A non-governmental organization, Rivers Anti-Corruption Network has sued Rivers State Government at the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt demanding for the documents covering the award of three flyover contracts awarded by the state government to Julius Berger Nigeria PLC.
The suit came as Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, announced that contract has been approved for the construction of the eighth flyover in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Leaders of the NGO, Sebastine Kbalap, and Arochukwu Ogbonna, said they had applied to the Accountant-General of the state for the documents covering the award of the contracts in pursuance of the Freedom of Information Act but were not availed.
They said the state government had also failed to make available relevant documents on the cost of the several other contracts recently awarded by the state government so they had to go to court to compel the relevant officers to provide the documents in the overriding interest of the public.
When the matter came up, the Presiding judge, Justice James Omotosho, adjourned to February 22 for the hearing of the case after listening to the lawyers of the parties.
Lawyer to the NGO, Victor Nweke, spoke to newsmen after court proceedings. He said, “We are asking that the records of some of the projects be made available to us under the FOI Act. This is just a public litigation matter. We are saying that governance should not be run in secrecy.
“Governance should be made open to the people so that the people will fine-tune what is actually going on in their government. My clients simply applied that some of the documents relating to the award of contract in the state be available to them, and the authorities refused. That is why we have come to court to declare the act as unconstitutional pursuant to the relevant provisions of the FOI Act.”
Meanwhile, the state Governor, Nyesom Wike, has said approval has been given for the award of the eighth flyover in Port Harcourt since 2019. He stated this on while hosting the management team of Silverbird Group at Government House, where the group presented him with the letter of the award of the Extraordinary Personality of the Year 2020 on him.
One of the previous flyovers located at Rebisi has been inaugurated while the other six are in different stages of completion.
Wike had criticized the press for failing to hold government and public officials to account for their stewardship and said media awards on public officers had become suspect.
“My own worry is the way the awards have been bastardised. Sometimes now you don’t even know which one is real, and which one is not real. You see where governors are given awards. How did they assess. I believe that before these awards are given people should take it as a point of duty, not based on what you see on TV for you to practically see by yourself. It should come without you knowing. And that will make you to do more,” Wike said.
Silverbird Group’s Chief Creative Officer of SilverBird said, “We chose you (Wike) because of the projects you have embarked upon and because of your fearlessness. Your boldness made you the first prominent Nigerian to raise the alarm over the abuse of the now disbanded SARS.”
Wike also denied claims by retirees in the state that he had not been paying them their pensions. “To say we are not paying pensions is not true. It’s not true. I cannot be spending N1.8 billion every month and you say we are not paying pension. Oh! Federal government refunded me N78 billion for infrastructure, so I should use it to pay. When I use infrastructure money and pay, tomorrow, how do I give account? Infrastructure money is infrastructure money. We have to use it to build up the infrastructure,” he said.
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