnanimously gave 13 Back-to-School programme slots for WAEC and JAMB registration to the children of the fallen heroes across the 13 Wards of the LGA.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of Nigerian Legion, Ikwerre LGA Chapter, Major Anthony Ichem (rtd), commended Nwanosike for his magnanimity towards the legionnaires and fulfilment of all his promises to them, while assuring of their contributions in making the LGA more safe and habitable.
He, however, urged the council chairman to furnish the office he provided for them at the Ikwerre LGA Secretariat.
Highlights of the event include the laying of wreaths and parades.
Similarly, the Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael Williams, has appealed to public spirited individuals in the society to support the welfare of serving, retired and fallen military heroes in the country.
Speaking at the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, which took place at the council headquarters in Degema, the chairman stated that by remembering the sacrifices of men of the Armed Forces, it would motivate those in active service to know that their efforts were well acknowledged, and would also encourage families of fallen heroes to know that the nation honours and remembers their loved ones.
“The Armed Forces Remembrance Day is a special day set aside to celebrate, honour and remember our heroes that risked their lives for us to be safe.
“Although some of them have passed on, yet some others are still here with us, either on retirement or in active service to the nation.
“Occasions like this therefore gives us an opportunity to remember and appreciate their gallantry and selfless sacrifice, and for those fallen heroes, it is incumbent on us to remember their widows, children and loved ones they left behind, and give them the little support we can, to encourage them, as well as motivate those still in service,” he said.
The council boss, who donated the sum of N1million to the Legionnaires in Degema LGA, also motivated other principal officers of his administration, councillors and other stakeholders to make compassionate donations towards the welfare of the ex-servicemen in the LGA.
He encouraged the Legionnaires to continue to believe in the country they sacrificed to keep united and make judicious use of whatever is given to them, adding that their sacrifices would not go in vain.
He added that his administration, just like that of Governor Nyesom Wike, believes in the unity of Nigeria, and would continue to support the security operatives, who put their lives in the line to secure the territorial integrity of the country.
Earlier, Chairman of the Legionnaires in DELGA, Soye Duke, had in his address, commended the council chairman for his massive support to the Legionnaires, both at the state and LGA levels.
Duke, who is also the chief security officer (CSO) to the council chairman, also thanked Williams for his compassionate disposition towards the Legion, adding that they had never been so cared for in the past.
He bemoaned the lackadaisical and non-chalant attitude of Nigeria towards men of the Armed Forces, who sacrificed their all for the peace and security of the nation, calling for an attitudinal change in that regard.
“To tell ourselves the bitter truth, it does appear that this is the only period we talk about the sacrifice made by these fallen heroes, who laid down their lives for all of us.
“It is rather unfortunate that these great heroes, being referred to as fallen heroes and the veterans; these gentlemen who actually paid the ultimate price, are not genuinely respected and appreciated.
“It is sad and painful that the same society they died for have suddenly turned against them at a time like this.
“It is with this regret in our hearts that we are appealing to the general public to change their perception about the veterans, fallen heroes and their dependents, because these groups of gentlemen need your care, love and support,” Duke stated.
Highpoint of the ceremony was laying of wreath by the council chairman, alongside heads of other military and paramilitary agencies in the LGA.
The event was well attended by dignitaries and stakeholders, Commander of 103 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Major Ayuba; Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, CP Friday Eboka; represented by the Police Area Commander, ACP Lawal Adamu Shinkafi; and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Degema, SP Hamza.
Others include; representatives from the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS); Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS); Department of State Services (DSS); Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC); Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC); Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); National Youth Service Corps (NYSC); Legionnaires, as well as widows of ex-servicemen.
The rest were, Head of Local Government Administration (HLGA) in DELGA, directors in the various ministries/departments and traditional rulers and chiefs of the Degema Traditional Rulers Council.
Also in attendance were, the Vice Chairman of DELGA, Mrs. Maureen Harry; Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in DELGA, Disciple Peter Abbey, as well as top functionaries and other appointees of the administration.
In the same vein, the Akuku-Toru Local Government Area Chairman, Hon Rowland Sekibo expressed solidarity and appreciation for the meritorious services and sacrifices made by the Nigerian military and the nation’s fallen heroes who paid the supreme price so that the country may remain united.
Sekibo honoured the fallen heroes when he performed the wreath-laying ceremony at the cenotaph, with a 21 gun salute in commemoration of this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in the council secretariat, Abonnema.
While acknowledging the sacrifices made by members of the military in defence of the nation, Sekibo decried the deplorable condition of servicemen across the nation.
The council boss reiterated his administration’s commitment to the welfare of security personnel serving in the LGA, and pledged to support the Legion with monthly stipends for 30 legionnaires.
He also promised to provide prosthetics for the disabled ex-servicemen as part of the council’s contribution and appreciation for the selfless services rendered to the nation.
“There’s nothing one can give that can measure up to the sacrifices made by our military in the service of humanity and the nation. We are, therefore, inclined to partner with the Nigerian Legion, AKULGA chapter in alleviating the miserable condition ex-servicemen find themselves after giving so much in the service of the nation”, he said.
It would be recalled that the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration is a day of sober reflection held annually on January 15 in honour of members of the Armed Forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the nation.
Also, the Chairman of Tai Local Government Council, Sir Mbakpone Okpe donated the sum of N1million for the welfare development of retired officers of the Nigeria military in the LGA.
The chairman made the donation while performing the wreaths laying in remembrance of the fallen Nigeria Armed Forces officers in Saakpenwa, the Tai Local Government Headquarters, last Saturday.
Okpe explained that his administration was providing monthly stipends to members of the Nigeria Legion in the LGA because their tremendous contribution to the security of the country cannot be underestimated.
The chairman also asked that the data of the wives of the fallen heroes (widows) be collated so that the council can also provide little stipends to support their monthly welfare needs.
Okpe used the medium to announce a bounty of N1million to any individual who can provide useful information on sites where crude oil was illegally refined within the LGA.
The Tai Council boss explained that his administration has carried out surveillance on every nook and crannies of the LGA but could not find any forest where crude oil was illegally refined.
He said that to satisfy his curiosity, he has directed that anyone who can identify persons, communities and forests where such illegal activities were going on should report to his office at Saakpenwa and claim the N1million bounty.
However, the chairman warned that people who want to present or have such sensitive information should ensure that it was true and verifiable, and not aimed at getting back at individuals who may not be in good terms with them.
In the same token, the Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area, Barrister Erastus Awortu, has assured the Legionnaires and families of fallen military heroes of the council’s support at all times as their supreme sacrifices for the unity and survival of the nation will not be in vain.
Awortu also assured the Legionnaires that his administration would ensure their inclusion in the council policies and programmes, especially as it concerns the security architecture of the LGA, where their wealth of experience and expertise would be much needed.
The chairman made the pledge, last Saturday, during the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration at Ngo, headquarters of the LGA.
He said the services off the Legionnaires were needed now more than ever before because of the daunting security challenges facing the area, especially as it relates to the activities of artisanal refinery operators, and charged them to work in concert with the council authorities to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of the crime.
In his speech, the chairman of Nigeria Legion, Andoni Chapter, Andoni LGA, called on all to reflect on the essence of the day and their responsibilities to honour and remember the nation’s gallant fallen heroes who died in active service so that we may live.
He further called on all government agencies, captains of industry and corporate bodies to remember the families of military fallen heroes and veterans living in these harsh economic times.
To this end, he pleaded with the Andoni council boss, to consider the welfare of Legionnaires and their loved ones.
The programme came to a climax with the inspection of the guard of honour for the 2022 the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration and the laying of wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the council Chairman, Barrister Erastus Awortu.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
Hold Leaders Without Character Responsible For Nigeria’s Woes -Wike
Leading Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant and Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that Nigerians should be wary of those who campaigned vehemently and foisted President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigeria as its messiah, for the woes that have overwhelmed the country.
Wike specifically berated some aspirants in the PDP who caused disunity in the party in 2015, formed the new-PDP and sold out the party’s goodwill and electoral opportunities.
He made the accusation when he met with Oyo State PDP leaders and delegates in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, yesterday, to solicit support ahead of the party’s presidential primary this month.
“The issue is, who are those who made PDP to lose election in 2015 that today we are suffering? Today, we are in opposition and trying to take power back.
“But see what the country has been turned into. Who are those who told Nigerians that President Buhari is a saint, that President Buhari will salvage Nigeria? What is their sense of judgement? Who are those aspirants who abandoned PDP, betrayed PDP and went to support President Buhari?”
Wike insisted that some PDP presidential aspirants brought Buhari to power, and now, the country is suffering for their wrong sense of judgement.
“Now, we are suffering. People are dying every day. From January to March in Kaduna, over 1,000 people have been killed. So many people have been kidnapped.”
The Rivers State governor also alluded to a similar behaviour that was demonstrated by a PDP chieftain who got immense support of the party in 2019.
Wike stated that there was need for electorate at all levels to be more concerned about the kind of people they want to entrust the leadership of the country.
The Rivers State governor said anyone who desires to govern Nigeria must be must be firm, courageous and should own up what he says.
“If it was the wrong thing that was said, say I am sorry but I have to say something as a leader. Not when you say something one minute, the next moment you say they didn’t get your approval.”
Wike said PDP and Nigeria as a while do not require theorists, but somebody who has the ability and qualities to offer focused leadership.
He explained that if he becomes the president of Nigeria, he would put the best of heads together who will work under good supervision and coordination.
According to him, anybody who fails to deliver would be relieved of the appointment.
“Nigerians know my views. I believe in restructuring. I believe in state police. You cannot stop insecurity in this country without state police which is the practice in all countries that run true federalism. Intelligence is key. Before it happens, you’ve stopped it or cage them.”
Wike insisted that Nigeria has to be rescued from the APC-led Federal Government so that sanity can be restored and conscience reinforced in public servants.
“Look at it, 42 people died in train blast, up until now, no concrete report. This is a country where a Minister of Transport, after people died in such accident and the next day, he went and collected form for Presidency.
“You’re a Minister of Education, schools have closed for how many months, the next thing, the minister went and collected form for Presidency. I have not seen a country like this, no conscience.”
In his remarks, Oyo State Governor, Engr Oluseyi Makinde, assured Wike of the support of Oyo and South-West geopolitical zone support.
“If they say Seyi Makinde and the delegates from the South-West of Nigeria are supporting Governor Wike, say there is a reason. When people come to canvass for your vote listen to them, but at the end of the day tell them this is who (Wike) we are supporting.”
Similarly, the former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, explained that South-West delegates would be meeting in Ibadan before the PDP national convention to take decision on who to support.
According to Fayose, for the first, delegates from the South-West will be speaking with one voice during the convention to pick the party’s presidential flagbearer.
“We will take a position and we will hand over the delegates to our governor, our leader (Makinde). If you like me, follow me. If you like Governor Wike, follow him. But by the grace of God we will do house meeting before we set out. We will go to Abuja with, at least, 85 to 90percent of our votes in one direction.”
Electoral Act: S’Court Joins Rivers In Buhari, Malami’s Suit
The Supreme Court, yesterday, okayed an application that Rivers State Government filed to be joined as a party in the suit President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami filed to void Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
A seven-man panel of the Justices of the apex court led by Justice Musa Dattijo, allowed the joinder application that Rivers State brought through the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani and the state Attorney-General, Prof Zacheaus Adangor, even as it shifted hearing on the suit till May 26.
The applicants told the court that they were opposed to the suit marked SC/CV/504/2022, which originally had the National Assembly as the sole Respondent.
President Buhari and Malami had approached the Supreme Court to contend that Section 84(12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022, is inconsistent with the provisions of Sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution as well as Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
They are, among other things, seeking, “a declaration that the joint and or combined reading of Section 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution, the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which also ignores Section 84(3) of the same Act, is an additional qualifying and/or disqualifying factors for the National Assembly, House of Assembly, Gubernatorial and Presidential elections as enshrined in the said Constitution, hence unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void.
“A declaration that having regard to the clear provision of Section 1(3) of the Constitution read together with section 4 of the same Constitution, the legislative powers vested in the defendant do not permit or empower it to make any other law prescribing additional qualifying/disqualifying grounds for election to the National Assembly, House of Assembly, gubernatorial and presidential election outside the express constitutional qualification and disqualification provisions as already provided in each or all of Sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and without amendment to any of those sections is for the reason of inconsistency, unconstitutional, and therefore, null and void.
As well as, “An order nullifying the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 by application of the blue-pencil rule, for being unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and having been made in excess of the legislative powers of the defendant as enshrined in Section 4 of the Constitution (as amended).”
In the same vein, the National Assembly has asked the Supreme Court to strike out the suit.
The National Assembly, in its counter-affidavit, filed by its lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, said the Supreme Court cannot be invoked to amend the provision of any law validity made by lawmakers in the exercise of their legislative powers as granted by the Constitution.
They argued that the 1999 Constitution, as amended gave the National Assembly the power to make laws for good governance.
May 11, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, vacated the judgement of the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia, which voided the provisions of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision led by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, held that the High Court, acted without jurisdiction.
It held that the Plaintiff, Mr Nduka Edede, lacked the locus standi to institute the action.
According to the appellate court, Edede, failed to establish any cause of action that warranted him to approach the court on the issue, noting that the plaintiff was unable to prove how he was directly affected by that section of the newly amended Electoral Act.
Consequently, it struck out the suit marked: FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, which Edede filed before the Umuahia court.
Nonetheless, the appellate court, while determining the appeal on the merit, held that the said provision of the Electoral Act was unconstitutional because it was in breach of Section 42 (1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, stressing that the section denied a class of Nigerian citizens their right to participate in election.
Experts Express Worries Over Paediatrics HIV Prevalence
An expert in HIV/AIDS, Dr. Adesigbin Clement Olufemi, has said that in order for Nigeria to end HIV by 2030, necessary attention should be paid to checking paediatrics HIV prevalence.
Speaking at a two-day meeting on “FGN/Breakthrough Partnership, Advocacy Mapping Consultation” in Abuja, recently, Olufemi said there was the need to “expand active paediatric and adolescent HIV case-finding, using novel strategies”.
Olufemi, whose presentation was titled, “Paediatrics and Adolescent HIV Status in Nigeria: Advocacy Mapping”, also called for an improved community-focused service delivery strategies, which, he said, would focus greatly on specific identified children.
Olufemi, who is of the National AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), and Viral Hepatitis Control Programme (NASCP) of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, and Deputy Director, Head, Treatment Care and Support at the ministry, stated the need to address demand-side barriers to uptake HIV services by children, adolescents and their families.
According to him, Nigeria will further need to implement service delivery frameworks, as well as to ensure weight-based Anti-Retroviral (ARV) prescription and transition of treatment optimisation.
These, he said, are in line with the reversed National Acceleration Plan for Paediatrics and Adolescent HIV Treatment and Care (2020-2022).
“Of course, children die of HIV because they are fragile. If we don’t find these children on time, within two years we can lose up to 50percent of them, and in five years, we can lose 80percent of them.
“Currently, Nigeria records about 12,000 children that die yearly of HIV”, he stated.
Speaking in a post-meeting exclusive interview, the Senior HIV Specialist, UNICEF, New York, Dr. Dorothy Nbori-Ngacha, explained that the essence of the two-day meeting was to work towards ending HIV/AIDS in 2030 by focusing on HIV infection in children and women.
While acknowledging that Nigeria has achieved a lot in checking HIV among adults, she stated that the country has not fared well in paediatrics infection.
“Nigeria has done something exceptionally well in adults getting tested and being placed on treatment at a high level. Over 90percent of adults needing treatment in Nigeria are already receiving treatment.
“Unfortunately, for the children, we are not doing well. Only 40percent to half the proportion we’re seeing in adults get treatment. Why are our children left behind?” she said.
By: Sogbeba Dokubo
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