Security Challenges of Rising Environmental Crisis in Ebubu

Security Challenges of Rising Environmental Crisis in Ebubu

Tragedy struck in Ejamah Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State of Nigeria when a young man was suffocated to death while digging a Suck Away pit.

We gathered that the victim, Mr. Emmanuel Okulu and his colleague were hired to dig the suck away pit. Investigations revealed that Okulu, an unemployed 30 years old man was inside the pit digging while his other colleague was outside the pit drawing out the bucket of sand when he noticed that the victim could no longer talk or move.  

Eye witness said when his colleague went into the pit with the aim of rescuing him; they were both trapped by the gas.

A rescuer who arrived few minutes later found Okulu and his colleague unconscious. His body, it was learnt, was seriously drenched in liquefied natural gas. He died on the spot while his colleague was rushed to the Sun and Star Clinic and Maternity at Ebubu from where he was referred to another hospital for further treatment.

It could be recalled that in January this year at Okpako Ejamah Ebubu, a woman was reported to have died after inhaling chlorine gas dumped in the area.

Our investigation revealed that a chlorine gas container was said to have busted open and leaked into the atmosphere, affecting the respiratory system of many of the inhabitants of the area.

A Senior Minister of the Assemblies of God Church in the area, Reverend Eugene Osarobele decried the state of the environment of area. He pointed out that companies operating in Eleme and its environs use the place as a junkyard for various forms of toxic waste and other dangerous materials without recourse to environmental consequences of their actions.

“My concern is how these businessmen that are inhuman can be controlled?” he said.

“Last year they dumped something which exploded and fire engulfed the whole place. People were burnt alive, properties worth millions of naira were destroyed, yet nothing was done about it.

“This year again, the same business people have come to dump chemicals and those mostly affected are pregnant women and children.”

The Paramount Ruler of Ejamah, Chief Isaac Osaro Agbara lamented the death of Emmanuel Okulu and called on Shell Petroleum Development Company to accept responsibility for his dead

 

A reliable community source also revealed that, “About two months ago, there was a crude oil leakage from the ground which was not far from where the pit was being dug which led to the dead of Okulu. SPDC visited the scene with their experts and armed soldiers. Indigenes and residents of the area were prevented from witnessing what they were doing. We believe that the chemicals spread around the area might have caused the death”.

Expressing shock at the untimely death of Emmanuel Okulu his elder brother, John Okulu described the deceased as a cool and easy going person who would not look for people’s trouble. He wondered why SPDC who knows what killed his brother should now turn around to harass the bereaved family with police and other security agents.

 “They (SPDC) came here yesterday with their police saying they want to carryout autopsy examination on our brother. We have no answers to give to them, so we kept quiet. An autopsy on someone who died from liquefied natural gas’ suffocation after two weeks in the morgue?” he lamented.

“Besides, the police took my brother to the mortuary before informing me of his dead. Why is SPDC suddenly now interested in running from pillar to post, why are they playing hide and seek game, if they don’t know what killed my brother?” he queried.

The level of pollution in the area is alarming. Right in the heart of the community, close to the stream (Wamba) that used to be the people’s only source of drinking water, fishing and swimming is a signpost erected by SPDC with the inscription, “WARNING! DO NOT DRINK, FISH OR SWIM HERE”; a multi-million Naira SPDC’s contract which we were informed was executed by the Eleme Local Government Council. Crude oil pipelines run through farmlands in all the communities of Ebubu, and functional pipelines are exposed to the elements here and there. Yet the people have nothing good to show for all these, except tales of devastation, deceases, sufferings and deaths.

The Ejamah Ebubu Oil spill has been described as the earliest massive crude oil spill recorded in the Niger Delta. Although, literature on the spill is scanty, oral history in the area holds this catastrophic incident close to the people, and the lasting physical scars remain as real evidence of the disaster.  The Ejamah Ebubu spill site is a world-class oil pollution scene. A visit to the site recently by members of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) led by Professor C. P. Wolf, Dr. Amy Agofure and Dr. Osaro Ollorwi was heart touching and revealing.

A ruptured pipeline caused by an inferno that consumed nearly 40 homes, persisted for a long period and spread from Ejamaejor forest up to Wamba stream through Ochani swamp at which spots many people died in the fire. Large expanse of farmlands covering 255.369 hectares and biodiversity losses were recorded to the incident.

But despite judicial efforts to compensate and alleviate the suffering of the people arising from the pollution, ensure proper clean-up of the impacted areas and return the environment to its pre-impacted status, SPDC has continually turned down judicial pronouncements and regularly embark on endless appeals.

The people are wondering aloud:  Having polluted the area to the point of warning the people to stay away from Wamba Stream, Ochani swamp and other impacted areas because the waters are not safe for human consumption, the fishes in it are contaminated and unsafe for human consumptionand swimming in the waters is dangerous, what alternative arrangements has SPDC made to take care of these essential needs of the people?

SPDC provided water for communities in Nchia, a distance of more than three kilometers from Ebubu and is busy blowing trumpets around the world announcing the provision of safe water for Eleme. What a shame? Our investigation disclosed that contract for second phase of the water distribution network has been concluded. But, even in the contract for the second phase of the distribution of the purported “Eleme Water Scheme” that is yet to be executed Ebubu and other clans of Odido are not captured therein as documents of the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources on the matter indicate.

Where do SPDC want the people of Ebubu to source for fish, a universal source of good protein from, despite visible poverty in the area perpetrated by SPDC’s donkey years of reckless oil and gas exploration and production activities? Who then is killing the people’s recreational life by polluting their waters and not providing them alternative swimming facilities and other water resources?

Despite being home of crude oil since 1956, Ebubu has been described as land of natural gas. Gas has been discovered in commercial quantities is Dabor, Mmeh and Nkoh Swamps and environs. A dig of up to 10 feet anywhere in Ebubu is enough to get to either oil or natural gas. It appears the people of Ebubu are living, moving and having their being on time-bomb that may likely explode anytime any day. While SPDC is invariably claiming sole ownership of natural resources in the area, we are of the opinion that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law will go a long way to addressing the issues of exploration of abundant natural resources in Ebubu and across the country.

 

The above scenario creates serious security challenges. It well known fact the world over, that national security is beyond the purview of military capability and blind application of force or strength. Effective and efficient management of the elements of national security is required for both national security and sustainable development. The correct mix of economic elements, social elements, environmental elements, women and youth elements and military elements, among others, is crucial to checking insecurity in our various communities.

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List of Nyanya Bomb Blast Victims Receiving Treatment in Variuos Hospitals in Abuja

List of Nyanya Bomb Blast Victims Receiving Treatment in Various Hospitals in Abuja

THE National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), yesterday, 17th April, 2014, in Abuja, released the names of 136 casualties of Monday’s bomb blast in Nyanya, Abuja, who were receiving treatment in various hospitals.

This was contained in a statement signed by Mr Sani Datti, NEMA’s Senior Public Relations Officer, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

A breakdown of the list showed that 11 of the casualties were receiving treatment at Nyanya and 26 in Asokoro General Hospitals.

The list showed that a 10-month-old baby was among the casualties receiving treatment in Asokoro General Hospital.

“Twenty-two casualties are also being treated in Maitama General Hospital, nine in Pan-Raf Hospital, Nyanya and 31 in the National Hospital, Abuja.

“Eight of the casualties are in Mararaba General Hospital, while 14 are in Custom Hospital Karu, including a physically challenged male.Image

MILITARY DENIES RESCUING SCHOOLGIRLS IN BORNO

Military DeniesImage Rescuing Schoolgirls in Borno

The earlier statement issued by Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, Director of Defense Information, to the effect that the students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents were rescued by the military has been denied by the Defense Headquarters. General Olukolade on Thursday had issued a statement which read, “The controversy that has been generated around the efforts at securing the lives of the abducted students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok is unfortunate. The ongoing frantic efforts of security forces along with vigilante groups including hunters working to locate and free the abducted students have continued to be keenly monitored at the Operation Centre of the Defense and Army Headquarters as regular progress reports are being received from troops on the ground. “In this regard, a report was filed in from the field indicating that a major breakthrough had been recorded in the search. There was no reason to doubt this official channel; hence the information was released to the public immediately. Surprisingly however, the school principal, one of the sources quoted in the report has denied all that was attributed to her for whatever reasons. This is an unfortunate development indeed, yet the Defense Headquarters would not want to join issues with anyone. “It has to be reaffirmed however, that the report forwarded to the public on this issue was in good faith and not intended to deceive the public as is being interpreted following the denials by the School Principal and Government of Borno State. Like all other citizens, the military is deeply concerned to ensure that the students are safe and freed alive. There is indeed no reason to play politics with the precious lives of the students. The number of those still missing is not the issue now as the life of every Nigerian is very precious. “In the light of the denial by the Principal of the School, the Defense Headquarters wishes to defer to the School Principal and Governor’s statement on the number of students still missing and retract that aspect of earlier statement while the search continues” the statement concluded.

Liquefied Natural Gas Suffocates Man to Death

Liquefied Natural Gas Suffocates Man to Death
Tragedy struck in Ejamah Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State of Nigeria when a young man was suffocated to death while digging a Suck Away pit.
We gathered that the victim, Mr. Emmanuel Okulu and a colleague were hired to dig the suck away pit.

Investigations revealed that Okulu, an unemployed 30 years old man was inside the pit digging while his other colleague was outside the pit drawing out the bucket of sand when he noticed that the victim could no longer talk or move.
Eye witness said when his colleague went into the pit with the aim of rescuing him; they were both trapped by the gas.
A rescuer who arrived few minutes later found Okulu and his colleague unconscious. His body, it was learnt, was seriously drenched in liquefied natural gas. He died on the spot while his colleague was rushed to the hospital.
In January this year at Okpako Ejamah Ebubu, a woman was reported to have died after inhaling fumes from toxic materials dumped in the area.
Our investigation revealed that a deadly chemical container was said to have busted open and leaked into the atmosphere, affecting the respiratory system of many of the inhabitants of the area.
A Senior Minister of the Assemblies of God Church in the area, Reverend Eugene Osarobele decried the state of the environment of area. He pointed out that companies operating in Eleme and its environs use the place as a junkyard for various forms of toxic waste and other dangerous materials without recourse to environmental consequences of their actions.
“My concern is how these businessmen that are inhuman can be controlled?”, he said.
“Last year they dumped something which exploded and fire engulfed the whole place. People were burnt alive, properties worth millions of naira were destroyed, yet nothing was done about it.
“This year again, the same business people have come to dump chemicals and those mostly affected are pregnant women and children.”

Speaking to reporters in his palace the Paramount Ruler of Ejamah Clan, Chief Isaac Osaro Agbara lamented the death of Emmanuel Okulu and called on Shell Petroleum Development Company to accept responsibility for his dead.
A reliable palace source revealed that about two months ago, there was a crude oil leakage from the ground which was not far from where the pit was being dug which lead to the dead of Okulu. SPDC visited the scene with their experts and armed soldiers. Indigenes and residents of the area were prevented from witnessing what they were doing. We believe that the chemicals spread around the area might have caused the death.
Expressing shock at the untimely death of Emmanuel Okulu his elder brother, John Okulu described the deceased as a cool and easy going person who would not look for people’s trouble. He wondered why SPDC should know what kills his brother and they are being harassed with police and other security agents. “They (SPDC) came here with their police and staff saying they want to carryout autopsy examination on our brother. We have no answer to give to them, so we kept quiet. Autopsy on someone who died from liquefied natural gas’ suffocation after two weeks in the morgue?” he lamented.
“Why is SPDC interested in trying to evade responsibility if they don’t know what killed my brother?” he queried.
The level of pollution in the area is alarming. Right in the community, close to the steam that used to be the people’s only source of drinking water is a signpost erected by SPDC with the inscription, “WARNING! DO NOT DRINK, FISH OR SWIM HERE”. The questions on my lips are:
Having polluted the area to the point of warning the people to stay away from Wamba Stream because it is not safe for human consumption, the fishes in it are contaminated and swimming in it is dangerous, what alternative arrangements has SPDC made to take care of these needs of the people? SPDC provided water for communities in Nchia, a distance of more than three kilometers from Ebubu and is busy blowing trumpets announcing provision of safe water for Eleme. What a shame? From where do SPDC want the people of Ebubu to source for fishes, good suppliers of protein, despite visible poverty in the area perpetrated by SPDC donkey years of oil and gas exploration and production activities in the area? Why did SPDC choose to kill the people’s recreational life by polluting their water and not provide them alternative swimming facilities?

National Conference Names Composition of 20 Standing Committees

National Conference Names Composition of 20 Standing Committees

 

The leadership of the National Conference on Tuesday, 15th April, 2014 announced the composition of 20 Standing Committees to facilitate the assignment of the Conference for the remaining period it would sit.

The National Conference was inaugurated on March 17 by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and is expected to last till June, 2014.

The list of the Standing Committees and their members was distributed to the delegates at the plenary session.

However, the Conference did not name the leadership of the committees. A source told reporters that the leadership of the committees will be announced during Wednesday’s plenary session, which begins at 4 p.m.

Many of the delegates did not get the list as the Chairman of the Conference, Idris Kutigi, announced with apologies that the machines printing the document broke down. He assured them that they would be given their copies on Wednesday.

The Committees are Devolution of Powers; Political Restructuring and Forms of Government; National Security; Environment; Politics and Governance; Law, Judiciary; Human Rights and Legal Reform; Social Welfare; and Transportation.

Others are Science, Technology and Development; Agriculture; Civil Society, Labour and Sports; Public Service; Electoral Matters; Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters; Land Tenure Matters and National Boundary; Trade and Investment; Energy; Religion; Public Finance and Revenue Generation; and Immigration and Related Matters.

All the committees except three have 24 members each. The Committees on Devolution of Powers and Political Restructuring, and Forms of Government have 28 members each while that on Religion has 18 members.

Prominent members of the committee on devolution are an elder statesman from the South West geo-political zone, Ayo Adebanjo; former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ahmadu Ali; former Petroleum Minister, Jubril Aminu; former National Chairman of the defunct National Advance Party, NAP, Tunji Braithwaite; former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu; former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; former Health Minister, Alphonsus Nwosu; and a former Senator, Gbemisola Saraki.

Some members of the Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government are a clergyman Tunde Bakare; former Ebonyi State Governor, Sam Egwu; Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae; President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Gary Igariwey; former Rivers State Governor, Peter Odili; former Niger State Governor, Abdulkadir Kure; ThisDay publisher, Nduka Obaigbena; and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Ndongesit Nkanga; and former governor of Plateau State, Fidelis Tapgun.

The leader of the Odua Peoples Congress, Gani Adams; former FCT Minister, Jerry Useni; former governor of the old Cross River State, Paul Omu; and Zamani Lekwot are some of the prominent members of the Committee of National Security.

In the Committee on Politics and Governance are former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara; former senators, Femi Okurounmu’ and Florence Ita-Giwa; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba; former Environment Minister, Hassan Adamu; former Information Minister, Jerry Gana; legal luminary, Mike Ahamba; Onyema Ugochukwu; and Ray Ekpu.

Among the members of the Committee on Law, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Reforms are former NBA President, Olisa Agbakoba; former deputy governor of Lagos State, Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor, Femi Falana; former Justice Minister, Bayo Ojo; former Legal Adviser to Sani Abacha, Auwalu Yadudu; and Mike Ozekhome.

In the Committee on Political Parties and Electoral Matters are former Ogun State Governor, Olusegun Osoba; former Senate President, Iyorchia Ayu; former President of Ijaw National Congress, Kimse Okoko; former NUJ President, Sani Zoro; and former Imo State Governor, Achike Udenwa.

Some members of the Committee on Energy are former Justice Minister, Richard Akinjide; former Oyo State Governor, Rasheed Ladoja; former Minister of State for Petroleum, Edmund Daukoru; former senators, Yisa Braimoh, Femi Kila and John Brambaifa; and former governor of the old Anambra State, Jim Nwobodo.

The former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; former Kaduna State Governor, Tanko Ayuba; a former senator, Azu Agboti; and Sergeant Awuse are the prominent members of the Committee on Public Finance and Revenue.

However, delegates could not comment on the list as a result of debate on the abduction of over 200 female students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State on Monday night in by Boko Haram insurgents.Image

Military Rescues Kidnapped Students in Borno

Military Rescues Kidnapped Students in Borno

The Joint Security Operatives in Borno State have rescued about 80 students of the Government Girls’ Secondary School Chibok in Borno State who were abducted by the members of the Boko Haram insurgents on Monday, April 14, 2014.

The girls regained freedom on Wednesday morning after a group of vigilante, local hunters and soldiers went in search for the over one hundred girls abducted.

Our source saidImage that the insurgents, who were carrying the school girls in Tipper Lories, were alleged to have got stuck in the bush while they were trying to crossover some muddy area between Chibok and Askira/Uba.

According to the father of one of the rescued girls Malam Ali Iliya, “the girl said when the trailer got stuck; some of the girls jumped out and ran for their lives.

“They were scattered in the bush when the vigilante and local hunters found them. Some of them were wounded, some were with fracture, which I believe was as a result of jumping from the high vehicle, but we are happy that our children have been rescued.

“Now we are praying for those who are still with the Boko Haram; our prayer is that every father will have his child back”, he said.

Mallam Iliya disclosed that his daughter Hajara was sound and healthy but weak, stressing that “our children told us that when they started running, the insurgents didn’t shoot them.

“They allowed those who could run to go but those who could not run either as a result of fear or wound are still with them in the bush. My daughter said the abductors were over one hundred and that the girls were 243; she said the insurgents asked them to count themselves”.

Abuja Bomb Blast: deaths Toll Rises

Abuja Bomb Blast: Deaths Toll Rises

The authorities of the Nigeria Police and hospital sources have confirmed 71 people dead in Monday’s early morning bomb explosion at a Mass Transit Park in Nyanya, Abuja. The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Frank Mba, said 71 people died, while 174 others were injured in the explosion which occurred at the rush hour. Dr. Adetohun Osotimehin, the Chief Medical Director of Maitama General Hospital, Abuja told reporters that 14 dead and 27 injured people were brought into the hospital. She said that two others who were in critical conditions would be transferred to the National Hospital, Abuja for treatment. She promised that the hospital would do everything within its capacity to ensure that those alive were given proper care. The authorities of Wuse General Hospital confirmed that 15 dead people were brought into the hospital. Mr John Nimzing, the Head of Mortuary attendants in the hospital, told reporters that 11 people were brought in dead while four died on arrival at the hospital. At Asokoro General Hospital, the Chief Medical Director, Dr Amodu Abubakar, said 27 bodies were deposited in the hospital morgue, while 25 people were receiving treatment for their wounds. However, he said that more victims were still being brought to the hospital. He advised relatives of the victims to visit the hospital information centre to obtain information about their relations. At the National Hospital, Abuja, 15 dead bodies were reported to have been deposited at the hospital morgue while no fewer than 40 casualties were receiving emergency treatment at the hospital. Dr Yakubu Bukar, Consultant, Accident and Emergency, Garki Hospital, confirmed that one injured person was brought to the hospital. He told reporters that the man was attended to upon arrival and found not to be in critical condition. According to him, the person sustained injuries at the back of his head and required several stitches. Bukar said Garki Hospital was a private hospital so victims were not brought in to the clinic except for those whose relatives could afford the bill. The victim, Mr Chima Okere, a businessman, told reporters that the explosion came from two white buses parked inside the Nyanya Motor Park by the gate. “I was inside the El-Rufai (high capacity) bus as we were driving out to the highway we heard the explosion from the two buses. I saw so many people dead; some with their limbs dismembered from their bodies. “I was lucky; I do not know how I survived. So, I thank God for my life as very many were not so lucky,’’ Okere said. At Nyanya General Hospital, the authorities said no fewer than 100 injured persons received treatment. Dr Frank Idekwu, the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, said scores of the wounded were referred to other hospitals for further medical attention. The hospital, located less than 200m from the scene of the explosion, was the first port of call for those who sustained injuries. “For those without open wounds we did a quick examination and asked them to report another day,’’ he said. Dr. Idekwu said the hospital had compiled a list of all persons treated and on admission at the hospital. He advised those whose relatives had yet to be accounted for to verify from the hospital. Meanwhile, the hospital, which is designed for women and children, has become a bee-hive of activity as relatives, friends and families combed the wards in search for their loved ones. A relative of a survivor, Mr Friday Attah, a driver, who lives in Mararaba, Nasarawa State, told reporters that his brother’s cab was damaged by the blast. “Somebody called to inform me that they saw my brother at Nyanya hospital and I am thankful to God that he is stable and alive,’’ Attah’s relative said. A survivor, Charity Enang from Cross River, said she was inside a coaster bus when the blast occurred. “All we heard was `boom’ and I saw people’s flesh flying out of the window of the bus. I couldn’t stand after I fell in the bus but one man carried me out of the bus and took me to an ambulance that brought me to Nyanya hospital,’’ she narrated.Image