Bayelsa State Swears In New Speaker

Bayelsa StateRt. Hon Kombowei Benson has been sworn in as the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.

Benson, who occupied the position as Speaker of the House, was sacked by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, over election petition appeal by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ebifaghe Orunimighe.

He got re-elected during the March 5 rerun poll to represent Southern Ijaw constituency 4 in the House.

Having received his Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Yenagoa, along with Hon Ogbere Micheal representing Ekeremor constituency 3, they were first readmitted into the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.

One of the lawmakers, Hon Tonye Isenah, then moved the motion for Kombowei Benson to be made the Speaker of the House and a unanimous voice vote of ‘yes’ sealed the election.

Speaking with journalists immediately after taking his oath to serve as Speaker of the House, Mr Benson pledged his commitment to the development of Rivers State. He also addressed the issue of the absence of other persons who were supposed to be sworn in to the House as directed by the courts.

The event made it a record third time, Mr Kombowei Benson has been sworn in as the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.

Bayelsa Assembly Rerun: Winners Receive Certificates Of Return

BayelsaThe Independent National Electoral Commission in Bayelsa State has issued Certificates of Return to the candidates who won the March 5 House of Assembly rerun elections conducted in the state.

The rerun elections, which was conducted in Ekeremor constituency 3 and Southern Ijaw constituency 4, was sequel to and in compliance with the orders of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt division.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Bayelsa State, Barr Austin Okojie, who presented the Certificates of Return to the successful candidates, said that with the rerun, INEC introduced some innovations in the area of distribution of sensitive materials and collation of results.

Mr Ogbere Micheal won the Ekeremor constituency 3 while Kombowei Benson, won in Southern Ijaw constituency 4.

After receiving their certificates, both men promised to take the dividends of democracy to their constituents.


Bayelsa House Debunks Defection Claims, Urges Jonathan To Contest

The Speaker and 18 members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly have debunked insinuations that 11 of its members were set to defect to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

The 24-member House which is predominantly PDP with one non PDP member said that there was no issue of any of them leaving the PDP, as they were satisfied with the leadership style and developmental strides of the People’s Democratic Party.

The Speaker, Kombowei Benson, who addressed journalists at his residence in the state assembly quarters, after a closed door meeting with 18 members of the House, said that the speculations of defection were the handiwork of those envious of the peace and achievements of the State House of Assembly.

He also commended President Goodluck Jonathan on the strides he is making in the country and urged him to contest in the forthcoming 2015 presidential elections, as he is assured of the full backing of the South-South.

Other members of the House who spoke to Channels Television also insisted that Bayelsa was purely a PDP state and it would be impossible for other parties to thrive in the state.

Kidnapped Mother of Bayelsa’s Speaker Regains Freedom

The 78 year old mother of the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, who was kidnapped eight days ago, has regained her freedom.

Madam Betinah Okunwa Benson, kidnapped mother of Kombowei Benson, the Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly was reportedly freed at about 10PM last night.

It is not clear if the N40million ransom demanded by her abductors was paid to secure her freedom.

The spokesperson of the Speaker, who confirmed the incident, stated that Madman Benson was handed over to members of her family by the officials of Sagbama local government council.

She was kidnapped at her country home; Korokorosei in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State a week ago by about 10 gunmen in two speed boats.

In an earlier  statement by the Speaker on the reasons given by the kidnappers for abducting his mother, he said they were aggrieved that the State Assembly under his watch passed the anti-cultism bill which threatens their operations.
He was also accused of interfering in the affairs of the Community Development Committees (CDCs) in the state.

Bayelsa inaugurates Agricultural Development Company board

Bayelsa State governor, Hon Seriake Dickson, has inaugurated a 12 member board of the Agricultural Development Company Limited (ADCL) at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa, the state capital.

The inauguration took place after the governor assented to the Supplementary Appropriation Bill into law.

The Speaker of the House, Hon Kombowei Benson who presented the bill for assent says the House deeply appreciates the proactive steps taken by the governor and his team to address issues arising from the flood.

The Governor while praising the sense of duty exhibited by the house in what he described as very peculiar and challenging times signed the bill into law.

He charged the newly inaugurated board to do all that they can to ensure that Bayelsa is not only known for its crude oil production but as an agricultural giant in the country, as the state is blessed with arable land for different agricultural endeavours.

Group Chairman of the board AVM Larry Koinya (Rtd) pledged his commitment and that of all the members to make Bayelsa State the envy of others.

N78m trip scandal: Bayelsa Speaker refunds N19.5m

The Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Kombowei Benson, has refunded N19.5m to the state treasury out of N78m the House collected from the Governor of the state, Mr. Seriake Dickson, to sponsor members to the 43rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in South Africa.

The Speaker also admitted that the Anti-Fraud Unit of the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were on his neck over the N78m South African trip scandal rocking the state House of Assembly.

Benson spoke in Yenagoa on Friday through his spokesman, Mr. Piriye Jonathan, during a two-day Capacity Training for Journalists organised by the Federated Correspondent Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists. He said the police stormed the House and grilled the lawmakers on the alleged fraud. But the speaker said he refunded part of the money on August 3, about one month after the programme.

Our correspondent gathered that the speaker took the option of returning part of the money after the matter leaked to members of the public.

The speaker and 23 other members of the House have been battling with an allegation that they frittered N78m belonging to the state on the pretence that they attended a conference in South Africa.

The allegation was first made public through a petition addressed to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, by a civil society group, Transparency and Good Governance Coalition.

Benson and other lawmakers were said to have written to the governor demanding N78m to enable them attend the 43rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in South Africa which was held from June 29 to July 8.

Having received the request dated May 7, Dickson was said to have approved the money on June 28 on condition that it must be used for the conference.

But Benson who admitted that the police had commenced probe on the matter was silent over the allegations that he failed to honour the invitation of the EFCC.

Our correspondent found that EFCC through a letter dated August 6 invited the speaker to its office in Abuja for questioning.

The letter which was signed by the commission’s Head, Economic Governance, Olufunke Adetayo, requested the speaker to be at EFCC’s office on August 13. A copy of the letter was obtained by our correspondent in Yenagoa.

EFCC in the letter which was addressed to the Speaker said, “This Commission is investigating a case of conspiracy, abuse of office and diversion of public funds in which the need to obtain clarification from you becomes imperative.

“In view of the above, you are kindly requested for interview by the undersigned through Mr. Obioha Okorie on 13th August, 2012 at Block C, No 5 Fomella Street, Off Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja by 10 am prompt.

“This request is in pursuant to section 38 Sub 1 and 2 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004″.

But our correspondent learnt that Benson had been playing hide and seek with the commission, refusing to honour the invitation.

It was learnt that after receiving the letter, Benson wrote to the commission begging that the date should be shifted to August 20. The speaker was said to have reneged in his promise to appearing before the commission on August 20.

Benson, however, said he was willing to be investigated, adding that the allegation that members diverted the money earmarked for the conference was untrue.

“We attended the conference,” he said but admitted that the lawmakers only met the closing ceremony of the conference owing to visa problems.