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Posts tagged ‘DeltaState’

Uduaghan Nominates Dead Man For Board Appointment.


By SaharaReporters, New York

Members of the Delta State House of Assembly were on Tuesday thrown into a state of astonishment when they discovered that one of the seven persons nominated by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for appointment into the Delta State Tourism Board had died a while ago.

Last week, Mr. Uduaghan had included the name of James Youmu in a list of nominees for the state’s tourism board that was forwarded to the legislature for screening and confirmation. Mr. Youmu has been dead

The other nominees for the same board are Efe Afe, Peter Okolotu, Hyacinth Iyere, Amah Agbajoh, Abel Eyube and Joe Morg.

There was a mild drama during the screening when Mr. Youmu, the fourth nominee on the list, was called up. Mr. Afe, a former member of the state assembly who was screened as the chairman of the board, immediately told the House that the said James Youmu had died even before the names were sent for screening.

The embarrassing situation raised eyebrows among lawmakers. The strange incident became a new chapter in the governor’s controversial actions regarding the membership of the state-owned agencies and parastatals.

Last week, a prominent member of the Delta State House of Assembly had told SaharaReporters that he was dismayed that the governor sent a list of nominees for the boards of state-owned agencies after the governor had sworn in the nominees into office three months ago. The legislator said that the governor’s belated action was “evidence that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has lost focus.”

Other legislators also told SaharaReporters that they were taken aback by the governor’s letter forwarded a letter with the names of nominees after he had inaugurated them, thereby violating the law. “Why did His Excellency send us names of nominees for state boards for screening and confirmation when the boards were inaugurated by the same governor some months ago?” one of the state lawmakers wondered.

Several of the legislators wondered why none of the governor’s aides had warned him against inaugurating boards without first forwarding the names of their members to the state assembly for vetting and approval, as demanded by law.

A letter titled “Request For Confirmation Of Nomination Of Chairmen And Members Of Certain Boards” and personally signed by Governor Uduaghan was accompanied with a list of nominees to be screened for appointment into the Delta State Tourism Board, Delta Broadcasting Service, Warri; Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba, and Delta State Rural Development Agency.

The latest development, where a dead man’s name appeared on the governor’s list, caused consternation among Deltans who went to the state assembly to witness the screening and confirmation exercise. “Who come put dead man for board?” one of the spectators mused, speaking in pidgin language.

National Confab won’t divide Nigeria—Clark.


FORMER Federal Commissioner for Information and Ijaw Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has said that the National dialogue proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan

will not divide Nigeria, just as he stressed that critics of the President were shocked hearing that the Senator Femi Okuroumi-led National Advisory Dialogue Committee was set up.

Speaking, Monday, during the launch of the Edwin Kiagbodo Clark Foundation and 25 billion Naira Fund Raising Dinner for the proposed Edwin Clark University of Technology, Kiagbodo, Delta State and the Edwin Clark Centre for Youth Orientation and Development, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, the elderstasteman took a swipe at former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for lampooning the President on the proposed conference.

He said: “The National Conference will not divide Nigeria. Before now, Tinubu and others were clamouring for a national conference. They are now shocked that the humane President agreed for a conference. Those who did not want it are shocked. The Yorubas believe in national conference, Asiwaju Tinubu is alone.”

Speaking on the Edwin Clark University of Technology, Chief Clark, who noted that he decided to embark on the project to contribute to humanity as well as see a situation where young men and women will come together from all over the country in his home town, Kiagbodo, and share knowledge, said that it was not set up for money as he was not looking for money at his age. He said that when he got to the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton, venue of the launch, he was happy that all the chairs were occupied, adding, “donation or no donation, Nigerians have recognised me.”

On why he decided to establish a University at 86, he said, ” I had always thought of education as the best legacy.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

Kokori Community Leader Protests ‘Military Invasion’.

By SaharaReporters, New York

The South – South Community/Urhobo Progress Union Public Relations Officer (PRO) leader of Kokori Community, Ghana, Mr. David Ukueku, has decried in strong terms what he termed a “military invasion” by men of the Nigerian Army on the peaceful and serene community of Kokori in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State under the guise of searching for associates of alleged kidnap kingpin, Mr. Kelvin Oniarah.

In a statement, Ukueku, an indigene of the community said, “After careful consideration of the security situation my ancestral home, I wish to call on all stakeholders within and outside the community including HRM Ogurime-Rime, Ukori I the Ovie of Agbon, the leader of the Urhobo Progress Union, Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and the President of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan to apply their leadership positions to resolve the crisis trailing the community.“

He noted that there had been gross human rights abuses, violation of rules of engagement, extortion, unlawful detention, desecration of cultural sites, arrogant disregard for the right to association, which he described as indications of failure of intelligence in fishing out the criminals.
He warned that in the event of manifest violation of rights to life, his community would not hesitate to drag the Uduaghan-led Government of the State to the International Court of Justice.

“Why would the sin of a single individual be [visited] on an entire community?” he asked.  “What crimes have the people of Kokori committed to warrant this fate that has [befallen] them? My aged parents now reside in the bush for crimes they know nothing about.”

He regretted that the human, social and economic lives in the community have been totally grounded.  “Internally displaced persons are roaming nearby forests in search of hope and safety on account of the dastardly fatal harassment by unruly soldiers. We have also noticed that the soldiers are mostly of the northern ethnic extraction, thereby raising questions that border political hatred for Niger Deltans.

“Innocent school children, teachers, trader and farmers have fled for their dear lives, abandoning their farm product and other activities in the community for fear of the unknown.”

Ukueku pointed out that the land which is now so tortured is one of the highest oil producing communities in Delta State, and that it has a reputation for peace, and wondered why the revenue from their land is being used to finance the terrorizing of its indigenes.

Pledging that that the Kokoris do not support criminal activity, he urged the authorities to call to order the military personnel operating in their community.  He also urged the immediate release of the innocent people that have been arrested, and the trial of those arrested for criminal activity, stressing that delay is denial and a violation of the human right laws of which Nigeria is a signatory.

13 feared dead after Kelvin’s arrest.


No fewer than 13 persons were feared dead in Wednesday’s bloody clash between the Joint Task Force (JTF) troops and armed youths loyal to kidnap and robbery kingpin Kelvin Prosper Oniarah (aka Ibruvwe) in Kokori, Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State.

Oniarah, who was arrested by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) and JTF in an undisclosed hotel in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. Some of his victims were Chief Mike Ozekhome and a former Anambra Deputy Governor, Dr. Chudi Nwike, who was killed in captivity.

Troops deployed in Kokori to secure the town shortly after his arrest on Wednesday came under intense gunfire, leading to a

shootout that lasted for over three hours before the youths were overpowered.

Oniarah’s close associate identified as Charles and a juju priest, Michael Omonigho, who is believed to be the gang’s spiritual head, were arrested.

Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who addressed reporters yesterday in Warri, confirmed the arrest, saying one person died in the clash. The Nation learnt that the governor relied on information provided by security operatives and a body retrieved from the scene.

Our independent investigation revealed that the death toll was higher than one. The body recovered from Kokori on Wednesday night has been taken to Effurun Barracks headquarters of the Sector 1 Command of the JTF.

A reliable security source involved in the operation, told our reporter: “The armed youths killed were at least 13; some of the bodies were dragged from the scene and taken to an unknown location by their colleagues.”

Our source, who craved anonymity, added that at least 25 youths of the town escaped with gunshot wounds.

It was gathered that two of the troops’ Hilux vans used for Wednesday’s operation were damaged by the hoodlums, who attempted to set them on fire by shooting the fuel tanks repeatedly.

“Luckily for us, the tank was made of plastic. They were able to destroy the tyres and we had to move the vehicle out of the town with flat tyres before fixing it,” a JTF source, who was part of the team, told our reporter.

Our reporter counted at least four bullet holes on a van marked DT-Jul-019.

At least 15 vehicles of various brands were smashed and burnt in the town; although it could not be ascertained if the destruction was carried out by the soldiers or the rampaging youths.

Operation clean-up Kokori

As a follow up to Wednesday’s incident, the 3 and 222 battalions of the Nigerian Army in Effurun-Warri and Agbarha-Otor, yesterday began a military operation to rid Kokori and neighbouring communities of remnants of Kelvin’s gang members.

Troops were also deployed to man the Orhioke-Kokori crude oil well head and manifold in the area, apparently to prevent the rampaging youths from making good their threat to set it on fire.

The operation was led by Lt.-Col Ifeanyi Otu (3 Battalion) and Lt. Col VC Ibeh of 222 Battalion.

It began with an address by Lt.-Col. Otu at about 9:35am, in front of the Isiokolo Police Divisional Headquarters and a brief workout before the troops moved into Kokori.

Lt.-Col Otu laid out the rules of engagement, warning the troops against indiscriminate use of firearms and force.

He added: “Fire control, discipline must be maintained at all times and you must remain focussed.”

At about 10:05am, 19 Toyota Hilux vans and one Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), conveying over 100 soldiers and policemen, stormed the town.

The town was almost completely deserted, except for a handful of aged women and children who were too weak to flee.

Our reporter saw two crying children: the eldest, who is about five-year-old, identified himself as Onini. He said his parents fled on sighting the troops leaving him and his younger sibling behind.

Our correspondent, who witnessed the operation, reported that although Kokori was like a ghost town, remnants of Kelvin’s gang remained and caused problems for the troops.

The gang mounted roadblocks on the Market Road entrance to the town and dared the security operatives to cross them and move towards their hideout at the end of the town.

They also barricaded entrances to major streets with coffins and made sacrifices from dead animals and chicken, ostensibly to deter the advancing troops.

A midsize truck, which apparently conveyed drinks to the town, was seized and the bottles it was carrying broken and scattered on the road to restrict movement.

The truck was also set ablaze and its carcass used to block the road.

One of those remaining in the community, Mr. Stephen Onokayime, told our reporter that he was not part of the criminal operation.

He said he tried to dissuade the youths, adding: “They refused to listen to me.”

Uduaghan imposes dusk-to-dawn curfew on Kokori

Uduaghan vowed that the military operation would continue until all remnants of Kelvin’s men and their supporters were arrested.

He said: “The overall objective (of military operation) is to flush out the criminal gangs, get their arms and ammunition and restore normalcy to the town.”

He imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the town, saying nobody should be found outside the community once it is past 6pm.

Uduaghan advised persons living in communities, such as Eku, Abraka and others to ensure that they did not move about aimlessly.

The governor lamented that the people of Kokori backed the criminals, saying: “It is a shame that Kokori women came out dancing with their children holding guns. In other places, women dance with their graduating children.”

He said innocent people would be spared, adding that all must bear some pains to wrest the town from the hoodlums.

The governor assured oil companies of adequate security, urging them to ignore the threat of the so-called Liberation Movement of Urhobo People.

How Kelvin was arrested

Fresh facts obtained by our reporter revealed how Kelvin, whose operations reportedly spread across the Niger Delta and beyond, was nabbed on Wednesday. His car was bugged and a tracker installed.

Contrary to initial report that he was tracked after last Wednesday’s 60-day ultimatum to the Federal Government, The Nation authoritatively gathered that security operatives had been on his trail at least two weeks before the declaration.

It was gathered that a section of the security services was blanked out from the investigations because of concerns that some of them may have been compromised by the gang.

A top official of the DSS said Kelvin escaped arrest for so long by shunning a luxury lifestyle and moving about in taxis and vans.

“He usually drove around in rickety vehicles used as taxi. That way he was able to avoid drawing attention to himself. That was how he was able to beat all checkpoints around the area.”

Besides, it was gathered that the JTF narrowly missed arresting him months ago, when he killed two of his close friends who he accused of giving information to the security apparatus of the state government.

“What he did was to get the phone of those his aides and he dialled the number of some security top shots who he knew were working on his case. He was surprised to find that the boys had the number. Without wasting time, he wasted them both,” our source said.

It was gathered that the death of the two moles hampered investigations until the SSS stepped in, infiltrated his camp and bugged his car.

Kelvin implicates top security operatives, traditional leaders

The kidnap kingpin has reportedly made earth-quaking confessional statements, implicating a high-ranking military officer in the state, police top brass, prominent politicians and community leaders.

“From what we have heard, heads may roll if the confessions made by Kelvin so far turn out to be true, because he said so many things and implicated so many people, including a very high-ranking officer of the Nigerian Army,” a source said yesterday.

Asked to comment on the alleged involvement of politicians in funding and arming the hoodlum yesterday, Uduaghan said a full-scale investigation would be conducted, adding: “At the end of the day, the full story of Kevlin will be told. Let us not be biased at this moment.”

Uduaghan hinted that heads could roll in Agbon Kingdom and Kokori, where he said Kelvin was backed by his kinsmen.

The governor said: “We (government and the monarch) are having very deep discussions. We are in touch with the king. We believe that certain persons in that community (Kokori) have questions to answer. No matter how big or how high they are, we will fish them out.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

Niger Delta’s Most Wanted Kidnap Kingpin Arrested In Port Harcourt.


Kelvin and his gang
By SaharaReporters, New York

Kelvin Ibruvwe, the Niger Delta’s most wanted kidnap kingpin and leader of the Liberation Movement for the Urhobo People (LIMUP), he has been arrested today in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State.

Mr. Ibruvwe’s arrest came barely a week after he brashly gave the Federal and Delta State governments a 60-day ultimatum to develop the Urhobo area, particularly his community, Kokori in Ethiope East local government area, or risk heavy attacks on oil facilities.

Two security sources told SaharaReporters that the notorious kidnapper was arrested on Wednesday morning by a special squad of the State Security Services (SSS) deployed from the agency’s headquarters in Abuja. “We were also assisted by some local security operatives based in Delta State to apprehended Henry at the early hours of today,” one of the sources said.

Our correspondent was told that Kokori town had been taken over by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) who mounted a coordinated attack to arrest other members of LIMUP as soon as the news of Ibruvwe’s arrest filtered into the community.

A source in Kokori disclosed that the arrival of the JTF operatives sparked off an exchange of gun battle between members of LIMUP and the JTF. “The JTF people brutalized many people in our community. Some youths and men were arrested while some women were beaten for daring to prevent arrest of their husbands and children,” the source said. The source added that many residents had fled the community for fear of further reprisals and possible mistreatment by the JTF.

Last week, Mr. Ibruvwe and other members of his gang staged a dramatic event where they brandished sophisticated weapons while issuing an ultimatum to the Goodluck Jonathan administration as well as the Delta State government. One police source told SaharaReporters that the group’s high-profile event had embarrassed the state commissioner of police, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, and the commandant of the JTF, adding that the two law enforcement officials almost earned reprimands from their bosses in Abuja.

“Because of the embarrassment Henry caused, orders were issued to trail him and arrest him by all means,” said the source.

The Mystery Island in Odio-Ama (2) By Patrick Naagbanton.

By Patrick Naagbanton

“Hands up”, Hands Up”. The driver barked constantly like an old Kindergarten school teacher issuing instructions to her or his pupils. His broken voice blazed through my eardrum like wild gun shots. The other six passengers, including James Sampson raised their hands in the air defencelessly. The driver lifted one of his hands and placed another on his engine head. I hoisted mine hands like a flag. Closer there were women, children and few men, offloading fishes and nets from their motorized dugout canoes at the coastline. Two military men with AK47 riffles in their hands emerged from a hut constructed at a jetty margin, like anxious terrestrial crabs. The military house is made up of white sack bags filled with sand and the roof, covered with zinc, while part of the body has dark-green tarpaulin on it. The soldiers flung a military look at our boat and us, “Go,” one of them shouted.

About 10.00am, on Saturday, 19th February 2006, the Odio-Ama Community was invaded. A contingent of soldiers, navy, police and Nigeria’s secret police (State Security Services) came in gun boats, and attacked it through its western axis. They killed and maimed natives at sight. Several houses there were razed down. The military action was a response to the savage slaughtering of twelve councillors from the Nembe Local Government Council.

Militants of the Isein group, a hitherto powerful, but local cult gang were fingered as the masterminds of the killings of the local politicians. The group’s spiritual and operational headquarters was in Odio-Ama. Not all community natives are members of this group. Suspected chieftains of the group escaped unhurt before the joint military invasion. Few days after the attack, I led a high-powered mission of the London-based global human rights watchdog, Amnesty International (AI) there. The demolition was substantial. Since then, the military had remained there.

After the routine military check, we were aground the main jetty. By the left hand side of it, is a stationary gigantic tugboat, owned by the south Korean firm, Hyundai Fabrication – “ The Ijaw Youth Council Secretariat – Odio-Ama Chapter – Central Zone, Bayelsa” were boldly designed on a clean metal board at the  right hand side before the jetty. There were others small boards with several letterings by some Pentecostal Churches, announcing their weekly programmes in their churches in Odio-Ama. James stepped out of the boat to the jetty as I handed to the driver Four Thousand Naira (N4, 000.00) as fare for two of us. “Nuaooo Frank Ovie Korkori,” Ovie Korkoro Nuaoo”.

The hailing song continued discordantly. I can hear and speak very little of the Nembe dialect. It means either ‘welcome Frank Ovie Korkori’ or ‘Ovie Korkori welcome’. James Sampson, 48-years old, is an honest, intelligent, hardworking and determined young man. At the age of eighteen he had built a 6-room block house in his Odioma community. He achieved that from profits made from his deep-sea fishing. That house was razed down completely when soldiers attacked the community. He studied History and Diplomatic Studies at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. I met him in early 1997 before he became the chairman of United Odio-Ama Youth (UOY). He later rose through the ranks of the Movement for the survival of the Ijaw Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND), the principal Ijaw nationalist formation. In late 2000, he became MOSIEND acting president. James Sampson was nicknamed ‘Frank Ovie Korkori’ by his admirers in Odio-Ama and beyond for his honesty and courage in mobilizing his people to achieve community development as youth activist.

Frank Ovie Korkori, the Delta State born, ex-Secretary General of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and National Gas Workers (NUPENG), Nigeria oil workers union, ran a nationalistic labour union in the 1990s. In collaboration with radical pro-democracy groups, they confronted the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha (20th September, 1943 – 8th June, 1998). He suffered torture, arrest and imprisonment in the hands of the regime.

I was checked into the Preye Atlantic Hotel Limited situated in the southern part of the Odio-Ama Community. Few seconds after that, tears from the weeping clouds over us begun. It rained through the night, unleashing its chill. Amidst the heavy downpour,Frank Ovie Korkori’s good-looking Akwa Ibom State wife had prepared dinner for me, the usual Nigerian staple pepper soup I had requested. A blend of hot grounded pepper, some little table salt and dried cracker fish with no palm oil but boiled in water. James (Ovie Korkori) and his cousin had brought the pepper soup in a giant plastic flask to my hotel room. We sucked it together with few bottles of refrigerated star beer. Three of us couldn’t finish the pepper soup. In spite of the rain induced cold of the night, we sweated easily.

Apart from few houses generating touch- like light and noise from their- I pass my neighbour (small cheap generator(s), the community was in utter darkness. A low capacity 500KVA generator Shell provided for the community many years ago had broken down. James and his cousin later returned to their respective houses and I dosed off briefly. The night was terrible. I hate pesticide and insecticide because of the odour and health implications. I didn’t want the room to be sprayed with it. I was the only guest(s) in the 26 room hotel with my mosquito guests. The mosquitoes staged an all-night welcome party for me. They didn’t allow me to sleep for greater parts of the night. I danced with them all through.

As early as 5.00pm, on Sunday, 6th July, 2013, I had taken my cold water bath in that wintry weather to wash off remains of mosquitoes on my body. What a tragic party. Clouds of darkness over the town were disappearing, thus giving way to day light. Ovie Korkori and his cousin came to the hotel around 6.00am, to fetch me to a beer joint opposite the former’s house, to discuss strategies, for the expedition to the Okpoko – Nabadi or Vanish Island. “Nuaooo Ovie Korkori”, a middle-aged man, said to be a community chief shouted. Thereafter, young men in their numbers started milling around three white plastic chairs set in front of us. About two of them recognized me, drawing on memories from one of my trips to Twon Brass recently.

James is such a generous fellow. He bought beer for all of them, but didn’t drink any this time. He said it was too early to do that and that his body was showing warning signs of malaria attack. As the young men were devouring their beer, one of them brought out of his trousers’ pocket a medium-sized bottle of Dettol, the liquid anti-septic disinfectant meant for bathing. He poured some quantity into his glass of beer and   drank It.” e day cure malaria”, he declared in Pidgin English.  James’ cousin also took from him and poured into his beer too, and swallowed it, and said,” yes, it cures malaria. It has cured me”. I was shocked. I and James protested against it. But the young men who later became our guides to the island snubbed our protestations.

I was really hungry. My stomach longed for some little breakfast, of tea and bread before undertaking the trip. James’ wife brought us a large basin of fresh egusi soup with fleshy croaker fish and a mountain of prepared garri (eba). I couldn’t resist it! If anyone had brought tea and bread after gasping the fragrance of the soup, I would have rejected it. I ate keenly, sharing it with some of the guides.

We left for the jetty. The journey started afterwards. We hired a speed boat with inscriptions written all over it, “Dickson Marine. We shall overcome by the blood of the lamb”. The boat was driven by Ebi Opus, an 18-year-old secondary school boy who does part-time boat transport business to fund his education. Opus is such a poor, intelligent and disabled lad. His two legs are malfunctioned. He wobbles when walking. He was afflicted at childhood with the crippling deadly infectious aliment, Polio. The tide was low. The sea was calm with less turbulence. We were five (that is I, James and three community guides).

We spent about seven minutes sailing from Odio-Ama to the Okpoko-Nabadi or the Vanish Island. The Portuguese’s were said to have termed it, “Vanish Island”, while the Odio-Ama people named it Okpoko-Nabadi after a radical member from the community who was exiled there. James and other community leaders also argued that the real name of their community is Odio-Ama, and not “ Odeama” as early cartographers who visited the place, and were non-Odio-Ama natives, mistakenly wrote. Lots of myths and legends surround the island. The island is a big spectacle. A solid stretch of sandy beaches, enriched with green marine trees, mangroves and sea weeds. James wanted us to do some libation, to appease the gods before we venture into the island. I subtly overlooked the request. It would have cost me few nairas to do that, but is not part of my attitude that there is any gods or spirits there. There are five lakes on the island. The area is endowed in biodiversity resources like sea birds, fishes, animals, reptiles, mollusks of different species. We spent several hours walking around. It was serene and windy. On its southern axis, is the roaring Atlantic Ocean. North is the Odio-Ama community. East is the Santa Barbara and on the west is Twon Brass.

The island is close to nature. I enjoyed the melodious songs of the sea birds. The rhythmic songs of the lush trees as ocean winds touch their heart. I couldn’t find any spirits – whether mammy water or papa water. I was only afraid of possible attack of either pythons or sharks or other dangerous reptiles. Python and Sharks too are treated as sacred gods and worshipped by the Odio-Ama and other Nembe people of the central Delta. While there, anytime I raised fears of these creatures, James always assured me that they are harmless and friendly.

In one of the lakes with extensive mudflat, three of the guides had started harvesting huge shell fish (blood cockles). The natives called it ifungor. I joined the harvest. They later surrendered theirs ( ifungor) to me. It filled a polythene bag which I took to my home in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital for a delightful meal. The island can be developed and transformed into a tourist haven.

We departed the island late afternoon to a nearby fishing camp. A middle aged migrant fisherman from Ondo State, south-western Nigeria who does deep-sea fishing entertained us with dried mullet and we ate it as lunch.  We got to Odio-Ama later and headed through the then calmed St. Nicholas River to Ijawkiri, a massive fishing port on the south-west. Another name for Ijawkiri is New Jerusalem. From there (Ijawkiri), Ovie Korkori and I took separate motorbikes and journeyed through the sandy beaches to Okpoama and later to Twon Brass. Surprisingly, each of us paid One Thousand Naira (N1, 000.00) only. We returned through the sea and creek routes to Ogbia waterside under the heavy downpour in another commercial speed boat. Around 10.00pm we got to Port Harcourt. My health worsened appallingly. I was placed on intensive medical care. I am back to life. Like poet Tennyson, I cannot rest from travel”.

Naagbanton lives in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Capital

  • Concluded.


Deltans Criticize Use Of N95 Million to Renovate Two Government Offices.

Burnt office
By SaharaReporters, New York

The use of N95 million by the Delta State Commissioner for Housing to renovate two offices in Government House, Asaba, has triggered condemnation. At a press briefing on Monday, Housing Commissioner, Paulinus Akpeki, disclosed that his ministry spent N27 million to fix the burnt office of Sunny Ogefere, the chief press secretary to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, and N68.6 million to repair a damaged section of Government House in Asaba, the state capital.

A mysterious fire in March, 2012 had gutted the office of the press secretary and a section of other offices in the press center at Government House.
Mr. Akpeki disclosed the big expenditures at a press conference that was part of the on-going mid-term report by officials of the Uduaghan administration. The commissioner proudly disclosed that the state had sunk N27, 172,353.16 to renovate the offices two months after the fire. According to Mr. Akpeki, the renovation included re-roofing, plumbing, electrical work, carpentry and painting.

He stunned the reporters when he also revealed that the sum of N68, 648,328.05 had been used to renovate a part of the old Government House.

“The works carried out at the old Government House included the repairs and painting of the buildings within the complex and the reconstruction of broken-down septic tanks and soak away pits.”

In interviews with SaharaReporters, several government officials, civil servants and Deltans criticized the investment of the huge amount to renovate two areas. “It is a clear case of fraud and corruption,” one civil servant said. Another source, a lawyer in Asaba, echoed the sentiment. “Would Chief Akpeki spend 95 million naira of his own money on these two jobs if the money came from his pocket?” the lawyer wondered.

Several government officials and civil servants that the money Mr. Akpeki announced was enough to build new befitting offices. “Obviously, some individuals used the renovation budget to enrich their pockets,” said one of them.

A miffed senior civil servant at the Ministry of Finance expressed dismay over the commissioner’s claims, adding that Mr. Akpeki was a known corrupt politician. “At this juncture, Akpeki needs to be questioned to break down the figure for us. What and what did he really use that huge amount of money for when that money can give you a completed befitting duplex?” he said. The civil servant added: “The other time when Patricia Eteh [a short-lived speaker of the House of Representatives who was forced to resign over her expenditure of an inflated sum to renovate her official residence] used several millions of naira to renovate her official quarters, we all shouted and condemned her. Now a commissioner has said he used the sum of N27.1 million to renovate a section of a building, not to build a new one. I think I will go with those branding Delta State as one of the most corrupt. Akpeki is one commissioner who is feeding fat on the state.”

Several Deltans who spoke to SaharaReporters also lamented the huge price tag of the renovations. A retired teacher who resides in Warri said, “We are lacking many basic amenities, but these government officials are spending money like water. They should know that they can be asked tomorrow to explain their actions.” An Asaba-based medical doctor said he was disgusted by the news. “Some of these government officials are amassing wealth with impunity,” he said.

NPDC daily crude production now 138,000 barrels.

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-MaduekeMinister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke
| credits:

The Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, has increased its daily oil production to 138,000 barrels from 60,000bpd.

This was contained in a rejoinder signed by NPDC management in response to a story published in a national newspaper (not The PUNCH) on Friday alleging that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, was involved in a N59tn oil deal.

“NPDC production has grown from 60,000bpd to 138,000bpd. Currently, NPDC is the major gas supplier to the domestic market in the western Niger Delta with over 450 mmscf/day, which will further increase to over 550 mmscf/d by the end of 2013,” the company said.

To expand its opportunities in the upstream oil and gas sector, NPDC said it had adopted funding mechanisms to secure production capacity of 250,000 barrels per day by 2015.

“This strategy is essential if the national oil company is to be a major player in the upstream sector in Nigeria and provide national energy security for the nation. A strong NOC is sine qua non for national security as practised by all other oil producing countries,” it said.

The support of the Federal Government in ensuring NPDC’s expanded operations by seeking additional asset base and funding outside the normal government funded Joint Venture cash call is, therefore, an imperative, according to the company.

“It is interesting that the laudable actions of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, who has consistently fought to support and grow the National Oil Company, NPDC, against competing interests is being parodied and vilified by certain groups,” it said.

Five oil communities in Delta State led by Chief Emami Ayiri were said to have made allegations against Alison-Madueke.

Specifically, the minister was alleged to have deliberately excluded indigenous rights to pre-emption and/or first refusal on four oil blocks: OMLs 26, 30, 34 and 42.

She was also alleged to have illegally assigned 55 per cent of the Federal Government’s interest to Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts without any recourse to due process in the transactions.

The minister was also alleged to have had pecuniary interest in Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts, hence her approval of the deal that would make Nigeria lose four trillion cubic feet of gas asset worth $15.72tn.

Meanwhile, the minister has said gas supply to the country’s domestic market has been growing at 20 per cent per annul and is currently at a peak of 1.5 million cubic feet of gas per day.

A statement from the NNPC quoted her as describing the development as a major boost to the Federal Government’s power reforms.

Alison-Madueke, who spoke at the opening of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group Roundtable discussion recently held in Abuja, said, “It will interest you to know that gas supply has grown at a most unprecedented rate of about 20 per cent per annum, effectively reaching a new peak of about 1500mmcf/d from less than 500mmcf/d a few years ago.”

Alison-Maduke was represented by the Group Executive Director, Gas and Power, NNPC, Dr. David Ige.

She said over the last three years, the gas sector had experienced aggressive reforms culminating in the major gas addition to the domestic market.

According to the minister, the current demand by the National Integrated Power Project is put at about 260mmcf/d in the western area and it is expected to grow to about 340mmcf/d by the year end.



Gov. Uduaghan, Delta Legislature At Loggerheads Over New Anti-Kidnapping Bill.

By SaharaReporters, New York

The Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Victor Ochei, along with 28 other members of the Assembly, has incurred the wrath of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for overriding his veto of the anti-kidnapping law.

Impeccable sources who confided in our reporter revealed that the romance between the legislators and the governor went sour on Wednesday when the House took the initiative to override the veto of the governor on the bill, which prescribes the death penalty for kidnapping.  The House unanimously passed the bill in November last year but it was vetoed by the governor.

The “Delta State Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Terrorism Bill, 2012,” had last year generated controversy and bad blood between the legislature and the executive over the blatant refusal of the governor to asset to the bill.

Uduaghan had condemned the bill, saying that the death penalty was outdated, and proposed life sentence instead.  That was ignored by the House, which then decided to override the veto.

At that day’s plenary, after the governor’s very lengthy letter was read out on the floor of the House by Mr. Ochei, the House resolved into the Committee of the Whole, chaired by the Speaker.

Dissatisfied with the explanation given by the governor for his veto, the legislators relied on section 100 sub-section 5 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.  The section empowers the legislature to override the governor by a two-thirds majority.

A motion for the override of the veto was moved by the Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Monday Igbuya and immediately seconded by Mr. Joseph Oshevire.

The lawmakers swiftly voted to override the veto with 26 of the 29 members of the House, effectively making the bill the new law of the state.
Following the overwhelming vote, the Speaker directed the Clerk of the House to list the law in the state High Court, as it had taken effect from Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

Investigations revealed that 28 members of the House, excluding the Speaker, jointly sponsored the bill that was rejected by the governor.   Surprisingly during the voting, the member representing Warri North constituency, Mrs. Irene Imilar, dramatically took her leave while the member representing Aniocha South constituency, Mrs. Amaechi Mrakpor, was absent.

Angered by the decision, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Charles Ajuyah, condemned the House, stressing that the death sentence is no longer fashionable world-wide.

At a press conference in Asaba, Ajuyah said his ministry had proposed two bills recommending stringent measures against kidnappers and armed robbers to enhance the administration of criminal justice in the State.

In his own reaction, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chike Ogeah, said, “My fear is that this does not end up being a ‘dead letter law’ because as the governor of Edo State said lately, all those he has condemned to death are still waiting to be put to death as the country does not have any more public executioners.”

It would be recalled that Uduaghan, while reacting to a question posed to him during an interactive session, noted that there is already a death penalty.
“Every kidnapper is an armed robber. So, I don’t know why we are talking today of death penalty for kidnappers. Why do I have to sign another law for kidnappers? So, why this unnecessary debate about Uduaghan not agreeing to sign the death penalty for kidnappers and all that?”

Mr. Ochei had also some time ago expressed confidence about the proposed law.  “There is no way the bill will not scale through. If by the time the bill is ready and the governor does not give assent, there is a constitutional provision of what to do and I am sure he cannot discountenance the opinion of 28 members of this House. So, I don’t want to pre-empt what it will come out as if the bill is passed into law. There is a process, the next process. If it is not assented to, you are asking me this question, then I can tell you, yes, we can invoke section 100 of the Constitution but until that time comes, I think it will be too hasty to say.”

Children’s Premature Deaths Likely Rising In Delta State Due To Absence Of Pediatricians.

Barrister Duncan Afahokor and other members donating the incubators to the two central hospitals at Oleh and Ozoro.
By SaharaReporters, New York

Critics are blaming the Delta State government for what they described as a rise in the rate at which premature children are dying. Specifically, these critics say Delta State failed to employ pediatricians to run incubators recently donated to hospitals in the state.

“Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has a free maternal healthcare scheme, but too many prematurely born children continue to die, especially in Isoko South and North local government areas of the state,” said one source, a medical doctor.

The doctor decried Mr. Uduaghan’s reluctance to hire pediatricians to operate incubators donated in 2012 to the Oleh and Ozoro government central hospitals in the state.

Several nurses at the two government-owned hospitals confirmed that premature births often resulted in death. “There has never been a time the state government provided incubators in these central hospitals,” said one nurse. She added: “We do record premature births. In most cases, they die. At times we refer these cases to Warri, but the bottom line is that several deaths we have recorded are due to the fact that the government has not provided incubators and people to operate them.”

The nurses disclosed that a philanthropic group last year donated two incubators to the Oleh Central Hospital and the Ozoro Central Hospital to stem the rate of child premature deaths. They regretted that the governor had yet to approve the employment of qualified pediatricians to man the machines.

In August, 2012, a group known as Umeh Need Road, donated two incubators to state-run hospitals in Oleh and Ozoro. A source claimed that Governor Uduaghan had asked the group to shop for pediatricians to operate the equipment. “A name and CV were forwarded to the governor more than five months ago, but he has done nothing,” said the source. He added that the governor had ignored several pleas to act by employing the pediatrician whose credentials were sent to him. “Meanwhile the deaths of premature children continue to increase in the above-mentioned hospitals,” said one source.

At the Oleh hospital, a citizen reporter was met by a distraught woman who said she gave birth to a premature male child, lamenting that the baby had not tasted anything since birth. The woman, who gave her name as Mrs. Akpezi, said her baby was born at eight months. “Since I gave birth to the child, I have not known peace because there is no single incubator in the hospital and I was told that we are about to be referred to Warri,” said the new mother. She added: “A nurse told me that this is what they suffer every time and the state government is not doing anything about the situation.”

Two Isoko indigenes said the governor’s failure to provide pediatricians to run the incubators exposed the emptiness of the state’s free maternal healthcare scheme. “How would a man who is claiming to be involved in free maternal healthcare not engage the services of  pediatricians to save the lives of these innocent children born prematurely?” asked one of them, a teacher.

Meanwhile, SaharaReporters learned that members of the Umeh Need Road, a Facebook forum, have sent several SOS messages to the governor to live up to his pledge to engage the services of pediatricians in order to minimize the incessant deaths of children born premature.

In a related reaction, a community activist, Geoffrey Osiama, expressed disappointment over the absence of pediatricians. Mr. Osiama, the founder and secretary general of Emede Political Focus Forum (E.P.F.F), described the woes of premature babies and their parents as “inhuman.”

Speaking on behalf of EPFF, Mr. Osiama said the governor occasionally lavishes tax payers’ money on frivolous activities, including the hosting of summits and conferences. He said it was regrettable that the same governor would not “employ personnel to operate the equipment bought by a group…Every child has the right to life but the ineptitude of Governor Uduaghan who is a doctor has denied these children [their] right to life.” He added: “There are several unemployed pediatricians roaming the streets and Uduaghan cannot say he is not seeing them.”

Mr. Osiama challenged the governor to act urgently to address the plight of the parents of premature babies.

Attempts to reach Joseph Otumara, the Delta State Health Commissioner, for his reaction, but he failed to respond to phone calls and texts to his mobile line.

A doctor in the state told SaharaReporters that there was a chance that the donors of incubators may withdraw the equipment if Governor Uduaghan continues to ignore calls to employ pediatricians to operate them. “It is unfortunate that we have the equipment right her, yet parents are made to incur more cost and time traveling far distances all because of lack of personnel to operate the incubators,” he said.


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