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Just In: Netherlands Court Held Shell Liable For Oil Spill In N’Delta, Orders Compensation, ERA/FoEN Lauds Judgement

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The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, has lauded judgement by the Netherlands Court of Appeal that held Shell liable for oil spills across Nigeria’s coastal communities of the Niger Delta and consequently ordered it (Shell) to pay compensation for the spills which polluted rivers, fishponds and farmlands that thousands of local farmers and fishermen in the oil-rich region farm and fish.
Recall that in 2008, four Nigerian farmers from Ikot Ada Udo, Oruma and Goi in the Niger Delta supported by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria and sister organization: Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth, Netherlands, sued Shell for oil pollution in the three Niger Delta villages.
Amongst others, the farmers demanded that Shell clean up the oil spills; pay compensation for the damages caused;  and improve the maintenance of its  pipelines and installations to prevent future spills.
However, reacting to the judgement held January 29, 2021, in a press statement made available to newsmen in Benin, Friday, Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, (ERA/FoEN), described the outcome of the case which had dragged in the Appeal Court for over 13 years as a landmark judgment which the organisation is very proud of.
He said the judgement showed that the days of oil companies in Nigeria, particularly Shell criminalising local communities and framing them up for sabotage of crude oil pipelines were over, just as he added that the judgment has  “further shown the environmental   liability of parent companies for the conduct of their foreign subsidiaries.”
The statement reads in part, “Shell no longer has any hiding place, as this victory will open up a flood gate of court cases against Shell and the oil companies doing business in Nigeria and hiding under weak regulations, lack of enforcement of its extant rules, and taking advantage of the lack of political will of the Nigerian government tobring oil transnationals to account.
“The significance of the landmark judgement is that it addresses the question of access to justice that is  very much in  question in  Nigeria when  it  comes  to  holding  the oil companies accountable   for   their   human   rights   violations   and   environmental degradation.
“The judgement is urgent and strategic as the world transits away from fossil fuels, there is the need to ensure that the devastation done to our environment by Shell is cleaned up and appropriate compensation is paid to communities that have suffered in many cases irreparable losses,” the statement added.
The Executive Director enjoined Shell to comply with the court verdict, while urging the judge to do the needful in awarding compensation and preventive costs.
Ojo, therefore, called on the Niger Delta communities and CSOs not to relent in their pursuit for justice, adding that over 13 years struggle in the court has paid off.
He also called on the Nigerian government to revamp its regulatory bodies in the oil industry by ensuring that criminal acts of oil   transnationals are punished   severely.
He further urged the government to take concrete steps to wean Nigeria of its dependence on revenues from oil and gas, build a new economy on the back of a clear renewable energy framework as quickly as possible, and ensure the gradual phasing out of oil and gas activities in the country.

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Facebook To Ban Contents That Sexually Harasses Public Figures

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Social media giant, Facebook has announced that it would start removing “severe sexualizing content” targeting public figures.

Antigone Davis, global head of safety at Facebook, who made this known in a blog post on Wednesday, said the new development was part of a new update to its bullying and harassment policies.

According to Davis, “The policy changes also include coordinated harassment attacks against users.

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“As part of this new policy update, we would remove any profiles, pages, groups, or events dedicated to sexualizing public figures, including celebrities, politicians, and content creators.

READ ALSO: Ex-Facebook Manager Criticizes Company, Urges More Oversight

“The new policy bans sexualized photoshops and drawings and any degrading content “in the process of bodily functions.”

“We would also remove “unwanted sexualized commentary” and repetitive attacks harassing an individual sexually.

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“Public figures, either politicians, journalists, celebrities or content creators use Facebook and Instagram to engage directly with their followers.

“We made these changes because attacks like these can weaponize a public figure’s appearance, which is unnecessary and often not related to the work these public figures represent,” Davis wrote.

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2022 Budget: Reps Fear Economy Collapse, Say Debt Servicing Too High

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As the legislative debate on the 2022 budget, which was presented to the joint session of lawmakers by President Muhammadu Buhari last week continued on Wednesday, members of the House of Representatives expressed concerns over the high rate of debt servicing.

While each lawmaker took turns to speak on the highlight of the budget which stood at N16.39 trillion, they maintained that the proposed budgetary provision for debt servicing was 25 per cent of the entire budget, saying it was on the high side.

Those who spoke extensively on the worrisome debt servicing was the Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Hon. Luke Onofiok who observed that the sum of N3.9 trillion for debt servicing representing about 25 percent of the whole budget was worrisome.

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He called for a downward review, stating that Nigeria was too fragile to service debts at that high rate, given that the nation was still facing the COVID-19 challenges.

On the external and internal borrowing to service budget deficits, he posited: “Another source of concern is that the proposal before us has a deficit of N6.2 trillion and the government is proposing new borrowings to finance this deficit.

“What this implies is that the total public debt of Nigeria is expected to rise to N5 trillion in 2022 fiscal year. This is worrisome not only for today but generations unborn and the future of Nigeria.”

He called on lawmakers to reduce the borrowing or the executive should assure the parliamentarians that the borrowing was production and not consumption.

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He argued that it would be inappropriate to borrow and leave debt for generations yet unborn, stressing that if it’s put into production with expected income, there won’t be any concern.

READ ALSO: Mikel Obi Reveals Player Who Helped Him At Chelsea

The lawmaker called for deliberate funding of power and road infrastructure, saying: “While we put the money borrowed to infrastructure three clear things come to mind. We have looked at security. We need to invest in power. Let us borrow to invest in power and roads. We have road challenges across the country. Let me use for instance Mr. Speaker, the Calabar-Itu road that area is being cut-off.

“People spend 8 hours on the road. And we have seen something less than a billion naira allotted to that road in the different lots that have been given. That is quite inadequate. We have to invest in our roads and in our public transportation.”

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House Minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, spoke on the high rate of debt servicing, noting that the nation can’t afford such at this time.

(DAILY POST)

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Details Of Buhari’s Meeting With Gov Obaseki Emerge

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Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has called for the full implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) to address the problem of clashes between farmers and herders.

The governor made the call when he addressed State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.

Obaseki said that the people of Edo State had resolved that ranching was a private business and should be treated as such.

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He said: “Our people say that as far as they are concerned, ranching is a private business just like every other agricultural venture, therefore, those involved should provide the land.

“As you already know, it is expensive to run and manage ranches.

“So I came to discuss with the President that since the people of Edo would rather invest privately.

“Then, the National Livestock Transformation Programme, which is now being implemented by the Federal Government, should acknowledge our model.

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“It should also be able to help Edo people benefit from the funding that is now being made available for people who want to go into the livestock business and have made investments in ranches and other similar livestock programmes,”.

According to Obaseki, the state government is yet to promulgate a law banning open grazing because it sees the venture as private business.

As you know, most Southern States have passed laws relating to open grazing but Edo State has not. Because we want to ensure that whatever laws we pass are laws that we can enforce.

“We have had extensive consultations with our people to deal with the issue that yes, we do not want open grazing because it is out modelled and out dated; however, what are the options?

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“If we are asking that we should now have ranches and these cows should be constrained to specific areas such as ranches, then who provides the land?,” he queried.

READ ALSO:Again, Obaseki Blows Hot As Edo PDP Ratifies Suspension Of Orbih, Ihama, Others

On politics, Obaseki commended the Senate for joining their House of Representatives counterparts in approving the transmission of election results electronically.

He said: “Definitely if not for God and the technology utilised by INEC, I may not be governor today.

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“So, I am one of those people who believe that we should not have elections in this country, going into the future, without transmitting results electronically from the polling units.

“Because, for elections to be credible, they have to be seen as transparent and once you have voted, you should be sure that your vote will count.”

He maintained that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had the capacity to transmit results electronically.

“With technology today, it is possible and INEC has shown it that from my election, that as soon as you voted and the results are counted in the polling unit, then that result should be made available, such that you already know what would be collated at the ward collation point.

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“What has happened in many cases in the past is that people go and vote. The votes are counted in the polling unit but by the time it gets to the collation point, it changes.

But this time around, because of the transparency, everybody will see and know what is expected at the collating point.

“That is what happened during my election and I am a very strong advocate for electronic transmission of results during elections,’’ he said.

DAILY POST reports that the governor thanked President Buhari for his support in ensuring the return of Edo’s stolen artefacts to the state from foreign lands.

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