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Ekweremadu: Reps Beg UK Court For Leniency

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Ahead of the sentencing of former Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Ike Ekweremadu on May 5, the House of Representatives has appealed to the Central Criminal Court, United Kingdom, to temper justice with mercy.
This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance raised by the deputy minority leader of the House, Hon. Toby Okechukwu during the plenary session of the House yesterday.
The lawmakers also asked the United Kingdom government to interfere in the sentencing of Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice.
The lawmakers pleaded that the UK court “temper justice with mercy” in the sentencing of the lawmaker and also urged the Federal Government to take diplomatic steps to intervene in his trial.
It also asked the Clerk of the lower legislative chamber to “convey” their resolutions in writing to the British Embassy, the UK government and the parliament.
Ekweremadu is due to be sentenced on May 5 at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey in the UK.
Ekweremadu, 60; his wife, Beatrice, 56; and Dr Obinna Obeta, 51, were found guilty of processing the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey
Presenting the motion, Okechukwu said that Ekweremadu acted based on his limited knowledge of the UK laws, stressing that he must have learnt his lessons.
The lawmaker said: “Senator Ike Ekweremadu, a Nigerian citizen, serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, former Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, and former Deputy Speaker and Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament and his wife, Mrs Beatrice Ekweremadu, were tried and convicted by the Central Criminal Court, London, the United Kingdom (UK) for offences relating to the breach of the novel Modern Slavery Act 2015.
“The sentencing of the couple is scheduled for May 5, 2023.
“Senator Ike Ekweremadu acted within his limited knowledge of the UK laws and did write to the UK High Commission to support the medical visa application for the potential donor and did declare the purpose of the trip.
“Senator Ekweremadu and Mrs. Beatrice acted under the natural instincts of parents to save an ailing daughter, and not for commercial purposes.
“It is a common practice in international relations for nations, including the UK, to seek relief for their citizens involved in situations such as that of the Ekweremadus.
“The House is also aware of the longstanding history and cordial ties between Nigeria and the UK.
“Elder statesmen such as former Military Head of State and President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, have made a passionate plea for clemency, testifying also to Senator Ekweremadu’s character as a patriot, God-fearing, philanthropic and progressive citizen, who has served Nigeria and West Africa as former three-term Deputy President of the Senate as well as Deputy Speaker and Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament.
“Several Nigerian national dailies have also joined the call for clemency for the Ekweremadus through their editorials.
“The predicaments of Ekweremadu’s ailing daughter, who needs financial support and parental love of her parents to scale through her dire health challenge.
“The Ekweremadus must have learnt their lessons.”

 

 

 

 

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RVHA Dismisses Amaewhule’s Resolution On Rivers Govt Expenditure

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Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, has dismissed the purported resolution passed by Martin Amaewhule and his co-travellers wherein they claimed to have barred the Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, and the State Government from withdrawing money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.
This is contained in a statement signed by the Clerk of the House, Dr G. M. Gillis-West, on Tuesday.
In his opening speech before the start of legislative business at plenary in Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo wondered the basis of such audacity by Amaewhule and his cohorts when their seats had been declared vacant on December 13, 2023, by the immediate former Speaker of the 10th House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie.
Oko-Jumbo stated: “The House states as follows: On the 11th Day of December, 2023, at the 87th Legislative sitting of the House, former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule and the 24 former members defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“By virtue of Section 109(1)(g) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution, which are self executing, and consequent upon their defection, on the 13th Day of December, 2023, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie, DSSRS, Esq, PhD, as the then duly recognised Speaker of the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly, by virtue of a court order granted by Hon Justice Danagogo on the 12th Day of December, 2023, in Suit No. PHC/3030/CS/2023, and pursuant to Section 109(2) of the 1999 Constitution, declared their seats vacant.”
The speaker, therefore, said it is laughable to have heard and seen the news of the illegal sitting of the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, led by Amaewhule on television screens and
social media space on the 15th Day of July, 2024.
Recall that Amaewhule and 24 others had passed a resolution to the effect that Governor Fubara was not permitted to authorize the withdrawal of moneys from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.
The resolution further threatened that the Amaewhule led House would declare a shutdown on expenditures, until an Appropriation Bill for the 2024 fiscal year is presented and passed by the group.
The purported resolution also directed the governor to desist from further authorization of withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State, while directing all Rivers State Government Ministries, Commissions, Agencies, Departments and Extra-Ministerial Departments to desist from spending taxpayers’ funds until the 2024 Appropriation Bill is laid before the former lawmakers.
Decrying the Amaewhule-led Assembly directives, Oko-Jumbo insisted that “Consequent upon constitutional provisions and the declaration of their seats vacant, the recognised 10th Rivers State House of Assembly is the one led by Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo.
“Thus, the Rivers State Government has ceased paying any form of salaries, allowances or statutory remunerations to the former members.
“The 10th Rivers State House of Assembly, which is the legitimate House under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo is the only one recognised by law and the Rivers State Government, and thus, has been receiving all statutory allocations due the House of Assembly.
“And has been discharging its financial obligations by paying the salaries of the recognised Honourable members of the House, their aides, and allowances of the public servants in the Rivers State House of Assembly.”
Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo said Amaewhule and the 24 ex-lawmakers had hinged their resolution on Section 122 of the 1999 Constitution, which empowers a State Governor to continue to make appropriations for six months, from the budget of the previous fiscal year, where for any reason, he was unable to present an Appropriation Bill to the House.
He noted, “May I remind the defected members that His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, GSSRS, presented the 2024 Appropriation Bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly, under the leadership of the then Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie, DSSRS.
“And it was duly passed on the 13th Day of December, 2023, and assented to on the 14th Day of December, 2023.”
Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo said further: “This House awaits to receive from His Excellency, the presentation of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for the next three financial years, pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers State Fiscal Responsibility Law, No 8 of 2010, in order to prepare for the 2025 fiscal year.
“The general public is, therefore, called upon to disregard and ignore those misguided former members, and also discountenance their illegal actions.
“I once again call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to expedite preparations towards the conduct of a bye-election to fill the vacant seats created in the Rivers State House of Assembly by the defection of Martin Amaewhule and 24 others.”
Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo explained that the position of the Rivers State House of Assembly led by him has been communicated to the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, the Head of the Civil Service of Rivers State, the Accountant-General, and Auditor-General of Rivers State.
Other institutions that have also been communicated, according to Oko-Jumbo, include the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria; Chairman of Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission; Accountant-General of the Federation; Group Managing Director/CEO, Zenith Bank PLC; and Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank Group.
At the commencement of legislative business, member representing Opobo/Nkoro State Constituency and Deputy Speaker, Hon Adolphus Orubienimigha, proposed the Rivers State Vocational and Technical Training Institute Bill 2024, which passed first reading.
The bill seeks the establishment of a comprehensive training institute where Rivers youths, including women can access to learn and acquire requisite and industry-based skills to become self-reliant or employable where such skills are needed.
Also at plenary, the House entertained the motion to Prohibit Public Defecation, which was proposed by Deputy Speaker, Hon Adolphus Orubienimigha, demanding the declaration of public health emergency on public defecation in order to protect public health, dignity of lives and ensure environmental responsibility in the State.
The House also received a petition from the Ataba Community in Andoni Local Government Area over ongoing land dispute between Bonny and Ataba communities, with the House Speaker referring the petition to the Committee on Public Complaints headed by the member representing Ahoada West State Constituency and Leader of the House, Hon Sokari Goodboy Sokari.

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N70,000 Minimum Wage: How Tinubu Convinced Labour Leaders

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President Bola Tinubu yesterday increased the Federal Government’s offer on the national minimum wage from N62,000 to N70,000, with an assurance that it will be reviewed after three years, instead of five years.
Tinubu said he had to intervene in the negotiations, knowing the economic challenges faced by many Nigerians, and the need to provide urgent succour.
He said this at a meeting with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja.
“I have heard all your presentations. You came here with the intention to get something on behalf of your members. It has been tough globally. And if you review my track record, I have never been found wanting in ameliorating the problem of workers.
“I belong to the people and to all of you in leadership. Without you, this job is not interesting,” the President said, in statement by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, his spokesman.
He said the labour leaders challenged the thinking faculty of leadership, “and we have reviewed the position. I have consulted widely, and when the tripartite committee submitted their reports, I reviewed them again and started to think and rethink.
“Last week, I brought the workload to you because we have a timeline. We have a problem, and we recognise that you have a problem too.
“We are in the same economy. We are in the same country. We may have different rooms, different addresses, and different houses; we are just members of one family that must care for each other.
“We must look at the parameters of things. Here, I have a speed limit, and I must pay attention to traffic warnings; slippery when wet, curved roads, and be careful not to have an accident. That is why I went as far as having this meeting today.”
He said the government and labour leaders were driving the economy together.
“Let us look at the tenure of review. Let us agree on that, and affirm three years. Two years is too short. We affirm three years. We will review.
“I am going to move from the tripartite committee. I am going to edge a little bit forward, looking at the review that we have done.
“Yes, no one in the federal establishment should earn less than N70,000. So, we are going to benchmark at N70,000,” he said.
Tinubu explained that renewing the hope of Nigerians extended to providing infrastructure that would improve their livelihoods and create an inclusive economy that all could participate and benefit.
The President said the government was committed to reducing the cost of transportation with the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas-powered buses, which would be cheaper and efficient.
He also assured the labour unions of providing buses that would be deployed across the country.
President Tinubu also said the entitlements of members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Institutions would be considered.
He urged the Ministries of Finance, and Budget & Economic Planning to look at the possibilities of clearing the backlog.
At the meeting, Sen. George Akume, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, thanked the President for his consideration of issues as the “Father of the Nation” and scheduling two meetings to resolve the initial impasse.
“Mr President, at the tripartite meeting, and the resolutions of the government, Organised Private Sector and labour unions; we were all united as one family to promote and grow our economy, and deepen our democracy, by implication to the benefit of all.
“Basically, that is what we are saying today. We have a listening President here,” said Akume.
Comrade Joe Ajaero, the NLC President, and Comrade Festus Osifo, his TUC counterpart, thanked the President for creating time to host two meetings on the review of the national minimum wage.
The two labour leaders acknowledged that at the last meeting, the President directed the rescheduling of an official trip in order to attend the second meeting.
The labour leaders also expressed their appreciation to the President, applauding him for his clear show of commitment to the welfare of Nigerian workers.

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Rivers Crisis: Sanction Wike Before He Throws Nigeria Into Chaos, Momodu Tells Tinubu

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A 2023 presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dele Momodu, has called for stricter discipline within the administration, particularly regarding the ongoing political situation in Rivers State.
Dele Momodu made this known in an open letter to President Bola Tinubu, yesterday.
“You must enforce Discipline as a leader,” Momodu stated in the open letter, The Tide gleaned from his X handle.
He specifically addressed the actions of the former governor of Rivers State and current Federal Capital Territory minister, Nyesom Wike.
“Your new disciple, Nyesom Wike, has publicly disrespected you in the Fubara matter,” Momodu wrote.
Momodu warned of potentially severe consequences if the situation is not addressed promptly, stating, “You need to sanction him before he throws Nigeria into total chaos.”
In his letter, Momodu, despite being a member of the opposition, positioned himself as a concerned friend with a long-standing relationship with the President.
Momodu wrote, “Nigeria is in big trouble. Our economy has virtually collapsed. And what’s the way out? You’ve been wasting too much money at a time that requires absolute frugality. Please, stop this reckless propensity for wasting scarce resources.
“Purchasing Presidential jets, building outlandish monuments, distributing cash as palliatives, etc, are signs of a failed and careless government. If you can curb the excessive spending of your government, you will free up a lot of resources for serious development.”
He criticised what he perceives as wasteful spending by the administration, urging for absolute frugality in these challenging times.
He said, “I believe you’re frittering away our resources because you desperately crave a second term. But the best assurance of a second term is Performance. Nigerians are not expecting you to turn water into wine but they don’t want you to turn their wines into water.
“Here are my tips: invest in vocational skills for our highly talented youths who can demonstrate their capacity for hard work. Invest heavily in local agriculture. Upgrade our institutions of learning. Giving cash to politicians to distribute is unhealthy and unhelpful. It is the height of cluelessness.”
Momodu also cautioned against the influence of sycophants, particularly in the National Assembly, advising the President to be wary of those who worship him.
He wrote, “In the name of God, beware of those hero-worshippers at the National Assembly who have turned you into God. NDUME is your best friend. Listen to him. There’s danger ahead.
“You must enforce Discipline as a leader. Your new disciple, Nyesom Wike, has publicly disrespected you in the Fubara matter. You need to sanction him before he throws Nigeria into total chaos.”

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