Bayelsa Sets 20-Year Jail For Cultists

Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has signed the Secret (Cult), Societies and Similar Activities Prohibition Amendment Law 2018 as part of the policies to stem cult activities in the state.

The new law makes it mandatory for offenders to be jailed upon conviction for not less than 20 years, without any option of fine.

Appending his signature on the amended law in Government House , Dickson noted with serious concern the rise in cult and other related activities in the state, especially in Yenagoa and its environs.

He said that with the amendment, the law enforcement agencies have been empowered to deal decisively with suspected cult members and their sponsors.

He explained that the amendment to the law, which had existed since May, 2012, was necessitated by the urgent need to check the rise in cult activities among youths.

He said the amendment was necessary to give the law enforcement agencies more powers to proactively protect lives and property as well as safeguard the future of the state.

The law also empowers the Police and other law enforcement agencies to conduct search on the homes of suspected cultists and sponsors, even without warrant; while buildings and premises used for cult activities, initiations as well as the storage of arms and dangerous weapons will be forfeited to the government.

The law also empowers the state government to destroy such buildings and premises without any compensation to owners.

The governor called on landlords and property owners not to allow criminals and cultists to turn their property into centres of crime and criminality.

He urged Bayelsans to report all suspicious and cult-related activities to the appropriate authorities.

Other provisions of the law stipulate that the Police can arrest any person they suspect of involvement in cult and other related activities without a warrant, conduct stop-and-search on motor vehicles, tricycle, boat or any place suspected to be used for cult and its related activities.

It also allows for the arrest of the occupier of the house or where cult activities are suspected to have taken place or about to be held.

Dickson said, “As a government, we cannot allow this ugly trend of events to continue unabated.

“A situation where children below 15, 16, 17 and a majority of our youth population are members of one dangerous cult group or society, where they carry guns and other dangerous weapons and shoot, maim, kill and create insecurity in parts of the state is totally unacceptable.

“As a responsible government, we must put an end to this and it has to be now.’’

Responding, the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Don Awunah, said the new law put the state on the front line in the fight against cultism and cult-related activities in the country.

With the amendments, Awunah said, the Police now have the comprehensive powers to confront crime and criminality head-on, stressing that most crimes in the state are cult-related.

Journalist Battered By DSS Officer Petitions Agency

A Correspondent of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), who was allegedly brutalised by an official of Department of State Services (DSS) on February 17, has petitioned the agency.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Alambo Datonye, in a petition dated Feb. 20 addressed to the State Director of DSS in Bayelsa and copied to the Director-General of the Service, demanded apology for the assault.

Datonye, who is also the Chairman, Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN) in Bayelsa, stated in the petition that the unidentified DSS officer, had threatened to shoot him.

According to him, the officer punched him on the right eye and threatened to kill him. “I had gone to politely explain to one of the security personnel that the Journalists were duly accredited to cover the event and should be given access to perform their duties.

“But one of the two DSS personnel at the gate started pushing me after which he punched my right eye. “After assaulting me, he went further to cork his gun and threatened to kill me, screaming that he was a devil and could shoot me.

“Since that brutality was meted out to me, I have vomited a couple of times and currently having feverish feelings. “I am at the moment finding it difficult to see clearly with my right eye where the suspected Department of State Services personnel punched me.

“This is affecting my work on a daily basis and giving me a challenge in my day-to-day functions both at home and outside,” the petition read in part.

Datonye also demanded that the DSS official should be fished out and brought to book. He further demanded an unreserved apology from the DSS for the harassment of a law-abiding citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the discharge of his lawful duties.

In a reaction, the state NUJ Chairman, Mr. John Angese, described the attack as “barbaric, cruel and unfortunate in a democratic setting.” He urged the relevant authorities to investigate, arrest and prosecute the security official involved, to serve as a deterrent to other overzealous DSS officials. (NAN)

 

Jonathan Hosts Obasanjo To Private Dinner

Immediate former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, are hosting former president Olusegun Obasanjo to a private dinner in their home in Bayelsa State.

It would be recalled that Obasanjo fell out and publicly rebuffed Goodluck Jonathan whilst the latter sought re-election in 2015. Obasanjo’s opposition to Jonathan is considered by political pundits as a contribution to Jonathan’s failure to win the hotly contested elections that ushered in the current President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Upon arrival to the state, Obasanjo, who was received by the state governor, Seriake Dickson, in company with some top government officials in the state, inaugurated a government specialist hospital in the state and unveiled the Bayelsa Heliport which was renamed after the first military administrator of the defunct Rivers State, Alfred Diete-Spiff.

Obasanja said “20 years ago when I came to Bayelsa for campaign, there was no space to gather people, but today, there is great difference.

“Yes, for full development to take place in Bayelsa, there must be accessibility in terms of transportation, communication and health care delivery.

“I must tell you, for six hours I am here, I have seen something to convince me that Bayelsa is already in transformation stage.

“The health facility here is second to none…

“The foundation of any human mind is education. A leader who does not give his people quality education, will perish with his people.

“The root cause of militancy is lack of education, if you don’t build schools, that means you have to prepare for unstable society.

“The only investment that lasts and that does not need repair is education”.

Sea Pirates Kill Policemen In Bayelsa State

At least two policemen attached to the marine department of the Nigerian Police were shot dead Monday night by gunmen suspected to be sea pirates

According to reports the incident happened at the riverside town of Ogbia in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

Details Shortly……

Bayelsa Gov, Dickson Vows Not To Lay-Off Teachers

Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has said that his government will not sack any teacher in the state as from January 2018.

The Governor said that the government would rather train and retrain the teachers in the state’s primary and secondary schools as well as others for greater productivity.

A statement by the Special Adviser on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, on Thursday, said that the governor gave the assurance during the inauguration of the governing councils of Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education, Sagbama, and the Bayelsa State College of Health Technology, Otuogidi.

He, however, said that only teachers with fake certificates or those who refused to be at their duty-posts to work should have reasons to be afraid of being sacked.

He urged the chairmen and members of the new governing boards to ensure that only people who should be in the institutions were engaged.

Dickson stressed that the previous practice in the state where unborn children, octogenarians and retirees were dubiously included in the payroll should not be tolerated.

He said the government would provide grants to all state-owned tertiary institutions with effect from January 2018 as well as beef up their infrastructure and enhance their revenue generating capacity.

Notorious Armed Robbers, Cultists Escape Police Custody In Bayelsa

An uncertain number of notorious armed robbers and cultists have escaped from the custody of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

The police command in Bayelsa was said to be combing all the nooks and crannies of the state capital to re-arrest the suspected daredevil criminals.

While some said the fleeing number was 10, security sources said the police were still trying to determine the figure.

But one of them, it was gathered, had been rearrested by the police.

Bayelsa Govt Establishes Special Court To Check Payroll Fraud

The Bayelsa Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa has authorized the creation of a special court to fast-track the prosecution of those indicted in the payroll fraud in the state civil service.

Recall that Governor Dickson had set up a prosecution team following staff verification exercise that uncovered 5, 000 ghost workers in Bayelsa public service.

The governor spoke on Thursday in Yenagoa, when he addressed members of the Committee on Public Service Reforms.
He said that government had alerted the Commissioner of Police and had constituted a committee to prosecute those inflicted in the fraud.

The nine-man judicial commission is headed by Justice Doris Adokeme.

“We have contacted the Commissioner of Police on the need for prosecution. I can assure you that no innocent person would be affected.

“That is why the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is there. Anybody who has a case, anybody who feels he is not fairly treated has the chance to go there.

“The prosecution team is waiting and the courts are waiting to commence action soon,” Dickson said.

The governor reiterated his resolve to do everything necessary to stop the bleeding of the state finances by some greedy unscrupulous elements.

However, recall that a staff audit constituted in May 2016 to probe the payroll fraud in the local government system discovered 3,243 unauthorised employees in the Rural Development Authorities, and 3,037 in the eight constitutionally recognised local government areas.

Dickson lamented that the probe into the entire public service had uncovered widespread corruption costing the state about N1 billion every month.

Dickson ordered the compilation of the names of the alleged salary fraudsters, during one of the meetings with the committee chaired by the Deputy Governor, retired Rear Adm. Gboribiogha John Jonah.

According to Dickson, the first practical step towards implementing the painstaking reforms is that those discovered to be drawing salaries from multiple agencies of the state would stop receiving their pay with effect from October.

Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, told investigators in a telephone interview that full action on the committee’s report would commence soon.

“We are talking about fraud perpetrated over the years that has made the state to lose billions of naira.

“So if the governor, who demonstrated the courage to take on this evil, is making moves to prosecute them, then it should not be a surprise,’’ Iworiso-Markson said.

Bayelsa In Massive Job Creation

Gov. Seriake Dickson, the Bayelsa Government said on Thursday in Yenagoa that it created over 7,000 direct and indirect jobs through the release of N1.88 billion loan to Small and Medium-scale to entrepreneurs and cooperatives.

The Governor stated this at the 2017 African SME EXPO with the theme `Promoting SMEs for sustainable development and economic growth’.

Dickson, represented by his Deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah (rtd), said that his administration achieved the feat in partnership with the Bank of Industry and other relevant agencies.

He said that the initiative enhanced the growth of SMEs with direct impact on the economic growth of the state.

Dickson said that In furtherance to his commitment to job creation and empowerment of the teeming youths in the state, the government was also negotiating for an N2 billion Micro, Small and Medium Scale (MSME) Entrepreneurship loan.

He explained that in 2015, the government launched Izon Microfinance Bank to provide small businesses and serious minded entrepreneurs with access to capital.

“This is important for us because funding is crucial if people are to innovate and think outside the box.

“We have achieved so much since the commencement of the Microfinance Bank, especially because the bank, with support provided by CBN and other funding partners, has supported women groups and cooperatives in the state to venture on their own.”

Describing SMEs as a panacea for the growth of the local economy, Dickson stressed the need for the promotion of locally made goods and as well as simplifying business registration process.

“We need to deliberate in strengthening the existing institutions as in the Bayelsa example, where there is a law that one per cent of the annual state budget is released to the Bayelsa State Microfinance and Enterprises Development Agency for SME development yearly.

“We must simplify the registration processes for businesses and encourage their migration from the informal to the formal sector through regulation and proper monitoring.

“As leaders and opinion shapers, we need to encourage technology diffusion through value chain processes and establish priority sectors for local investment,” the governor said.

Dickson recommended tax incentives for priority sectors, saying that it is a means of boosting local production.

In addition, he advocated for training and incentives for the utilization of local production resources for SMEs that establish operations in certain designated areas.

Dickson said the gains of his administration included the 60 tonnes per day Cassava starch factory at Ebedebiri in Sagbama that is linked with the cultivation of a 100-hectare cassava farm.

“Our Aquaculture village at Yenegwe in Yenagoa, with a fish processing complex capacity of 7.5 tonnes per batch, 20 tonnes per day feed mill, 500 non-earthen ponds capable of accommodating 700 fishes, hatchery with six million fingerlings per animals.

“Our plans, in collaboration with the Federal Government over the Peremabiri Rice farms/mills in Southern Ijaw, is also one of the largest in Africa with a huge capacity that has started.

“With that in mind, the construction of a 3.5 Kms run away Cargo Airport is under way in Bayelsa,” Dickson said.

In his contribution, Dr. Ebiekure Eradiri, the Director-General, Bayelsa State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency, applauded Dickson’s vision and support for the MSMEs sub-sector.

Eradiri said that since Dickson took over the mantle of leadership in the state in 2012, he has been of tremendous support to the scheme.

He stated that the Africa SME Expo event had increased the perspective and that the Agency was willing to pursue vigorously its mandate to achieve its cardinal projects on fund recovery, job creation and wealth creation for Bayelsa.

Bayelsa State Governor Encourage Workers To Embrace Health Insurance Scheme

Bayelsa Government has urged health institutions in the state to key into the Health Insurance Scheme being packaged for workers and people of the state.

The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, spoke on Wednesday in Yenagoa at a one-day sensitisation and interactive session with doctors on the implementation of the scheme.

The commissioner enjoined medical doctors to deploy their wealth of experience to ensure that the scheme succeeds, noting that the state government places high premium on its implementation.

Dr Zuoboemi Agadah, Executive Secretary of the Bayelsa State Health Insurance Scheme, explained the workings of the scheme.

He said that the scheme was not meant to maximise profit, but to ensure equitable distribution of health care cost among low and high-income earners.

Agadah noted that the level of contributions to the scheme by enrollees was not determined by the health risk of individuals, but their ability to pay.

He said though the scheme was compulsory for all public servants in the state, corporate organisations with not less than 10 employees and voluntary contributors could key into the scheme.

The executive secretary added that registration of health facilities for the scheme had commenced, and urged interested health care providers to collect registration forms.

He explained that the forms were available at the Bayelsa Health Insurance Schemes office, near Government House, Yenagoa

Bayelsa Might Have The Worst Maternal Mortality In South-South

Professor Ebitimitula Etebu, the Commissioner for Health, disclosed on Monday in Yenagoa while declaring open the commencement of the week-long first round 2017 Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCHW) in the Bayelsa, that the state currently has the poorest record of maternal mortality rate among the states of the south-south region in particular and the country in general.

 

Etebu, who put the maternal mortality figure at 1,870/100,000, attributed “this sad state of affairs” to low coverage of key high-impact interventions in virtually all previous rounds, and poor access to communities, especially due to a plethora of hard-to-reach areas occasioned by the extensive riverine terrain.

 

He listed other factors to include poor social mobilization of the peoples and communities, training/knowledge gaps amongst health care workers and health care staff attrition.

“The state has carried out 14 rounds of the MNCH since when the week was first birthed, and in all that time, the state has not performed well in all measurable indices due, in most part, to the reasons highlighted earlier,” Etebu said.

He said the MNCHW is a product of the 53rd National Council on Health Meeting aimed at delivering integrated, high-impact and low-cost preventive and curative health services to children and pregnant women.

He noted that the programme, which is implemented in two rounds, six months apart in any given year, also serves to strengthen routine services delivered at the health facilities and that it is a simple, one-time delivery mechanism which consolidates facility-based outreach services at the state, local government area, and ward levels.