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Defence/Security

14 doctors, dependents kidnapped in 4 years in C/River –NMA

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The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has said that eight doctors and six dependents have been kidnapped in Cross River in the last four years.

Dr Agam Ayuk, Chairman of the association in the state, disclose this on Thursday when he led members of the association on a peaceful protest to the Cross River House of Assembly.

He said that the protest was to demand for the safe release of their colleague, Dr Inyama Marcus, who was kidnapped on July 18 in Akpabuyo Local Government Area of the state.

He said that the association found it necessary to visit the assembly with a view to call on the legislature to intervene in the situation which he described as `worrisome and disturbing’.

“On July 18 2019, one of our colleagues, Dr Marcus was kidnapped on his way to his house. Since then, he has been in the hands of the captives and they are demanding very outrageous sum of money which we know is very difficult for doctors to pay.

“This is the 14th kidnapping on doctors and their dependents across the state within the last four years. We work day and night and we feel that we are not safe in carrying out our responsibility of saving lives.

“If we are not safe, we cannot save lives. People are on call and we cannot go out of our houses to attend to them. So we have to withdraw our services to strengthen the hands of government to do more in providing security.

“As we speak, many people are being kidnapped in Cross River day and night and we believe that the government whose primary responsibility is security and welfare of the people should do more to protect us.

“Cross River is no longer safe for us. We hope that this issue will be taken as a matter of urgent public importance because we want the unconditional release of our colleague,’’ he said.

Ayuk maintained that the strike embarked on in all hospitals across the state would continue until their member is release unharmed.

Responding, the Speaker, Mr Eteng Jonas-Williams, said it was sad for anyone to think of kidnapping a doctor, adding that the act was criminal.

Jonas-Williams said that the matter has already being scheduled to be taken at the floor of the assembly, adding that the house would set machinery in motion to address the issue.

“We need the Permanent Secretary on Security to come and explain to us. Within one week alone, I know of three persons that have been kidnapped within Calabar; this is a very sad development.

“We are with you, we will make sure that something is done urgently because I see no reason why doctors who save lives should be targeted and kidnapped always,’’ he said.

Addressing the doctors at the governor’s office, Prof. Ivara Esu, the state Deputy Governor, said that the state government was concerned and worried about the security of residents in the state.

Esu, who appealed to the association to suspend their strike in the interest of the public, gave assurance that efforts were on to rescue the doctor from captivity.

Economy

COVID-19 pandemic delays arrival of RoRo vessel at Rivers Port

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Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Monday said that the first RoRo vessel expected by the Rivers Port in Port Harcourt had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications of NPA, Mr Adams Jatto made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

According to him, the vessel, which was supposed to have come in by April, has not been able to make it, and there is no definite date for its arrival  the country.

“This vessel is a special cargo which has to do with vehicles and, maybe, they could not get people to load them.

“We are still in touch with them to get updates,” he said.

Recall that on March 15, the NPA, in its bid to improve vessel traffic to the Eastern Ports, said that the Rivers Port was expecting its first Roll on/Roll off (RoRo) operations.

Jatto had said that the first RoRo Vessel to berth in the history of the Rivers Port was scheduled to depart the United States of America in the middle of March and arrive Port Harcourt at the end of March or early April.

He had said that the introduction of RoRo operations would in no small measure increase the revenue base of Rivers Port in particular and NPA as a whole.

Jatto had indicated that the move was traceable to intentional commitment and landmark reforms that the current management of the NPA had instituted toward ensuring that all ports in Nigeria became optimally functional.


Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

 

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Politics

PDP wins C/River LG election

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has won the 2020 Local Government election in the 18 councils and 196 electoral wards of Cross River.

The election, held  on May 30 in all council areas of the state, was contested by the All Progressive Congress (APC); Labour Party (LP); Young Progressive Party (YPP; New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and the PDP.

Declaring the result at a press briefing on Sunday in Calabar, Dr Mike Ushie, Chairman, Cross River Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC), said that PDP won in all the 18 councils of the state.

Ushie said the PDP won in Akamkpa; Akpabuyo; Bakassi; Calabar Municipality; Calabar South; Etung; Ikom; Obubura; Odukpani; and Yakurr LGAs.

He said the party also won in Obanliku; Ogoja; Bekwarra; Obudu; Yala; Biase; Abi; and Boki councils.

Ushie said: “CROSIEC does not generate result. All the results we announced today came from the field. We only declare results and issue the Certificate of Return.

“The issuance of certificate of return will be on June 2, unless otherwise announced,” he said.

The Chairman, who thanked journalists for their patience, said that results from some of the LGAs arrived late due to the terrain of those areas.


Edited By: Dianabasi Effiong/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Education

Rivers awards N3.9bn convocation arena project in UNIPORT– Gov Wine’s aide

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The Rivers Government has awarded contract for the construction of N3.9 billion new convocation arena at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT)
to a contractor, Telios Group.

Mr Alabo George-Kelly, the Special Adviser to Gov. Nyseom Wike on Projects, made this known in a statement by Dr Williams Wodi, the university Deputy Director (Information), on Sunday in Port Harcourt.

George-Kelly, handing over the construction site to the contractor, assured the university management that the project would be completed within the stipulated time and according to specification.

“The project’s letter of award has already been issued to the company.

“We are confident that Telios Group will deliver a quality project with attention to details. We do not expect the contractor to cut corners,” he said.

Responding, the Vice-Chancellor of UNIPORT, Prof. Ndowa Lale, thanked Wike for taking steps to fulfil his promise of building a world class convocation arena in the university campus.

He said that Wike, who is alumni of the university, had demonstrated his commitment to the institution.

“To this end, our physical planning and development unit will closely monitor the project to ensure quality job delivery,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr Emmanuel Adaria, representative of Telios Group, said the project would be completed to the contracts’ specification.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the convocation arena, when completed, would accommodate 15,000 students during ceremony.

The arena would also accommodate a minimum of six thousand students when partitioned into six lecture theatres.

Edited By: Angela Okisor/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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General news

COVID-19: C/River govt. acquires 8,000 decoders, takes education to hinterlands

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The Cross River Government has acquired 8,000 Direct-To-Home (DTH) decoders to broadcast educational activities to children in the state following the shutdown of schools due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Godwin Amanke, Commissioner for Quality Education, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Calabar on Friday.

Amanke said that the decoders were distributed free-of-charge to households in the hinterlands to enable children in rural communities to access quality educational and instructions programmes even while at home.

He said the platform called “the Ayade Digital Learning Programme” became necessary owing to the global pandemic which had kept children away from school for weeks.

Amanke said the programme which would be anchored by the Cross River Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC), was primarily designed to give access to children, especially in the most remote Local Government Areas like Obanliku, Bekwarra, Yala and others.

“The platform became necessary so we do not waste time when schools finally reopens.

“Seventy per cent of the schools in the state had concluded their second term examination before schools were shut down in the state but for those that were yet to finish theirs, the children will go straight into examinations immediately after resumption.

“That is why we ensure that our children were learning even while at home.

The 8,000 decoders with dishes which will be distributed and installed free-of-charge to households in the hinterlands will go with small solar panels to power at least two bulbs and a television set.

“For households without television sets, it is unfortunate because government would not be able to afford television sets for every household.

“We encourage those that have television sets to allow children of those that do not have share with them bearing social distancing in mind,” he said.

He, however, was not pleased with some private radio stations in the state who refused to partner with the state government in ensuring that children out-of-school still learned at home by charging the state so much.

“You have about six hours every day to play music but we are coming to you to collaborate and help our children and you are charging us so much.

“The airtime we are asking for is the same airtime you use in playing music that is of no relevance to our children but rather indoctrinate them into various vices.

“Radio stations must reduce their hours of entertainment because radio is also meant for education and information. We need to help keep our children abreast with their studies during this pandemic,” Amanke said.

Though religious and commercial activities in Cross River have been relaxed, schools are still shut down as a preventive measure to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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Defence/Security

17 suspected sea pirates nabbed in Rivers

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No fewer than 17 suspected sea pirates have been arrested by the Police Command in Rivers following a major raid on their hideout, an official said.

The command’s spokesman, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, said in a statement in Port Harcourt on Friday that the suspects were responsible for recent coordinated attacks on policemen in the state.

The 17 sea pirates attacked the men of Special Protection Unit (SPU) Base five, Benin on May 24 while they were on duty at Egelegele River in Degema Council in Rivers.

“The dastard act by the sea pirates resulted to our men losing their arms and ammunition during the attack.

“However, in a well coordinated operation in the late hours of Wednesday night, operatives of the Marine Division of the Rivers command arrested the suspects.’’

Omoni said items recovered from the suspects includes, two AK 47 magazines, charms and amulets, mobile phones, gas cylinder, N50,000 cash and two speed boats allegedly used in the attack.

“The suspects are currently helping the police with useful confessions to the attacks on personnel.

“Also, the command has intensified efforts to arrest the remnants of the criminal gang that attacked passenger boats along the Degema, Asari Toru and Akuku Toru waterways,” he added.

The police spokesman said that the Commissioner of Police in Rivers, Mr Joseph Mukan appealed to residents of coastal communities to be conscious of activities of sea pirates in their localities.

He urged residents to assist the police with useful information on the whereabouts of sea pirates through the telephone numbers: 08032003514, 08028915462 and 08182157778.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

 

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General news

COVID-19: C/River govt. seeks financial support from FG, others

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The Cross River Government has called on the Federal Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, for financial support in its fight against preventing the spread of the virus.

Dr Betta Edu, the State Commissioner for Health and Chairman of COVID-19 Task Force Team, made the appeal at a news conference in Calabar on Friday.

Edu said that the state was more concerned about prevention of the spread of COVID-19, hence the support of all stakeholders and relevant health agencies to sustain the strategy.

According to her, the state had shut down over 300 legal and illegal border entries with a view to avoid the spread of the disease into the state.

She said that Cross River was surrounded by states that had recorded cases of COVID-19, including Cameroon, thereby asking the Federal Government to support the state financially to police her borders.

Cross River is in the middle of states with COVID-19 including Cameroon.

“We have thousands of Cameroonian refugees in the state. We need more resources for advocacy, personal protection equipment, sanitisers and money to pay health surveillance officers, among others.

The Federal Government and NCDC should not only focus on states with the virus. They should also stretch their hand to Cross River and support the prevention strategies.

“We have been manning over 300 legal and illegal borders across the state and we pay the security and local vigilantes daily.

“We also want support in the area of equipping the Molecular Laboratory we have to help us test cases of COVID-19 in the state,” Edu said.

She also urged the Federal Government to make orders for the production of face masks from the state garment factory with a view to stimulating the state’s economy.

The commissioner further said that the state started the prevention against the spread of the virus in January by setting up the Emergency Operation Centre to boost preparedness.

According to her, the state had distributed over 5,230 Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), 2,000 hand sanitisers and 1.5 million face masks to residents across the state.

She added that the state had deployed health surveillance officers across the state to get samples that met NCDC requirements for testing.

The Commissioner added that 400 health personnel have been trained to work in the state’s 130-bed isolation centre.

Edu lauded residents of the state for obeying the state government directives on “no mask no movement”, saying that the task force will continue to enforce the order.

Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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General news

COVID-19: NGO donates relief materials to widows, vulnerable children in Rivers

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A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), under the umbrella of Widows and Orphans Empowerment Organisation (WEWE), has donated relief materials to children living with , orphans and widows in the state to alleviate their suffering.

Mr Everistus Aneke, the Team Leader of WEWE, an organisation that empowers widows, orphans and vulnerable children, on Thursday made the presentation of  food items to the vulnerable children in Port Harcourt.

Some of the items donated were bags of rice, groundnut oil, cartons of biscuits, packs of bottle soft drinks, action meal for immune boaster, among others.

According to him, 18 different families drawn from 17 local government areas of the state recieved palliatives.

Aneke said that the distribution of the food items was part of the organisation’s commitment to assist the orphans, the vulnerable children and widows in the state.

He said that the organisation caters for the wellbeing of over 80,000 orphans including women and children living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome in the state.

“We have other areas of focus on ensuring that identified persons living with adhere consistently to taking their medications through house to house check on them.

“We also support the business of these identified persons.

” It’s very key to us as organisation to see that these persons are doing well in their business to enable them see through their daily needs,” Aneke said.

Furthermore, we support some of them that have lost hope of living by offsetting their hospital bills and also return the children back to school, especially the adolescent girls who were out of school.

Mr Mene Ollage, the Desk Officer Opharns and Vulnerable Children (VOC), Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation in the state, expressed delight over the donation of the food items by WEWE to the children.

According to Ollage, the items will support the feeding of the children, especially those that were malnourished.

Mrs Obilor Emilia, the Director, Programmes Coordination, Rivers State Agency for the Control of AIDS (RIVSACA), noted that the donation of the palliatives was timely, especially this era of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

In her response, Mrs Julie Ogah, one of the beneficiaries expressed joy and commended WEWE for supporting her grand son’s education and daily needs after the death of his Parents. NAN

Edited By: Angela Okisor/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Judiciary

C’River Attorney-General tasks council on justice dispensation

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The Cross River Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice,  Mr Tanko Ashang, has urged members of the State Prerogative of Mercy Advisory Council (SPMAC) to be fair and objective in the discharge of their duties.

He stated this on Thursday at the inauguration of the Council in Calabar.

Ashang explained that prerogative of mercy was the right and powers of the State, “whether President or Governor or any other Supreme Authority” to commute a death sentence, to change the mode of execution or to pardon an offender.

According to him: “it is meant to dispense the power of mercy by the State on exceptional cases, where the legal system fails to deliver a morally or politically acceptable judgment,” he said.

He added that it was a deliberate policy put in place by law to protect citizens against possible miscarriage of Justice occasioned by wrongful conviction or excessive punishments.

The commissioner noted that the Cross River State Law on Prerogative of Mercy, Cap P8 Vol. 5, 2004 provides for the functioning of the Committee, which essentially is advisory.

He added that the council’s allegiance was first to the Law and then to the Governor who has vested the power to exercise this prerogative functions in section 212 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“Beyond advice to the governor, you hold a divine mandate to make objective recommendations, including forgiveness,” he said.

Ashang expressed confidence that those appointed had credible qualities to perform, saying that history had placed on them the opportunity to review judgments and sentences of a Court in a very dispassionate manner.

In his remarks, Chairman of the Council, Mr Emmanuel Enamhe, thanked the governor for finding them worthy of the appointment.

He promised that they would do their utmost best to justify the confidence reposed in them. 

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Judiciary

Driver in court for reckless driving, causing an accident

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The police  on Thursday, arraigned a 46-year-old man, Stephen Otaido, at a Life Camp Magistrates’ Court, Abuja for alleged reckless driving and causing an accident.

The police charged Otaido, who lives in Efab Estate, Life Camp, Abuja, with  three counts of causing motor accident by dangerous driving, driving without due care, attention and driving without valid licence.

The Prosecution Counsel, Peter Ejike, told the court that on Feb. 16 at about 6.30 pm, the defendant drove a Toyota Sienna vehicle, with registration number GGE 49 EA, on the Life Camp/Efab  Road.

The prosecutor alleged that the defendant drove the said vehicle in a manner that was dangerous to other road users by swerving from his lane, causing a collision.

Ejike said the defendant caused N1.9million damage on the vehicle he hit.

He said the offence contravened the provisions of Section 28 of the Road Traffic Act,  and sections  21  and 10 (1) of Road Traffic Law.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Magistrate Chinyere Nwecheonwu admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N500,000, with one surety in like sum.

Nwecheonwu ordered that the surety must be a civil servant who should provide his or her first appointment letter, last promotion letter, confirmation letter as well as identification card for citing and verification by the court officials.

The magistrate adjourned the matter until June 8, for hearing.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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