From Tony John, Port Harcourt
A Rivers State High Court has remanded the Managing director of Saipem Contracting, Mr. Walter Peviana and Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe in Port Harcourt Correctional Centre over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the Government of Rivers State of the sum of $130 million, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.
The court, presided over by Justice Okogbule Gbasam, has also issued a bench warrant for the arrest of three expatriates staff of Saipem: Giandomenico Zingali, Vitto Testaguzza, and Davide Anelli.
At the resumed hearing in Court to take pleas, after the case was adjoined last December, 2021 in the law suit No. PHC/3106/CR/2021, Justice Gbasam, ordered that the third defendant, Walter Peviana and the 4th defendant, Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe, be remanded at the Port Harcourt Correctional Service until the next hearing date.
The prosecution is the Government of Rivers State, while the defendants are: Saipem SPA (first defendant), Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited (second defendant), Mr. Walter Peviana (third defendant), Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe (fourth defendant), Giandomenico Zingali (fifth defendant), Vitto Testaguzza (sixth defendant) and Davide Anelli (seventh defendant).
Gbasam, who was observed with dismay the continual absence from court of three defendants, Giandomenico Zingali, Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, issued a bench warrant and placed the State Police Commissioner and other security agencies on notice to arrest and produce the aforementioned persons in court to face their trial having been duly served notice by the Government of Rivers State.
The lead counsel to the Rivers State Government, Chief Godwin Obla, SAN, relied on section 195 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2015 to pray that those absent be tried in absentia since they have been duly served court processes.
Opposed to that stance, the lead counsel to first, second, third and sixth defendants, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, explained that though court processes have been served on his clients, the sixth defendant was absent in court on health grounds.
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Addressing the issue of absenteeism of defendants in court, Gbasam noted that at the preliminary hearing stages, the court, on December 14, 2021, ordered that all parties should be in court since it is a criminal case.
Gbasam, who adjoined the next hearing and taking of pleas to Tuesday, January 18, 2022, said this would enable the counsels to the defendants including Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, and K. Akinwole (for the fifth defendant) to study the charges, other affidavits and complementary documents properly.
Speaking to journalists after the court session, Obla explained that some years ago, the Rivers State Government had a contract with Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd in respect of Turbines and their building in Afam 11 in Oyigbo local government area of Rivers State.
According to him, the Rivers State Government had paid Saipem a total of $130 million and N7 billion.
He explained that despite such payment, the work did not progress beyond about 40 percent of the contract sum even when the total contract sum has been collected with the company still asking for additional $97 million to be able to complete the contract.
“So forensic analysis of entire contractual agreement as done and the amount spent so far revealed that there were criminal infractions in respect of this contract.
“It is in relation of the criminal infractions that charges have now been brought against the company and individuals working with the company who were complicit in all those activities.”
Edo to switch to e-governance February 1 – Obaseki
By Jethro Ibileke
Effective from February 1, 2022, Edo State government will switch over from analogue to e-governance, Governor Godwin Obaseki says on Tuesday.
Obaseki, gave the indication on Tuesday in Benin, at the swearing-in of 14 new permanent secretaries, which held at the Government House.
According to the Governor, switching to e-governance means that memos and mails on papers would be eliminated.
He said: “Effective February 1, 2022, I, the governor, would switch over to e-governance platform, which effectively means I will now approve memos and send mails to you via the e-platform.
“We have introduced the Edo State Civil/Public Service Transformation and Enhancement Programme (EdoSTEP), through which we are pursuing a deliberate programme to identify weak points in the civil service and strengthen them.
“That explains why we have had to bring people from outside to come in to help us strengthen the areas of weaknesses that we have seen in the civil and public service; we will continue to do so because we have seen that the civil service as it is today needs a lot of strengthening.
“So far, we are very glad with the accomplishments that we have made today in the EdoSTEP programme. Under this programme, we have found out that the number of vacancies in the civil service is quite enormous.
“First, we started with the hiring of 1,600 graduates into the service at the bottom level, but they don’t have the experience and skill to take us to where we want. We will now continue hiring from the top and also see how we can train the middle corps that we have in the civil service and give them the tools for effective delivery.”
Addressing the 14 newly-sworn-in permanent secretaries, Obaseki charged them on the delivery of efficient and quality services to Edo people, even as he admonished them not to seek popularity.
He said: “We are working extremely hard to bring back the civil and public service to those days when it was respected. To the new permanent secretaries, I will like to admonish you, you all have been appointed based on merit, not by any godfather.”
“Do not seek popularity; you are not politicians, leave that to us. Ensure you do things the way it ought to be done,” he charged.
Obaseki also warned the appointees to be weary of their conduct in service, noting that government officials are liable and culpable for their activities in service, even after retirement.
In his words, “You are the chief accounting officers of your ministries. The fact that you are in government for a while does not mean that your activities while in government will not be looked at; you have to be very cautious of the decisions you make.
“Most Nigerians don’t know that even after you retire, you are still liable and culpable for your activities during your time in office. I am pleased to inform you that you will be inheriting a vastly improved system of governance; we will continue to work on our systems so that you can deliver effectively to our people.
“We will continue to build human capacity, and train and retrain our civil and public servants. We are equipping and investing in the John Odigie-Oyegun Public Service Academy to make it second to none in this part of the world.”
The newly sworn-in permanent secretaries are: Mr. Anelu Osemen, Mrs. Felicia Edwards, Mrs. Grace Aihie, Mr. Egwakhide Gilbert, Mr. Iserhienrhien Efe and Mr. Aikhuomobhogbe Uidia.
Others are Mr. Asibor Lucky, Mrs. Igbinobaro Joy, Mr. Washington Abbe, Mr. Asemota Uyi, Mr. Toritseju Onaiwu, Mrs. Ifueko Alufokhai, Mr. Osikhena Ojior and Mrs. Barbara Osobajo.
Mr. Anslem Osemen who responded on behalf of the new permanent secretaries, pledged to reciprocate the confidence reposed on them, contributing effectively to the progress and development of the state.
Ondo: Police vow to prosecute man for allegedly killing Lagos-based girlfriend
The Ondo State Police Command has said that it would prosecute one Olasunkami Oluwole for allegedly killing his lover in the Oke-Igbo community in the Ile-Oluji/Oke-Igbo Local Government Area.
Biola Soyinka, the deceased, reportedly travelled from Lagos to see her boyfriend before she was murdered.
Funmilayo Odunlami, the Police Public Relations Officer of the command, said the matter is being investigated at the command’s Criminal Investigation Department.
According to the PPRO, the suspect would be charged to court immediately after the completion of the investigation.
“The case is still at the state CID for further investigation, and after the investigation is completed, he will be charged in court,” Odunlami said.
Meanwhile, the elder brother to the deceased, Akeem Jinadu, said Oluwole had on January 16 called them in Lagos that Biola had died after he claimed that she became unconscious when she slumped at around 4:00 am .
“Oluwole said by the time he rushed her to the hospital, the doctors declared her dead. When we asked him to bring her corpse back to Lagos, he demanded that we send money for transportation.
“Contrary to what Oluwole said when the police arrested him, there were marks sustained from beating on her body when we went to identify the remains at the morgue.
“Her neck, face, and body had dark patches because she was a fair person,” Jinadu said.
“From the state of her corpse it is very obvious she didn’t die from falling, rather the marks on her body shows she was beaten and strangled to death.”
Find the killers of Oba Odetola now: Gov. Abiodun orders police, others
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun has ordered the police and other security agencies in the state to fish out urgently the killers of Oba Ayinde Odetola, the king of Agodo in Ewekoro LGA.
Gunmen killed the king, along with three other people on Monday over a mix of chieftaincy and land issues.
An outraged Abiodun condemned the killings and vowed to find the killers.
In a statement by Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, Governor Abiodun directed the security agencies to immediately fish out the killers.
Abiodun declared that his administration would not tolerate a breach of peace and harmony being currently enjoyed in the state.
He said the politics, land, and chieftaincy matters should not attract descent into self-help and killings.
“To those threatening the peace of our state, we will stop at nothing to fish them out, prosecute them and mete out the full wrath of the law on them,” the governor was quoted as saying.
“We have zero tolerance for these ignoble conducts. Politics, land, and chieftaincy disputes are no excuses for people to take laws into their hands. All hirelings, parents, and guardians should call their wards to order.
“OP-MESA, Joint Internal Security Task Force, Amotekun, vigilantes’ groups, DSS Police and NSCDC are not mere toothless bulldogs. They are armed and deployed to strike agent provocateurs.”
Abiodun, meanwhile has sent his condolences to the family of the late monarch and the residents of Agodo town.
According to Ogun state Police Command, Oba Odetola was shot dead by suspected hoodlums on Monday.
He was killed not too long after his brother was also gruesomely murdered.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Ogun, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the traditional ruler and the others were killed at about 11am on Monday.
They were said to be returning from an outing before they were attacked by the hoodlums.
The three people in the company of the king were reportedly set ablaze.
Oyeyemi revealed that the Commissioner of Police in Ogun, Lanre Bankole, and the Special Security Adviser to Governor Dapo Abiodun, Olusola Subair, have visited the town for an on-the-spot assessment.
He stated that the whole town was deserted as of the time of the visit, adding that the police commissioner has directed that the Homicide Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department of the command commence an investigation into the killing.
Channels Television reported a tussle over the chieftaincy title of Alagodo between the people of Ake and Owu in Egbaland.
While the late monarch was from the Ake section of Egba, he reportedly faced resentment by Owu people as they considered it improper for an Egba Ake to rule in aa town dominated by Owu.
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