A female contractor and Managing Director of Andrew Bishopton Nigeria Limited, Jackie Ikeotuonye, has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, over alleged threat to her life and those of her family by the powers that be, in Ebonyi State.
The Ebonyi State Government contracted the company in 2015 to pursue and recover excess deductions on foreign and local loan facilities and other hanging funds, especially the Paris club refund, on its behalf.
She said her life became threatened after the state government reneged on the contract terms it had with the consulting firm, refused to pay the agreed 25percent commission; abruptly terminated the contract and when she approached the court to seek redress.
The development led to her arrest and detention, in August, 2022.
She stated this in a petition she made available to journalists, in Abakaliki, yesterday.
In the petition, which was written by her solicitors, Henry Chukwudi& Co., she called on the police authority to swing into action to unravel the circumstances that led to her initial arrest and detention, in August.
The petition read in part, “We are solicitors to Dr. Jackie Ikeotuonye and Andrew Bishopton Limited; (hereinafter referred to as our clients) and on whose firm and unequivocal instructions we make the following representations.
“The said company was appointed by the Ebonyi State Government as a consultant to recover excess deductions/charges on foreign/local loan facilities and other hanging funds on behalf of Ebonyi State via a letter dated 6th October, 2015, and signed by the then Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Dennis Ude Ekumankama.
“This appointment was followed by a consultancy services agreement signed between the Ebonyi State Government and The Company on the 17th day of November, 2015 wherein it was stated that the state would pay the company 25percent of any sum reconciled, recovered and paid into the account of the state by the Federal Government.
“Meanwhile, on completion of the assignment, the governor of Ebonyi State sent in two demand letters to the Hon Minister of Finance for the repatriation of the reconciled amount of $119, 419,427.59 being over deductions on the account of Ebonyi State Government foreign loans service.
The said letter is herewith attached as annexure 006 for your ease of reference.
“Yet, they claimed our clients did nothing. It might interest you to know that Ebonyi State sadly has an antecedent for disengaging consultants at the point of payment for services.”
It added, “It is further in our brief that instead of towing the path of honour and pay our clients their dues, the state government instead in response to their letters for payment, purportedly terminated the contract via two letters backdated to 26th September, 2016 and 7th June, 2016.
“It is further in our brief that our client’s children are still and highly traumatised, and psychologically disoriented due to the commando style in which the stern looking and heavily armed men stormed our client’s home.
“At the moment, the governor and the government of EbonyiState are still threatening to deal with our client if our client does not go to the High Court in Port Harcourt to set aside the judgement.
“I, therefore, use this medium to call upon you Sir, to use your office to ensure that justice prevails and to put the governor and the Government of Ebonyi State to check.”
But the Commissioner for Information in the state, Barrister Orji Uchenna Orji, denied the state government ever contracted and owed Andrew Bishopton Nigeria Limited, saying that the claims by the latter were baseless and unfounded.
During a press briefing, in Abakaliki, he alleged that the representatives of the organisation, had, at various times confessed it never had any contractual agreement with the state government.
“The general public is enjoined to discountenance the claims thereof as shenanigans of unscrupulous elements who are on a forum shopping over a clearly and notoriously baseless allegation of performing consultancy services for the Government of Ebonyi, and please discard their claims as vaulting ambitions of greedy people who are on fruitless enterprise and wild-goose chase looking undeservedly for funds meant for the development of Ebonyi State.
“The state government had in different communications extracted confessions from the representatives of Andrew Bishopton Nigeria Limited to the effect that the said company and its partners acted in bad faith and had no contractual basis to make claims against the state government and or the local government councils in the state in respect of any transaction executed or services rendered whatsoever for or on behalf of the state government and or local government areas in the state.”
RSHA: Amaewhule-Led Lawmakers Defy Court Order, Elect New Leaders
The crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly took a new twist on Wednesday as lawmakers loyal to the former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, sat under tight security in the complex.
This is contrary to the court order asking the two factions of the State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit filed by the Edison Ehie faction.
Recall that Ehie faction had obtained a court order that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit seeking to sack Amaewhule as the House Speaker.
The Rivers Assembly had become factionalised following an unsuccessful move to impeach Governor Siminialayi Fubara.
The Amaewhule-led lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and political godfather, Nyesom Wike.
It was learnt that ahead of Wednesday’s sitting, cleaners had on Tuesday been deployed to clean up the Assembly complex, which had been under locks, since October 29, following an explosion in the complex the night before.
One of the cleaners said they were instructed to tidy up the complex ahead of a sitting on Wednesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday sitting was held for about two hours as a team of riot policemen and security vans were stationed in front of the House to prevent any breaches.
It was gathered that the lawmakers elected a former Chief Whip as the new Majority Leader of the Assembly.
The member, representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 1, Frankline Nwabochi, was named the new Chief Whip.
An unsigned statement sent to the Assembly Press Corps obtained by The Tide said the two new principal officers accordingly took their oath of office.
Amaewhule congratulated them, charging them to be committed to their new responsibilities.
According to the statement, the lawmakers also passed the first reading of a Bill seeking to amend the Rivers State Local Government Law, No. 5 of 2018.
They also debated on the Rivers State House of Assembly Funds Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023, which passed second reading on Wednesday.
Amaewhule who described the Bill as important, expressed his conviction that Governor Fubara would assent to it after the lawmakers finally pass it.
He hinted that the governor had withheld funds meant for the Assembly for the month of November.
He said the lawmakers were determined to perform their constitutional duties despite the distractions.
He thereafter referred the Bill to the House Committee on Public Accounts for public hearing and further legislative scrutiny.
The other faction of the Assembly led by Ehie, and loyal to Fubara, had yet to react to the Wednesday development as of the time of filing this report.
Ogoni Group Mulls Recall Of Lawmakers Over Foiled Fubara’s Impeachment
An Advocacy group in Rivers State, Ogoni Development Drive (ODD), says it has begun the process to recall four Ogoni lawmakers from the Rivers House of Assembly over their alleged roles in the botched impeachment of Governor Similanayi Fubara.
The lawmakers are Dumle Maol (PDP, Gokana constituency), Barile Nwakoh (PDP, Khana), Aforji Igwe (PDP, Eleme) and Bernard Ngba (PDP, Tai).
The group’s Convener, Comrade Solomon Lenu, made this known at a news conference in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Recall that Fubara survived an alleged impeachment plot on October 30.
ODD said it had on November 10 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the four Ogoni lawmakers who partook in the plot that attempted to serve an impeachment notice to Governor Fubara.
The four lawmakers, now suspended, were asked to apologise to the Ogoni people whom they represent and to Gov. Fubara for denigrating his exalted office or risk being recalled.
“Instead of heeding this advice and embracing the olive branch extended to them, they rather embarked on an egocentric escapade,” the group said.
Lenu further said the lawmakers rather than heed to the advice by ODD, engaged in various meetings that purportedly plotted to unseat the governor.
“Governor Fubara was collectively voted for by the entire Rivers people, and as such, the action by the lawmakers has not gone well with all men and women of conscience.
“It is illogical for the erring assembly members to think it is right to impeach an innocent governor for no just cause but wrong to recall them for erring against their constituents.
“The suspended lawmakers called a bluff of ODD ultimatum, and so, we have decided to carry out this recall process in earnest, to put our democracy aright,” he said.
Lenu said the group had already reached an advanced level in sensitising and mobilising the lawmaker’s constituents to recall them.
He said that ODD had also obtained the comprehensive voters’ register of all voters in the four local government areas and constituencies.
According to him, an electronic capture form has also been created to make the petition process easier for students at various tertiary school campuses and those on holiday to sign the petition.
“So far, the response from the aggrieved constituents has been very impressive, and we shall in a few weeks’ time complete the compilation of the required signatures.
“The signatures are required for INEC to call for a referendum, which shall be carried out in branches with strict security guidance, to abort any sinister counterplot against democracy.
“We know this process is not going to be easy, but we are ready to go all the way, to create a sense of responsibility in our elected leaders,” he said.
Lenu said instilling a sense of responsibility in politicians and elected leaders would further entrench democratic tenets in the country.
The ODD convener called on the people of Ogoni to come forward and sign the petition, to end political “jamboree and illicit godfatherism” in the state.
The Tide reports that 26 lawmakers on Oct. 30 proceeded to impeach Fubara but were stopped by four pro-Fubara lawmakers led by Ehie Edison (PDP-Ahoada East II).
Mr Martins Amaewhule (Obio Akpor constituency), a close ally of a former governor, was later ousted as Speaker and Ehie sworn in as the new Speaker.
However, Amaewhule insists that he is still the Speaker of the House of Assembly, resulting in some form of confusion over the office of the Speaker.
FRSC Commander Faces Sanction Over Unauthorised Comments
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), yesterday, disowned the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, over his recent statement on Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services.
Ibrahim was quoted to have said that VIO officials did not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
But Deputy Corps Marshal, Bisi Kazeem, in a statement, yesterday, said Ibrahim’s comment was not the position of the Corps.
Kazeem added that the concerned official had been recalled to the national headquarters for necessary disciplinary action.
The statement read, “The Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to make a pertinent clarification regarding the pronouncement by the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, that Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services, do not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
“The general public is advised to disregard the statement as it had no approval of the Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali Biu, and does not in anyway reflect the corporate or general position of the Corps.
“It is important for the public know that the laws establishing VIOs/State Traffic Management Agencies give them the statutory mandate to make arrests on different offences depending on the state within which they operate. As such, the agencies should be given the maximum cooperation for the enhancement of safety on our roads.
“On this note and in line with sustaining the Corps’ resolve that road safety is a collective responsibility, and in acknowledgement of the roles the State Traffic Management Agencies like the Vehicle Inspection Officers play in complementing the statutory responsibilities of the FRSC through enforcement of traffic laws, the Corps Marshal has ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Unit Commander to the national headquarters for necessary administrative and disciplinary actions.
“The public is admonished to always comply with all established traffic regulations and cooperate with security agencies deployed to maintain law and order on the highways, irrespective of their corporate mandate.”
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