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Ex-NUPENG Secretary, Frank Kokori Dies At 80, Keyamo Mourns

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Former General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Chief Frank Kokori, who has been on hospital bed over kidney-related ailment for the past month, is dead.
He was aged 80 years.
The Tide gathered that Kokori passed away at a private hospital in Warri around 1:30 am yesterday, which is coincidentally his 80th birthday.
Kokori’s Personal Assistant, Atawada Oke, who disclosed the passage of the veteran labour leader to journalists early yesterday, noted that his health relapsed on Monday when he was unable to interact with people around him while he was placed on life support.
Kokori was said to have made a distress call from his hospital bed over his health status on Thursday, November 9, 2023, lamenting that he had been neglected and abandoned to die in spite of his huge contribution to the democratic growth of the country.
Consequently, dignitaries including Delta State Governor, Sheriff Oborevwori; former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; officials of NUPENG among others visited him.
Kokori emerged as a pivotal figure in the struggle for the validation of the annulled June 12, 1993, presidential election won by late Chief Moshood Abiola.
Military junta, Ibrahim Babangida, annulled the results, causing outrage and protests across the country.
Kokori was involved in mobilising the masses against the annulment.
He led NUPENG and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in organising nationwide strikes that crippled the oil industry, the country’s economic lifeblood.
The strikes served as a powerful weapon against the military regime, putting significant pressure on Babangida to reverse his decision.
In addition to leading the oil workers’ strikes, Kokori was actively involved in pro-democracy activities.
He participated in various rallies and demonstrations, calling for the enthronement of democracy and the recognition of Abiola’s victory.
He also played a crucial role in building alliances with other pro-democracy groups and individuals, fostering unity and a common front against the military regime.
As a result of his relentless activism, Kokori was arrested and detained by the military government, enduring imprisonment and torture.
Despite the hardships he faced, Kokori remained undeterred, continuing to advocate for democracy and the ideals he believed in.
His unwavering commitment and courageous actions earned him widespread respect and admiration, solidifying his status as a hero in the fight for June 12.
While reacting to Kokori’s death via his profile on X, (formerly Twitter), yesterday, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, described the deceased as his “mentor and guide,” adding that Kokori struggled for the restoration of the June 12 mandate while in Bama prisons.
His tweets read, “I mourn the passing away of my father-in-the-struggle, my mentor and my guide. When Frank Kokori was in solitary confinement in Bama prisons for his struggle for the restoration of the June 12 mandate nearly 30 years ago, I personally represented him in various courts, fighting for his freedom.
“As a result, I became an adopted ‘son’ of his family. His late wife and children were constantly in court with me and I would spend time in their home in Surulere.”
The Senior advocate said he later joined Kokori “years later in the APC family in Delta State to struggle to liberate our State. He lived in the struggle and died in the struggle.”
“This is definitely the end of an era. My deepest condolences to his family members, the APC fold in Delta State and the Labour movement in Nigeria,” Keyamo stated.

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Customs Suspends Rice Sale As Seven Die In Stampede

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The Nigeria Customs Service has announced the suspension of the sale of foodstuffs following a stampede that reportedly killed seven persons at the NCS Old Zonal Headquarters in the Yaba area of Lagos State, last Friday.
A Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer for Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, disclosed the suspension of the exercise in a statement on Monday.
Nigeria Customs had said it was selling seized food items at N10,000 per 25kg to alleviate the people’s suffering as a result of the current high cost of living and other economic hardships.
Last Friday, a pregnant woman and six others reportedly died in a stampede after some suspected hoodlums attempted to force their way into the Yaba Customs office compound.
Some Lagos residents who thronged the NCS office in Yaba expressed disappointment on Monday following the suspension of the initiative.
However, in a statement on Monday evening, the NCS said the suspension became necessary considering “the recent unfortunate event.”
“We regrettably announce the suspension of this exercise until we establish what transpired on Friday, February 23, 2024,” the NCS spokesman said.
He explained that: “The disposal of the food items got off to a smooth start at about 0800hrs. We enjoyed the cooperation of the large crowd that obliged us, giving preferences to the elderly, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Nigerians who showed up for the exercise.
“This was the case up until about 1700hrs, as attested to by the over 5,000 beneficiaries and members of the press. However, unforeseen challenges arose when we ran out of stock and announced the continuation of the exercise the following day, leading to a regrettable outcome.
“The crowd became desperate and charged through our barricades in search of rice bags inside emptied containers. In the stampede that ensued, some fatalities and injuries were regrettably recorded.”
The Customs extended its “heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the unfortunate incident.”
The service said it was working with health authorities to establish contact and engage directly with the victims’ families on their next steps.

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Court Dismisses Police Objection Against Fubara’s CoS …Restrains Police From Arresting Ehie

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A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, yesterday, dismissed the preliminary objection by counsel to the Nigerian Police, Celestine Dickson, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the fundamental rights suit by the Chief of Staff to Governor Siminalayi Fubara, Hon. Edison Ehie against the police for lack of merit.
The trial Judge, Justice Sika Aprioku, in a ruling, yesterday, assumed jurisdiction and held that the non-joinder of the Nigeria Police Force in a matter that the Commissioner of Police is a party to does not render the suit incompetent.
Justice Aprioku said the application by the Police lacks merit and thereby dismissed it with a cost of N100,000 in favour of Hon Edison Ehie.
Aprioku also granted the prayers of the counsel to Edison, Damian Okoro to restrain the Police from arresting, detaining, harassing, or inviting Ehie based on the trumped-up charges in the suit by Rt Hon. Martin Amaewhule in connection to the destruction of the Hallow chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel to the Police, Celestine Dickson, said he would study the judgment and advise his clients accordingly.
Dickson stated, “That is the wisdom of the court and we cannot criticise the wisdom of the court. The outcome of court decisions must bind parties.
“If you are not satisfied I think you study the judgement and take the next step. The court made it clear that in a couple of minutes, we were going to have copies of the judgement. That will give us the opportunity to look at the judgement and advise our clients accordingly.
On his part, one of the counsel to the Chief of Staff, Ibioku Mac-Barango said the judgment reflects the position of the law.

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Fubara Expresses Confidence In Tinubu To Address Labour Concerns

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In the midst of the ongoing nationwide protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has expressed confidence in President Bola Tinubu’s ability to address the concerns raised by the organised labour and alleviate their fears.
Fubara gave the assurance during the NLC’s protest to the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday .
The State NLC, led by its chairman, Alex Agwanwor, had joined its counterparts in other parts of the country to protest against high cost of living in the country occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government in May last year.
Recall that there have been a series of protests across the country over the cost of living, inflation, insecurity and hardship among Nigerians.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had on February 8 issued a 14-day nationwide strike notice to the Federal Government over the failure to implement the agreements reached on October 2, 2023 following the removal of the fuel subsidy.
Responding to a letter of demands presented to the governor by the State NLC, Fubara noted that the grievances outlined by the protesters primarily fell within the purview of the Federal Government.
The governor, who was represented by the Head of the Rivers State Civil Service, Dr. George Nwaeke, said, “To all who listened to every presentation of the labour leader as it is being read out, we can find out none is local, not originating from local source here. They are all national issues and we have hope in the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Federal Government. We have hope. And I know Governor Fubara will also deliver this message as presented by you to the President.”
Fubara further assured the protesters that his administration remained committed to alleviating the economic hardships faced by the people of Rivers State.
He highlighted initiatives such as the provision of palliative buses in response to the fuel subsidy removal and the ongoing development of 20,000 housing units for low-income earners.
The governor also emphasized his administration’s dedication to improving the welfare of civil servants, citing measures such as the employment of 10,000 youths into the state civil service, promotions, and the provision of bonuses.
He affirmed the significance of the issues raised and reiterated his commitment to prioritizing the welfare of workers in the State.
He, however, assured that the NLC’s demands would be conveyed to the President as presented.

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