Ekweremadu: ECOWAS Parliament Pleads For Clemency
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS Parliament has appealed to the United Kingdom authorities to grant Senator Ike Ekweremadu clemency in view of his conviction on charges of organ harvesting.
Ekweremadu, his wife and a medical doctor based in the United Kingdom are awaiting sentencing after they were convicted by a UK court.
However, in a letter by the Speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, Dr. Sidie Mohamed Tunis, he urged the United Kingdom Court to temper justice with mercy.
In the letter addressed to the Chief Clerk, Central Criminal Court Old Bailey, London, the Speaker said though the ECOWAS frowns at the crime for which Ekweremadu had been convicted, it believes that lessons had been learnt.
The Speaker said Ekweremadu was known for his various interventions on issues affecting the wellbeing of the citizens.
He said, “I am aware of the conviction and pending sentencing of Senator Ike Ekweremadu (my predecessor in office) and his wife, Mrs. Beatrice Ekweremadu, who had just undergone trial at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey over the breach of UK laws relating to organ trafficking and modern slavery.
“Senator Ike Ekweremadu had over a decade of service with the ECOWAS Parliament. Within that period, he was Speaker of the Third Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament from 2011 to 2015. He equally served as the First Deputy Speaker of the Second Legislature of the Parliament from 2007 to 2011.
“Ekweremadu is highly appreciated in the Parliament and the West African sub-region for his sterling roles in the development of the Community Parliament and the preservation and stabilisation of democracy in the sub-region.
“I wish to recall that as the First Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament in 2009, he chaired the ECOWAS Parliament Ad Hoc Committee on the Political Situations in Niger Republic and the Republic of Guinea. His efforts in that regard contributed in no small measure towards resolving the impasse in the two ECOWAS Member States.
“As Speaker, he strenuously and diligently guided the ECOWAS Parliament in the actualization of the 2011-2015 Strategic Plan of the Community Parliament, among them, the strengthening of the institutional role and powers of the ECOWAS Parliament and the promotion and defence of human rights, justice, gender, democracy, peace, and security in the sub-region.
“He rallied the Parliament against unconstitutional takeover of power in West Africa, as well as the menace of terrorism, insurgency, and militancy. He visited virtually every flashpoint, sometimes at his very personal expense, in the quest to preserve democracy, peace, and stability in the subregion.
“Importantly, we, to a very great extent, owe it to his leadership the Enhancement of the Powers of the Community Parliament, a cause he dedicated himself and his resources to in the determined bid of the Third Legislature to transit the Parliament from a consultative to a legislative Parliament. In addition, we will always be grateful to his leadership for the infrastructural transformation of the ECOWAS Parliament.
“I also wish to recall Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s interventions in his personal capacity towards the welfare of Parliamentarians and their constituents in special need throughout his long years of service in the Community Parliament.
“Many Members of Parliament had had the opportunity of attending the Annual Ikeoha Foundation Day where he, together with his wife, doled out full scholarships and bursary awards to indigent students to brighten their future, while equally empowering widows and the youth.
“In view of Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s contributions to the West African Community Parliament and his knowledge of the sub-region, as well as his wide experience as a ranking Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, longest-serving presiding officer of the legislature in Nigeria, and a member of several international legislative institutions such as the International Parliament for Tolerance and Peace, International Parliamentary Congress, Climate Parliament, among others, it could be understood why he has been a major asset to the ECOWAS region.
“He remains a priceless resource and his long absence owing to his circumstance since June 2022 has denied us his invaluable service. It remains dreadful if he faces a long prison sentence in the present circumstance.
“Concerning his daughter, Sonia, I wish to state that it is a common feeling among parents, especially in Africa, not to bury or survive his or her child.
“As a father, therefore, I can easily relate with the pains, dilemma, and crossroads of the Senator and his wife over the health condition of their ailing daughter, who must still undergo a kidney transplant to stand a chance of surviving to fulfil her destiny.
“And who else could foot the bills better and also provide that morale support for the daughter? It still remains Senator and Mrs. Ekweremadu. It is certain that Sonia cannot survive the absence of her parents in her present health condition.
“At this juncture, I wish to add that I totally stand against the crime for which the Senator and his spouse have been convicted. The Community Parliament also stands against it. We do not support organ harvesting in any way and by any method. Nevertheless, we believe that lessons have been learnt, not only by Ekweremadu, but by everybody.”
The Speaker appealed to the court, on behalf of the ECOWAS Parliament, “for leniency in meting out justice to the couple. We understand the position of the law, but only appeal that the honourable court puts on a human face in this circumstance and temper justice with mercy, especially considering his good behaviour and contributions to the good of the society, the less privileged, and democracy.
“Importantly, the typical Ekweremadu, being one, who is given to charity work and experienced in lawmaking in Nigeria and internationally, could also be very useful to the Nigerian and international community in public enlightenment and legal reforms campaigns on organ trafficking to curtail such incidents drawing from his personal experience.”
We’ll Expand Socio-Economic Opportunities For All Rivers People -Fubara ……As Wike Bows Out
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has declared his administration’s resolve to expand the existing socio-economic opportunities in order to engender prosperity for all Rivers people.
Fubara made this declaration on Monday at the General Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Elekahia, venue of his swearing-in as the sixth democratically elected governor of Rivers State.
Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi, administered the oath of office on the new governor and his deputy, Prof. Ngozi Odu.
Thereafter, the former governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, handed over the flag of Rivers State and handover notes to his successor.
Fubara, in his inaugural address titled “Together, Let’s Consolidate the New Rivers State”, noted the poor state of the national economy, but promised that his administration would take measures to diversify Rivers economy and insulate it so that it can grow.
He also assured of promoting the climate of ease of doing business in the State to attract direct foreign investment capable of empowering Rivers people.
“The primary responsibility of a new government is to do its best to advance the security and well-being of the State and its citizens.
“Therefore, as we undertake our responsibilities, we promise to stay the course, commit to cooperative governance and expand opportunities for everyone. The wishes of our people for a happy life are our mission in politics.
“We will prioritise the well-being of the State and citizens with a renewed focus on economic growth, people-centred projects and social services”, he said.
He said further that, “We will improve the ease of doing business and sustain a congenial fiscal regime to attract local and foreign direct investments to stimulate greater economic activities, create wealth and improve citizens’ livelihoods.
“We will adopt a re-industrialization policy master plan and partner with the private sector to revive or establish viable industries to create jobs and empower our people.
“We will also support the growth of small businesses and encourage commercial agriculture to achieve food security, industrialization and improved living standards for citizens.”
Fubara added that his administration is already building on the successes of his predecessor and will construct more projects including the Port Harcourt ring road.
According to him, there shall be healthy partnership with private investors to provide integrated inter-modular public transportation system in the State.
“We witnessed unprecedented growth in infrastructure in the last eight years, but there’s still more to do.
“We will follow our leader’s footsteps to invest in capital projects, including roads, bridges, electricity supply to our rural areas, and social housing.
“We will, therefore, partner with the private sector to develop an integrated multimodal public transportation system to advance mass mobility and access to socio-economic opportunities across the state.
“We will also construct the Port Harcourt Ring Road to enhance the mobility of goods and services across the State”.
Fubara said the challenges in the health sector like inadequate manpower and corruption would be addressed to achieve optimal performance.
In the education sector, he promised to provide smart classrooms for students to prepare for global competition, empower the youths with skills to become economically active while being connected to small and medium scale business opportunities.
He said, “We care about our youth. We know they need jobs, opportunities, empowerment and the freedom to build sound, promising futures. We will not abandon our youth to their fate. We will continue prioritizing education at all levels and empower our youth with the relevant skills and opportunities to become economically active, productive and prosperous.
“We believe in the job creation capacity of small and medium enterprises. And so, we shall facilitate targeted access to low-interest funds for youth entrepreneurs to start or improve their businesses, earn decent incomes and generate employment for themselves and others.”
The governor particularly acknowledged the achievements of his predecessor in the health sector saying, “We are also proud of the state’s achievements in the healthcare sector, particularly the construction of new primary healthcare centres, the Mother and Child Hospital, the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases Diagnostic and Treatment Centre and the contributory Healthcare Insurance Law.
“With what is on the ground, it is evident that the primary challenges with our healthcare system are more with inadequate manpower, corruption, indiscipline and ineffective management”.
Fubara gave a firm assurance by saying: “I assure you that apart from completing all ongoing healthcare infrastructure projects, we will deal with all identified challenges and ensure that the healthcare system functions optimally to deliver affordable and efficient healthcare to citizens.
“We are equally proud of the State’s unprecedented educational advancement, especially in the last four years. Our public schools at all levels, irrespective of location, are some of the lovely and best-resourced in the country.”
According to him, his administration will consolidate on the progress made so far by “introducing smart schools and classrooms across the State to empower our children with world-class learning experiences and make Rivers State a knowledge hub.”
Fubara vowed to be hard on crime and criminality in the State saying, “We will be hard on crime and criminality. We will swiftly and firmly deal with anyone, regardless of status or position, rich or poor, who breaks our laws or dares to violate our environment, peace and security”.
The governor thanked civil servants for their support and promised regular payment of salary, gratuity, more training, promotion for them and housing for low income earners.
Describing the civil servants as members of his constituency, he said, “To our civil servants, I thank all of you for your invaluable contributions to the state’s progress over the years.
“We appreciate your indispensability and promise to meet all our obligations to you, including regular payment of wages, pensions, gratuity, training and promotions. All we ask is your continued patriotism, dedication, and enthusiasm in the execution of your official duties”.
He further promised to govern Rivers people with the fear of God, cognizance of the fact that Rivers is a Christian state.
He also assured the church and spiritual leaders of his administration robust partnership to enhance the moral and spiritual wellbeing of Rivers people.
“Rivers State is a Christian State, and God is our foundation. We shall govern with the fear of God and stay strong to our Christian values of trust, faith, love, care and sacrifice.”
“We shall deepen the inseparable ties between the Church and the State government for the benefit of our people. We assure the Christian Association of Nigeria and other spiritual leaders of our sincere friendship, support and solidarity.
“We will continue to support and work with the Church to defend our faith, advance our values and enhance our people’s moral and spiritual well-being”, he assured.
At the Government House, Port Harcourt, the governor hung the official portraits of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his own and that of his predecessor, Wike.
… Appoints Nwaeke HoS, Ideozu Acountant General
The Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has approved two new strategic appointments in the state Civil Service.
In the latest development, the governor has approved the appointment of the most senior civil servant and permanent secretary, Dr. George Nwaeke as Head of Service, Rivers State.
He also approved the appointment of Dr Uche Ideozu as the new Accountant General of Rivers State.
A statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communications in Rivers State, Ibiwari Clapton-Ogolo, Esq, said that the appointments take immediate effect.
The two fresh appointments bring to six the number of appointments already made by the governor since assuming duties on Monday, May 29.
The first set of appointments was the nomination of four former commissioners under Governor Nyesom Wike as commissioner-designates.
The names are Prof Zaccheaus Adangor, Dr Dakorima George-Kelly, Isaac Kamalu, and Prof Prince Chinedu Mmom.
While Adangor was attorney general and commissioner for justice, George-Kelly was works commissioner, Kamalu was finance commissioner, and Mmom was education commissioner.
Fuel Scarcity: Tinubu Resumes Work, Meet With Emefiele, Kyari
President Bola Tinubu yesterday officially resumed work at the Presidential Villa, Abuja where he met with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele and the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mr. Mele Kyari.
This was the first official assignment by the President after his inauguration as the 16th President of the country at the Eagle Square, Abuja, on Monday.
The President arrived at the forecourt of the State House at about 2:30 pm through the quarter guard gate, which is his official entrance gate and was received by the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the outgoing Director of Protocol, DOP.
Others who received him were Emefiele, Kyari and a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. James Faleke, among others.
The President went straight to his office with Emefiele, Kyari, Gbajabiamila, Faleke and others.
Although the agenda of the meeting was not made public, it may not be unconnected with the removal of fuel subsidy and the attendant fuel scarcity.
It is expected that the issue of unification of foreign exchange, recent Naira redesign, among others will also be discussed.
Recall that President Tinubu had during his inaugural speech announced that the subsidy has been removed and this immediately made filling stations to shut down operations across the country.
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