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SOUTH UPDATE

AMEPROGAS lauds Bayelsa governor over commission of inquiry on oil spills

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… Urges South-South Governors to emulate efforts

 

A CSO, Association of Media Practitioners in Oil and Gas Producing Areas of Nigeria, AMEPROGAS, has commended Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson for constituting an Environmental Degradation Commission of Inquiry to investigate the years of negative impact of oil exploration of the waterways and lands of the State by Oil multinationals.

AMEPROGAS also urged Governors in South-South Nigeria to emulate the effort geared at making the Niger Delta environment clean and habitable from the incessant effects of oil exploration.

The statement was contained in a communique signed by AMEPROGAS Team Leader, Comrade Pere Botu and Director of Publicity/ Human Resources, Mr. Iteveh Ekpokpobe, after a meeting of stakeholders which held in Asaba, Delta State Capital territory.

According to the statement, the move by Governor Seriake will go down well in the annals of history as it signifies a clarion call for restoration of sanity to oil exploration in the Niger Delta.

They said oil exploration has wrecked immeasurable havoc on the health and livelihood of Niger Delta inhabitants without reasonable testimony of benefits for the people hence all oil sector stakeholders must see this as ample opportunity to right the long history of wrongs.

In the same vein, the newly inaugurated members of the Commissioned were urged to vehemently uphold their mandate of bringing succour to Bayelsa State environment.

Recall that Governor Seriake Dickson last week constituted the State Environmental Degradation Commission of Inquiry to investigate the years of negative impact of oil exploration of the waterways and lands of the State by Oil multinationals.

The newly inaugurated Commission of Inquiry is made up of foreign experts, diplomats and forensic experts including the Arch Bishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu as Chairman, the Former President of Ghana, John Kufou, a former in the British Cabinet and House of Lords, Baroness Valerie Amos Brondesbury and a Principal at the Fydow Forensics, Daniel Onifade.

Also on the Commission are the Former Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Barr. Wodu Kemesuode, who is to serve as legal Counsel to the Commission, Head of the School of Law, University of Bradford, Prof. Engine Emeseh, Prof. Of Public Economics, University of St. Gallen, Prof. Roland Holder and Dr. Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dohou among others.

The Commission which has a life span of Nine months to submit it’s report and such duration can be extended on request of the Commission, has the powers to conduct private hearings, both within and outside the country, “the term of reference of the commission include the conduct of investigation the facts and current circumstances surrounding oil spills and their environmental and human impact. “To that end, the Commission shall (a) establish the facts; (b) quantify the impact of oil spills; (c) determine responsibilities and, where possible, identify those responsible; and (d) make recommendations, including, in particular, on a suitable accountability framework.

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SOUTH UPDATE

SAM OGRIH: Magistrate adjourns case against two Delta journalists over ‘unpreparedness’ of claimant

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…Fixes March, 2, For Full Trial

The Presiding Magistrate, magistrate court 5, Asaba, Delta state capital, B.N. Anumadu, on Monday adjourned to March, 2, 2020, the hearing of the defamatory charges brought against the Managing Editor of BIGPEN Online newspaper, Joe Ogbodu, and investigative journalist in Delta State, Prince Amour Udemude.

At the resume of the case, a lawyer who introduced himself as M.A. Omakor, told the trail magistrate, that he was watching brief for the claimant, Sam Ogrih, announcing that he has written to the state Attorney General and commissioner for justice for a ‘fiat’ to formally take over the matter from the state criminal investigation department, (CID), Delta state police command that is currently prosecuting the two Journalist’s.

According to Omakor, “The letter I wrote to the state Attorney General for a ‘fiat’ for me to formally take over the matter, has been responded to but the problem now is that the replied letter is not eligible, the words are not clear to read and as a result we have written another to the state Attorney General, but he has asked why should he issue me another letter when he has already issued me one.

“Your lordship, for this reason, I am applying for an adjournment, to enable me reach out to the state Attorney General concerning the ‘fiat’, and I want to take March, 2, 2020, to enable me do all I needed to do and when we come back there won’t be any reason for any excuse my lordship.”

In his submission, lead counsel to the two Journalists, C.F. Ebu, argued that it is very obvious that both the police and the claimant were not ready for the case and urged the trial Magistrate, to struck out the case.

“Your Lordship, it is very clear that they are not ready for the case. My clients were first arraigned in this court, October, 24, 2019, and this is January 2020 and nothing has been done my Lord. You will see that my learned friend is only playing gimmicks. They are not prepared to go with this case, my lord my application before this court is that the case be struck out my lord.”

At this point, the lead counsel to the two Journalists, sought leave of court for the claimant’s counsel to drop a copy of the response to his letter from the state Attorney General for the court to see whether actually a response letter from the state Attorney General that was probably typed on a computer cannot be visible to read.

But, this request, the claimant’s counsel turned down and appealed to the Magistrate to accept his proposed adjourned date with a promise to tidy up everything before the next adjournment date.

After listening to both counsels, the Presiding Magistrate, B.N. Anumadu, told the claimant’s counsel to his house in order, saying any further excuse from him on the next adjourned date will not be accepted by her court and therefore adjourned the case till March, 2, 2020.

Our correspondent reports that, since the two Journalists were first arraigned in October, 24, 2019, the police prosecutor, has failed to come to court for all the adjourned dates, an indication that the police may have lost interest to the case which may have also forced the claimant to hire the services of a lawyer to take over the case.

It was reliably gathered that, the police could not lay hands on any evidence to nail the two Journalists and as the police have maintained that he who claimed to have been defamed must prove his or her case beyond reasonable doubt because a case of defamation is not that easy to prove.

It would be recalled that, October, 24, 2019, the two Journalists were arraigned by the Delta state police command, following a petition by one Sam Ogrih, that he was defamed in a story alleging him funding and sponsoring some armed Uzere community youth with the codename “Freedom Fighters” who unleashed mayhem on the community over N20 million oil largesse gifted the community by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).

According to the report, some community sources who fled the town at the wake of the mayhem caused by the armed community “freedom fighters”, had alleged that Ogrih, was the one funding and sponsoring the armed youth terrorising the area with guns, battle axe and cutlasses.

Ogrih had denied any involvement in the alleged funding and sponsoring of the armed youth unleashing mayhem in the community.

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SOUTH UPDATE

Okun Development Association disowns group

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Okun Development Association President

The national executive of Okun Development Association (ODA) has distanced itself from a group named Okun Development Association, South West Branch.

The National Executive of ODA, the umbrella body representing the Yoruba people of Kogi State, rose from its quarterly meeting of 18th January 2020 held in Isanlu, Yagba East LG, with some far reaching decisions.

In a communiqué released in Kogi State after the meeting, and signed by the National President, Barrister Femi Mokikan, the National Secretary, Pst Ayo Abereoran and the National Legal Adviser, Barrister Abimbola, the association stated that:

1) Legal, civil and criminal actions will be taken against anybody or group of persons parading themselves as representing the Association at National or Branch levels in any manner outside the provisions of the constitution of the Association.
2) No organisation or individuals shall henceforth undertake any event or function, for commercial or non commercial purposes, using the Okun name without the written approval of the National Executive Committee of ODA.
3) That the security situation in Okunland is still of serious concern. We commend the efforts of the State Government, other security agencies in the State, our Hunters and individuals who have collaborated with us in addressing the challenges we are often confronted with.
4) To further enhance the effectiveness of our efforts, we believe the time has come for us to set up our own Okun Security Trust Fund (OSTF). Towards this end, a committee is working on the details and other modalities and the outcome will be announced as soon as their report is approved.
5) We received with excitement the creation of the AMOTEKUN Security outfit at inter governmental level to address the security challenges of the SW States. This provides us in ODA an opportunity to explore the possibility of raising our security collaboration with the SW Yorubas to another level. We shall not relent.
6) As part of possible measures to reduce unemployment, we appeal to Okun Sons and Daughters with means and the entrepreneurial profile to come home and establish businesses with potentials to absorb people into paid employment.
7) The presence of a Community Radio is a powerful means of social and cultural reengineering in any community. The ODA will explore every opportunity/possibility, through appropriate individuals, to ensure that Okun Radio becomes a reality.
8) To further give teeth to the ODA, the Okun Council of Elders is to be reconstituted within the shortest possible time. We, on behalf of all Okun people thank our fathers and mothers who have served meritoriously on the Council
9) We appeal to our politicians to stop meddling with the affairs of the National Association of Okun Students so as to permanently put an end to the divisive tendencies that continue to plague the body. What we need is unity at all levels.
10) That the Miss Okun Pageant is a proprietary asset of the Okun people. Therefore the process of selecting the successful candidate to wear the Miss Okun Crown will henceforth be under the umbrella of ODA. This is without prejudice to any groups or individuals that may wish to initiate, organize and own their own beauty pageants, provided the word Okun is not reflected in the appellation of such pageant
11) Meanwhile, ODA has announced that election will be held into various offices of the Lagos branch of the association before the end of February 2020.
The Executive offices to be filled shall be contested by individuals from Ijumu Local Government, Yagba West Local Government, Mopa Amuro Local Government, Yagba East Local Government, Oworo/Lokoja Local Government and Kabba/Bunu Local Government.
12) Ijumu Local Government will produce the Chairman of the Branch, while the Vice-Chairman will be produced by Oworo in Lokoja Local Government, the office of the Secretary has been zoned to Yagba West, while the Financial Secretary will be produced by Mopa Amuro. The post of Public Relation Officer (PRO) and Treasurer will come from Yagba East and Kabba/Bunu Local Government respectively.

Speaking further on the Communique, the National President, Barrister Femi Mokikan, appealed to the Federal Government to urgently rebuild all the federal roads in Okunland that are in a deplorable condition. The association President said most Okun communities are now “landlocked”.

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SOUTH UPDATE

NDDC contractors fled with mobilisation fees, says lawmaker

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Three Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contractors absconded after collecting mobilisation fees in 2012, House of Representatives Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu said on Wednesday.

He urged the House to investigate Ninno Engineering Nigeria Limited, Petrogas Specialists Services Limited and Quintus Investment Company Nigeria Limited.

The lawmaker alleged that they abandoned the construction of Onicha-Uku/Idumuje and Onicha-Uku/Idumu-Ogo roads and Onicha-Uku civic centre after being mobilised.

The lawmaker said the NDDC awarded Ninno Engineering the construction of Onicha-Uku/Idumuye Unor link road.

The commission  gave Quintus Investment Company the Onicha-Uku/Idumu-Ogo link road project, and awarded Petrogas Specialist the Onicha-Uku civic centre construction in 2012.

The contracts, he said, were to be executed within three months.

Elumelu said none of the contracts has been executed, even as the land allocated for the civic centre has been overgrown with weeds.

According to him, the failure to complete the projects has hampered the region’s socio-economic activities and brought hardship on the indigenes.

He said efforts to bring the contractors back to work were unsuccessful, while fees paid to them have not been refunded.

Elumelu said the contractors’ excuse was that they were not given sufficient funds to execute the projects.

The House, therefore, directed its Committee on NDDC to summon the agency’s management and the contractors.

It is to find out the level of work done vis-a-vis the amount released so far.

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