Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has inaugurated a four-man Tax Appeal Commission.
The governor charged the members of the commission with promoting a new culture in which taxable persons and entities will comply with the relevant tax laws in the state without hesitation.
He gave the charge on Friday, after swearing in the Rivers State Body of Tax Appeal Commissioners, at the Government House in Port Harcourt.
The governor emphasised the importance of taxation in the country and called for support.
“No country can survive without taxes, no country,” he said.
He urged the chairman of the commission to mobilise his team members for success.
“As you do all you can to rejig the government and the citizens to do what they are suppose to do, I have confidence that you will be able to reach your colleagues and members to do the right thing,” the governor told the Chairman of the commission.
“Once again, let me congratulate you and believe that you have to kick-start immediately and get an appropriate office where you will commence from.”
The move comes about three weeks after Governor Wike signed the Valued Added Tax Bill along with four others following their passage by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
His action was sequel to the judgement delivered by Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court in the state capital who held that states should collect VAT, and not the Federal Government.
Nigeria has recorded 460 fresh COVID-19 cases, with Rivers State topping the latest daily infection count.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed this in its report on Monday.
Cases recorded in 14 states across the country include – Rivers (164), Lagos (139), Edo (61), FCT (37), Bayelsa (20), Oyo (14), Plateau (7), Ogun (6), Anambra (4), Benue (4), Enugu (2), Cross River (1), and Kaduna (1).
The development now brings the total confirmed cases in the country to 191,805.
178,492 have, however, been discharged while 2,455 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
According to the NCDC, a multi-sectoral National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), activated at Level (2), continues to coordinate the national response activities.
The Nigerian military has denied that its chopper shot at a passenger boat along the Port Harcourt – Bonny waterway in Rivers State last week Thursday.
According to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) the report that civilians were shot at without cause is false.
In a statement on Monday, the spokesman for the DHQ, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr said operatives of the force did not shoot at “any cargo boat conveying people and food stuff from Port Harcourt to Bonny”.
He said contrary to the report, the Air Component of the Joint Task Force Operation DELTA SAFE (OPDS) received reports from ground troops who were on clearance operations but encountered resistance at the point of encounter.
“On receiving the report a combat helicopter was dispatched to provide close air support mission along the Cawthorne Channel.
“The helicopter encountered an illegal oil bunkerers’ boat popularly called ‘Cotonou Boat’. The boat which was being escorted by 2 speedboats was suspected to be carrying illegally refined oil products in large drums along the Channel in the direction of OPDS patrol boats.
“On sighting the boat, warning shots were fired to dissuade the crew from hostile action. The crew fired back at the helicopter and the boat was engaged accordingly.
“The 2 speedboats detached from the convoy at high speed leaving the ‘Cotonou Boat’ which was neutralized,” General Sawyerr narrated.
He further disclosed that the helicopter later went after the 2 speedboats but was unable to track it.
“The suspects are still at large and a manhunt has been sent out to apprehend them,” the DHQ Spokesman added.
According to him, the military remains a professional institution that operates in line with best practices through the application of rule of engagement and code of conduct.
“It is also positioned to protect the populace rather than victimising them. Efforts by anyone to protect criminality by disparaging the actions of the Military in preventing economic sabotage and other sundry crimes need to be condemned by all,” the General’s communique read in part. He on behalf of the military urged the general public to disregard any report at variance to what had been detailed.
Citizens were also enjoined to continue providing accurate information to troops that will lead to the attainment of the military’s operational mandate of safeguarding lives, properties as well as government assets in the South-south region.
On the possible motive of the attack, the eyewitness who is a boat driver at the Bonny jetty in Port Harcourt, said the helicopter which he thinks was on surveillance duty, may have suspected the boat to be conveying illegally refined petroleum products, which is a common business in the area.
No security agency has claimed responsibility and the police are yet to make any comment regarding the incident.
Meanwhile, drivers along the waterway have demanded a thorough investigation into the incident.
According to them, the fear of their safety on the high seas has now been compounded with the recent incident.
The Rivers State Government has directed resident doctors at the State University Teaching Hospital to call off their ongoing strike within 24 hours from Tuesday, “or forfeit their salary and risk been sacked”.
A statement by the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, issued on Tuesday, said while the doctors have the right to go on strike, the Rivers State Government expects that such action “should be restricted to Resident Doctors that are directly under the payroll of the Federal Government, particularly as the Rivers State Government does not owe salaries or benefits to resident doctors in the state”.
The Association of Resident Doctors at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital after its congress on Monday directed its members to join the nationwide strike.
The leadership of the Association in a nine-point communique accused the Rivers State Government of failing to domesticate the Medical Residency Training Act 2017 and pay COVID-19 inducement hazard allowance to its members.
They also accused the government of refusing to promote doctors at the hospital for a minimum of eight years.
The communique, however, appreciated the Rivers State Government’s effort in developing infrastructure in the health sector.
The Supreme Court has granted an order of injunction refraining the Federal Government and its agencies from ceding oil wells at Akri and Mbede communities, to Imo State.
The order was granted on Wednesday to stop a purported implementation of the ceding of about 17 oil wells to Imo State, pending the determination of a suit brought before the court by the Rivers State Government.
In the ruling, the Supreme Court restrained the Attorney General of the Federation and the Attorney General of Imo State, from taking further action on the ownership of the Oil Wells, till the disputes surrounding them are resolved.
The apex court also barred the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation from approving, implementing or giving effect in any manner.
Thereafter it fixed September 21 for the hearing of the substantive suit.
The Rivers State government through its Attorney General had dragged the AGF and the Attorney of Imo State before the Supreme Court over the disputed oil wells.
The plaintiff sought a declaration that the boundary between Rivers and Imo states as delineated in Nigeria’s administrative map 10th, 11th and 12th editions as well as other maps bearing similar delineation “are inaccurate, incorrect and do not represent the legitimate and lawful boundaries between the two states.”
It also sought a declaration that as far as the Nigerian administrative map 10, 11 and 12 editions and other maps bearing similar delineations of the boundaries between Rivers and Imo, are unlawful and void, they “cannot be relied on to determine the extent of the territorial governmental jurisdiction of Rivers State”.
Rivers State, therefore, urged the Supreme Court to declare that the correct instrument, maps and documents to be relied on in determining the boundary between Rivers and Imo State are those used by the plaintiff in delineating the boundary lines between Rivers and Imo.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has fulfilled one of his promises to the University of Port Harcourt with the foundation laying ceremony of a convocation arena in the Institution.
The current convocation building can only accommodate 2,000 people but the proposed arena will sit 9,200 when completed in the next 15 months.
Having commissioned the students union secretariat on Monday, and also playing a major part in the establishment of faculty of law while he was a Minister of State for Education, Governor Wike believes giving back to his alma mater will make the institution one of the best to be reckoned with.
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike says the curfew imposed in the wake of dastardly attacks on security formations in Rivers State will remain in place despite sponsored criticism against it.
The governor, who reiterated he is not unmindful of the traffic difficulty experienced by the residence of the State, particularly in Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpor councils while trying to beat the 8:30pm curfew time, argued it is better to suffer inconveniences and be alive.
Governor Wike defended the efficacy of the night curfew while speaking at the 60th birthday celebration of the federal lawmaker who represents Rivers Southeast senatorial district in the Senate, Senator Barry Barinada Mpigi in Port Harcourt.
“Some criminals who have not been succeeding in kidnapping, have been sending people to go on radio to say the governor should be reasonable, and that they don’t want the curfew again.”
He further continued: “Criminals are the ones who are doing that. I will not agree. Life and property are important for me. All those criminals who have been sending people to go on the radio that they are suffering and that we should extend the curfew to 12am, to enable them to kidnap people from 7pm, will not succeed. Don’t waste your time.”
Governor Wike explained that the imposition of the curfew is based on security advice by law enforcement agencies, as a precaution to prevent further attacks on security formations in the State.
He enjoined residence and the people of the State to learn how to make sacrifices, suffer the inconveniences of today to achieve a better tomorrow. According to him: “I want all of us to be alive to take care of our children.”
The governor also disclosed the cheering news that approval has been given for a Nigeria Law School campus to be sited in Port Harcourt, the State capital.
“We have gotten approval to have a Law School in Port Harcourt. It is not about me, it is the legacy you leave. This was a Law School that was given to Port Harcourt, but the previous government rejected it and it was sent to Yenagoa.
“Today, we have that approval that there must be a Law School in Port Harcourt. And I can assure you in six months’ time, our Law School will be the best Law School in Nigeria.”
He also announced that a Federal High Court in Abuja has awarded $1.1billion to the State in a lawsuit against the Federal Government.
The $1.1 Billion is entitlements of Rivers State based on the subsisting decision of the Supreme Court over production sharing contracts arising from the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts.
Governor Wike thanked God for his grace and benevolence toward Senator Mpigi and his family.
The governor, who recalled that his relationship with Senator Mpigi dates back to when they were both council chairmen, urged the senator to remain a steadfast Peoples Democratic Party stalwart.
Chairman of the occasion and former President of the Movement of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) Ledum Mitee, thanked God for the life of Senator Mpigi, whom he described as a politician with a grassroots appeal.
Senator Mpigi said he decided to celebrate his 60th birthday specifically to thank God for life, sound health, and his reuniting with Governor Wike.
Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has urged Ogbakiri people in Emohua Local Government Area of the State to stop destroying their communities because of misgivings held against each other.
The governor gave the charge at the ceremony for the flag-off of reconstruction of Ogbakiri Internal Roads on Saturday.
Governor Wike said it was time Ogbakiri people forgave themselves, considered the disadvantage their former celebrated reputation had suffered and resolved to chart a new course.
According to him, it is only a united people and community that can speak with one voice, determined their development, and pursue to achieve it concertedly. “Ogbakiri people, you have suffered. Look at what the crisis had done to you.
Ogbakiri used to be known as one of the great communities in the whole Ikwerre area. But things are no longer the same today, because of our lack of understanding.
“Believe today, with what we are doing, everybody must go back home and let us work together. I want all of you to join hands. Let us make sure that Ogbakiri comes back,” Wike stated further.
The governor berated some leaders and people of Ogbakiri for being part of a political party whose leaders have lied to them at every campaign but will never return to deliver democratic dividends to them.
Governor Wike said politics is about what can be attracted to the people as communities and not for the selfish aggrandizement of a few persons.
“I have told people, compare parties. Since 27th May 2021, we have been going from one local government to another, and from one community to another. Let their own party do the same too.”
Governor Wike noted that what they had suffered politically, is now been corrected because their leaders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have now attracted dividends of democracy to the community.
He urged them to change the style of their politics so that when those of the other party come to them, they can resist their lies.
“All of you who have been in government, who have been supporting governments, why is it that you cannot drag government to come to your communities and do something for you.”
He further added: “I’m surprised that up till now there are no roads in Ogbakiri. When these internal roads are completed, I will come back and give you street lights. ”
Performing the flag-off, Ohna Sergeant Awuse noted that the Ogbakiri internal roads project stands as the highpoint of Governor Wike’s generosity to the people of Emohua Local Government Area.
“No man would have done what you have done for us. We will follow you, stand with you and give you whatever you need from us. You are a correct Ikwerre son.”
Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi said the 15kilometers of the Ogbakiri internal roads project will be a single carriageway and transverse the 6 communities in Ogbakiri.
He states that along with the numerous socio-economic benefits associated with good road and transportation access, the roads also afford psychological benefits.
“Ogbakiri Internal roads project is for the construction of 15kms of single carriageway, with a typical width of 8m and a total drainage network of 23km.
“These roads will be built according to our minimum standard specifications of the sharp sand sub-base, base course of 0/50 aggregate finished with 2 layers of asphalt, a binder course, and a wearing course.
“These roads which will interconnect the 6 communities that makeup Ogbakiri; Rumuoro, Oduoha, Rumuakani, Rumuada, Ahai, and Okporowo, will be completed and commissioned within 12 months,” the governor noted.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has commended the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) for calling off its two-month strike in the state.
According to a statement signed by the Special Assistant (Media) to the governor, Kelvin Ebiri, on Wednesday, Governor Wike has, however, directed the Accountant General of the state not to pay judiciary workers for the first week of June in which the ‘no work-no pay policy’ was in force.
The state government had warned that it will enforce the no-work no-pay policy if JUSUN in the state fails to call off the strike by May 31.
Governor Wike explained that the state government’s decision not to pay JUSUN members for the first week of June was a result of the union’s failure to heed the directive to resume work before May 31.
He reiterated that Rivers State had been implementing full financial autonomy of the judiciary and that the strike was, therefore, unnecessary in the first place.
The governor maintained that the state government will not set up any budget implementation committee because it is unknown to law.
“Rivers State government is in full support of financial autonomy of the judiciary and has been implementing same. We have stated it before that we are not going to set up any budget monitoring committee in the state because it is unnecessary,” Governor Wike said.
He explained that under a federal system of government, it is only the executive arm of government, at all the tiers, that has the powers to present the annual budget to either state or National Assembly and also signed it into law.
He further asserted that the people of the state are law-abiding and will continue to insist that every action of government must be predicated on the rule of law.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike on Saturday said there is no going back on decision of Southern Governors to ban open grazing across the region.
The Governors met in Asaba, Delta State on Tuesday and agreed to the ban as parts of efforts to solve the farmer-herder crisis sweeping the country.
The decision has been frowned upon in some quarters.
A former Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf criticised the move, saying the Governors did not consult with the Fulani, a tribe renowned for nomadic cattle rearing.
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, on Friday also suggested that a ban on open grazing should only be implemented when there are adequate plans for cattle ranching.
But speaking at a civic reception organized in his honour by the Ogoni Ethnic Nationality of Rivers State in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area on Saturday, Wike said the decision was cast in stone.
“Look, I have been in government, I am in opposition, nobody can cow me,” he said. “Magnus (Abe), they know, their government cannot cow me. I will say what I will say and I will do what is right for my people. Nobody will do me anything. I will die the day God says it is my day. Nobody can take my life when it is not time for me to die. So, let nobody be afraid.
“Let me also use this opportunity to say, all those who are saying why should Southern Governors ban grazing – I have taken further steps to fulfill what the Southern Governors said in Asaba. If anybody wants to die, go and die and hang yourself on electric pole.
“We have taken a position and we are not going back. Enough is enough; we are not second class of citizens of this country. We also own this country and we must partake in what is happening in this country.”
Meanwhile, Wike also tackled the Federal Government on the implementation of the Ogoni environmental cleanup exercise.
“You have said you are coming to clean Ogoniland,” he said. “Move your office from Port Harcourt and come to Bori. You cannot talk about cleaning up a place and you keep your office in another area; bring your office from Port Harcourt and come and stay in Bori so that you can hear and see the feelings of the people. It is very important.”