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Diri pledges support for festivals promoting unity, cultural heritage



Yenagoa—The Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has said his administration will continue to support festivals that promote unity and the cultural heritage of the people across the state.

Diri stated this on Saturday when he graced both the Obunem Epie New Yam Festival in Yenagoa Local Government Area and the Odi Ogori Ba Uge International Festival in Odi, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary,
Daniel Alabrah quoted Diri as describing the Obunem Epie Festival as an avenue to unite the people and to pass on the rich cultural heritage of the kingdom to the youths that do not understand their tradition.

The Governor who assured the people that his administration would embark on more developmental projects in the kingdom said since the creation of Bayelsa
State in 1996, the area experienced exponential growth and development.

He listed some projects of his administration in the area including the completed biggest media complex in the country, which is the Ernest Ikoli Media Complex.

Other ongoing projects, according to the governor, are the ultra-modern transport terminal at Igbogene, the Gloryland Drive-Onopa road, the Igbogene-Elebele road, the building of new secondary schools at Yenizue-Epie and Igbogene as well as a complete renovation of the Azikoro health centre among other projects.

The governor appreciated the Epie people for their peaceful disposition and for supporting his administration since its inception, adding that the state can only develop when the people are united.

“This is an avenue to unite our people, for our people to come together and to pass on the oral tradition of this age-long festival and ceremony.

“There are a lot of youths that might not understand our culture and heritage. In this event, there will be a rich display of our culture and heritage, and it will continue to move from one generation to the other.

“I thank the people of Epie Kingdom for their overwhelming support from when this government started. Together, we will join our hands and develop our land, particularly Yenagoa, our state capital, which is the mirror to our state,” he said.

Chairman of the festival planning committee, Dr. Alalibo Sinikiem, appreciated the people for sustaining the festival since the maiden edition in 1958.

Sinikiem noted that the festival serves as an avenue to unite the people and as a platform to generate ideas for the development of the kingdom.

He called for the inclusion of more cultural programmes to make it richer and impactful.

Sinikiem, who is the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Edo State, also appealed to the state government to sustain the festival through funding.

While acknowledging the improved infrastructure in the kingdom, he appealed for more human and capital development through the commencement of empowerment scheme and the embankment of the Epie Creek to enhance the socio-cultural and economic wellbeing of the people.

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Speaking at Odi, Diri described the Ogori Ba Uge festival as a symbol of the liberation of the community and commended the people for preserving it through the annual celebration.

He said his administration had recognised the festival in the tourism calendar of the state and approved funds annually for it.

His words: “For us as a government, we will continue to support festivals of this kind in the state.

“This festival has been recognised in the tourism calendar of Bayelsa State. So, annually, I approve funds for it. There is nothing wrong in taking the festival to international levels. While doing that, we must not forget our indigenous culture.

“This festival is not all about the killing of a buffalo. Rather, it is more about the liberation of a people. A people and a community that was taken over by a supernatural being. It affected a lot of lives and the community decided to liberate itself.”

Speaking on behalf of the planning committee, former Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and member representing KOLGA Constituency 1, Dr. Tonye Isenah, applauded the governor for the developmental projects embarked in Odi and also for appointing several persons from the community into his cabinet.

The highpoint of the event was the unveiling of the buffalo and hunter statues by Diri as part of the proposed Odi museum.


Four suspected internet fraudsters die of alleged drug overdose in Bayelsa




Yenagoa—Four suspected internet fraudsters popularly known as Yahoo Yahoo boys were on Friday confirmed dead after purportedly overdosing on illicit drugs in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, NaijaLiveTV reports.

The incident took place in an apartment along Nasco Egei road in Biogbolo community, Yenagoa happened at about 12am on Friday.

It was gathered that they lost their lives after they took the illicit drugs in celebration of a mysterious financial breakthrough by one of them.

The deceased boys are identified as Favour Ekezie, 19yrs, Favour Okorie, 18yrs, Mr.Waripamo Bestman Ejele, 25yrs and Richie Mike Prezi, 21yrs.

One Melvin, who claimed to be a friend to one of the deceased boys, Favour who hails from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state declared that they’ve been trying to secure the release of his corpse.

“We believe that they were poisoned.”. But he could not explain who and how they were poisoned.

“We are here at Ekeki Police Station in company of Favour’s father to secure the release of the corpse for burial. But it is proving difficult after swearing to an Affidavit.

“We gathered that they eat a food they ordered which was delivered by a logistics motorbike and they died. One of them who was in the toilet however survived because he did not eat from the meal,” he said.
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Another friend of the deceased boys, who pleaded anonymity, claimed that “the deceased were much awake when we forced the security man to open the gate to their residence.

“Nelson (one of the deceased) was sitting on the chair but his head was on the ground with his vomit. Richie (another deceased) has his computer in his hand and showed he was struggling. It clearly showed that they were poisoned.”

They also dismissed claims that they died from inhaling generator fume.

Contacted on the development, the State Commissioner of Police, Benjamin Okolo, who confirmed the death of the four youths attributed it to drug overdose,

“They died of a drug overdose. It is quite unfortunate that they administered the drug themselves. They were five and the one that survived told us that they took two pills each and that he took one. This was why they died, ”Okolo revealed.

The Police boss, however, assured newsmen that if the friends and family of the deceased insisted that the four boys were poisoned,” the police will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.”

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Oil-producing states get N625bn in two years, says Garba Shehu




Abuja—The Presidency on Friday revealed that nine oil-producing states received N625.43bn 13 percent oil derivation, subsidy, and SURE-P refunds from the Federation Account in two years, Punch reports.

“The states that received the refunds dating from 1999 to 2021 are Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers,” a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, read on Friday.

The statement is titled ‘Oil derivation, subsidy and Sure-P refunds: Nine oil producing states receive N625.43 billion in two years; N1.1trn still outstanding.’

The Presidency also noted that the Buhari-led regime will continue to render equal service to all the states regardless of affiliation, and “an acknowledgment of this by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the others is not out of place.”

Citing data obtained from the Federation Account Department, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, it said a total of N477.2bn was released to the nine states as the refund of the 13 percent derivation fund on withdrawal from Excess Crude Account without deducting derivation from 2004 to 2019, leaving an outstanding balance of N287.04bn.

The States also got N64.8bn as a refund of the 13 per cent derivation fund on deductions made by NNPC without payment of derivation to Oil Producing States from 1999 to December.

According to Shehu, the benefitting States still have an outstanding balance of N860.59bn windfall from the refunds, which was approved by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
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From the figures, under the 13 per cent derivation fund on withdrawal from ECA without deducting derivation from 2004 to 2019, Abia State received N4.8bn with outstanding sum of N2.8bn, Akwa-Ibom received N128bn with outstanding sum of N77bn, Bayelsa with N92.2bn, leaving an outstanding of N55bn.

Cross River got a refund of N1.3bn with a balance N792m, Delta State received N110bn, leaving a balance of N66.2bn, Edo State received N11.3bn with a balance of N6.8bn, Imo State, N5.5bn, with an outstanding sum of N3.3bn, Ondo State, N19.4bn with an outstanding sum of N11.7bn while Rivers State was paid 103.6bn, with an outstanding balance of N62.3bn.

The states were paid eight installments between October 2, 2021, and January 11, 2022, while the ninth to 12th installments are still outstanding.

On the 13 per cent derivation fund on deductions made by NNPC without payment of derivation, the nine oil-producing states were paid in three instalments this year, with the remaining 17 instalments outstanding.

Under this category, Abia State received N1.1bn, Akwa-Ibom, N15bn, Bayelsa, N11.6bn, Cross River, N432m, Delta State, N14.8bn, Edo State, N2.2bn, Imo State, N2.9bn, Ondo State, N3.7bn, and Rivers State, N12.8bn.

Meanwhile, the benefitting States shared N9.2bn in three installments in April, August, and November 2022 as refunds on the 13 per cent derivation exchange rate differential on withdrawal from the ECA.

The three largest benefitting States were Akwa Ibom (N1.6bn), Delta State (N1.4bn), and Rivers State (N1.32bn).

Similarly, all nine states received N4.7bn each, totaling N42.34bn as refunds on withdrawals for subsidy and SURE-P from 2009 to 2015. The refund for all the states and local government councils was paid on November 10, 2022.

The Federation Account also paid N3.52bn each as a refund to local government councils on withdrawals for subsidy and SURE-P from 2009 to 2015 on the same date in November.

“President Buhari considers it a matter of honour and decency that debts owed to states or anyone for that matter be repaid, and in time without regard to their partisan political affiliations.

“The President will continue to render equal service to all the states of the federation and an acknowledgment of this by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the others is not out of place,” Shehu said.

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Court sentences A’Ibom guber candidate, Bassey Albert to 42 years in prison 




Uyo—The governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Bassey Albert, has been sentenced to 42 years in prison for corruption.

Premium Times reports that Justice Agatha Anulika Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, on Thursday, convicted and sentenced Albert who was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
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He has been taken to Ikot Ekpene prison, Akwa Ibom State, to serve his prison term.

Albert, a serving senator representing Akwa Ibom North East District, was accused of receiving bribes for 12 cars worth N254 million from an oil marketer, Olajidee Omokore, during his (Albert’s) tenure (2010 – 2014) as commissioner for finance in Akwa Ibom State.

The convicted senator was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, the ruling party in the state before he defected months ago to the YPP, where he secured the party’s ticket for the 2023 governorship election.

He was a major challenger to the PDP candidate, Umo Eno, in next year’s governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.

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