Edo LG Council, Guinness in face off over haulage fee collection

The face off between authorities of Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Council, Edo State and the management of Guinness Nigeria Plc, is getting messier, with the council accusing the latter of depriving it of collection of haulage fees for trucks used by the company to convey its products for the past five years.

It will be recalled that the Council officials had on 23 June, barricaded the entrances to the Benin plant of the company located at Oregbeni Industrial Estate, Ikpoba Hill,‎ accusing it of preventing the Council access to the motor park fees.

Chairman of the Council, Mrs. Itohan Osahon-Ogbeide, who alleged that Guinness had denied the Council its right to collect the fees for so long, stated that the Council could no longer tolerate the company’s continued silence on the issue, in the face of dwindling allocations to the state, just as she. Added that the Council’s action was aimed at drawing public attention to the matter,

“‎For over five years, they (Guinness) have been obstructing us, intimidating us, refusing to see us. Sometimes, they even give us date and they do not meet it; two days to the time, they will write to us again that the manager has traveled.

“Now that the revenue from the Federal Government is not forthcoming, we want to look inward,” the Council boss said.

It was reliably gathered that a meeting between the Plant Manager at the brewery, Mr. Kingsley Imade, and the Council Chairman, reportedly failed to resolve the issue.

However, the embattled company in a press statement dated 24 July, issued and signed by its Corporate Public Relations Director, Mr. Sesan Sobowale, dismissed the Council’s claim, pointing out that collection of fees from the haulage operators had nothing to do with the company, as it was not a haulage revenue collection “agent.”

He described the blockade as unlawful and an infringement on the company’s right to operate its legitimate business and a violation of a subsisting court order on the Council and called on it to deal “directly” with the haulage service providers.

“We are taken aback by this unlawful disruption of our activities ostensibly to blackmail the company to assume the role of an agent for revenue collection from the logistics services providers. The blockade is also in violation of a subsisting court order restraining the local government from mounting blockades at our premises and demanding levies allegedly payable by these companies from Guinness Nigeria.

“The Comrade Governor was emphatic about the local government having no business blocking our business premises in a bid to collect third party levies. ‎ As a law abiding corporate citizen, Guinness Nigeria Plc hereby appeals to the leadership of the local government to act in compliance with applicable laws,” the statement said.

But the Council Chairman in a swift reaction, said the Court order only restricted the ‎Council from gaining access into the premises of the company.

“The purported court order which was obtained 15 years ago only restricted the Council staff from entering the business premises of Guinness Plc to collect motor park fee which the Council has obeyed by establishing lorries and trailer park about 1,000 feet from Guinness premises,” she said.


Orphans of truck victims get Anambra scholarship

The Anambra State Government has granted scholarship awards to the three surviving children of the late Mr. Ikechukwu Odinigwe, who, along with his wife and another child, were crushed to death by a truck two weeks ago.

The children will enjoy the scholarship awards of the state government up to university level.

Governor Willie Obiano said this on Friday during the burial of the couple and their first son at  St Anthony Catholic Church, Enugwu-Ukwu.

Obiano, who consoled the Odinigwe family for the tragic loss, observed that the survival of the three children of the Odinigwe family was a miracle.‎

“There is no doubt that God’s mercy was at work. Anyone who visited the site of that accident like I did with my wife after visiting the children at the hospital, can attest to the miracle. May their soul rest in peace,” he said.

In his sermon, the Spiritual Director of Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, Ukeh, Rev Fr. Emmanuel Obinma, said the three members of the Odinigwe family, whose bodies were contained in white caskets had embarked on a journey.

He noted that death was a leveler that spared no one, saying it comes with pain and sorrow when we lost friends and relatives.

He ‎called on his guests to take solace in  the fact that Christ swallowed death, thereby  giving hope of resurrection to the righteous.

Saying there was an invisible hand of God at work at the time of the accident, he recalled, “I was out of the country, but I tried very hard to reach him on the telephone to no avail. Perhaps the message would have altered his movement on that day.”

Expressing appreciation of the family, Mr Uchenna Odinigwe, a brother of the deceased, said expressed the family’s appreciation to Obiano and his wife for their visits and support since the accident occurred.

PDP workers want EFCC, ICPC to probe corrupt NWC of the party

Staff members of National Secretariat of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), want anti-graft agencies to probe activities of members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).

Led by Chairman and Secretary of PDP Staff Welfare, Ngozi Nzeh and Dan Ochu-Baiye respectively, they made the call at a news conference in Abuja on Friday.

Ochu-Baiye, who read the statement signed by 74 staff members of the party, said the call was important before the NWC takes the party to the grave yard.

He beckoned on Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Police, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, to hearken to them.

They accused the NWC members of financial mismanagement, financial sharp practices and incompetence in running the affairs of the party.

Ochu-Baiye said it was curious to observe that the party could be so liquidated by executive recklessness of its NWC members so much that 12 billion naira was squandered in nine months.

“Party members will need to know why delegates were compelled to pay N10,000 each into a private account of a company called MORUFI NIG. LTD.

“We are aware that over one billion naira was realized from this fraudulent exercise. Why did the NWC compel party members to pay sums into a company account rather than the usual party account in the same Zenith Bank?

“As part of their agenda to ridicule and crumble the party, legitimate bills owed to media houses, contractors and even cleaners have not been paid till date,” he said

He added that most party members who conducted congresses and primaries that generated these huge sums had also not been paid.

He also accused the NWC members of using party finances to fund frivolous personal obligations as weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals, among others, running into hundreds of millions of naira.

Ochu-Baiye stressed that several factors, including criminal imposition of unpopular candidates caused by the NWC, were responsible for the party’s poor performance in the last general elections.

He also mentioned the allegation by Ndudi Godwin Elumelu who paid N750million naira to the NWC to obtain the gubernatorial ticket of the party in Delta State.

“There are many other victims.”

He added that governor of Kogi was requested to pay one billion naira to the same NWC to retain his ticket.

He also mentioned non-remittance of campaign funds to state chapters and wholesome embezzlement of proceeds of sales of nomination forms.

“How on earth will any political party undergo this level of tortuous mismanagement and expect to win elections?” he asked.

Ochu-Baiye said millions of PDP members were in great pains with the current reality of how the party was “now being run aground by a patently incompetent and self- centered sets of NWC members.”

He stated that the NWC had refused to summon a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) since the party lost in the last elections “due to these ceaseless acts of recklessness.”

Ochu-Baiye said the staff members were angry, hence demanding the immediate resignation of the NWC members.

“We appeal to the Board of Trustees, the National Caucus and other members of the NEC to invoke relevant sections of the party’s Constitution to call for a meeting of NEC since the NWC is reluctant to do so.

“We wish to reiterate that the greater number of members of staff has spent over 16 years working and building the PDP.

“We remain loyal staff, party members and stakeholders committed to retrieve the founding vision of our great party,” he added.

The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, described the allegations as baseless.

Metuh said the staff members were misguided in the pursuit of their interest when the PDP was fighting the cause of Nigerians with the ruling All Progressives Congress.

The acting National Secretary of PDP, Prof. Adewale Oladipo, described the allegations as false.

Oladipo debunked the claim that he had refused to hold regular meetings with the staff, saying all the records were available to puncture the claims of the workers.

Four die in UK jet crash

A pilot and three passengers have died after a small private jet crashed into a car auction as it was trying to land.

A blaze broke out at the auction site based at Blackbushe Airport, United Kingdom, at 3.09pm when the Phenom 300 plane ploughed into a full car park. 

All four people on board the plane were killed, said Inspector Olga Venner from Hampshire Police. She added that the airfield has been closed.

Sky News footage showed the aftermath of the crash near the end of the runway and debris from the jet could be seen strewn among the dozens of severely damaged cars.

APC celebrates second anniversary, preaches development

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on Friday urged Nigerians to learn from the examples of the party’s founding fathers and move the nation forward.

Odigie-Oyegun said this in Abuja at an event organised by a coalition of Buhari Support Groups to mark the second anniversary of the formation of the APC.

The Chairman, who was represented by the party’s National Auditor, Dr. George Moghalu, said the party today was enjoying the unity and determination of its founders.

He challenged all party members not to rest on their oars and rise above board to fulfill the dreams of visions of the party.

He said: ”Let us learn from the fact that they put their personal interest at abeyance so that national interest would be at the fore.

”They were united and determined. They forgave one another during the process of disagreeing to agree. They spent sleepless nights so that we could breathe the air of freedom.

”The good news is that their sacrifice paid off at the end of the day. Victory came. The victory was not accidental, we all worked hard for it.

”I call on you today to emulate those qualities above as we mark the formation of our great party two years ago.

”For us to continuously be victorious we must not rest on our oars. As you will agree with me for you to constantly be successful, you must work hard and focus on retaining your victory.”

He urged all to “plant the seeds of change” in all nooks and crannies of the country to fast track development.

The convener of the event, Mr. Lawal Munir said the celebration would further ”enhance unity among the support groups.

”We will drive the cause of attaining unity among the support groups and work towards the progress of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”

A’Court orders fresh hearing of petition against Melaye’s election

The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Friday ordered fresh hearing of the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Smart Adeyemi, challenging the election of Dino Melaye of the All Progressives Congress as the Senator representing Kogi West in the Senate.

The Kogi State National and State Legislative Assembly Elections Petitions had on June 18, 2015, struck out Adeyemi’s petition on the grounds that it was incompetent and had been abandoned.

The Independent National Electoral Commission had in its result of the March 28, 2015, election declared that Melaye polled the highest valid votes to defeat Adeyemi who was seeking a re-election.

Adeyemi and his party had filed a petition challenging the results declared by INEC.
But the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Akpan Ikpeme, who delivered the ruling of the three-man panel, had held that the petitioner flouted the provisions of the Electoral Act in filing his reply to Melaye’s response out of time.

According to the tribunal, the petitioner, who was served with Melaye’s response on May 13, 2015, filed his reply seven days later instead of five days stipulated by law.
Adeyemi had subsequently filed an appeal against the decision of the tribunal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

Ruling on the appeal on Friday, Justice Mohammed Adume-led Court of Appeal panel on Friday held that the tribunal was hasty, adding that it relied “heavily on technicalities” to determine the petition.
The appellate court in a unanimous decision also ordered a retrial of the petition on merit in the interest of substantial justice.

It also ordered the tribunal to accelerate the hearing of the petition so that the retrial is conducted within the 180 days period from the day of filing as stipulated by law.
The appellate court also rejected the tribunal’s decision to the effect that the response of the petitioner to the reply of Melaye  was filed seven days after being served with the reply instead of five days.

Justice Adume held that there was no affidavit evidence from the bailiff of the tribunal that the reply of Melaye to the petition was served on the petitioner on May 13 as contended by Melaye’s counsel, Rickey Tarfa (SAN).

The appellate court ruled that from the available evidence it could hardly be true that the petitioner was served with Melaye’s response on May 13.

The court held, “From the available record, the petitioner was reportedly served with the response of the defendant within 26 minutes the response was filed at the registry of the tribunal, but for all intent and purposes, it is practically impossible for the petitioner to have been served with the response within 26 minutes, more so, when the contact address of the petitioner is outside the tribunal premises in Lokoja.

“It is against natural sequence of human events for a court process to have been served on recipient in just 26 minutes when the recipient is not within the court premises.
“Findings of the tribunal that the service was effected within 26 minutes was not supported with affidavit by the tribunal bailiff. The tribunal was wrong in its hasty conclusion and in striking out the petition on technicality.”

“A tribunal has the duty to verify and evaluate evidence before it in order to arrive at a just conclusion. The tribunal was wrong in stopping the train while on its way to justice.”

Zimbabwe seeks American’s extradition over lion’s death

Zimbabwe has called for the extradition of Walter Palmer, the trophy hunter from Minnesota, United States, who has gone into hiding amid a global outpouring of anger after he shot dead Cecil, the famous lion.

“We are appealing to the responsible authorities for (Palmer’s) extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be made accountable for his illegal actions,” Environment Minister, Oppah Muchinguri, told reporters in Harare on Friday.

“It was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin.”

Palmer allegedly paid $50,000 for the hunt earlier this month in which he shot the lion with a powerful bow and arrow at night, close to Hwange national park in the west of Zimbabwe.

Cecil, who had a distinctive black mane, was a popular tourist attraction at the park and was also wearing a tracking collar as part of a University of Oxford research project.

Palmer, who is also being investigated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service over Cecil’s killing, has apologised and said he was misled by professional guide, Theo Bronkhorst.

Bronkhorst, who organised the expedition, was granted bail by the Hwange court on Wednesday after being charged with “failing to prevent an illegal hunt”.