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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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78% Of Nigerians Don’t Trust INEC, Says Report

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Only 23 per cent of Nigerians say they trust the Independent National Electoral Commission “somewhat” or “a lot,” while more than three-fourths (78 per cent) express “just a little” or no trust at all in the election-management body, a joint report by NOI Polls, Afrobarometer, and CDD Ghana has shown.

The report titled, “Nigerians want competitive elections but don’t trust the electoral commission,” and published on Dispatch No. 598 of Afrobarometer, also revealed that trust in INEC had declined by 12 per cent since 2017.

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The Afrobarometer team in Nigeria, led by NOIPolls, said it interviewed a “nationally representative, random, stratified probability sample” of 1,600 adult Nigerians between 5 and 31 March 2022.

According to the research network, a sample of this size “yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-2.5 percentage points at a 95 per cent confidence level”.

Previous standard surveys were conducted in Nigeria in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2020 by the organisation.

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The PUNCH reports that the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, has continuously promised Nigerians that their votes will count at the 2023 polls, assuring them that the season of rigging is over.

READ ALSO: Oyo: Police Uncover Plot To Attack Banks, Malls Over Naira, Fuel Scarcity

In addition to reservations about election quality, one red flag for Nigeria’s upcoming elections is citizens’ weak trust in the Independent National Electoral Commission,” a part of the report read.

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The report headlined by NOIPolls’ Head of Social Research, Raphael Mbaegbu, and Afrobarometer’s Coordinator for Anglophone West and North Africa also showed that trust in INEC had been “fairly weak throughout the past two decades” and had “declined by 12 percentage points since 2017”.

“Popular trust in the INEC is a central issue, and distrust is a major concern, especially in the southern states. The upcoming election is an opportunity for the electoral management body to regain the trust of the electorate by proving itself independent, credible, and competent,” the report added.
PUNCH

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Only Africans Can Solve Continent’s Problems – US General

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A top United States military officer Chase D. Patrick has stressed that the problems of Africa can only be solved by homegrown solutions.

The Director of Maritime Headquarters at U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Sixth Fleet made the remark at a press briefing of the Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub.

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Rear Admiral Patrick discussed Exercise Obangame Express 2023, one of three African regional exercises facilitated by his formation and sponsored by U.S. Africa Command.

The General responded to a question on how Obangame enables collaborative solutions to the insurgency problems across the coastline of West Africa.

Patrick said U.S. Naval Forces remain committed to being a reliable and long-term partner in Atlantic Africa as security on the waters surrounding the continent was critical to maintaining a safe global environment.

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The senior officer confirmed America was aware that the dynamic threat posed by violent extremist organizations do require creative and collaborative solutions.

Patrick commended African nations for taking the lead in pushing maritime security toward the top of their international agenda.

The U.S. Naval Forces, he continued, sees the development of maritime skills and enhanced relationships with African partners as a critical piece to enhancing maritime safety.

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Obangame Express provides the opportunity to collaborate and work on combined capabilities to combat maritime challenges, the Rear Admiral explained.

“From boarding procedures to legal jurisdiction and prosecution, we’re working together to become a stronger force.

READ ALSO: APC Supporters Clash At National Secretariat

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“We recognize that African problems can only be solved by African solutions, and that is why we’re here, to learn from each other and share ideas to enhance maritime security.”

Patrick added that building good relationships, training and operating together in the form of exercises ultimately builds trust, the foundation of any good relationship.

The General oversees all Africa partnership station exercises in West, North, and East Africa, which includes Obangame, Phoenix, and Cutlass Express.

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UK Police Drop Attempted Rape Charge Against Man Utd Star

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Charges of attempted rape and assault against Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood have been dropped by prosecutors, British police said on Thursday.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material coming to light were factors in their decision to stop the case against the 21-year-old.

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Greater Manchester Police said it was “only fair” that they announce that Greenwood, who was arrested in January last year, would no longer face criminal proceedings “given the significant media coverage of this case”.

The striker originally faced one count of attempted rape, one count of controlling and coercive behaviour and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, all against the same complainant.

READ ALSO: bristWhat Nigeria Election Means Globally – British High Commission

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“In this case a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction,” the CPS said in a statement.

“In these circumstances, we are under a duty to stop the case.”

Greenwood, who has played 129 times for United, scoring 35 goals, last played for United against West Ham in January last year.

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“Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man, who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022, no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this,” said chief superintendent Michaela Kerr.

“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.

“Despite the media and public’s interest in this case, we have decided not to comment on it in any further detail.

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Greenwood, a product of United’s academy, and once considered one of English football’s brightest prospects, made his senior debut for the Red Devils in a Champions League victory at Paris Saint-Germain in March 2019.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Boris Johnson Resigns As British Prime Minister

He signed a new contract at United in February 2021 that runs until at least 2025.

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The forward made his England debut against Iceland in September 2020, but he and Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden were sent home after breaching the team’s coronavirus guidelines.

Nike suspended and later terminated its sponsorship deal with the player, while Electronic Arts confirmed his removal from active squads on its FIFA 22 game following his arrest.

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