Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has cautioned traditional rulers in the state not to allow illegal oil bunkering and artisanal refinery activities in their domains.
The governor, who reiterated his resolve to sustain the war against illegal oil bunkering and artisanal refining activities, specifically warned the king of Akpor in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area and the king of Omerelu in Ikwerre Local Government Area not to allow such activities to thrive anymore in their respective domains.
Wike gave the charge when he presented staff of office and certificate of recognition to Nye-Nwe-Eli Emohua, Ohna Sergeant Awuse; and Nye-Nwe-Ali Akpor, Eze Ozuowuowu Orlu Oriebe at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Friday.
Both Nne-Nwe-Eli Emohua and Nye-New-Ali Akpor are first class stools in Emohua and Obio/Akpor local government areas, respectively.
The governor said the state government would not hesitate to depose the king of Akpor Kingdom, if illegal oil bunkering continues in Rumuokparaeli and Ogbogoro communities.
He also frowned at the king of Omerelu community where illegal oil bunkering activities were thriving.
According to Wike, aside the soot problem and economic sabotage associated with the criminal activities, the internal roads being reconstructed by his administration in Omerelu were damaged.
“We are doing internal roads in Omerelu. This is a community that has been crying for roads, and we have given them not less than 11/12kilometres of internal roads. Now, they’re spoiling it because of the conveying of the products. We can’t continue to accept that. I can’t understand why you just want to collect the chieftaincy title and do nothing.”
Wike told the two kings presented with their staff of office to come to terms with the responsibilities associated with their new status, and discharge them effectively.
He said they were to ensure peace prevailed in their domains by attending to all shades of conflict so that they do not snowball into crisis.
The governor also charged them to stop partisan politics but be willing always to work in synergy with the government in order to promote governance at the grassroots.
“This certificate of recognition comes with a lot of responsibilities. Do what you’re expected to do. Relate with government to know what is going on.
“When once you alert government, you’ve done your work. But if you don’t alert government, it’ll be considered that you’re part of it.”
Speaking further, Wike said the demolition of shanties would continue because hoodlums use such places as hideouts to perpetrate their criminal activities, including those found in the Government Residential Areas (GRAs) in Port Harcourt.
He said the state has also recovered government properties fraudulently acquired by retired civil servants.
“Civil servants will retire and change documents and forge it that they had allocation 20 years ago, for state government property. I am taking them back, all.”
2023: Wike, Makinde, Ortom, Duke Confer With Obasanjo
Three serving governors under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Engr Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Mr Samuel Ortom of Benue State; and former governor, Mr Donald Duke of Cross River State; last Monday, met with the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, over the 2023 presidential election.
The governors arrived the residence of Obasanjo, within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library at about 6.40p.m., and immediately went into a closed-door meeting.
Obasanjo, while speaking with newsmen, said Wike informed him about his presidential ambition, and that he wished him well.
The former president said the country needs a “courageous leader”, insisting that Nigeria was a complex nation, but not difficult to manage.
The former president said: “Of course, Governor Nyesom Wike as a presidential aspirant, in company of Governor of Oyo, Seyi Maknide; Governor of Benue, Samuel Ortom; former Governor of Cross River, Donald Duke; and former Deputy Senate President and former minister came to express to me his desire, and of course, I made the point that I have always made that, ‘I have ceased to be a partisan politician’.
“I don’t belong to any political party, but if politics is the welfare of the people, I cannot cease to be a politician because I must always seek the welfare of the people.
“And of course, you all know what the situation of Nigeria is, and anybody who doesn’t know that is either not a Nigerian or is not being truthful to himself or herself; and as I often said, no one individual can say ‘yes I can do it’, because the situation Nigeria is today, we need all hands, all Nigerian hands on deck to restore Nigeria and that is what Governor Wike is saying to me.
“Courage, he doesn’t lack it, and if you have courage and you have conviction to speak your mind, well you will have a saying in this part of the world that a person who speaks the truth all the time may not even get a mat spread for him because you will incur the displeasure of people, but you need the truth to be spoken and to get ourselves move Nigeria on the path of unity.
“Of course, we cannot get unity if there is no justice, if there is no fairness, if there is no equity. And when you have the basic ingredients that will bring unity and inclusiveness, then all other things will take their position. You will remove conflict, you will be able to deal with this pernicious issue of insecurity, and of course, the issue of economy and the wholesomeness of the society.
“The issues he raised are the issues that are dear to my own heart for unity and stability of Nigeria.
“There is one thing that I believe in, and I have always said it over and over again, ‘Nigeria is a complex country, but Nigeria is not a difficult country, if we are sincere and fair to ourselves, it is not a difficult country to manage’, and I wish him well.”
In his response, the PDP presidential aspirant, Chief Nyesom Wike, said he possesses the capacity and courage to address the challenge of insecurity, if elected as the next president of the country.
Speaking on zoning of the presidential ticket, Wike said: “It’s not as if I am championing zoning, it’s provided in the Constitution of PDP.Section 7 (3c) provides clearly, in clear terms, unambiguous that there shall be zoning of political and elective offices. That’s what we are talking about in Nigeria.
“Personal ambition will make us to avoid or not to do the right thing with impunity. But again, since they have decided there is no zoning, we are not running away, we have the capacity.
“As it stands today, you know that I am the only candidate everybody is afraid of. You know because obviously, I have gone round. But what we are saying is that, ‘let’s do the right thing’.”
Section 84(12): Court Fixes June 28 For Report On Supreme Court Decision
A Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, fixed June 28 for report on the outcome of the Federal Government’s suit seeking an interpretation of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Amendment Act, 2022 before the Supreme Court.
Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the matter after counsel for the plaintiff (Peoples Democratic Party), Joseph Daudu, SAN, told the court that the hearing of his case would depend on the apex court decision on the suit before it.
Upon resumption of the matter, Daudu informed that though the case was adjourned for all parties to look at their processes, some applications were served on him by some of the respondents.
Justice Ekwo then asked the senior lawyer if he had done a review of his case going by the directive he gave on the last adjourned date.
Daudu said he discovered that the judgement of the Court of Appeal on Section 84(12), if applied, would make the work of the court easier because the appellant court agreed with his client on two points.
He, however, said that the Appeal Court judgement “is still merely persuasive since it is not the final court.”
According to him, it is only the Supreme Court that has the final say.
Daudu further said that if there would be a likelihood of decision on the suit filed by the president and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on Thursday at the Supreme Court, the outcome would be either for the judgement to be binding on them or to allow the court hear their matter.
“So, all is pointing to the direction to know what the Supreme Court will say,” he said.
The judge then said that since processes had been filed and no response had been done, that showed that no issue had been joined.
“That means this matter has to abate,” he said.
Justice Ekwo, who ordered all the parties in the suit to file relevant processes before the new date, adjourned the matter until June 28 for report.
The court had, on May 16, asked the PDP to take a critical look at the development in its suit to know if it could still continue with the case.
Ekwo gave the advice after counsel for the PDP, Daudu, informed the court that based on the Court of Appeal judgement sitting in Abuja, the court could continue with the matter before it.
The PDP had sued the President, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Clerk of National Assembly.
It also sued Senate leader, House of Representatives leader and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 1st to 8th defendants, respectively.
Others include Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Deputy Senate Leader and Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives as 9th to 12th defendants in the matter.
The court had also joined Allied People’s Movement (APM) as 13 defendant in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/247/2022.
The PDP had challenged the legality or otherwise of the National Assembly tinkering with Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, after it had been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amidst debate about the subject matter, a Federal High Court, Umuahia in Abia and presided over by Justice Evelyn Anyadike, on March 18, ordered the AGF to delete Section 84(12) of the Act.
Anyadike, in the judgement, held that the section was “unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever and ought to be struck down as it cannot stand when it is in violation of the clear provisions of the Constitution.”
Anyadike held that Sections 66(1)(f), 107(1)(f), 137(1)(f), and 182(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution already stipulated that appointees of government seeking to contest elections were only to resign at least 30 days to the date of the election.
But the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on May 11, vacated the judgement of the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State, which voided the provision of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of justices led by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, held that the person that instituted the matter at the lower court, Mr Nduka Edede, lacked the locus standi to do so.
The appellate court, which invoked its constitutional powers to look at the substantive suit on its merit, however, held that Section 84(12) was unconstitutional and 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.
The Federal Government had also on April 29 filed a suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Amendment Act, 2022.
In the suit filed by the president and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), who are the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant.
They are seeking an order of the apex court to strike out the section of the Electoral Act, saying it is inconsistent with the nation’s Constitution.
The Supreme Court had also joined the Rivers Attorney-General and the Speaker of the state House of Assembly as defendants in the suit on May 19 and fixed Thursday for hearing.
Subscribers Reject FG’s N90.49bn New Tax On Phone Calls
Telecommunication subscribers have rejected a new Federal Government directive to impose a tax on telephone calls in the nation to fund free healthcare for the vulnerable.
The telecom tax in the equivalent of a minimum of one kobo per second for phone calls is part of the sources of funds required to finance free healthcare for the vulnerable group in Nigeria, according to the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2021 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, last week.
According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerians made 150.83 billion minutes of calls in 2020. This translates to 9.05 trillion seconds of calls, meaning the new tax will generate 9.05 trillion kobo, which converts to N90.49billion, yearly.
The new tax is coming despite moves by telecom companies to increase the price of calls, SMS, and data by 40 per cent as a result of an unfavourable operating environment.
According to the Health Insurance Act, the Vulnerable Group Fund is money budgeted to pay for healthcare services for vulnerable Nigerians who cannot pay for health insurance in a bid to subsidise the cost of provision of health care services to vulnerable people in the country.
It added that the Vulnerable Group Fund will subsidise the provision of healthcare to children under five, pregnant women, the aged, physically and mentally challenged, and the indigent as may be defined from time to time.
The Act includes a provision under Section 26 subsection 1c which states that one of the sources of money for the Vulnerable Group Fund shall include a telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls.
Other sources of funding outlined in the Act includes a basic healthcare provision fund to the authority; health insurance levy; telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls; money that may be allocated to the Vulnerable Group Fund by the government; motley that accrues to the Vulnerable Group Fund from investments made by the Council: and grants, donations, gifts, and any other voluntary contributions made to the Vulnerable Group Fund.
According to the new Act, every resident in Nigeria is expected to obtain health insurance.
However, telecom subscribers under the aegis of National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, have said they will reject this new move by the government.
The President of the association, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said, “It is quite unfortunate that the government is viewing telecoms as a cash cow. We are saying there is a lot of corruption in the system, and rather than curb that, they want to focus on the telecoms sector.
“What do they mean by vulnerable? Vulnerable people in the nation are probably about 80 per cent of the population, we are all vulnerable. What has happened to the health budget? Why should it touch telecoms again? The government should look elsewhere for money. This new action is only likely to impoverish more Nigerians and they are masquerading as helping the vulnerable. This is not right”.
Recently, telecom companies wrote to the Federal Government, through the NCC, on the worsening conditions of the industry.
A source at the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said that the NCC and ALTON would meet this week in order to discuss the issues disturbing the industry.
Commenting on the act on his LinkedIn page, the Fiscal Policy Partner, and Africa Tax Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Taiwo Oyedele, said this new law would translate to a nine per cent tax on GSM calls.
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