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Pollution: Respect For Human, Environmental Rights Take Centre Stage As NGO Organises Capacity Building In Delta Community

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Scene of the polluted areas

By Joseph Ebi Kanjo

The need to protect and preserve the environment, and respect for human rights took centre stage in Odimodi community during a two-day capacity building seminar organised by a Non-governmental Organisation-Community Development Foundation (CODAF).

Odimodi, an agrarian and fishing community, in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, houses Ward 11 with an estimated population of five thousand (5,000), persons, in no fewer than 13 polling units.

Unfortunately, due to the oil exploration and exploitation activities of multinational companies particularly in the area of pollution of the environment and outright disregard for human rights, the fishing and agricultural activities of dwellers of this community is under threat.

It is worthy to note that the community has one government healthcare centre, which many regard as ‘non-functional.’ According to them, the healthcare centre has no personnel and for drugs apart from Paracetamol, it has no other drugs. Findings showed that the healthcare centre has only one nurse employed by the community. That is, no government staff in the healthcare centre.

Worried by all these and particularly the unabated pollution of oil-rich Odimodi and neighbouring communities and the consequent violation of rights of its dwellers, CODAF, recently organised a Town Hall Meeting/Training to enlighten community dwellers, particularly women about how they can actualise their rights and hold multinationals such as Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Agip Oil Company and others more accountable.

READ ALSO: Oil Palm Companies: RSPO Deceptive, Promotes Communities Rights Violations, Says ERA/FoEN

For CODAF, the outright violation of human rights and pollution of the environment with no regard to the well-being of the people must stop.

Speaking at the Town Hall Meeting and enlightenment campaign, Executive Director, CODAF, Mr. Richard Benin said his organisation was concerned about the well-being of the people and the need to respect their rights. He told them that his organisation’s past activities in the community about pollution by oil companies and disregard for their rights had already caught attention of stakeholders across the globe.

“We were here in 2021, and in 2022 we were here too, and this is 2023, we are here. I want to gladly announce to your that the plight of Odimodi has caught world attention. We were here in 2022 during the COP27 which was held in Egypt, and we made a shot video and sent online. Odimodi was discussed in that meeting in Egypt. Your matter was discussed. I want to assure you that we as an NGO will not relent until the right thing is done,” Benin assured.

Group photograph of the participants at the training.

In a response on behalf of the community, Vice Chairman of Odimodi, Chief Isepagha Willie, thanked Mr. Richard and his team for fighting the course of the community by coming up with such a development, adding that it will benefit the community a lot.

He lamented that since the inception of Shell operations in the area, all what they used to have in abundance such as fishes, farm produce, etc are no more.

Because of Shell operations, we have nothing left. All what we you used to have, we are having none. we are suffering,” lamented.

Odimodi Women Lament, Want Shell To Be Responsible

Some women of Odimodi who are majorly into fishing and farming decried Shell operations and outright disregard for their rights, as they called on the multinational to rise up to its Corporate Social Responsibility by providing jobs to indigenes of the community.

Chairlady, Odimodi community, Mrs. Silver Michael, who is a business woman said: “We are suffering. Majority of us fish to train our children in school but activities of oil companies have spoil this, we no more catch fish, and that is why I decided to go into business. We can’t farm anymore to train our children. These are the things community women rely on for a survival. We don’t even have drinkable water. We are into hunger.”

While lamenting that all efforts to make sure Shell doing the right thing had proved abortive, Mrs Michael called on the oil company to provide the woman and youths job so they can use that to cater for themselves and family.

She also urged Shell to provide fishing net, fishing hooks and other things used in fishing to those that are into fishing.

Also lamenting, Mrs Alagua Monday said due to operations of Shell, everywhere is being taken over by crude oil spill.

Even when you deep your paddle into the water, all what you push out is crude oil, Shell has spoil our river. Fishes in the river are all affected with the crude oil spill. Had it been I know you are coming, I would have kept some fishes from the river for you. You would have seen the mystery I am talking about. Due to oil spill, we now caught fishes that are rotten from the middle to the tail while middle to the head dangle for survival. This is impossible if not for the oil spill. Nothing is working. We are dying of hunger.”

She demanded: “Shell should give us portable water because we do not have water to drink. The one we have is causing us sickness because of the oil pollution. More so, we need a standard hospital or healthcare centre. We do not have any, hence people die before they are rushed out of the community for the next hospital.”

READ ALSO: ERA/FoEN Impasse: Court Strikes Out Godwin Ojo’s Suit against Nnimmo Bassey, Awards N50,000 Against Him

Another pathetic story is a 72-year-old Vero Anoda, a fisherwoman who had leg infractions while fishing in a spot heavy oil spill had occurred. According to her, she fell into the spot and was rescued out. She lamented that since then her children and other well-meaning indigenes of the community have spent a lot on her. She further lamented that Shell has not deem it fit to visit her one day. She called on the oil company to come to her aid.

A cross section of women trained in Odimodi by CODAF.

On his part, former Public Relations Officer, Odimodi community, Mr. Godwin Awese, due to activities of Shell and its consequent pollution of the area, his agriculture are not productive as they ought to be.

While taking members of the NGO and the media round his farm, Awese said: “Look at this plantain three, the leaves are yellow rather than being green, and it is stunted, this is because of the crude oil pollution. It can’t grow how it ought to be. Look at this plantain fruits, it is already having a yellow colour and it is not well matured. All these anomalies is due to the pollution. We can’t get any good farm produce to the pollution,” he lamented.

Calls put out across to Shell Community Liaison Officer, Mrs Ann Utuedor, by INFO DAILY were not picked neither did she reply to SMS sent to her Cell Phone.

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INEC Admits IReV Portal Experienced Challenges During 2023 Presidential Election

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has acknowledged that a glitch affected the seamless operation of the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) during the 2023 presidential election.

The electoral body primarily attributed the glitch to the intricate, sensitive, and critical nature of the systems, coupled with the genuine threat of malicious cyberattacks.

The IReV portal is one of the most significant innovations introduced by the commission before the 2023 General Elections to promote the integrity and transparency of the electoral process.

As a public-facing website, the IReV portal shows the images of the original Polling Unit result sheets as recorded in Form EC8A.

INEC has, however, admitted that the IReV portal experienced challenges during the 2023 General Elections.

INEC revealed this in a document released on Friday, February 23, 2024, titled “Reports of the General Election”.

The 526-page long report was published by the commission on its website.

The report partly read, “The challenge of uploading the PU presidential election results on the IReV after the presidential and NASS elections on 25th February 2023 was unique.

“As voting ended across the country and POs began the process of uploading the images of the PU result sheets of the elections for the various constituencies around 4:00 pm, the commission began to receive reports that attempts to upload presidential election result sheets were failing.

“Following these reports, the commission immediately engaged with its field officials for details in order to understand and trace the origin, source, scale and magnitude of the problem across the result management ecosystem to devise appropriate solutions.”

READ ALSO: INEC Releases 2023 General Elections Report

Response to IReV glitch…

The electoral commission admitted there was a configuration error which was discovered when its technical expertise team embarked on resolving the server error. It added that the issue was only peculiar to the presidential election which was held on the same day as the national assembly elections.

“In the troubleshooting process, it was established that there was no issue in uploading the PU result sheets of the Senate and House of Representatives elections through the Election Result Modules.

“However, there was a problem with uploading the presidential election results to the system. Attempts to upload the results were generating internal server errors, which refer to a significant impairment that usually originates from within an application due to problems relating to configuration, permissions, or failure to create or access the application resources correctly.

“Further interrogation of the Election Result Modules indicated that the system is encountering an unexpected configuration problem in mapping the presidential election results uploaded into the system to the participating Polling Units.

“Due to the complex, sensitive and critical nature of the systems and the real potential for malicious cyberattacks, the Commission immediately put in place several strict security and audit control measures to prevent any unfettered or elevated access to the Result Upload System.

“In the process of resolving the challenge, it was discovered that the backend system of the IReV was able to query and detect the base States for uploading the PU result sheets based on the mapping of all Senatorial District and Federal Constituency elections to the respective 36 States of the Federation and the FCT as established in the database structure deployed within the system.

“In configuring and mapping the election results for the presidential and NASS elections, the Commission created Four Hundred and Seventy (470) election types consisting of one presidential constituency covering the entire country, 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 Federal Constituencies. Each Senatorial District and Federal Constituency election on the database was mapped to their respective states.

“However, the presidential election result is a single, countrywide constituency and therefore, does not belong to any one state.”

IReV glitch HTTP server error…
Explaining how the agency addressed the “server error” issue, the document further stated, “Consequently, while the uploads for the NASS elections succeeded as the application was able to identify the respective state and build the folder hierarchy for the results organisation process for the election, attempts to upload the presidential election results sheets, which does not belong to or mapped to any state on the database, failed.

“Instead, it returned an HTTP server error response. This failure is attributable to the inability of the application to create
and build a folder structure to organise the uploaded images of the result sheets of the presidential election.

READ ALSO: 10 Ways To Stay Safe During Flooding Emergencies

“Having identified and established the source of the problem, the commission quickly created and deployed “Hotfixes” which are software updates for fixing a bug or any vulnerabilities in a system.

“The deployed hotfixes eventually resolved the HTTP error on the system and the first presidential election result sheet was successfully uploaded at 8.55pm on the 25th of February 2023.

“After the problem with the upload was resolved, the commission noticed a high volume of uploads on the queue. All results that were scanned but could not be uploaded due to the error were queued waiting to be automatically processed.

“Due to the large volume and high traffic from the queue, the system was running slower, even though it tried to scale up automatically to handle the unanticipated heavy traffic.

“The density of the traffic that slowed the uploads was one issue. Another was that the offline queue required the BVAS devices to be switched on and connected to the internet for the upload.

“However, some of the POs had at the time left their PUs, and the devices had either been switched off or were out of internet coverage. Switched-off devices could not connect and upload the results sheets.

“The commission had to reach out to the POs of affected areas to switch on their systems and ensure internet connectivity
for the uploads to continue. This accounted for the delay, with some of the results coming in the next day.”

IReV glitch prompts improvement…
Meanwhile, the electoral commission also noted that the glitch experienced in uploading the scanned images of PU
presidential election result sheets on 25th February 2023 was due to the inherent complexity within the System, which was difficult to anticipate and mitigate.

Notably, it insisted that there has been room for improvement.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: CBN May Increase Bureau De Change’s Share Capital To N2bn

“Thereafter, the commission has made improvements on the IReV and taken additional steps to build more resilience and undertook additional checks to ensure the stability and optimal operation and performance of the IReV portal.

“Additional quality assurance checks are now done to complement the end-to-end testing of the entire result upload ecosystem before the conduct of any election,” it added.

IReV glitch does not affect result…
INEC also said the glitch did not in any way affect the outcome of the presidential election result.

“However, the glitch in the upload of the presidential results sheets to iREV did not affect the credibility of the election.

“Agents of political parties and security agents were given copies of polling station results after they were announced in public. The results were also displayed at polling units for scrutiny by voters.

“So when they were eventually uploaded, it was easy to compare them with the copies displayed at polling centres and given to party agents and party officials,” the report concluded.

The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakub in the foreword of the report stated, “This report documents the major activities the Commission carried out in the preparation and conduct of the General Election, beginning from mid-2019.

“This early preparation was in keeping with what has become the Commission’s practice of long-range systematic planning
and execution of the country’s elections since 2010.”
PUNCH

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German Lawmakers Legalise Cannabis Possession

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The German parliament voted Friday in favour of legalising the possession and controlled cultivation of cannabis starting in April, despite fierce objections from the opposition and campaign groups.

Under the new law, it will be possible to obtain up to 25 grams of the drug per day for personal use through regulated cannabis cultivation associations, as well as to have up to three plants at home.

However, possession and use of the drug would remain prohibited for anyone under 18.

Ahead of the vote, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach called on members of parliament to back the controversial law, arguing that “the situation we are in now is in no way acceptable”.

READ ALSO: Economic Hardship: Delta Protest Canceled As Soldiers Arrest Journalist

Germany has seen a sharp rise in the number of young people using cannabis obtained on the black market, with no guarantees over the drug’s composition, said Lauterbach, a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats.

But Simone Borchardt of the opposition CDU said the new law would only increase health risks for young people, calling Lauterbach’s assurances “no more than mere lip service”.

Borchardt accused the three parties in Scholz’s coalition government of “making policy for their ideology and not for the country”.

The cannabis law has also been the subject of bitter wrangling within the coalition of Scholz’s Social Democrats, the Greens and the liberal FDP.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Cops For N30m Extortion In Abuja

In their coalition agreement, the three parties had pledged to go further and allow cannabis to be sold in shops, only to be slapped down by the European Union.

The new law has also been widely criticised by medical associations and health groups.

The German public is divided on the issue: According to a YouGov poll published on Friday, 47 percent are in favour of the plan and 42 percent are against.

AFP

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10 Ways To Stay Safe During Flooding Emergencies

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In recent times, heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding have become all too common across states in the country.

This has over time posed significant risks to communities in many states of the country.

Apart from the risk of loss of lives and properties, floods have the potential to elevate the spread of water vector-borne illnesses like typhoid fever, cholera, malaria, and yellow fever, among various others.

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that flooding causes more deaths annually than any other thunderstorm-related hazard.

On Tuesday, there was a heavy downpour in several states in Nigeria including Lagos, Oyo and Ogun.

The heavy downpour caused serious flooding leaving many residents and motorists stranded.

READ ALSO: New York Gov Declares State Of Emergency As Roads, Airports Flooded

The rain which started around 2 am and 5 am in some areas and spread across the states lasted till a few minutes before 10 am in Lagos and parts of Ogun state on Tuesday leaving roads flooded.

In 2022, flooding affected 33 out of the 36 states in addition to parts of the Federal Capital Territory, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.

According to official data, the floods resulted in 612 fatalities, over 2,400 injuries, and displacement of 1.4 million individuals. Furthermore, the floods caused extensive damage to communities, agricultural lands, and transportation infrastructure, including roads and bridges. Approximately 200,000 residences suffered damage, with 332,327 hectares of land affected by the disaster.

As we are faced with the difficulties posed by increasing water levels, it’s essential to equip ourselves with information on how to ensure safety when dealing with floods.

Below are ways to protect yourself and your loved ones during flooding emergencies:

READ ALSO: Flood Sacks Ondo Communities, Renders Residents Homeless

1. Stay Informed: Always take note of weather forecasts and flood warnings issued by local authorities to anticipate potential risks and take necessary precautions.

2. Exercise caution: Study your surroundings and adhere to safety protocols before navigating through floods. It can be difficult to distinguish between roads and drainage in flooded areas.

3. Avoid walking, swimming, and driving through flooded areas: It is best to stay away from flooded roads. This is crucial for safety because flooded areas can hide dangers such as submerged objects, open manholes, or swift currents, which can pose serious risks to pedestrians and drivers.

Walking, swimming, or driving through flooded areas increases the likelihood of accidents, injuries, or even fatalities. Therefore, it’s advisable to find alternative routes or wait until floodwaters recede before venturing into these areas.

4. Avoid construction of houses and other structures on waterways: Waterways are natural or artificial channels where water flows, such as rivers, streams, or drainage systems. Constructing buildings or structures in these areas can lead to various negative consequences.

Avoiding construction on waterways is essential for mitigating the risks associated with flooding, erosion, environmental degradation, and safety concerns as it helps to protect both property and lives.

READ ALSO: Flood Wrecks Havoc In Delta, Sacks Five Communities

It also ensures sustainable development practices that respect the natural flow and balance of water systems.

5. Turn off electrical appliances at home: Ensure to turn off all electrical appliances in your home, especially as water is a major conductor of electricity. This means there is a higher risk of electric shock or electrocution in flooded areas. areas with flash floods.

6. Pay attention to the weather to plan your movement during the day: Be mindful of weather forecasts and conditions to make informed decisions about activities and travel throughout the day

7. Ensure an adequate stock of provisions: It is crucial to secure sufficient supplies for survival. Basic food items and clean water are essential to ward off hunger and maintain hygiene amidst prolonged flooding.

8. Leave areas subject to flooding. You can move in with relatives who live away from areas prone to flooding.

9. Avoid drinking untreated water: Floodwaters typically harbour various contaminants, including fecal matter, chemicals, and debris. Drinking such water poses a significant risk of diarrhoea illnesses, dehydration, and potentially fatal consequences.

10. Use waterproof containers: Use containers that are designed to prevent water from entering or damaging your valuables.

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