Minister Of Niger Delta Affairs Emerges APC Gov Candidate In Cross River

Usani Usani

 

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, has emerged as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross Rivers State.

He declared the winner on Monday at the APC Collation Unit in Calabar by the Chairman, Collation Committee of the party in the state, Emmanuel Anom.

Useni got a total of 47,313 votes while his close rival, Senator Owan Enoh got 14, 860 votes.

Also, Professor Eyo Etim Nyong got 1,162, John Odey got 1,099 votes while Chief Edem Duke scored 1,322 votes.

Usani according to the results declared won in all the 18 Local Government Areas of the state stated.

Speaking with journalist shortly after his emergence Usani assured of good governance, if elected governor next year.

Meanwhile, another primaries is ongoing by another faction of the party to also elect a flag bearer.

Court Strikes Out Fraud Charges Against Orubebe

Court Strikes Out Fraud Charges Against Orubebe An Abuja High Court has struck out the six-count charge preferred against a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe, by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Mr Orubebe, who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan, and three other defendants were accused of alleged complicity in a 1.97 billion Naira contract fraud.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, however, discharged and acquitted them on Tuesday, following the withdrawal of the charge by the prosecution.

The court had earlier given the anti-graft agency till April 4, 2017, to produce its witnesses to establish that the defendants diverted the funds meant for the compensation of owners of properties of Eket Urban section of the East-West Road in Eket, Akwa Ibom State.

Tough Journey Through Owerri-Port Harcourt Expressway

roads, Niger State,Port Harcourt, an oil city, usually gets the attention of young Nigerians in the east and even in other states, with many considering it as an oil money city.

A journey to the state through Imo State in the east use to be an excitement in the minds of whoever decides to travel, but this joy and excitement are gradually fading and turning into sadness, as a journey to the oil city through Imo State now leaves commuters exhausted.

What use to be an exciting journey has now left residents of Umuapu in Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State as well as commuters in lamentation, with a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to make their journey exciting once again.

Work had been abandoned for over four years, with the road now in ruins.

The users are asking the government to mobilise the contractors and ask them to return to the road and resume work.

At a time that the Nigerian government is pushing economic diversification, with so much focus on agriculture as the way out of the economic recession, residents in the area are finding it had to move their farm produce to cities where they can sell them.

The condition of the road is causing untold hardship for us, as it is now difficult for us to transport our farm produce to consumers, residents of the area said.

While farmers lament the hardship, commuters, who ply the road daily, said the bad state of the road had made it easier for criminals to perpetrate their evil acts on the road such as kidnapping, car snatching and armed robbery.

They called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to come to their aid and fix the road for the good of the people.

Over Four Hours Journey

The Owerri-Port Harcourt federal highway is one of the important highways in the southern region of Nigeria, as it connects Imo State to other South South states like Rivers, Cross River and Bayelsa.

During its good days, which is about five years ago, travelling from Owerri to Port-Harcourt takes less than an hour.

Sadly, the once motorable federal road has now become a nightmare and death trap on the Imo end of the road. One of such spots is the Umuapu community in Ohaji Egbema, about four kilometres to the Rivers State boundary. To get to Port Harcourt, it now takes over four hours with heavy traffic.

A private car owner, Mr Derrick Nnamdi, told Channels Television that “ordinarily, though, I drive fast, it takes me approximately 45 to 50 minutes between Owerri and Port Harcourt, but now it takes over two hours to get to Port Harcourt.

“Sometimes if the community here have their market, you may spend about 50 minutes’ stand still in this community before you can pass.

“After the boundary, to Port Harcourt, it is a pretty smooth drive”.

A public bus driver, who plies the roads on a daily basis said: “We need road. No road for us. Every time we are suffering, especially on this federal road. They told us that within eight years this project will be completed when they started, but since that time and now there is no difference and we are still suffering. Rain or no rain, every day we suffer.

“If we buy car parts today after two days we go back to get new ones, but before now when the road was good at least our shaft use to last between four to five months before we get new ones but now only two months we buy new shaft.

“So, we need help. They should help us. From Port Harcourt the road is nice but once you enter Imo State, it is bad”.

According to reports, the road was said to be awarded in 2009 by the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration through the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to Arab Contractors at the rate of 23.1 billion Naira.

The people of the area claimed to have only seen Arab Contractors working on few kilometres of the road from Owerri to Umuagwo, a neighbouring community, where they stopped work. While the residents of the area continue to wait for the contractors to resume work on the remaining portion of the road, their wait has been to no avail.

An Indigene of Umuapu Community, Andrew Enyinnaya, gave his own side of the story.

“Infact we have been dying not even suffer for this road. Arab Contractors have been working on it. Two years ago, they stopped by three to four poles away from here. And since they stopped work, we have been dying not suffer. Even though the old road we use for by-pass is bad, trailer and big lorries have spoilt everything. There is no road, no way, no nothing. So, we have been suffering much”

“Please, you people should come and rescue us from this bad road and many things come from here, food, garri, Akpu, cassava, everything but no road to bring it to town. We are not receiving anything from the government. I am telling you the fact. Without being told you can see for yourself,” Eyinnaya said.

Other commuters appealed to the Federal Government to resume work on the road especially as the yuletide season is drawing closer so people can travel freely to enjoy their Christmas and new year season with their families.

In a quest to know what could be the challenges holding the execution of the project, Channels Television visited the office of the contracting firm handling the project but could not get any useful information, as the public spokesman for Arab Contractors in the state, Mr Mark Eke, refused to speak, maintaining that he had no authority to speak on the matter.

Fortunately, the crew stumbled on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, at a workshop he attended in Owerri the Imo State and he said that paucity of funds due to the dwindling nature nation’s resources has hampered the commencement of work on the road.

The minister said: “The development of infrastructure is not a moral responsibility, it is a responsibility and duty anchored on variables which cannot be assessed in casual terms. So, when I talk about budget and development in building and construction, as a journalist, you do not expect me to begin to give you time lines. You know our budgetary allocation, It is in the website of budget and planning. So, we are dispensing resources according to what is available and according to certain laid down criteria. If we have all the money, we will give to all the contractors but even the Federal Government doesn’t have all the money to sponsor all the projects that is why they are ongoing projects.

“So, we are assigning resources as we receive. knowing fully well that you cannot carry out anything beyond the budget line. All I can say is that money given to us to work we will continue to apply it. We should also be able to appeal to contractors sometimes to be able to execute according to what they get, because sometimes the work is under-performed relative to resources received.”

“The situation about each road in Nigeria is not in isolation. It is the fate of collapse of infrastructure in the country. So, that this project is under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is only by assignment of responsibility.

“But it is not in any way different from what is happening about infrastructure in the entire country. You know for more than seven years the total infrastructure collapse has been there and you can see that the government has made tremendous effort beginning from budget appropriation to give 30% to infrastructure, rehabilitation and development.

“,So our situation is just the same but handicapped as you know our work is determinable by availability of resources or lack of same” the minister said.

When asked if there was any appeal the Federal Government had for the commuters who have been complaining of the hardship experienced on the road, the minister said: “Complaining about the Federal Government’s inefficiency in working on the road is loss of sense of history. How long do you expect the road that has been dilapidated for 10 years to be taken to repairs. Meanwhile, you know that the resource base of the nation has dwindled for over many months, therefore it is difficult to expect that the hen will lay eggs for the goose, each animal species will lay its own egg, so if the public is quarrelling it is because you the journalists are telling them to quarrel”.

If there is anything to go by with what the minister has just revealed, surely there seems to be no end in sight to the sufferings and hardship of commuters plying the Owerri-Port Harcourt expressway, as they will need to wait for a longer time before this road receives attention of the Federal Government.

Minister Promises To Respond To Plight Of C/River Residents

Niger DeltaThe Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, has assured the people of Cross River State of active representation in projecting their plight in order to receive prompt response.

The Minister gave the assurance while leading delegation to a courtesy call on the governor, Mr Ben Ayade, at the Government House in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital.

According to Usani, government has approved and signed off major road projects across the state, which had over the years subjected the masses to untold hardship while plying it.

He sued for patience on the part of the citizenry, promising that “massive work will begin in earnest”.

Governor Ayade represented by his deputy, Evara Esu used the opportunity to welcome the Minister home and urged him to ensure that all promises made concerning development in the state are matched with actions.

Nigeria’s Infrastructure: Usani Blames Lack Of Continuity For Slow Development

Niger DeltaThe Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Uguru Usani, has attributed the slow development of Nigeria’s infrastructure to lack of continuity in government policies and programmes.

He said the lack of continuity had led to several abandoned projects across Nigeria, with huge financial implications that could have been used for development.

The Minister made the observation at the inauguration of the Course 25 of the National Defence College in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

He said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government was working hard to change the narratives, as he continues with developmental projects of his predecessor.

FG To Launch Clean And Green Programme

Amina-Mohammed-Environment-Clean-And-Green-ProgrammeThe Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, says the Federal Government will soon launch a clean and green programme.

Mrs Mohammed said that the programme would address the menace of indiscriminate disposal of plastics and polythene bags.

She gave a hint of the plan on Friday at the 10th National Council on Environment held in Lafia, the Nasarawa State’s capital in north-central Nigeria.

Ms Mohammed told reporters that the aim of the programme was to protect the environment from pollution and at the same time create entrepreneurs in waste management and alternative cleaner energy sources.

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Useni Uguru, on his part, urged Nigerians to understand the decisions of the government in protecting the environment.

Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Almakura, said that the conference was a platform to call on investors to harness the solid minerals that abound in the state.

He noted that the partnership with investors would go in line with the diversification policy of the Federal Government.

The National Council was tagged “Environment and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria: Empowering People, Taking Climate Action and Protecting the Environment”.

The Environment Minister had earlier signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nasarawa State government, for a partnership to achieve the goals of the ministry.

Governor Almakura lauded the signing and described it as a timely partnership.

Orubebe Denies Wrongdoing In False Asset Declaration Trial

OrubebeFormer Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe, says he does not own any property which was not declared in his asset declaration form submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

Led in evidence by his lawyer, Larry Selekowei, the former minister told the Tribunal that he did not declare Plot 2057 in Asokoro for which he is standing trial , because as at the time he was leaving government in 2011, he had sold off the land to pay two years house rent.

Orubebe told the tribunal that the land for which he is being charged was allocated to him by the government but he sold it to his landlord, one Akinwumi Ajibola, for N10 million to offset the two-year house rent he owed the said landlord.

He said it would have been a crime for him to claim ownership of the property he had sold and the Certificate of Occupancy handed over to the buyer before he left office.

He also told the tribunal that he never saw the Certificate of Occupancy of the land, which was handed over to his landlord after he agreed to exchange the property for rent.

He therefore urged the tribunal to dismiss the charge against him because he had not breached any law concerning the property.

Corroborating his testimony, Mr Akinwumi Ajibola confirmed to the Tribunal that he was the former landlord of the minister and that the minister owed him N10 million for two-year house rent.

He said he is also a real estate developer and that the former minister parted with the empty land allocated to him to offset the debt.

He told the tribunal that the Certificate of Occupancy was handed over to him at the end of the transaction.

Under cross-examination by the prosecutor, Mohammed Diri, the witness said he did not register the Power of Attorney and the Deed of Assignment because what he bought was an empty land in the bush and he was not ready to develop it at that time.

He also said that at the point he wanted to develop the said property he found out that someone else had encroached on it and that he has entered into a discussion with the company that encroached on the said property.

The former minister is standing trial on one-count charge of false declaration assets by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Alleged False Declaration Of Assets: CCT Continues Day-To-Day Trial Of Saraki

dr-bukola-sarakiThe trial of Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, over charges of alleged false declaration of assets has commenced.

The trial of the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, was stood down to accommodate the Senat President’s trial.

Though counsel to Orubebe complained, he was over ruled by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Umar.

Parties to the case announced their appearance before the cross examination of the Chief prosecution witness, Mr Michael Wekpas began.

The witness was told to go through some of the exhibits he tendered as evidence and he confirmed that his investigation of the defendant’s GTB account shows there are transfers to a foreign account.

He also confirmed that there are several telex transfers on the account, some of which are before the Tribunal as exhibits.

According to him, all the telex the investigating team requested were on almost all the debit transactions consummated on that particular account which showed that the defendant gave instructions for a “tea transfer”.

He further maintained that the investigation team had no doubt that the transaction was made to the American Express Bank in Europe, because the debit on the account of the defendant was done and the narration was clear on why and where the money was transferred to.

He added that the prosecution team further requested for additional information and evidence to show proof of the transaction and several of the instructions and telex were provided by the bank .

He, however, noted that that there is an affidavit and police statement to show that some of the documents and telex were burnt, hence his inability to tender them as evidence.

According to him, he is still flipping through to see if the telex that relates to count 11 of the charges was one of the ones the bank said was burnt and that they couldn’t provide, insisting that the transfer was effected.

This is the second day of trial since the Chairman of the Tribunal ruled that the hearing will now be on a day-to-day from 10:00am to 6:00pm.

Mr Wekpas has on Tuesday admitted that neither he nor his team investigated some of the exhibits he had tendered before the Tribunal.

Mr Wekpas, who is an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Kanu Agabi, told the court he did not investigate the petitions, whose exhibits were tendered before the court.

He said that even though his investigation stemmed from an intelligence report obtained by the EFCC, he did not have the report, neither was the report before the Tribunal.

The witness was first questioned on exhibit 11, 12, and 13, which were petitions written by a group known as Kwara Freedom Network, inviting the EFCC to investigate the Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board and borrowings for projects.

Mr Wekpas, who had earlier told the Tribunal that the petition formed the bases of his team’s investigation, however, said he did not investigate the petition, rather another team carried out the investigation.

When asked why he tendered documents he did not investigate, the witness said he carried out the directive of the prosecution.

Also under cross-examination, the witness admitted that investigating the assets declaration of the Senate President did not form part of his schedule of duty.

He explained that three exhibits, which were assets declaration forms of the defendant, were duly examined and stamped by the Code of Conduct Bureau when the documents were shown to him

Mr Wekpas said there was nowhere in the petition that they investigated ‎where Saraki’s asset declaration was in contention.

He said the investigation of the defendant was based on intelligence report obtained by the former Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde and not the three petitions tendered as exhibits and that such intelligence was either provided orally or produced in writing by people who asked to remain anonymous.

The witness stated that the six assets declaration forms submitted by Senator Saraki to the Code of Conduct Bureau were not investigated by his team.

He, however, said his team was directed to investigate the intelligence report alone.

According to him, the intelligence report is not before the Tribunal as exhibit.

Attempt by the prosecution to seek for a long adjournment to enable it study the documents tendered as exhibits was rejected by the Tribunal.

The defence is expected to continue the cross examination of the witness on Wednesday.

Case Against Orubebe Not Withdrawn – CCT

OrubebeThe Code of Conduct Tribunal has debunked recent publications from some section of mass media, indicating that the Federal Government has withdrawn charges against former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Peter Orubebe.

This is according to a statement by the CCT Head of Press and Public Relations, Ibraheem Al-hassan.

The Tribunal said that it was compelled to refute the said publications, particularly those contained in some major newspapers and online media because the purported withdrawal of the case was quoted to be based on the case being fundamentally defective.

The CCT said, “To the best of our knowledge based on available records, as at the time of this report, the information is misleading, distortive and as such it should be ignored.

“The case of Mr Godsday Peter Orubebe before CCT in Charge NO: CCT/ABJ/02/15 is on-going.

“What transpired in court in the last session held on 8th March, 2016 was a substitution of the initial charge with a newly filed charge by the prosecution, of which leave was sought from, and granted by the Tribunal. The case had been adjourned to 7th April, 2016. Thus; there is no withdrawal of the case by the prosecution.”

Mr Orubebe has been arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on four counts of false assets declaration and bribery.

Mr Orubebe was charged by the Code of Conduct Bureau for alleged failure to declare landed property in Kyamu and Asokoro district, both in Abuja, on assumption of office as minister on September 26, 2007.

In the other counts, Mr Orubebe is also facing charges of allegedly accepting bribes totalling 70 million Naira from one Pastor Jonathan Alota for the award of contracts in favour of his company.

The name, Orubebe, became well known in Nigeria after he attempted to stop the 2015 election collation, accusing the electoral body and its boss at that time, Professor Attahiru Jega, of being bias.

Niger Delta Minister Visits Imo, Decries Rate Of Project Abandonment

Niger DeltaThe Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru, has promised to look into all abandoned Federal Government projects in Imo State which was approved through the Ministry of Niger Delta affairs. 

The Minister disclosed this during his visit to the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, at the Government House in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

Mr Uguru expressed displeasure over the slow pace of work on some Federal Government projects in the state, especially the bad state of Owerri-Port Harcourt expressway way by Umuapu community and the total neglect of the low-cost housing project in Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of the state.

At the Owerri-Port Harcourt road by Umuapu, the Minister said that he would not sign any certificate of payment with regards to the road until a satisfactory job was done.

He also promised to ensure that Imo State enjoys the benefits of being one of the Niger Delta states.

In response, the Imo State Governor said that over the years, especially throughout the last administration at the centre, no feasible project had been initiated or commissioned by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Niger Delta affairs.

After the meeting, the team from the Ministry of Niger Delta, led by the Minister, accompanied by the Managing Director of the Imo State Oil Producing Development Commission (ISOPADEC) visited some projects in the state.

Tribunal Threatens To Strike Out 70m Naira Bribery Charges Against Orubebe

Godsday-OrubebeThe chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Mr Danladi Umar, is threatening to strike out the charges of bribery and false declaration of assets preferred against former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe.

‎Mr Umar made the threat in Abuja on Wednesday after the prosecution failed for the third time on Wednesday to open its case against Mr Orubebe and call its witnesses.

The Tribunal Chairman, however refused to accede to the request by the defence counsel, Mr‎ Selekowei Larry, to strike out the case.

Instead, he announced that the prosecution would be given one more chance to open its case failing which the Tribunal will strike out the case for them to put their house in order.

The name, Orubebe, became well known in Nigeria after he attempted to scuttle the 2015 election, accusing the electoral body and its boss at that time, Professor Attahiru Jega, of being bais.

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Seeks Collaboration From Ondo Govt.

Niger DeltaThe Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru, has called for the collaborative efforts of the Ondo State government in ensuring security in the oil producing areas of the state.

The Minister made this request while leading top officials of the ministry on a courtesy visit to Governor Mimiko ‎in his office in Akure, the state capital.

Uguru highlighted some of the projects being executed by the ministry in oil producing areas of the state.

He assured Ondo State of the commitment of the staff of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to the execution of the federal government mandate to bring about peace and development in the state.

In his response, Governor Olusegun Mimiko proudly referred to Ondo as the most peaceful state‎ in the Niger Delta region. He gave an assurance of the state government’s commitment to the sustenance of the peace.

He said that the state government was also undergoing some projects in the oil producing areas, calling for reciprocation from the federal government in this regard.