Page 56




Amaechi sacks commissioner for Jan 1 fire •’I have accepted my fate’


HE New Year Day fire at a dump site in Gambia Street, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has led to the sack of the Commissioner for Special Duties, Emeka Wogu. He was replaced by Omunakwe Dickson, whose name will be sent to the House of Assembly for confirmation. The Ministry of Special Duties oversees the fire service stations. Many residents have complained of lack of modern fire fighting equipment. Fire fighters from the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) eventually put out the fire, but Government House sources said the complaint of lack of water angered Amaechi, who described the attitude of the firemen as shameful. The sacked commissioner yesterday, in a telephone interview, said he had taken his sack in good faith. He thanked Amaechi for giving him the opportunity to serve the state. Wogu denied the claims of lack of water, noting that four of the fire station’s trucks were sent for refurbishing and that he called the oil companies for assistance. He said: “It is not true that

Six perm secs take oath of office


IVERS State Governor Rotimi Amaechi has sworn in six women Permanent Secretaries. Amaechi swore them in at the Council Chamber, Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday. The appointees are Dr Offor Nnesochi, Mrs. C. M.Iragunima, Clara Gogo Princewill, Mr. Amie Nemi Iwo, Mrs. Wihioka Comfort and Dr Justina Jumbo. Congratulating the new Permanent Secretaries, the governor said they were appointed on merit and urged them to be fair and just as they contribute to the growth of the state’s sub-national economy. “A civil servant is supposed to be a non-politician but in the Nigerian context all Nigerians or nearly all Nigerians are politicians, nearly all and that is because the economy is not productive. “So the only productive part of the economy is government and that is because government takes money from oil and everybody wants to be part of the sharing of that money but the From Bisi Olaniyi, Port Harcourt

lack of water caused the inability of firemen to respond to the distress calls by victims of the fire at Gambia Street as being insinuated by some people. “I have not been told of the reason for my removal. That is the way I heard it too. I went to my village in Omuma for New Year Day celebration and had to rush back to Port Harcourt, when I heard about the fire and moved to the scene for thorough assessment. “While leaving my village, I

moment the economy becomes productive a lot of Nigerians would not want to be in politics. “But we hope that as we increase our desire to improve on our sub-national economy, like all of you the women would contribute to this growth and the way to contribute to it is to ensure that you are fair, you are just and that you work hard and that you are also able to punish those who don’t work hard,” he said. The government warned them not to be involved in any corrupt practices. He explained that the appointment of the six female permanent secretaries will increase the number of female permanent secretaries in the state civil service. “We had looked at the civil service and there were too few women that were permanent secretaries. We felt that we should appoint some women to balance the position and that we have done. While I congratulate you on your appointment, I must also state here that you all were appointed on merit.”

called the firemen to move to the scene, but I was told the trucks were bad. “Four of the trucks are being refurbished by the contractor. I then contacted the oil companies and Agip assisted in putting out the fire. “The available drivers could not drive the two trucks with eight gears. “The two trucks with regular gears had clutch and brake problems and were being repaired. “Governor Amaechi asked me for a report on the incident. He told me to bring it to him

yesterday. “I was working on the report, when some of my colleagues, who were at the swearing-in of the six permanent secretaries, phoned me and told me about my removal. “I put in my best in serving my state. “I am surprised that some people are accusing me of dereliction of duty. “I am very grateful to His Excellency, for giving me the opportunity to serve. “I have taken my removal in good faith. No ill feelings.”

•Akpabio (second left), his wife, Unoma (second right), Deputy Governor Valerie Ebe and Bishop Kuka at the service

Kukah warns politicians against self enrichment


HE Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Rev Matthew Kukah, yesterday warned politicians against self enrichment. He said material prosperity is never a measure of a country’s greatness. Rev Kukah spoke at the Ibom Hall grounds in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, during the annual interdenominational thanksgiving service with the theme “The Lord is our strength”, organised by the Akwa Ibom State Government. The cleric said: “I would like to call on you not to see politics as being about self enrichment, but purely as an instrument in the hands of God for good Christians to deliver the services and trust that God has given to them. “I think from what I see

From Kazeem Ibrahym, Uyo

and what I have heard people say, many of you have reasons of being great but the material prosperity is never the measure of the greatness of a nation. “The essence of government and governance is to ensure that the resources that God has given to us are used to give us a good life.” Rev Kukah argued that the country cannot achieve the unity of the component parts in the face of the current agitation for the creation of more states. He explained that a situation where people living together in the same state or local government area are asking for another state or council to be carved out for them showed that there is

division among them and they cannot be said to be united. Rev Kukah, who also decried the inequality in the sharing of resources, said if the available resources were shared equally as the need arises, people would not be wallowing in abject poverty. He said: “Although God is our father, the resources, he has placed at our dis-

posal is not being equitably shared the way we want, otherwise we won’t be wallowing in poverty.” The cleric hailed Governor Godswill Akpabio for the judicious use of resources of the state, noting that there must be correlation between the spirit of fairness, justice and peace as lack of peace will lead to lack of justice in the midst of increasing inequality.

38 die in Edo road accidents From Osagie Otabor, Benin


HIRTY-eight persons were killed in road accidents in Edo State last month. This was contained in a statistics of road accidents made available to The Nation by the State Public Relations Officer of Federal Road Safety Corps, John Aniedi. The statistics said 40 road accidents occurred in the period and 142 persons were injured. FRSC Sector Commander Kenneth Nweagbe said the command started patrol on December 19 to help curb road crashes.

Disasters mar celebrations in Delta From Shola O’Neil, Warri


HE Yuletide celebration in Warri and Effurun, Delta State, was marred by fires and multiple crashes. The joy of the season was shattered by fire in EkuredeItsekiri and Alegbo as well as accidents on Jakpa and Airport roads. It was gathered that one person died and several others were injured in multiple crashes around the Oru Standard Hotel area of Jakpa on New Year’s Eve. A source said a victim was rushing home to pick up some items after dropping off his family in church when his Toyota Camry Car was crushed by a Volkswagen Passat wagon. “The Passat driver lost control, veered from his lane - onwards Ekpan - and crashed into the Camry after crossing the median. “The car was smashed. The driver was dead when he was rushed from the scene.” A storey building and shops were razed by a midday fire at the Ekurede-Itsekiri area of Warri. The circumstances surrounding the fire were unclear but a source said it started from the building, spread into the shops and consumed cash and goods worth several millions of naira. In another incident, several shops were razed at the Alegbo Junction of PTI, Effurun, on Tuesday morning. The cause of the fire is not yet known. Expectedly, the incident turned the celebration of residents of the building and shop owners into mourning. Nevertheless, our investigations revealed that apart from the disasters, the celebration in the twin cities was the most peaceful in recent times. Police sources said report of robbery and other violent crime was the lowest in about five years. The state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and residents commended the police for peaceful celebration. Uduaghan, in a New Year television address, attributed the peaceful yuletide to the ban on commercial motorcycle (okada) and special crime fighting strategies adopted by the police and security agencies.

Police arrest 11 ‘cultists’ in Rivers


HERE was tragedy yesterday at Ikata in Ahoada East Local Government of Rivers State, when a man, Udeh Sebastian, killed his wife, Abigail, with a machete, after a “minor” quarrel. Sebastian was arrested at his village in Ahoada East and moved to the state’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Port Harcourt. Abigail’s remains were deposited in an undisclosed mortuary. Commissioner of Police Mohammed Indabawa spoke yesterday at the police headquarters while parading 11 suspected cultists arrested at Ochiyba community in Ahoada East Local Government. Indabawa said Sebastian killed his wife around 4:30am yesterday. The machete, he said, was recovered from the suspect. While parading the suspects with the dynamite, fuses and wires recovered, the police commissioner said the arrest was in the spirit of the renewed vigour to stamp out criminality in the state. Indabawa said: “The peace and tranquility that prevailed

From Bisi Olaniyi, Port Harcourt

during the Yuletide is a testament to the effectiveness of the crime control measures put in place by the command and this year, it will be improved upon. “On January 1, at 11:30am, information was received that cult men had invaded and unleashed terror on Ochiyba community in Ahoada East Local Government, destroyed property and in the process killed Okpara James. “Policemen from Ahoada Area Command, assisted by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF), swiftly mobilised and cordoned off the area. “Intense search for the hoodlums was commenced and the following persons were arrested, in connection with the incident. “Godday Robinson (30), Nwineke Sunny (45), Richman Obasi (22), Wisdom Richard (25), Agi Emmanuel (30), Akajiaku Richard (28), Ogbunike Edward (30), Godstime Francis (18) and ThankGod Okpara (21). “A bag containing seven locally-made dynamites, six dynamite fuses and 14 dynamite wires were recovered from them.”

Bayelsa DPP gets ultimatum By Adebisi Onanuga


AGOS lawyer Femi Falana(SAN) has asked the Director of Public Prosecution(DPP)in Bayelsa State to file charges against the speaker and two other members of the House of Assembly for alleged misappropriation of N78million public funds within seven days. Speaker Konbowei Friday, his Deputy, Victor Sam-Afeki and the Clerk, Aaron Timiye, were accused of misappropriating N78million public funds. “If you fail to accede to our request, we shall not hesitate to file an application for mandamus at the High Court to compel you to arraign the aforementioned suspects in court pursuant to the report of police investigation, which has established a prima facie case of conspiracy, fraudulent misappropriation and stealing by conversion of public funds against the leadership of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly,” he said. The request was contained in a letter dated January 2 written to the state DPP, Ministry of Justice, entitled: “Request for the prosecution of the speaker and two other members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly for conspiracy and misappropriation of public funds” The activist said that his request for the prosecution of the trio was based on the findings of the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), following a petition by a group, the Transparency and Good Governance Coalition.