The executive director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, (ERA/FoEN), Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, Wednesday, August 5th called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, restructure the Hydrocarbon, Pollution, Remediation Project, (HYPREP) for effective service delivery to the people of the oil producing regions, especially the Ogoni land.
The Executive Director made the call in Benin while speaking on the topic ‘A Litany of Failure and a Season of Discontent’ occasioned by HYPREP on the people of Ogoni land.
He said if such is not done, the rate at which things are at the moment, it will take more than 100 years for HYPREP to complete the more complex polluted sites in Ogoni land which they have not even started to address.
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Ojo said it was exactly nine years after the United Nations Environment Program, (UNEP) submitted a groundbreaking report to the Nigerian state detailing its findings, conclusions and recommendations on the environmental assessment of Ogoni land but without any tangible results to show for it.
“It has been nine years of motion without movement, nine years of unfilled promises, nine years of high-level manipulations by Shell and the Nigerian states as well as nine years of opaqueness and unaccountable operations by HYPREP. It has been nine years cluttered with a litany of failures and continuous discontent throughout Ogoni”, he said.
According to Ojo, the reason HYPREP has not lived up to its billings is because it’s not designed nor structured to implement a project as complex and sizeable as the Ogoni cleanup, stressing that it therefore needs restructuring to position it for a more effective cleanup.
The Environmental Activist alleged that work had stopped at 11 of the 17 cleanup sites researchers visited, and that many of these sites stopped work in late 2019 while the two sites had not even commenced work at the time of their except for the information board displayed outside their area of operation.
The Environmentalist also alleged that HYPREP is bogged down by the Nigerian government bureaucracy and Shell bureaucratic bottlenecks which has seen the programme unable to make progress to open the bid process for the more complex sites and there appears to be no disclosed strategy on how to move forward with the aspect of the project.
The Environmentalist recommended that strong legislations by governments in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands mandating companies to respect human rights and apply the same environmental standards across global operations.
The Executive Director also recommended the immediate implementation of all emergency measures recommended by the UNEP especially the provision of portable water, the conduct of a health audit setting up of a health register in impacted communities.
Akwa Ibom Chief Judge Threatens To Jail Rights Lawyer Over Bias Accusation
The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, has threatened to put behind bars a Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong (Esq) for accusing her of being biased or likelihood of bias in the ongoing libel suit by Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel and Senator Effiong Bob against his client, Leo Ekpenyong, Esq.
It could be recalled that in suits No HU/279/2019 between deacon Udom Emmanuel VS. Leo Ekpenyong Esq and No: HU/273/2019 between Senator Effiong Bob VS Leo Ekpenyong respectively delivered on 2021by Justice Obot, the defendant was found guilty of libel and was asked to pay the governor a sum of N1.5 Billion and a sum of N500Million to Senator Effiong Bob.
Counsel to the defendant, Mr Effiong, however, filed a motion for the judgement to be set aside, insisting that his client was not given a fair hearing; the prayer was later granted by the court.
However, the defence counsel also filed another motion praying the Chief Judge to recuse from the case, alleging prejudice and likelihood of bias.
During a proceeding held at High Court 1, Chief Judge’s court, Barracks road today, the defence counsel said “My Lord, my client Mr Leo Ekpenyong (Esq) has alleged bias, or likelihood of bias of the honourable Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Honourable justice Ekaette Obot.
“That is why we filed an application before this court on the 23 of June 2022 asking the Honourable Chief Judge to disqualify himself from hearing or presiding over this matter. Defendant has raised that the grounds of that application clearly stated but not limited to the fact that in the course of this proceedings my Lord has personally berated us as counsels. I have been described in venomous terms, we know that by law, a court should not address a counsel in that manner. The seeming hostility that characterized the proceedings to set aside the default judgement is discouraging.
“Why we are also asking that my Lord should reassign this matter is because my Lord has already delivered a judgement though in default against Mr Ekpenyong where he asked him to pay gov Udom Emmanuel a sum of N1.5 billion and I came before this court asking that, that judgement should be set aside having been delivered in error and in flagrant violation of right of my client to fair hearing because the date that judgement was given, no hearing notice was issued and the registrar gave that date off record. The court agreed with us that the right of our client was violated and set the case aside.
“We are saying because you have already found the defendant guilty in this matter it is only just and fair that those matters should be reassigned to another Judge to be heard denovo, that is the practice my Lord, for example if the court of appeal has set aside a judgement and sends back the case to be tried before the lower court it usually goes with a consequential order that a new judge should handle that matter, so if the defendant said that he doesn’t have confidence in the honourable Chief Judge of the State to hear his case, it’s only fair that, the matter be reassigned to preserve the dignity, impartiality and honour of the court.
“All we are saying is that we do not have confidence in my Lord to interprete my matter.”
Irked by the submissions of the defence counsel and his (Mr Effiong) refusal to sit when the counsel to the Claimant, Samuel Ikpo asked him to do so, the Chief Judge said the court will not condone unruly behaviour in the courtroom, warning of her power to send him behind bars or petition him to the National body.
According to Justice Obot, “You cannot say that before me, you can’t talk to your senior like that, I don’t know when this man learnt law. You are trying to intimidate your senior, did you see the type of counter you filed over miscellaneous matters I overlooked? I still set aside that judgement only for you to capitalize on it and you want to play on the intelligence of the court? Do not allow me to send you to prison!”
“Saying that when a matter is set aside that it must be reassigned to another Judge is not the practice, it is a lie from the pit of hell.”
The Judge, however, proceeded with the hearing of the witness of the Claimant and later adjourned the case to 27 to 29 July for conclusion of Claimant and hearing of defendants case as well as motions filed even when the defence counsel said the dates were not convenient for him insisting that the case was that of defamation and no urgency in it for accelerated hearing.
Counsel to the Claimant, Mr Ikpo refused to talk to journalists at the end of the session insisting that the matter is sub judice.
But, the defence counsel who spoke to journalists said, “what is worrisome is despite the tendency of the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court raising the issue of bias on the last date in this matter, my Lord allowed the claimant in the two cases to call witnesses even when the jurisdiction of the court is being challenged and those witnesses were called in my absence even when I told them that I missed my flight and we were not there to cross examine them, that was why yesterday we filed a motion to set aside the proceeding including the order for the continuation of hearing.
“Even the proceedings of today were in error and should be set aside and I told the court that the motion should have been determined, my Lord did not determine the two motions and yet insisted that we continue with the hearing. We were basically forced to go into trial today.
“My Lord consistently has accused me of bringing a herbalist to court, how on earth will I do that? I’m not a traditional worshipper but a christian.”
Nigerian Pastor Deletes Controversial Tweet Amid Backlash From Peter Obi’s Supporters
Pastor Poju Oyemade, the founder of The Covenant Nation (formerly the Covenant Christian Center) has taken down a tweet that stirred controversy after it was interpreted by netizens as a bias political comment.
In a now-deleted tweet, Oyemade advised Nigerian youths not to “waste their enthusiasm on poorly planned projects“.
However, the tweet was calculated by supporters of the Labour Party‘s presidential candidate, Peter Obi as an attempt to portray their candidate (Obi) as unprepared for the 2023 general election.
Other netizens who perceived the message as a veiled strategy to sell the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate and flagbearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu were equally angry.
Oyemade words, “Faith is not just blind belief or hoping for a miracle. Faith sees. Faith has her eyes opened and possesses the evidence upon which it builds its belief. Faith prepares long, sometimes for years just as Joseph did for the years of famine. Faith counts the cost before embarking.
“Without having real evidence upon which you are acting nor preparation for the task, recognising real obstacles that lie ahead and making concrete plans, one is just being delusional about the outcome. The enthusiasm of the youth must not be wasted on poorly planned projects.
“Noah spent months/years planning for the flood & he was operating in faith. Jesus said no man goes to battle without taking stock first nor lays the foundation of a tower without counting the cost first lest he will be mocked. Our faith is intelligent it doesn’t live in denial.”
dedayo🇺🇦 (@AdeparusiA) Pastor Poju is one I hold in a very high esteem, however, I was deeply disappointed by that tweet, whether it’s directed to OBIdient fans or not. It’s really sad such is coming from him. #PeterObiTheNationalist #PeterObi4President2023 #PeterObiForPresident2023
Anyiobi #PeterObi (@Anyiobi2)
Pastor Poju is one I hold in a very high esteem, however, I was deeply disappointed by that tweet, whether it’s directed to OBIdient fans or not. It’s really sad such is coming from him. #PeterObiTheNationalist #PeterObi4President2023 #PeterObiForPresident2023
Anyiobi #PeterObi (@Anyiobi2) J
The fact that Pastor Poju supported #Buhari in 2015 tells so much about his character! Let no one care about him! In #PeterObi we trust!
How 1,130 Looted Benin Bronzes Got To Germany – FG
The Federal Government says many of the1,130 looted Benin Bronzes to be repatriated to Nigeria from Germany got to German public institutions via trade and donations
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said this on Friday in Berlin during the signing of a historic joint declaration between Nigeria and Germany.
The signing of joint declaration according to the minister, will pave the way for the return of the 1,130 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria,
A statement issued on the ceremony in Berlin made available to newsmen in Abuja, said that Mohammed, and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada signed for Nigeria.
In the statement signed by Mr Segun Adeyemi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Ms Annalena Baerbock, and the Minister of State for Culture and Media, Ms. Claudia Roth, signed for Germany.
Adeyemi is the Special Assistant to the President (Media) Office of the Minister of Information and Culture
As contained in the statement, Mohammed said that Germany did not colonise Nigeria and was not part of the looting of the artefacts.
The minister recalled that the artefacts were looted from the ancient Benin Kingdom during the Benin Expedition of 1897 by the British force.
Mohammed thanked the government and people of Germany for what he described as the ”single largest repatriation of artefacts anywhere in the world”.
”We also want to most sincerely thank the authorities of the various German regions, cities, museums and institutions that have been working in concert to ensure the manifestation of the history-making event that we are witnessing today.
“By this singular action, Germany has taken the lead in correcting the wrongs of the past,” he said.
The minister said that Germany and the great people of the nation decided it was better to shape the future by correcting the ills of the past.
He said pace-setting action by the Federal Government of Germany would become a harbinger of more repatriation of cultural property to their place of origin.
According to Mohammed, other museums and institutions are expected to take a cue from what Germany has done.
”Germany has gained more friends in Nigeria and all over the world by returning to Nigeria what rightfully belongs to it,” he said.
On his part, Dada described Germany as the ‘champion of justice and fairness’.
Also Speaking, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany said, ”It was wrong to take the (Benin) bronzes. It was wrong to keep them for (125 years). This is the beginning to right the wrong.”
According to the statement, in a symbolic gesture signifying the impending return of the artefacts, two of the Benin Bronzes were handed over to Nigeria at the ceremony.
The signing was witnessed by top Nigerian and German government officials, including the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Yusuf Tuggar, and the Director-General of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Prof. Abba Tijani.
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