The Rivers State Government has approved the termination of the Share sale contract for the sale of 70 per cent equity of the State Government-owned power generation assets held by First Independent Power Limited in Omoku, Afam, Trans-Amadi and Eleme Gas Turbines to NG Power-HPS Limited.
The Government also terminated the concession of the Rivers and Bayelsa State-owned Olympia Hotel to Cenpropsaroten Hotel Management Limited.
it further terminated the concession agreement between the Government of Rivers State and Kild concession Limited in respect of the construction of a Toll road and Secondary developments in Abonnema Wharf, Port Harcourt.
The terminations were part of resolutions at the State Executive Council meeting presided over by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on Friday at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The three companies that had their contracts/concessions terminated are subsidiaries of Sahara Energy Limited, used by the immediate past Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi to acquire state assets.
Briefing journalists after the State Executive Council meeting, Information and Communication Commissioner, Emma Okah said that the State Government arrived at the resolutions in line with yet to be implemented recommendations of the White Paper on the Report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry for the Investigation of the administration of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on the sale of Valued Assets of Rivers State and other related matters under the chairmanship of Justice George Omereji.
The Rivers State Government directed the Honourable Attorney General of the State to take further steps as contained in the White Paper.
Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed May 12 to rule on the application to strike out the charge by the Federal Government against 23 officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The officials were accused of allegedly receiving 360 million Naira as bribe from the Rivers State Government, to manipulate the outcome of the legislative polls in the state in December 2016.
The defendants, in a motion, asked the court to either strike out the case or alternatively transfer the case to Port Harcourt, on the basis that the alleged offences took place there.
They also argued that the prosecution’s submission that the trail cannot take place due to security concerns was unfounded, saying the offences in question are currently being tried in various courts in Rivers State.
The prosecution, however, opposed the application and called for its dismissal for lack of merit.
Speaking to reporters, Counsel to the defendants, Ukpai Ukairo, said: “All the elements of this offence happened in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“We are saying that it is appropriate and that’s the position of the law that it should be tried in Rivers State. The prosecution says that there are security challenges in Port Harcourt, but our contention is that those security challenges will not inhibit the trial of this case in Port Harcourt.
“They’ve completed investigations into this matter and there is nothing before the court showing that there will be a breach of security if the defendants are tried in Port Harcourt”.
On his part, the prosecution counsel, Alilu Kayode, noted that it was up to the court to decide where the trial would take place.
“The argument is already placed before the court, it is for the court to now determine whether by the submissions of all parties, the court has territorial jurisdiction or not.
“If it has, we will continue here; if it does not have, we will await the court determination of the application,” Mr Kayode said.
Over 20,000 cultists in Rivers State gave up arms and subscribed to the state’s amnesty programme in the last 60 days, the Chairman of the programme said on Tuesday.
The figure was given in a report of the Rivers State Amnesty Committee submitted to the Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike.
It also stated that thousands of ammunition and explosives were recovered within 60 days of intense and sometimes dangerous work of disarming and enlisting thousands of cultists into the Rivers State Amnesty Programme.
The final report was submitted by the Chairman of the Amnesty Committee, Kenneth Chinda.
According to him, the exercise, which took place in all the local government areas in the state, saw the enlistment of over 20,000 ex-cultists on the programme, with thousands of arms and ammunition as well some explosives recovered.
The exercise many times had cultists in their usual unruly nature arrive venues of the amnesty programme put together by the Rivers State government to last within two months. In his final report presentation, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Amnesty, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Amnesty Committee, noted that cult groups were found in all the local government areas.
Giving a narrative of what the report covers, he said: “The following findings were made by the committee; cult groups exist in all local governments in the state; some communities have weapons with which they prosecute communal wars; community vigilante groups are also cult groups; the major reasons behind these cult groups include communal wars, chieftaincy tussle, economic hardship and sheer criminality; the battle for supremacy among these cult groups led to many killings in the near past and these cult groups were heavily armed attested to by the number of arms recovered from them”.
“Disband All Vigilante Groups”
Mr Chinda further gave some recommendations.
“All arms recovered in this exercise should be burnt in a symbolic burn fire. This we believe will build public confidence and also the confidence of investors in the security situation in the state.
“All armed community vigilante groups should be disbanded because they are cult groups.
“All communities still holding arms should be directed to submit same and the laws regulating the ownership of guns should be made more stringent,” he stated.
In his response, the Governor, who appeared impressed, noted that the report was a clear indication of a detailed work done within the time frame.
“We have just heard the committee report which is a detailed report.
“I can assure you that the government from the Executive Council through the Security Council will swing into action immediately. But before that, to show that government is serious, I hereby disband all vigilante groups in all the communities except they have been profiled by the security agencies not to be cult groups. That is important so that people will know that we are very serious.
“Initially, people said it was a political game that we want to use this opportunity to release people that will support them during the election.
“You and I know… Look at the number of AK-47s, GMPs. If you have 70 AK-47s in this state, you know what will happen,” Governor Wike told the Amnesty Committee.
Governor Wike further shut the door against those who failed to take up the amnesty offered and asked security agencies to bring them to justice.
“I want to say for those who refused to come out to accept the amnesty programme, I direct the security agencies to go after them, because the time for the amnesty is over.
“We are going to take the wars to them now. Since you had the opportunity to accept amnesty and you refused, you have become enemy of the state. We will fight to the last to make sure that criminality is brought to the barest minimum,” he promised.
Going forward, some say the next challenge will be to sustain the security gains so far for the peace and prosperity of the state.
Hundreds of cultists and their gang leaders from Ikwere and Obio Akpor Local Government Areas have accepted the Rivers State government amnesty.
They enlisted for the amnesty programme on Monday, as the three-month grace period given by the Rivers State government for them to accept the offer or face the wrath of the law nears conclusion.
Notably among them were two gang leaders, known as Italian and Gunboat, who had earlier been declared enemies of the state for refusing to accept the state government’s amnesty programme.
The situation was rowdy at some point, as cultists and suspected criminals from Ikwere and Obio Akpor communities of Rivers State arrived for the amnesty programme granted by the state government.
The committee had to resort to the use of camera lights as daylight begins to fade away, made worse by a cloudy atmosphere due to rain.
Granting pardon on behalf of the Rivers State government to the cultists, the spokesman for Governor, Ken Chinda, warned Justice Amadi also known as Italian and others who joined the queue in an event that lasted till nightfall, to stay away from criminality henceforth.
Vowing to desist from criminal activities, as he received his pardon, Justice Amadi said: “From today, I am no longer Italian, call me by my name Justice”.
The Caretaker Committee Chairman of Ikwere Local Government Area, Samuel Nwonosike, warned the repentant gang leaders and cultists that “anyone that goes back to crime will face the full weight of the law”.
“Everyone who has accepted amnesty today are pardoned of their former acts of criminality by the state, but anyone that goes back to crime will be made to face the law,” he warned.
In the end, all those who accepted pardon were advised to stay out of trouble.
A Rivers State High Court has adjourned the fresh murder trial of a former Chairman of Asari Toru Local Government Area in Rivers State, Ojukaye Flag-Amachre, to September 22 and 23, 2016.
The presiding judge and Chief Judge of the State Justice Iyayi Laminkanra also asked that the accused be remanded in prison.
The Court of Appeal, which was expected to hear the bail application of the former local government chairman, failed to sit due to a motion challenging its constitution.
Justice Lamikanra further signed a production warrant for the accused to be produced on the next adjournment date.
Earlier, in his submission, the Counsel to the Rivers State Government, Godwin Obla (SAN) who noted the non-presence of the accused person, prayed the court to issue a the Federal Comptroller of Prisons in the state a production warrant to produce the accused person in court.
He also applied for application for renewal order to remand the accused person in court and the case to be adjourned.
Also speaking, Counsel to Flag-Amachree, Sabastine Hon (SAN) noted that the failure of the accused to be in court was not his fault as it is the duty of the prison authority to bring him to court.
He agreed that the case be adjourned, but however objected to the application of the state counsel for renewal order for further remand of the accused since he is already in prison.
The Nigeria Professional Football League side, Dolphins FC, has been renamed Rivers United by the Rivers State Government.
The League Management Company (LMC) confirmed that the name change was agreed on Thursday following a “formal request by the government of Rivers State.”
The Chairman of the LMC, Shehu Dikko, explained that the name change was granted since it was not offensive or prejudicial to national unity and is also agreeable with community identity, supporters and follower-ship.
Rivers United will start the new Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season at home against Enyimba on Sunday.
Sierra Leone will host their Group I of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Cote d’Ivoire in Nigeria on September 6.
The match will be played in Lagos as Sierra Leone are banned from hosting international matches, owing to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus.
Leone Stars had to play their home tie against Ivory Coast in the 2015 Nations Cup qualifiers in Abidjan after failing to secure a neutral venue.
The Lagos State Football Association (LSFA) will provide use of the stadium and medical facilities for the game, while the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) will cater for all other logistics.
The Teslim Balogun Stadium, which was used during the 2009 Under-17 World Cup, will host the game.
The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, said that on receiving the request from the Sierra Leone Football Association, the NFF approached the Federal Ministry of Health for an approval.
“We are delighted to announce that we have received the go-ahead from the Federal Ministry of Health to host the match. The Sierra Leoneans will come with a delegation of 32, made up of mostly overseas-based professionals, technical crew and officials of the SLFA, to be led by its president, Isha Johansen.
“We are happy about the go-ahead because, once more, our country has an opportunity to underscore its leadership role on the African continent, nay global sphere.
“The NFF has initiated discussions with the Lagos State Government and the Rivers State Government on preventive measures, such as keeping Sierra Leone’s small delegation in a special hotel where they can be monitored at all times,” Mr Pinnick explained.
Farmers and consumers of poultry products in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, have again been put on red alert, following the confirmation of the outbreak of Avian Flu (Bird Flu) disease by the Rivers State Government.
The Director, Public Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Nnanna Onyekwere, while speaking to Channels Television, said that two farms in Choba, Obio Akpor Local Government Area in Port Harcourt have already been affected.
According to him, the ministry is appealing to owners of poultry houses in the state to report any strange sign noticed in their birds.
The Ministry of Health has, however, given residents the assurance that the government is on top of the situation to stem any possible spread of the disease.
Residents of Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, have decried the regular traffic congestions around the metropolis.
While some blame the situation on the condition of some roads and call on the Rivers State Government to double up its efforts in fixing the bad roads, others maintained that the indiscipline on the part of a few road users compound the frustration by many people on the roads.
Jonathan Abido, who is a resident in the area, told Channels Television that various repair works done on the road had not yielded a lasting solution.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Police Command has set up a Traffic Decongestion Committee to address the worrisome traffic situation.
The spokesman of the Rivers State Government, Opunabo Inko-Tariam, said that indiscipline on the part of some road users was a factor, but expressed the belief that the challenges would soon pass away.
Angry athletes under the Rivers State Sports Council have stormed the entrance of the State House to demand that their eight months wages be paid by the government.
This demonstration caused a heavy vehicular traffic along the road.
The protesters, who accused the government of neglect, also decried the lack of reward for their feats at various competitions, including the recent national festivals.
The Secretary to the State Government, Mr George Feyii, who spoke on behalf of the state government, told the aggrieved athletes that the attention of the State Governor has been drawn to their plight.
The Secretary assured them that action would be taken in the next two weeks to address their grievances.