*Court cautions DSS, Agip over alleged attempt to delay Ijaw youth activist’s detention trial Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
The Niger Delta Youths Coalition for Peace and Progress (NDYCPP) has called on President Tinubu, to order for an immediate suspension of the N1.8 trillion Lagos-Calabar coastal road project.
The coalition expressed concerns of potential duplication of efforts and financial waste if the project was allowed to continue.
The Lagos-Calabar coastal road project, spanning over 750 kilometers and featuring 160 bridges connecting the entire Niger Delta with Ibeju Lekki in Lagos State, was originally conceived by the Federal Government, with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) entrusted to oversee its development.
THISDAY gathered that the NDDC had invested over N25 billion since 2014 in feasibility studies, project scope assessments, and detailed technical studies on same project.
However, in a statement jointly signed by the National President of NDYCPP, Mr Jude Teidor, and Secretary, George Okitikpi, in Port Harcourt, yesterday, they commended President Tinubu’s commitment to national development, but raised their concerns regarding the project’s recent developments.
The coalition said “the Federal Ministry of Works, under the leadership of Mr David Umahi, is pursuing negotiations for new construction contracts on the East-West Coastal Road without involving the NDDC.
“This raised suspicions of a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement that would toll the road for years, potentially rendering previous NDDC efforts useless.”
They urged Tinubu to direct the Federal Ministry of Works to involve the NDDC in further negotiations with Hitech Construction Company on the project.
In addition, they urged the president to, “Mandate the House of Representatives Committee on Works to closely monitor developments on the road project within four weeks.”
The NDYCPP stakeholders emphasised the importance of harmonising efforts between the NDDC and the Federal Ministry of Works to ensure that their actions align with the existing plans for the project.
They further expressed confidence that harmonisation of the agency and Ministry of Works could transform the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project into a successful example of effective governance and collaboration for the benefit of all Nigerians.
In the meantime, the Bayelsa State High Court sitting in Yenagoa, at the weekend, cautioned the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) against attempts to allegedly delay hearing in the suit filed by an Ijaw Youth Activist, Collins Opumie over his illegal arrest and detention in an underground detention facilities in Abuja for 730 days.
The Presiding judge, Justice Duke Charlie, warned the counsels of the DSS, George Obiora, and Counsel to Agip, Barr. Sonia to stop attempts to delay the time of the court and adopt all pre-trial addresses and all application processes for the trial.
At the last hearing, Justice Charlie made all parties to the suit to adopt their preliminary applications to regularise their processes at the pre-trial conference.
The matter was slated for definite hearing for claimant to open his case on the adjourned date of November 1st.
The claimant counsel Ebipreye Sese, brought an application before the court to regularise the claimant’s reply attached with the claimant’s further witness statement on Oath to the 1st & 2nd defendants statement of defence.
The DSS also applied to regularise their consequential amendment and the police filed their defence.
But the counsel to the DSS, George Obiora, also told the court that they may not be able to produce their witness because he was attached to a politician involved in the Governorship election slated for November 11th this year.
The Counsel to Agip, Sonia, told the Court that they may also fail to appear on adjourned dates due to the busy nature of their diary and pleaded that the court should adjourn the suit till December to afford them time to prepare adequately.
But the presiding Judge, Justice Charlie, warned against the attempts to delay the court and he adjourned it to November 1st.
The plaintiff, the Ijaw Youth Activist, Collins Trueman Opumie, was expected to present witnesses at the resumed trial.
While the first Defendant Agip, the second Defendant, the DSS and the third Defendant, the Police, were to open their defence on the 3rd of November, the 2nd and 3rd November for the DSS and Nigerian Agip oil Company (NAOC) to also present witnesses.
Opumie had in the suit numbered YHC/324/2022, demanded for the sum of N9 billion in damages against his alleged illegal arrest and detention in an underground detention facilities in Abuja for 730 days. He had alleged that his detention was ordered by officials of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
In his eight prayers before the Court, Opumie sought the order of the court against the defendants jointly and severally, “for damages suffered as a result of the false imprisonment for two years under the custody of the DSS (2nd set of defendants) in their prison facilities without bail or arraignment in a court of law at the instance of the Agip (1st set of defendants) false and malicious complaints/reports against him”
“An injunction restraining the 2nd and 3rd set of defendants from further harassing or attempts to arrest and detain the claimant at the instance of the 1st set of defendants.”