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Updated: 2 hours 29 min ago

Lafarge Africa Plc Vs Ewekoro Community: A Settlement At The Verge Of Extinction By Erasmus Ikhide

3 hours 33 min ago


Erasmus Ikhide

Erasmus Ikhide

Ewekoro community in Ogun State, South West Nigeria, is an ancient settlement on the hub of West Africa's rainforest. The home of Elephant Cement is presently floating at the mercy of greed and labyrinth of industrial decimation, occasioned by Lafarge Africa Plc. 
Apart from the obvious and intentional environmental hostility visited on the once ambience and boisterous agrarian dwelling, Ewekoro community is now blightedly bumpy to the point of suffocation; more than ever before, at the tipping point of extinction. 

The mournful air of foreboding, dread and deaths arising from environmental pollution permeate, sullied and ignites atmosphere of fear and tension that enveloped the smouldering cloud of cement particles oozing seamlessly from the Lafarge's chimneys that dotted the sleepy village of Ewekoro. 

Early this year, members of the Ewekoro community dragged the multinational cement company before the Federal High Court in Abeokuta, accusing the company of polluting and destroying their environment through the mining of limestone. It was the first time the community would muster the courage to step up to the plague against their oppressors who have been masquerading as investors. 

Through their lawyer, Mr. Idris Faro who filled a class suit against Lafarge Africa Plc have been demanding N1trn in damages to  compensate for the alleged “pollution and destruction of the plaintiffs’ town, farmlands, rivers, air and general environment, arising from limestone mining and cement manufacture for a continous period of 60 years,” by Lafarge.

In their demands, the community want the N1trn damages to be paid with an annual interest of 15 per cent until the final liquidation of the sum. They also want the court to order Lafarge to refund them the money they spent in filing the lawsuit.

Pursuant to the suit, the plaintiffs claimed that Lafarge sited its largest plant in Nigeria in their community at Km 64 Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, alleging that the company’s activities in the last 60 years had taken a toll on their well-being and means of livelihood.

The plaintiffs said, “A huge expanse of our farmland, measuring 426.599 hectares, which were not even part of the original acquisition, have been entered into by the 1st defendant (Lafarge) and it mines limestone there on a daily basis.

The two octogenarians, Balogun and Bale of Ewekoro community collaborate an earlier reports respectively that the defunct Western Region Government of Nigeria acquired part of their land and gave it to West African Portland Cement Company for limestone mining to manufacture cement.

They both confirmed to this reporter that WAPCO which was later acquired by Lafarge, had carried on with the business, “using powerful explosives like dynamite in the mining and blasting of limestone in Ewekoro town, which, apart from causing disturbing noise, has damaged a lot of houses in Ewekoro town.”

The Bale of Ewekoro who doubled as the Community Development Association Chairman, Alhaji Musulumi Balogun, tearfully pointed to a freshly dug grave of one of his late neighbour who was electrocuted as a result of Lafarge complicit and contemptuous denigration of the host community which they have been exploiting unto the bargain over the years. 

"Looking at the monster", pointing to one of the several chimneys adjacent to his garden where he tenders cassava plantation, "as the source of nightmare for the entire community". "We regret our existence daily for living side by side with these giant machines.   

"Emission and dust from the chimneys have caused us untold hardship and untimely deaths but the management of Lafarge has refused to heed our relentless plea to relocate us to another place with the approval of Ogun State Government".  

"You can understand our feeling if the entire community elects to be relocated from our ancestral homes so that we can avoid the rampaging and inhuman activities of Lafarge limestone mining activities", said the octogenarian who is 82 years old.
Another blind octogenarian who worked with the company for over 50 years before it was bought over by Lafarge, Chief Wahab Adegunle bemoans the mindless activities that led to his blindness. He claims that he was totally abandoned by the company after exploiting his youthful age for nearly four decades. 

"I'm blind as you can see without any support or payment of my benefits from Lafarge, even when I'm eminently qualified for the entitlements.

"One wonders what the contractual Corporate Social Responsibility of Lafarge is if they do not build schools, clinics or provide portable water for the host community they have so much benefited from and destroyed? 

"I am told that the road directly in front of Lafarge company adjacent to my house here is not motorable. 

"How best can a company demonstrate that it hates itself and the community where it operates?", the 88 years old chief intoned.

A multilingual 55 years resident, Mallam Ibrahim Ali, a citizen of Zamfara State who has  lived in Ewekoro for 31 years was less charitable with Lafarge and successive governments in Ogun State: "I have been here for 31 years. I don't blame Lafarge for enslaving Nigerians in their own country, I blame Nigerian Government at all levels who abandoned its own people to be enslaved. After all, Lafarge merely emulates the shameless governments that have visited terror on the people", Mallam Ali said. 

86 years old Mrs. Kikelomo Adeliyi came heavily on the management of Lafarge for trading on the sweat and blood of Nigerians without adequate remuneration much less giving back to Ewekoro community. "We want compensation and relocation from Ewekoro since Lafarge has bastadised our homeland » she said. 

When contacted, the Community Relations Officer of Lafarge, Mr. Yomi Owolabi was réticent with efforts made by the management of Lafarge to address the Ewekoro's concerns. "Who gave you my number, he roared? I'm not in a position to speak to the questions you raised. Don't call me again, he thundered".  

Evidently, it's a known fact that successive governments in Nigeria and Ogun State have purposely remained silent on the alleged atrocities, and this undesirable violation has been allowed to happen. Corruption has been identified as one of the major motivations by a few members of Ewekoro community.

African Network For Environment and Economic Justice viewed the rustic state of Ewekoro community as an eternal shame of the compromising governmental agencies that have failed to regulate, stimulate people-friendly economic growth or enhance per capita affluence to galvanize economic prosperity for all. Strictly speaking, what has happened in Ewekoro community by the destruction of natural habitats by unmistakable extension, devalued the human spirit and strive for durable habitat. 

The extent of degradation in Ewekoro as a result of the deterioration of their environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; extinction of wildlife; and the pollution of the entire community has astronomically increased the number of deaths. 

Lafarge's uncanny quest for inordinate profit and primitive business exploitative policy is one of the worst examples of environmental rupturing the world has recorded in recent times. The very worst of such destruction is the example of the savage pillaging of Niger Delta ecosystem by oil multinationals which makes up 60 per cent of all rainforests in Sub-Sahara Africa. 

As it is now, it's left for the people to secure their environment or perish with the way Lafarge cement company is denigrating Ewekoro's means of livelihood in a bid to keep polluting the oxygen that has become detrimental to their health. It's obligatory on the Nigerian state to step in before Lafarge wipes away the ecology of the plants completely which has rendered the soil and the people's means of existence, useless.
As the government has not protected the people, they have decided to protect themselves for the sake of the future generation.

Email: ikhideerasmus@gmail.com 
Follow me on Twitter @ikhide_erasmus1 

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Nigeria’s GDP Grows By 2.28 Per Cent In Third Quater Of 2019

3 hours 44 min ago


Nigeria's gross domestic product has experienced its second highest quarterly growth in four years after growing by 2.28 per cent in the third quarter of 2019, data by Nigeria Bureau of Statistics reveals.

According to the NBS, the growth rate in Q3 of 2019 represents the second-highest quarterly rate recorded since 2016.

The data released shows that the 2.28 per cent gross domestic product growth is 0.17 percentage points higher than the 2.12 per cent revised GDP growth recorded in the second quarter.

The GDP report, which was released on Friday, indicates that the average daily oil production in the quarter was 2.04 million barrels per day.

The report disclosed that the non-oil sector grew by 1.85 per cent during the third quarter.

Driven mainly by the information and communication sector, other drivers of the non-oil sector were agriculture, mining and quarrying, transportation and storage, and manufacturing. 

In real terms, the non-oil sector contributed 90.23 per cent to the nation’s GDP.

The mining and quarrying sector grew by 5.98 per cent in Q3 2019. 

Quarrying and other minerals exhibited the highest growth rate of all the sub-activities at 58.03 per cent , followed by coal at 43.68 per cent.

Agricultural sector grew by 14.88 per cent in Q3 2019, showing a decline of –3.44 per cent points from the same quarter of 2018.

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BREAKING: Sowore Files Fundamental Rights Enforcement Application, Demands N500m Damages

3 hours 59 min ago


Photo Speaks: Omoyele Sowore's Timeline

 

Photo Speaks: Omoyele Sowore's Timeline SaharaReporters Media

Pro-democracy campaigner and Publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, has sued the Department of State Services over his arrest and continued detention since August 3, 2019 despite two courts directing the agency to release him. 

Sowore is asking the court to order the DSS to pay him N500m as general and aggravated damages for his detention and illegal violation of fundamental rights.

The activist made the demand in a suit marked FHC/ABJ /C51409/2019 dated November 20, 2019 and obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Friday.
The suit was supported by a 21-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Abubakar Marshall and accompanied by a written address. 

It reads, "A declaration that the detention of the applicant from November 7, 2019 till date in violation of the order for his release made on November 6, 2019 is illegal as it violates his fundamental right to liberty guaranteed by Section 35 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 6 of African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (Ratification and Enforcement Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

"An order of this court compelling the respondents to pay to the applicant the sum of N500,000, 000, 00 ( Five hundred million naira) as general  and aggravated damages for the illegal violation of the applicant's fundamental right to life, dignity of his person, fair hearing, health, freedom of movement and freedom of association. 

"An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further violating the applicant's fundamental rights in any manner whatsoever and however without lawful justification." 

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), is joined in the suit. 

Sowore was arrested in Lagos on August 3, 2019 for calling on Nigerians to take to the streets in peaceful demonstrations to demand a better country from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. 

The government has accused him of insulting President Buhari and planning to bring down his government - charges observers around the world including leading legal practitioners describe as frivolous and laughable.

 

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Before Lawan And Our Senators Do Buhari’s Bidding By Dyepkazah Shibayan

5 hours 12 min ago



“Democracy depends on strong institutions and it’s about minority rights, checks and balances and freedom of speech.” Those were the words of former United States President Barack Obama when he visited South Africa in June 2018.

Now a quick question. Is the system of government practised today in Nigeria a democracy? I’m not sure how you will answer that but let me zero in on the National Assembly – symbol of democracy as it is called – and highlight some disturbing trends.

Some of us are now convinced that Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate, is leading many lawmakers who are just “thirsty” to do the bidding of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Shortly before the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly in June, many had already branded Lawan a “rubber stamp” but I was one of those who felt the Senate President should be given a chance to prove himself.

In August, Lawan while speaking at a town hall meeting in Gashua, Yobe State, proudly said the National Assembly under him would not fail Buhari.
“There are pockets of opposition from other sides, I assure you all that we won’t fail the President,” Lawan had said.

Not minding those words, I still had hope because a true Nigerian patriot would not want the legislature to have unnecessary confrontation with the executive arm of government, even though the lawmakers would be expected to stand their ground on certain issues. But I started getting worried when the Senate held its confirmation hearing for Buhari’s ministerial nominees. The country witnessed a charade that has now been dubbed as the “bow and go” process.

Some of the senators who ought to have been grilling the nominees at the time were seen protecting them. It appeared that Lawan made sure that none of the nominees was disqualified. A “gender sensitive” Senate President hardly even allowed the women among the nominees to speak.

When I finally gave up on this Senate President was when the finance bill sent by the executive seeking to increase the value added tax from five per cent to 7.5 per cent passed second reading without the senators having details of it. Despite protests from some lawmakers, Lawan insisted that debate on the bill should hold.

Six months later, we have seen a Senate President who appears to only live for the next “order” of the President.

Are Lawan and the senators representing the people or working for the President? What has happened to separation of powers and checks and balances that are the characteristics of a democracy? It is heartbreaking to hear Lawan say that any request that Buhari sends to the National Assembly will make Nigeria a better place. How is that? Is the President infallible?

Before they do the bidding of Buhari, they should be reminded that the people elected them to serve them – not the President.

Shibayan tweets @justdyepis

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The Weaponisation Of Poverty By Steven Kefason

5 hours 20 min ago


Steven Kefason

Steven Kefason


Since the return to democracy in 1999, politicians in Nigeria have continued to cajole the electorates into giving them mandates using different exploitative cum inhuman strategies. This callous exploitation has contributed negatively to the development of democracy in Nigeria. 

Politicians display lackadaisical attitudes after assuming offices only to show up during election period with huge financial war chests to take advantage of the poverty of the electorates, the politicians themselves have deliberately facilitated for such a time as the electioneering period.

The recently concluded governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa states in Nigeria shows a very disturbing and dangerous development where buying of votes and financial inducement right at the polling units on election day has been extolled by no other but the federal government itself. Recall that few days to the Kogi State election, the Federal Government disbursed the sum of N10bn to the state government in the guise of road construction reimbursement. The APC government at all levels is responsible for impoverishing the people where a dollar that sold for N160 when they took over, now sells for N360, a bag of rice that sold for between N7,000 in 2015, now sells for between N17,000 to N20,000. Other food commodities are also not left behind.

The Federal Government has made it the norm now that politicians are seen giving out monies in exchange for votes. This has been a clear case of who is offering how much as the voters now do not even care who become their leaders. Their primary focus now is to assuage that temporary hunger.

Unsuspecting electorates who live in abject poverty do not understand anything that will not bring immediate relieve to their hunger infested bellies. Any true politician, regardless of how noble his intents are, becomes a noise maker before these electorates the moment it becomes clear to them that he may not meet their immediate needs of placating their hunger. 

Because this hunger informed the decision of a larger chunk of the electorates, it has become a tradition among politicians to abandon the electorates to wallow in wants until election approaches so that the politicians can come back with enough money to sway minds directed by their stomachs into making favourable decision for these politicians. The trader money and other financial empowerments embarked upon by the incumbent Federal Government is a typical example of how poverty of the Nigerian masses was used to affect the outcome of the 2019 general elections. Funds that should have been channeled towards people-oriented projects that will benefit the generality of the masses are now being used to sway unsuspecting voters to vote for the incumbent government. Poverty of the people is now a political weapon for politicians. And because poverty is a weapon, most politicians would not want to be disarmed of this weapon by ensuring the poverty among the populace is perpetrated and perpetuated. It is responsible to why the country, states and constituencies cannot enjoy sustainable development, because development will mean disarming the politicians of the weapon of poverty. 

For power to return to the people, the people must be empowered. The economy must be better.

The judiciary must truly be independent. Security must be tight. And leaders will be voted based on sustainable development on rational thinking and not momentary satisfaction of hunger. 
Take the weapon from the politicians by giving power back to the people. Nigeria can be great again.

Steven Kefason is a political enthusiast and writes from Kaduna State

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Nigeria, Iraq, Blurring Early 2020 Outlook For Oil-Based Economies

6 hours 51 min ago


Sources close to decision makers in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has said Nigeria and Iraq’s inability to comply with oil production cuts, is making it difficult to predict what the market for the product will be in the first quarter of 2020. 

The sources also informed Reuters that Saudi Arabia and Russia are pushing for the current output restriction of 1.2m barrels daily to be extended from March to June 2020. 

The key reason for the move by the Saudis is the planned listing of state-owned Aramco in December.

“The Saudis want to see how the rest of those who are not complying – Nigeria and Iraq do first. There are no numbers being circulated so far for deeper cuts or changing output quotas,” said the first OPEC source. 

Fortunately for the two defaulters, there are no discussions about deepening cuts just yet.

“So far, we have two main scenarios: either meet in December and extend the current cuts until June or defer the decision until early next year, meet before March to see how the market looks and extend the cuts until the middle of the year,” said an OPEC source. 

The Arabians intend to give the final value of the Aramco share by December 5, which coincides with when the cartel and its Russian-led alliance known as OPEC Plus are expected to have arrived at a decision on whether to deepen present cuts.

“It is more likely that we will extend the agreement in December to send a positive message to the market. 

"The Saudis don’t want oil prices to fall, they want to put a floor under the prices because of the (Aramco) IPO,” the official said. 

OPEC’s General Secretary, Nigeria’s Mohammed Barkindo, had a positive outlook on how Q1 2020 will be.

According to the news agency, Barkindo expects a slowdown in the supply of the United States Shale oil and a potential upside for petroleum demand. 

The International Energy Agency believes OPEC will lose 1m barrels of demand daily in 2020 due to increased production from countries that do not belong to the OPEC Plus coalition.

Whatever the prediction for the market early next year might be, the Saudis want oil prices to go higher or stay within the $60 bracket and Russia is fully backing the US ally.

Nigeria’s medium term expenditure framework for 2020-2022 is predicated on higher oil production. 

The country is desirous of increasing its output to 3m by 2023. 

This implies that the country would be willing to sell its oil at any price and pump as much as it can salvage from sabotage and shut-ins. 

Coupled with its over-production since new cuts came in January, Nigeria has shown that its strategy does not align with that of the cartel but has not like Qatar, decided to pull out.

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INEC Announces Date For Kogi Supplementary Election, Re-run

7 hours 10 min ago




The Independent National Electoral Commission have announced Saturday, November 30, for supplementary and re-run elections for Kogi West Senatorial District and Ajaokuta Federal Constituency.

The commission in a statement said, "INEC met on November 21, 2019 and fixed November 30, 2019 for the conduct of supplementary and re-run elections for Kogi West Senatorial District and Ajaokuta Federal Constituency respectively."

A court had earlier declared the election conducted in the state as null and void while ordering the INEC to conduct a new election for the office. 
Dino Melaye, winner of the previous election, lost in the latest one, describing the results as “magic”.

Meanwhile, SaharaReporters had earlier reported that Senator Melaye, during a press conference in Abuja, had earlier accused Smart Adeyemi and Governor Yahaya Bello of using violence, intimidation and inducement to frustrate the electorate in areas where he was popular.

He said, “Three people were shot and two died; four people were killed in Lokoja; seven were killed in the eastern part of the state; this is the record we have so far, apart from those who sustained gunshot wounds."

Melaye further alleged that the results of Iyara, Adeyemi’s hometown, were written while mayhem was unleashed on his hometown of Aiyetoro-Gbede, which claimed the life of his nephew, Olajuwon.

He added, “We are waiting to see what INEC will do. 

"But I reject in totality these fictitious results. 

"I, Dino Melaye, won that election in the afternoon and the APC won it at night.”
 

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US Set To Legalise Marijuana Nationwide

7 hours 16 min ago


Marijuana

Marijuana

Shares of marijuana companies rose on Thursday after a United States congressional committee passed a legislation to decriminalise cannabis, taking it a step closer to being approved by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

The bill, which was passed 24 to 10 in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, sent shares of Canopy Growth (WEED.TO), Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO), Aphria Inc (APHA.TO) and Tilray Inc (TLRY.O) up between eight per cent and 15 per cent, Rueters reports.

"We think federal legalisation would be a big positive for investor sentiment surrounding cannabis equities, which have been battered by oversupply and a steep price decline for the underlying commodity since becoming legal in Canada," said Garrett Nelson, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research.


The approval comes two months after the House passed a bill to advance legislation that would allow banks to provide services to cannabis companies in states where it is legal.

The latest bill, which has more than 50 co-sponsors, enables states to set their own policies while allowing to expunge federal marijuana convictions and arrests.

Additionally, the bill will authorise a five per cent federal sales tax on marijuana products that are manufactured in or imported into the United States.

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In Case You Missed It: There's Nothing Buhari Asks That I'll Not Approve, Says Senate President

7 hours 23 min ago


Ahmed Lawan, Nigeria's Senate President, has said he will do anything President Muhammadu Buhari requests of him in the Senate.

Lawan said this when the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay (SAN), paid him a visit in Abuja on Thursday.

Sagay had appealed to the Senate President to ensure that Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was confirmed as the substantive head of the agency.

In response, the Senate President said, “The confirmation of Acting Chairman of EFCC – there is no request before this Senate for the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of EFCC.

“This is a new Senate and therefore, until there is a request, there is nothing the Senate can do.

“I want to assure you that any request that comes from Mr President is a request that will make Nigeria a better place in terms of appointments or legislation and the Senate will act expeditiously to ensure that we play our part in the confirmation or passing of legislation appropriately.”

The Senate President said the lawmakers are “in a haste” to pass anti-corruption bills.

He added, “As far as we are concerned, those bills will have to come again and start to go through the process from the very beginning.

“We are ready; in fact, we are in haste if those bills are ready for us to start working on them.”

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Nigeria Needs Right Investment Climate To Drive Petroleum Sector –Shell Boss

21 November 2019 - 11:48am


 

Chairman of Shell Development Company of Nigeria, Mr Osagie Okunbor has emphasised the need for a right investment climate to help enhance the expansion of Nigeria’s petroleum landscape.

Okunbor made the remarks while speaking at the 37th Annual International Conference and Exhibition of National Association of Petroleum Explorationists’ in Lagos where he was represented by Shell’s General Manager, Exploration, Mr Dan Agbaire.

Pointing that the development would enable the increase of Nigeria’s oil production from the current average of 2.3 million b/d to 3 million b/d, Okunbor said that the development will also boost the country’s proven oil reserves to about 40 billion barrels through further exploration and appraisal.

He said, “The right investment climate would also include strengthening our regulatory bodies, giving priorities to research and further enabling the industry’s financials.

“I believe that where the investment climate is right, digitalisation and deployment of emerging technologies will enable incremental value creation over the coming years.”

 

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Nigerian Travellers On RwandAir Yet To Receive Luggage 48hrs After Arriving Lagos

21 November 2019 - 11:44am


RwandAir

RwandAir The NewTimes

 

More than 50 Nigerian travellers on RwandAir are yet to receive their luggage more than 48 hours after arriving the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

The passengers had arrived on RwandAir flight WB305 from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to Lagos via Kigali on Tuesday hoping to get their luggage on arrival but were disappointed when they could not retrieve their luggage at the baggage reclaim area of the airport on Tuesday.

Since the passengers arrived the country, they have been visiting the Lagos airport office of the airline but without success or when the luggage would arrive from Kigali.

A passenger, who narrated the ongoing situation to our correspondent, lamented that they had been treated poorly by the staff of the airline at the Lagos airport.

The male passenger, who gave his name as Chris, alleged that staff of the airline at the airport were yet to effectively communicate to them the whereabouts of their luggage, adding that they were not equally told in Kigali that their luggage were dropped.

He decried that passengers were billed to depart Dubai with an Airbus A320 aircraft, but were surprised when the aircraft arrived and it turned out to be a 737-800, which was smaller in terms of capacity.

He further explained that even on arrival date, the aircraft had to be diverted to Uganda before it went to Kigali with the passengers being told it was due to inclement weather and when the 737-800 eventually landed in Kigali, an Airbus A320 WB305 was deployed to return them to Nigeria.

He said the aircraft eventually arrived Nigeria but without their checked in luggage.

He stated, “There are about 50 of us without our baggage. When they changed the aircraft, I was suspicious, but because this aircraft was bigger, my fears were allayed a bit but because of the full flight I was still skeptical.

“When we landed, we went to baggage claims and none of our luggage came. No one said anything to us, which was wrong.

“Eventually, we were told to come back on Thursday (today). The flight landed but still no baggage.”

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Ownership Disagreement Delays AEDC For Three Years

21 November 2019 - 11:27am


 

Shareholder of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, CEC Africa Investment Limited, has revealed that board members of the distribution company have not had their statutory meetings in three years and counting.

This was disclosed in a statement by its Chief Executive Officer, Emmanuel Katepa, and made available to journalists on Thursday.

The CEO blamed an unsettled legal dispute over majority shareholding in the DISCO to be the reason for the delay of the meeting.

Further disclosing that the development had not affected the operations of the DISCO, Katepa said that supplies of electricity to Abuja and neighbouring states including Kogi, Niger and Nasarawa have been ongoing regardless of the challenge.

The statement detailed how CEC and its partner, Xerxes Global Investments Limited, acquired the DISCO, as well as how their business relationship gradually broke down.

It also stated that court actions had been taken in this regard with the situation yet to improve.

The statement reads, “The purchase price of AEDC was $164m and it was agreed by XerXes and CECA that this would be funded 25 per cent ($41m) by cash contributions from Xerxes and CECA and KANN would borrow the remaining 75 per cent of the acquisition costs ($123m) from a third party lender (which ended up being the United Bank for Africa).

“When the initial 25 per cent ($41m) was demanded by the Bureau of Public Enterprises as an upfront payment, Xerxes could not raise its equity contribution, leaving CECA to wholly fund the initial 25 per cent equity payment. CECA paid for that portion of the acquisition amount in full being $41m in March 2013. XerXes did not fund any of this equity payment.” 

 

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Bayelsa Election: Group Calls For Swift Prosecution Of Electoral Offenders

21 November 2019 - 11:26am


 

The Kimpact Development Initiative has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Nigeria Police Force to swiftly prosecute electoral offenders in the just concluded governorship election in Bayelsa State.

KDI said this while presenting its Nigeria Election Violence Report for the Bayelsa State governorship election held on November 16.

The group urged government to set up a special court to ensure the prosecution of electoral offenders.

KDI asked for “swift prosecution of electoral offenders and recommends that the Federal Government considers setting up an Electoral Offence Commission or special electoral court to prosecute and punish electoral offenders as INEC presently is being overwhelmed with other aspects of election administration and management”.

It also lamented the late commencement of election in Bayelsa, noting that the time lag in the starting time of voting will always affect the timely completion of the collation process.

KDI urged the commission to investigate the high reports of materials being carted away and destroyed in some wards and LGAs.

The group also admonished voters to dissuade from being an instrument to foment violence in any area as peace for one is peace for all.

 

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NDPHC Begins Construction Of 10 Power Generation Plants

21 November 2019 - 11:12am


 

In a bid to improve the volume of electricity generation in the country, the Niger Delta Power Holding Company has begun the construction of 10 power generation plants.

Disclosing this development at the Environment Impact Assessment Scoping Workshop of the Akurba 330/132KV Substation Project in Lafia, Nasarawa State, on Thursday, General Manager, Environment and Community Relations of NDPHC, Eze Odigbo, disclosed that eight out of the 10 power plants had been completed with the remaining two still under construction.

Further explaining to the audience on the reason why the 10 power generation plants were situated in the Southern part of the country, Odigbo, represented by a Deputy Director in the department, Olajide Olubunmi, gave the availability of gas as the major factor before beginning the construction.

He disclosed that the company had also constructed 121 transmission/substations across the country, adding that the NDPHC has also carried out 291 projects for the distribution of the energy generated to consumers with one of the projects sited in Lafia, Nasarawa State.

 

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SPECIAL: Lagos’ Monstrous Traffic Unites City’s Rich, Poor Residents In Pain

21 November 2019 - 10:47am


 

Akujobi Okorie nearly ‘died’ of excitement in the weeks and days leading to his arrival in Lagos. A skilled carpenter in his native Ihiala, one of Anambra’s most popular regions, what he earned from hours of labour made nonsense of the energy and artistry he plugs into each task. In July, after a distant cousin told him of the promises Lagos held for an artisan like him and also offered to bring him to the city where ‘gold’ is said to dot every street corner, the 35-year-old father of two became restless. He was convinced in only a few weeks plying his trade across Nigeria’s commercial capital – Lagos – fortune would be served in bags of money.

But four months after that period, Okorie is already fastening his ‘seat belt’ to make the long journey back home – to a life he reckons offers little pay but delivers much peace. Lagos’ endless and often ruthless traffic ‘epidemic’ has stung him hard like the venom from an inland taipan – the world’s most venomous snake. The 35-year-old is desperate to escape the ‘madness’ he had witnessed across many of the city’s fast-crumbling roads over the last four months.

“There is no amount of money that can keep me back in Lagos going by the suffering and stress I have experienced on the road,” Okorie told SaharaReporters, frustration and a tinge of regret clearly visible in his voice.

“There is money in this city but the suffering is too much,” he reminded. “If I continue to subject myself to the long hours of traffic I experience almost every day in Lagos, I will age very fast and maybe develop a sickness that would eventually kill me soon.

“Before Christmas, I would go back to my state and remain there. I may come again sometime in the future but for now, I am leaving, the stress on Lagos roads is too much for me to bear,” he added painfully.

Interestingly, Okorie’s frustration is not a peculiar one – all across the city of aquatic splendour as Lagos is sometimes often referred to, the hallmark and fangs of its bone-crushing traffic ‘epidemic’ sit on almost every face you come across.

On Monday for example, the situation took an even more disturbing turn when major roads across the city was gripped by a ‘stubborn’ gridlock that left vehicles and their frustrated owners stuck on every corner for hours. Commuters lucky enough to find commercial motorcycles to hop on, also had their own demon to deal with. Negotiating their ways out of the armada of stranded automobiles – some of them gorgeous-looking machines acquired with mouth-watering millions – posed a tough challenge for dozens of ‘bikers’. It was indeed chaos in every sense.

Narrating his bitter experience that fateful day, Peter Igodaro, a businessman with deep pockets, told SaharaReporters that he was heading to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Ikeja, the state capital, to board a flight to Kenya when he got stuck in traffic around Oshodi. Coming all the way from Victoria Island only to be held down by traffic a few minutes from the airport was a sad experience for him.

“I live on the Island and because I knew I will need to go to Ikeja for my flight, I left home early.

“I had gotten to Oshodi when I suddenly became trapped in traffic.

“But thank God I had the initiative to call the airline to leave my flight open. It cost more to reschedule but that’s how terrible we have become as a country.

“I don't know where we go from here as a country, so many opportunities wasted in traffic. The governor must decongest the road,” Igodaro said.

Seun Sanni, a content administrator and also a resident of Lagos Island, told SaharaReporters that a 20-minute commute to work now took him more than twice that period and sometimes far higher as a result of traffic occasioned by dilapidated roads in the city.

“My house is not too far from the office but heavy traffic has become a usual experience these days,” he said.

“I think the problem is compounded by bad roads. For me, the solution is for the governor to resign. If he cannot fix something as simple as roads, I don't know what he intends to fix,” Sanni added.

A handful of residents across most parts of Lagos SaharaReporters spoke with this week all said they now spent between five to six hours daily in traffic while going to work or other places and returning to their homes later in the day. Bad portions of road in the wealth-ridden nooks and crannies of Lagos Island and deadly ditches splattered across the strife-stricken neighbourhoods of Lagos Mainland have ensured that the city’s rich and poor are united in pain.

“I live in Ajah, in one of the most expensive estates in Lagos but I can tell you that the problem we face in terms of traffic is not different from what those in places like Apapa, Ijora and Iyana-Ipaja experience.

“There is hardly a month that I don’t spent large sums in car maintenance since the beginning of this year. It does not make any sense at all,” Patrick Ekanem, a manager in a telecoms firm, told SaharaReporters.

As a result of this problem, many offices in Lagos have now had their employees work more remotely to avoid a hitch in their operations while some have made funds available for such persons to get small apartments closer to the work places.

On major social media platforms, images and stories capturing the growing frustration of Lagos’ residents over the city’s monstrous traffic is one of the quickest things your eyes show you as you log on to the Internet these days. The sentiments and concerns are overwhelmingly shared by all – young, old, rich and poor.

Blaming the rising traffic menace on Lagos’ roads in recent weeks on ongoing repair works on bad portions, Commissioner for Information in the state, Gbenga Omotoso, said the crisis would soon be over.

In a statement on Wednesday, Omotoso admitted that since the beginning of the massive road repairs under “Operation 116” across the state the traffic had been heavy.

He however, appealed to residents for understanding as the situation would soon normalise.

On October 13, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu declared a state of emergency on Lagos’ roads and listed at least 116 roads for urgent repairs.

But weeks after that declaration, commuters are yet to see or witness any significant improvement in state of the city’s roads and the traffic they inspire.

Disturbed by the situation, Abdullah Adeniran, a public affairs analyst, said, “This government is bereft of ideas.

“If there was a move to construct roads, why are there no palliatives for residents? This is the height of irresponsibility.”

Left at the mercy of health risks and hoodlums, who capitalise on failed road portions to rob and maim vehicle owners and commuters, dozens of Lagos’ residents would hope for a swift turn of events in the coming days especially as Yuletide slowly creeps into sight. 

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Ganduje Rejects Court Ruling, Vows To Continue Dealing With Sacked Monarchs

21 November 2019 - 9:43am


 

Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, has rejected the ruling of a Kano High Court, which sacked four emirs he recently appointed.

Justice Usman Na’Abba had in a ruling on Thursday dissolved the four new first-class emirates, stating that the law creating them did not follow due process.

SaharaReporters had exclusively reported how Ganduje planned and executed a three-step plan to oust Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, and disintegrate the Kano emirate, which had been around for centuries over a personal feud.

Ganduje in a statement by the Commissioner for Information in the state, Mallam Muhammad Garba, said the state was studying the ruling of the court on the creation of four new emirates with a view to taking immediate appropriate action.

He posited that the government will not fold its arms and concede such constitutional power in the interest of the well-being of the people and general development of the state.

The statement said, “Despite the ruling, the government still recognises them as first class emirs and will continue dealing with them as such.

“The state government therefore advises people to be calm, law-abiding and await further action.” 

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Two Killed As Robbers Attack Bank In Ekiti

21 November 2019 - 9:35am


 

Two people have been killed after armed robbers attacked a bank in Oye, Ekiti State, on Thursday.

The robbers overpowered the police officer attached to the bank to gain access to the facility before killing him.

A school girl was also hit by a stray bullet and died on the spot.

It was gathered that the robbers went away with millions of naira, which was stolen from the vault of the bank.

Customers of the bank, who were inside during the incident were also robbed of valuables.

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BREAKING: Groups To Occupy National Assembly Over Sowore, Others On Wednesday

21 November 2019 - 9:13am


 

A number of civil society and advocacy groups will on Wednesday, November 27 storm the National Assembly in Abuja and various state Houses of Assemblies to demand the release of detained activists, Omoyele Sowore, Olawale Bakare and other prisoners of conscience across the country.

The groups expected to participate in the march, which will include human rights lawyers, activists, students unions, Nigeria Labour Congress; Trade Union Council, United Labour Congress and the Federation of Informal Workers Organisations of Nigeria, will also voice their opposition to the proposed anti-social media bill currently before the National Assembly.

In a statement, organisers of the march slated for Wednesday said, “People must not be gagged to talk as this reminds one of the era of human slavery when lock and keys were forced on the mouth of Africans and other oppressed people of the world.

“The mass action which will take place simultaneously across the 36 states of the federation including Federal Capital Territory to champion the resistance against oppression and tyranny.”

The groups called on the Nigerian Government to stop the secret trial of Agba Jalingo, a journalist in Cross Rivers State.

The activists said they would not be deterred or intimidated by the Department of State Services during the event.

 

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Money Laundering: Mompha Demands N5m From EFCC For Unlawful Detention

21 November 2019 - 8:26am


 

A businessman, Ismaila Mustapha widely known as Mompha, has instituted a fundamental rights enforcement suit before a High Court in Lagos against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for detaining him beyond the constitutionally stipulated days without charging him to court.

Mompha in the suit filed by his lawyers including Mr Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), Ademola Adefolaju, Kolawole Salami and four others, is demanding the sum of N5m as damages from the EFCC.

He is also seeking a court order directing the anti-graft agency to release him unconditionally forthwith from its custody.

He is asking for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the anti-graft agency or any person whatsoever acting for or on behalf of the agency from arresting and detaining him in relation to the subject of the suit without recourse to due process of law. 

He is also seeking a court declaration that his continued and further detention by the EFCC on the basis of the remand order granted on October 22, 2019, by Court 6 of Ikeja Magistrate Court, Lagos, vide a form for request for remand pursuant to the Administration Of Criminal Justice Act and which elapsed and or expired on November 4, 2019, without being charged and arraigned before a court of competent jurisdiction is unlawful, unjustifiable, unconstitutional and constitute gross violation of his fundamental rights to personal liberty and fair hearing as contained in section 35 (4) (5) and 36 of the 1999 constitution (as amended)

The grounds for the application, according to Mompha’s lawyers is that their client is a Nigerian and entitled to fundamental rights as enshrined in sections 34, 35 and 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The lawyers also stated that on October 19, 2019, their client was arrested at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, and thereafter detained by the EFCC on account of alleged money laundering and other related offences.

They added that on the same day, he was transfered to the agency's detention facility in Ikoyi, Lagos from Abuja, before obtaining a remand order from the Magistrate' Court of Lagos for a period of 14 days and that since October 19, 2019, he has been held in detention beyond two days as stipulated by Sections 36 and 35 of the constitution respectively.

Also, the applicant in a 20 paragraph-affidavit deposed to by Olumuyiwa A. Ajidagba, a lawyer, averred that in spite of the remand order of the Magistrate Court of Lagos empowering the EFCC to detain their client for 14 days pending investigation and arraignment, he has now been in detention and custody for over 26 days unlawfully, as the order detaining him had expired since November 4.

Olumuyiwa also stated that the applicant had suffered and been subjected physical, mental and psychological torture in the underground cell at the EFCC's detention centre.

The deponent further averred that unless the court grants the applicant's prayers as sought on the motion paper, his fundamental rights to liberty and fair hearing will continued to be infringed and trampled upon by the EFCC in clear violation of 1999 Constitution (as amended).

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit as it is yet to be assigned to any judge.

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Nigerians Express Outrage Over Babcock University’s Expulsion Of Female Student In Leaked Sex Video

21 November 2019 - 7:44am


 

Mixed reactions have trailed a viral video showing a female student of Babcock University have sexual intercourse with a guy believed to be her lover.

The school confirmed that while the young lady was a 300-level student of the Department of Accounting, the young man was an ex-student of the institution, who had been expelled in February for an act of grievous misconducts.

In a statement issued by its Director of Communication and Marketing, Joshua Suleiman, Babcock maintained that it would continue to maintain high moral standards for quality education.

The statement reads partly, “The place where the immoral act took place, according to her written statement, was at St Bridget Hospital, Abeokuta, Ogun State, where the boy had been undergoing rehabilitation for different destructive addictions.

“According to the girl, the incident took place in April this year during school vacation when she visited the boy at the hospital. The act did not take place at Babcock University.

“The university remains committed to highest moral standards, and will remain a standard bearer for quality education in character, learning in service to humanity.

“We are happy to be saddled with this challenge as an institution because it propels us to contribute to the greatness of this nation, and the security of a bright future for children.”

But reacting to the incident especially the response of the university authorities to the matter, rights lawyer, Inebehe Effiong, questioned the grounds upon which the school decided to expel the female student captured in the leaked sex video.

He asked, “Does the university regulations forbid students from engaging in sexual intercourse without any exception?

“Does Babcock University have the jurisdiction to punish or question her students who indulge in sexual intercourse outside the territory of the institution?

“Did Babcock University expel her for engaging in sexual intercourse or for the fact that the sexual intercourse came to public light?

“Can this student be punished for a viral video on the Internet which she neither published nor consented to its publication?

“Can the university validly exercise disciplinary control over the actions of her student that took place off campus during the school's vacation period?

“Was this girl afforded fair hearing given the summary manner that the case against her was determined?”

Kayode Ogundamisi, a rights activist, also questioned the expulsion of the lady in the video.

He said, “On what grounds did Babcock University expel the sex video couples if the act did not take place in the university and was during the holiday?”

In his reacting, JJ Omojuwa, said, “Babcock’s reaction to the video was to allegedly expel the student. Our sense of justice is punishment, not reformation. If the school is meant to build character, why do they expel those whose character they find short? Nothing in that video warrants anyone losing three years.

“There are options besides expulsion: 1. Give her a chance to transfer her units elsewhere. 2. Suspend her for a term or session. The same girl will make something of her life someday and the school’s reaction would have been an extra hurdle towards getting there.

“If a school expels your child for having sex in school, sue the school for failing in their promise to develop his or her character.”

Abayomi Shogunle, a Twitter user, said, “My view as an Educational Systems Administration scholar: expelling this lady is injustice.

“Two adults consensual sex is not an “immoral act”. This show of love took place outside school during vacation, no insignia of Babcock University in the video. Women group, stand up for her.”

Twitter user, @lovedaisy04, said, “Babcock University have no right to expel this girl, since the incident didn't take place within the school premises.

“She have the right to have sex. This kind of unnecessary expulsions in Nigerian private universities should be stopped.”

Meanwhile, people have been offering to help with free legal service and also support the young lady’s education.

Another Twitter user, Jake Okechukwu Effodu, said, “Just catching up with this Babcock University story.

“So the public embarrassment is not enough, the school had to expel her? Please if anyone knows the girl personally, let them reach out. My friends and I are committing to get her into another school.”

 

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