A Federal High Court in Akwa Ibom State will on July 05 hear a case filed by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), challenging the removal of Bassey Dan Abia as Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The lawyers association is also questioning the replacement of the NDDC boss with Mrs Ibim Semenitari.
Honourable Justice F. Riman presiding over the case had adjourned hearing till July to ensure both parties had enough time to respond to the issues raised.
The Akwa Ibom State chapter of the NBA is asking the court to nullify the removal of Mr Abia as MD of the NDDC and his replacement with Mrs Semenitari by President Mohammadu Buhari.
It further sought the appointment of an indigene of Akwa Ibom State to complete the tenure of the state on the board of the body.
Mr Abia was appointed MD of the NDDC in 2013 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
His appointment was terminated by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 before the end of a five-year tenure.
The Federal Ministry of Environment has assured the people of Ogoni that President Buhari remains committed to the clean-up of the oil-rich Ogoniland as recommended in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.
The Minister of Environment, Ms Amina Mohammed, said this after inspecting a clean-up demonstration site in Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, in the company of the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mrs Ibim Semenitari.
The Minister confirmed that the President would be in Ogoni on Thursday, June 2 to flag off the Ogoni clean-up programme as a demonstration of his commitment to the clean-up exercise.
She said that it was regrettable that President Buhari who had commissioned a flourishing fish pond in 1984 in Ogoniland would return to the community to see a fish pond that has been destroyed by oil pollution.
Sadly, she said that it was not just the fish pond that was destroyed but that the livelihood and wealth of a people were equally ruined.
She assured the Ogoni people that the President was coming to restore hope to them. She promised also that the Federal Government would restore the ecosystem to what it used to be and bring back the source of livelihood for the people.
She noted that her ministry is not just committed to implementing the UNEP report but would go beyond that to also look at the overall effort to revive the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC boss, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, expressed delight that the President was coming to Ogoni to demonstrate the importance he attached to the welfare of the people of the Niger Delta and Ogoni in particular.
She announced that development is a big issue for the NDDC and that the cleaning up of the Niger Delta environment is of utmost importance to the commission.
Mrs Semenitari noted that Ogoni people are united behind the efforts of the Federal Government to clean up their environment.
She stressed that the unity of the people would help in ensuring the sustainability of the project, emphasizing that the support of stakeholders was also critical for the success of the restoration programme.
One of the community leaders in Bodo, Mene Michael Porobunu, said that he was hopeful and excited that at last the polluted environment in Ogoni land would be cleaned up.
He lamented that the Ogoni people had to live with the pollution, which he described as “the greatest man-made disaster in this part of the world”.
The UNEP report which was released in 2011, advised the Nigerian authorities and multinational oil companies operating in Ogoniland to clean-up the pollution caused by decades of oil exploration activities in the area.
It stated that the environmental clean-up and restoration of Ogoni land could take between 25 and 30 years to achieve.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has frowned at the attitude of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) towards projects execution in the state.
Governor Emmanuel made the remark when members of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs paid him a visit in the Government House in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom, on Friday.
The Governor said that having contributed over 40% to the wealth of the country through oil production as well as being the highest contributor to the NDDC fund, Akwa Ibom State deserves better treatment from the Federal Government and the NDDC.
The Governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, queried the claim by the Commission that it had executed 829 projects in the state since its inception and hoped that the Committee would be better informed at the end of the visit.
He called for synergy between the NDDC and governments of Niger Delta states to avoid unnecessary duplication of projects and also stressed the need for proper project supervision to achieve results.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, said that his committee, which oversees NDDC, Amnesty program and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, was in Akwa Ibom as part of its oversight function to assess the impact of the commission on the people of the region since the year 2000.
Senator Nwaoboshi added that as the Senate was about to appropriate funds for projects in 2016, the visit would help to identify the needs of the people with a view to meeting them.
Among those on the entourage was the acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Mrs Ibim Semenitari.
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has called on youths in the Niger delta region to protect oil and gas pipelines in the course of their demand for justice.
Addressing leaders and members of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) during a courtesy visit to the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt on Saturday, the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, advised the youths to work with the Commission as partners for the sustainable development of the Niger delta.
She pointed out that the Niger delta belonged to the youths, urging them to “protect what belongs to them including the oil and gas pipelines”.
Mrs Semenitari further assured the youths that the present focus of the NDDC was the completion of ongoing projects to improve service delivery and bring development closer to the people of Niger Delta.
The IYC President, Comrade Udengs Eradiri, told Mrs Semenitari that their visit to the NDDC was to discuss issues of peace and security in the Niger delta, noting that youths are central to peace-building.
The IYC President also stressed that it was wrong to vandalise property in the course of the region’s engagement with government.
He warned against the award of contracts for new projects at the moment, suggesting that the NDDC should complete all on-going projects.
In another development, the acting Managing Director of the NDDC also played host to Bayelsa State leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mrs Semenitari said that her reason for hosting the Bayelsa State leadership was to discuss the need to build the region together in order to bring the dividend of the development of the interventionist agency to every part of the Niger Delta.
Former Commissioner of Information, Ibim Semenitari, has discredited the Justice George Omereji led panel report on the administration of former Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi.
Mrs Semenitari noted that at no time was the former governor officially invited to the judicial panel of inquiry.
The former commissioner noted that there are picking holes in the report and questioned the constitution of the Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry.
Mrs Semenitari maintained that the processes of its constitution and the eventual report were flawed with irregularities.
The Rivers State Government had earlier presented a white paper demanding the immediate prosecution of former Governor Amaechi and all persons involved in what the government called fraudulent transactions.
The call was sequel to the report of the 30-day sitting of the panel which was set up to investigate the sale of state assets.
The Rivers State Governor, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has denied the rumoured rift between him and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
This denial was contained in a statement by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs Ibim Semenitari.
“The Rivers State Government is surprised at news reports of a rift between Governor Amaechi and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
“Governor Chibuke Amaechi holds members of the Rivers State House of Assembly in high regard”, she said. The statement further added that “having served in that same house for 8 years, he (Amaechi) appreciates the strategic role of the Assembly in ensuring that government is held accountable to its electorate and will work with them to guarantee the rights of all Rivers people”.
The Rivers State Governor also “wishes to reiterate the fact that it is committed to paying civil servants their hard earned pay because it is their due and not a privilege.
“It is however important for government to confirm that it has paid salaries of its workers for the month of March and will very soon commence the payment of April salaries.
“Once again government wishes to appreciate the kind understanding of Rivers workers as it strives to ensure that it meets its obligations to them”, she said.
Mayhem broke out during a session in the Rivers State House of Assembly on Tuesday morning when hoodlums broke into the House and attempted to seize the mace.
The group also assaulted the Speaker of the House, Hon. Otelema Amachree. 5 members of the House led by Hon Evans Bipi had moved to impeach the Speaker.
Commissioner for Information, Ibim Semenitari, in a telephone interview with Channels Television revealed that commotion started when Mr Bipi walked up to the speaker and started ‘slapping’ him as members were still exchanging pleasantries.
“While that was going on, they didn’t know that some hoodlums had accessed the assembly. The governor (Rotimi Amaechi) was informed and therefore left the government house to go and ensure that people were protected
As the governor got there, some people began to shout ‘shoot him’ ‘shoot him’
They were standing in the gallery. These were policemen who are paid by tax payers
When somebody tried to rush to attack the governor, people had to protect the governor” she disclosed.
The leader of the house was injured and rushed to the Government House clinic for treatment.
Controversies surround the ownership of the aircraft grounded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authorities (NCAA) over the weekend as the Rivers state government insist it owns the aircraft while the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN) claims the plane belongs to the Bank of Salt Lake City USA and was brought into the country on chatter by Carveton Helicopters.
FAAN’s spokesperson, Mr Yakubu Datti, also insisted that the aviation authorities have no business dealing with the Rivers state government because they are in talks with the owners of the plane, the Bank of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Speaking on our breakfast program, Sunrise Daily, Mr Datti, said it was wrong for a foreign registered aircraft to fly into the country and embark on domestic shuttles without notifying the aviation authorities.
He said the authorities had no information that the rivers state government was operating the said aircraft.
Mr Datti further stated that from investigations the aircraft had flown to airports beyond Owerri and Akure that were not captured in the documentation they submitted while coming into the country even after the expiration of the permit.
Rejecting the claim that the Rivers state government was operating an illegal aircraft in the Nigerian airspace, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Ibim Semenitari, said the state government has been abiding by the regulations of the country and does not have a history of disobeying it.
She added that necessary waivers of the flight in question have been sent to the appropriate authorities.