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Naira abuse: Cubana Chief Priest faces legal battle, granted N10m bail



Social media influencer, Paschal Okechukwu, popularly known as Cubana Chief Priest, found himself at the centre of a legal storm yesterday as he pleaded not guilty to three-count charge of naira abuse at a Lagos court.

The courtroom drama unfolded as Okechukwu’s defense counsel, Chikaosolo Ojukwu (SAN), presented two applications on behalf of his client: a preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction and a bail application. Ojukwu argued vehemently for the objections to be addressed before Okechukwu entered his plea, citing legal precedence and the need for due process.

On the opposing side, Bilikisu Buhari, representing the EFCC, stood firm, urging the court to prioritise Okechukwu’s plea. Despite the spirited defense, the court proceeded with Okechukwu’s plea, wherein he adamantly asserted his innocence to the charges.

In a significant turn of events, the presiding judge, Justice Kehinde Ogundare, granted Okechukwu bail in the sum of N10 million, signaling a temporary relief for the embattled socialite. However, the bail came with stringent conditions, including the provision of three sureties and property verification.

Outside the courtroom, Okechukwu’s supporters, including social media influencer, Israel DMW, rallied round him, demonstrating unwavering solidarity. Amidst chants of “Cubana! Cubana!! Igbo to the world,” Okechukwu acknowledged the crowd from the step of his black Lexus Jeep before departing.

The allegations against Okechukwu stem from incidents where he purportedly sprayed N500 notes during social events, a violation of the Central Bank Act 2007.

With the trial adjourned until May 2, Okechukwu’s legal battle is far from over, casting a shadow over his once-glamorous nightlife empire and social media presence. As the case unfolds, the public awaits the outcome, eager for justice to prevail in this high-profile legal saga.

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One year anniversary: Tinubu Ministers to present scorecard



…President has laid foundation for sustainable progress, prosperity in one year  —  SGF

By Matthew Denis, Abuja

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s cabinet members have been slated to present the scorecard of their various ministries to Nigerians.

The Ministers are expected to demonstrate to Nigerians the dividends of democracy that have accrued to them within the past one year of the Tinubu administration.

Speaking at a world press briefing to herald the one year anniversary of President Tinubu, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris disclosed that the anniversary celebration would be low-key in line with Tinubu’s policy of prudent management of resources.

According to him, the move is in line with Tinubu’s desire to serve the country and efficiently use resources for the good of all Nigerians.

He said, “The first anniversary will be low-key; there will be no celebration; it will be a sectoral presentation by ministries.

“This is in line with Tinubu’s administration to ensure efficient and judicious use of resources to deliver dividends of democracy to citizens.

“The president has directed that useful information should be provided in an honest, timely, and consistent manner.

“Members of the media are expected to report honestly, responsibly, and with a deep sense of patriotism. The essence of the media is to inform the people and hold the government accountable.

“Thus, over time, the Ministry of Information and National Orientation finds it worthy to always brief the media and people on what the Federal Government is doing.”

The Minister further charged media practitioners to do their job with a deep sense of responsibility and patriotism.

He reiterated that as part of the ministerial briefing, ministers of various ministries would begin presentations on May 22.

Already the Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Youth Development, Solid Minerals Development and Steel development have been confirmed to address Nigerians today.

Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. George Akume has stated that President Tinubu laid the foundation for sustainable progress and prosperity in the past one year.

Enumerating some of the policy initiatives embarked on by the administration, Akume disclosed that the Presidential accent to the 2023 Electricity Bill fostered move that dismantled monopolistic control over electricity generation, transmission and distribution at the national level and granted authority to State Governments, Corporations and individuals to generate, distribute and transmit electricity, thus decentralising the power sector

The SGF said, “I make bold to say that, Nigeria, under its present stewardship, has witnessed significant policy strides in various sectors including but not limited to the Presidential assent to the 2023 Electricity Bill, a move that dismantled monopolistic control over electricity generation, transmission and distribution at the national level and granted authority to State Governments, Corporations and individuals to generate, distribute and transmit electricity, thus decentralizing the power sector.

“Assent to the passage into law of the Nigeria Data Protection Bill 2023 established a legal framework for safeguarding personal information and promoting data protection practices in Nigeria.

“The challenging but very necessary Removal of Fuel Subsidy, a longstanding policy notorious for fostering corruption, inefficiency and imposing significant fiscal strain on the government annually, and primarily benefiting the affluent and smugglers, rather than effectively aiding the general populace.”

According to him, “It is apt to say that under President Tinubu’s stewardship within his first year in office, we have witnessed significant strides in various sectors of our economy. Through prudent fiscal policies and strategic investments, the Nigerian economy has shown resilience and potential for growth.

“The administration’s focus on infrastructure development, job creation and economic diversification has laid the foundation for sustainable progress and prosperity for all Nigerians.”

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Tinubu makes fresh appointments at NOSDRA, FRSC, others



By Matthew Denis

President Bola Tinubu has made new appointments at the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA).

The President in a statement issued on Wednesday, May 22, by the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Ajuri Ngelale announced the personnel changes.

The President approved the appointment of Engr. Chukwuemeka Woke has been appointed as the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of NOSDRA, while Dr. Adedeji Ashiru will serve as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of OORBDA.

Woke, an engineer and environmental specialist, brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having served in various capacities, including as Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State and Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt.

Ashiru, who holds a Doctorate degree in Engineering from the Commonwealth University, UK, has led a consortium of blue-chip companies and has a proven track record of success in his professional endeavors.

“President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of Engr. Chukwuemeka Woke as the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).

“Furthermore, the President has approved the appointment of Dr. Adedeji Ashiru as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA).

“Engr. Woke, besides being an engineer, is an environmental specialist and politician. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical/Petrochemical Engineering and has served under the Environmental, Safety, and Operations Departments of the then Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“He was chairman of Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State and Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, for many years.

“Dr. Ashiru holds a Doctorate degree in Engineering from the CommonWealth University, UK, and has led a consortium of blue-chip companies, in addition to earning many stripes in his professional endeavour.

“The President expects the new Chief Executive Officers to deploy their competencies to these critical agencies for sustainable gains and turnaround, while maintaining utmost transparency in their operations,” the statement read.

In the same vein, the President also appointed Shehu Mohammed as Corps Marshal of the FRSC.

Director of Information and Public Relations at the Presidential Villa, Segun Imohiosen, disclosed this on Wednesday.

Until his appointment, Mohammed was the Assistant Corps Marshal of the FRSC.

The appointment is for an initial period of four years with effect from May 20, 2024.

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Rivers, investment haven for prospective investors — Gov. Fubara



…Earmarks $10m to boost agric value chain

Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt

The Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that a more vibrant investment-friendly environment has been created to reassure investors of requisite return on their investments.

The Governor maintained that his administration is taking measures to ensure that those numerous production factories that shut down operations in the State returned because of the renewed commitment to re-industralise the State.

Governor Fubara gave the assurance Wednesday during the opening ceremony of a two-day Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit (RSEIS), with the theme: “Rivers Emerge: Advancing Pathways to Economic Growth and Sustainability,” which held at Dr Obi Wali International Conference Centre in Port Harcourt.

The Governor insisted that the various measures taken were to make Rivers emerge as the premiere investment destination for all categories of investors.

 ”We have already implemented certain policy initiatives and reforms, including the prompt allocation and issuance of land titles and certificates of occupancy to prospective investors and a moratorium on State taxes and levies on new businesses.

“We are also working on the harmonisation of State and Local Government taxes to eliminate double taxation and the imposition of multiple levies on investors.

“Two weeks ago, we launched the N4 billion matching fund loan scheme with the Bank of Industry Limited for small, micro, and medium-scale businesses to drive financial inclusion and enhance the growth and development of these businesses to grow our economy, create jobs and wealth for our people.

“We have signed a development agreement with TAF Nigeria Limited for the construction of 20,000 mixed houses in the Greater Port Harcourt City. We signed another development pact with GOSH Nigeria Limited for the construction of an international automobile spare parts trading and commercial market,” the Governor explained.

 ”The State Government provided hundreds of hectares of land as its equity and work has since started at both sites. Apache Aluminium LLC of America has started the acquisition of land to establish a multi-billion-naira aluminium rolling mill (plant) in the Ogoni axis of Rivers State.

“We have opened discussions with Imagine Adama Agricultural and Technology of Israel to support the State in developing our huge agricultural potential, including reviving abandoned agricultural projects and infrastructures such as the Rivers Songhai Farm, the School-to-Land farms, fish farms, feed mills, oil palm estates and poultry farms across the State. We have earmarked about $10million for this project this fiscal year.

“Last week, the State Executive Council approved the proposal by Rainbow Heritage Group to build the New Port City in the State on about 1,000 hectares of land in collaboration with the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority.

“We have also concluded arrangements for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Planet One Holding Limited of Dubai for a $10million Mangrove Forests Conservation and Carbon Capture Project under the Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement,” he added.

Governor Fubara emphasised that “Rivers State provides several investment opportunities across diverse sectors of our economy, including oil and gas, agriculture and agro-processing.”

The State also prides itself, he said, in manufacturing, hospitality and tourism, education, ICT, and healthcare, infrastructural development, glass products and garments production, power generation and transmission, among many others.

Governor Fubara also said that with over 40 percent of fertile cultivable landmass, Rivers State has the potential to make a significant contribution to national food security with commercial investments in mechanised agriculture and the agro-processing industrial value chains.

“Several state-owned but moribund companies, farmlands, and business infrastructure, including oil palm estates, rubber plantations, poultry, and fish farms are available for interested private investors to take over and revitalize,” the Governor added.

He, however, lamented that for years, the Rivers State Government depended more on allocations from the Federation Accounts to fund its expenditures because tax revenues had remained low due to poor investments and economic growth.

The Governor stated that, “It is for this reason, that there is a resolve to build a resilient, robust, and diversified economy that will hold the key to sustainable peace, security and progress of our State and the spiritual, social, and physical well-being of our people.

“We, therefore, commit to the re-industrialisation of Rivers State in partnership with the informal and organised private sectors through necessary policies, legal, and other support measures, and systems.

“This was why we approved the Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit 2024 as the first of several measures to unveil the economic potential of the State to both local and foreign investors and markets.

“Against this background, I feel very optimistic that Rivers State will emerge from this summit and position itself as a premier investment destination, offering boundless economic opportunities for domestic and global investors,” he stressed.

Governor Fubara explained efforts made to create a robust climate of ease of doing business in the State, including harmonising and reducing double taxation, which he said weighed down businesses.

He also said that an Investment Promotion Agency has been established that will serve as a one-stop-shop to coordinate all investment activities.

“Furthermore, we have also approved the establishment of the Rivers State Investment Promotion Agency to provide one-stop-shop investment services and facilitation to investors in the State.

“In the first year of our administration, we received an appreciable number of expressions of interest from local and foreign investors to invest in diverse sectors of our economy, including agriculture, real estate, power generation, and manufacturing,” the Governor added.

Chairman of the occasion and former Governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke, said the summit signalled a rebirth of commitment to correcting previous investment errors and to build an enduring foundation upon which to anchor implementation of deliberate policies to moving Rivers State forward.

Mr Duke said the Nigerian Government should stop the mere celebration of the large population size of the country, and begin to ensure that its citizens are trained to become productive and contribute to the nation’s economy in order to attain the zenith of economic growth for the country.

He advised the Rivers State Government, and indeed, all sub-nationals to look into harnessing their areas of comparative advantage so that they can strengthen those areas to become economically buoyant.

Delivering his goodwill message, Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, who was represented by the Secretary to State Government, Mr Nimibofa Ayawei, said they were delighted to be part of the summit geared towards finding a pathway to achieving economic prosperity of Rivers State, and pledged the continued partnership that will expand the investment frontiers of both states.

In his keynote address, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof Kingsley Moghalu, said that because of the prevalence of poor governance in Nigeria, the human and natural resources abundant in the country have not been sufficiently harnessed to achieve the desired prosperity.

He particularly advocated the implementation of well-meaning policies that will dismantle all the barriers to doing business while also promoting transparency and building investors’ confidence.

Prof. Moghalu said, added to fostering two location factors of developing requisite skills among the people and building enduring critical infrastructure, the foundation for good and competent governance should be assured to make the foreign direct investment (FDI) sought to benefit the country.

In his goodwill message, Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, emphasised that the legislature is pivotal in creating a business-friendly environment by enacting laws that offer the hope of a secured business climate to achieve economic prosperity.

Also speaking, the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi, noted the correlation between achieving economic growth and the role of the judicial system.

He said when industrial disputes are resolved fast, particularly at the Rivers State Multi-Door Court that offers alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism, parties can both enjoy justice served and gains of doing business in a peaceful environment.

Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Service, Dr Chibeoso Aholu, said the Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit 2024 represents a milestone in the journey towards economic growth and investment opportunities in the State.

Dr Aholu, who is also the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the Summit, pointed to the theme of the summit, which is “Rivers Emerge: Advancing Pathways to Economic Growth and Sustainability,” and said that it is reflective of the collective aspirations to harness innovative strategies and sustainable practices for a thriving economic future.

 ”We are living in an era of unprecedented change and opportunities, where global interconnectedness and technological advancements are reshaping the economic landscape.

“This summit is designed to explore these dynamic trends, foster insightful dialogues, and build strategic partnerships that will propel us into a prosperous future.”

The summit also featured presentations of papers on available opportunities in oil and gas, energy mix, property and housing development, among others, as well as panel discussion sessions.

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