Court Grants Orubebe Bail In Alleged 2.3b Naira Fraud Case

OrubebeAn Abuja‎ High Court on Wednesday granted a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe, bail in the sum of 10 million Naira, having pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal diversion of funds.

Mr Orubebe was charged by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

He is standing trial along two others over alleged diversion of 2.3 billion Naira.

The court also granted bail in the sum of 20 million Naira each to Oludare Alaba and Ephraim Zeri, directors of contract in the Ministry of Niger Delta.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, in his ruling, ordered Mr Orubebe to produce one surety in like sum, stressing that the surety must be a responsible Nigerian with evidence of three years tax payment and landed property within the Federal Capital Territory.

The court, however, ordered Alaba and Zeri to also produce one surety each in like sum. It said the surety must be an assistant director in the civil service and a land-owner within the court jurisdiction.

Justice Adeniyi also asked the ICPC to hold the defendants until they perfect their bail conditions.

The Trial of the accused persons has been fixed for November 10.

Conflicting East-West Road Construction Figures Worry Reps

Road construction equipment.The House of Representatives Committee on Niger delta has raised concerns over conflicting figures given by the Ministry of Niger Delta and contractors handling the east-west road.

The lawmakers voiced their concerns during a meeting with the ministry and contractors at the National Assembly on Monday.

Addressing the committee, the Minister of Niger Delta, Dr. Steve Oru, said the ministry would look into the issues and told the lawmakers that the contract had been completed to 79%.

He said that work was progressing well on the road, but that the the progress had, however, been marked by some challenges.

While looking at the amount spent on the contract so far, the committee, however observed some conflicting figures which the ministry sought to clarify.

The minister assured the House committee that the east-west road contract was very important to the ministry and that they understood its importance to Nigerians.

He further promised that everything would be done to ensure that the road would be completed as soon as possible.

Confab Committee In Bottleneck Over Resource Control, Revenue Sharing

Annkio BriggsA National Conference delegate, Annkio Briggs, on Tuesday disclosed that the National Conference committee deliberating on issues including resource control, system of government and revenue sharing had hit a bottleneck in its proceedings.

While speaking on a number of issues being discussed at the National Conference, on Sunrise Daily, Briggs said: “We are stuck in certain critical areas. There is yet to be willingness to compromise by either the Northerners or Southerners”.

Briggs, who decried the inability of the Committee to reach a consensus, stressed the need for delegates and all stakeholders to make sacrifices for the greater good of the nation.

She disclosed that the committee had started the review of the legislative list of the tiers of government, but that talks about resource control were being met with resistance from the Northerners. She also mentioned the issue of State Police, which she said should be considered.

“If people want State Police, we should have it regulated in a way that the rights of people are not abused, while they are exercising their right to State Police.”

Briggs also cited example of the Sharia Law which was being practiced in some parts of the country and said that the States that want State Police should be granted their wish according to the Federal Law. She further called for the adoption of true fiscal federalism which would allow the different components of the country develop at different paces.

She mentioned that the committee was yet to agree on the adoption of fiscal federalism which would indirectly deal with issues concerning revenue sharing and others. There was also no consensus on the issue of States having access to resources and so it was adjourned on Monday and will be attended to again on Tuesday.

“Everything outside fiscal federalism will not work,” she said.

She further disclosed that the North wants the South-South to forfeit the Amnesty programme, Ministry of Niger Delta and NDDC in exchange for revenue sharing.

“We all understand that there is a very critical need for us to begin to find ways forward” she said, maintaining that sacrifices would have to be made.

“Over 50 years of the oil and gas resources being used, we really cannot count ourselves amongst manufacturing countries; we cannot count ourselves among the powerful economies (that we should be).

“We count ourselves among the poor; we count ourselves among the corrupt, we count ourselves among countries that don’t tell themselves the truth.

“All of these things must change if we are going to survive as a country,” she said.

US – Nigeria Bi-national Commission meeting begins in Port Harcourt

A two day meeting of the US – Nigeria Bi-national Commission on the Niger Delta and National Development Working Group today began in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital.

Expressing sympathy to the people of the Niger Delta region on the flood that have displaced a lot of persons, the leader of the US delegation, Cynthia Akuetteh said the essence of the meeting is to discuss the challenges facing the Niger Delta region and to finding lasting solutions to their problems.

She pointed the areas of discussion to include the acceleration of development through public – private partnership, enhance environmental protection and strengthen maritime security in the region

In her opening remark in a paper titled “Laying A Foundation For Lasting Peace In the Delta” Akuetteh disclosed that, the region faces three complex overarching and overlapping challenges, which if not addressed could lead to renewed insecurity in the region.  Those challenges, she said, are low levels of development, environmental devastation, and maritime criminality.

According to her, onshore and maritime oil theft persists, and environmental degradation caused by oil spills threatens the livelihoods of local communities.

she also disclosed that Nigeria has received almost $42 million in the first two years of Feed the Future which is the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative), a portion of which has been used to improve food security and livelihoods in the Niger Delta.

She said since 2006, the United States has provided over $35 million worth of equipment, to include automatic identification system, radars, defender class boats, and very high frequency (vhf) radios to Nigeria as well as to regional partners Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo.

This also includes associated training to those same countries.

Permanet Secretary, Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador (Dr) Martin Uhomoihi, in his remarks ,while noting the strategic importance of the region to the nation’s economy and development, expressed hope that “the decision of our country with the US to have a working group solely devoted to the issues of Niger Delta and national development”.

He stated that the federal government has established the Ministry of Niger Delta, established the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and currently allocates 13 per cent as derivation revenue to oil producing communities, and has commenced Amnesty Programme for militant youths in the region

The host and governor of Rivers state, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, while thanking the organisers for choosing the state to host the conference, welcomed the delegates from both countries, and assured that the state was poised to ensure the meeting achieves its aim.

The commission was inaugurated on the 6th of April 2010 by the US Secretary of States Hillary Clinton and then Nigeria Secretary to the Government of the Federation Yayale Ahmed with the aim to strategic dialogue, designated to expand mutual cooperation across the broad range of shared interest.