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Shell Loses $550m To Oil Theft …As Search Intensifies For Kidnapped Foreigners

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The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), says it lost over $550million in June this year due to activities of crude oil thieves in the Niger Delta.

General Manager, Sustainable Development and Community Relations of SPDC, Dr Felix Eshfelvilla disclosed this to newsmen after visiting some of the company’s facilities in Rivers and Bayelsa States.

Dr Eshfelvilla said that an estimated quantity of 150 barrels of crude oil per day, amounting to over 5billion dollars per annual was stolen by illegal bunkerers.

He said this has impacted negatively on the economy, environmental and social lives of the communities, the states and the nation at large, adding that third party interference has also slowed down the country’s operations in the Niger Delta thereby affecting huge revenue and that of local, state and federal governments.

According to him, SPDC has adopted several strategies aimed at reducing or totally eradicating crude oil theft in the Niger Delta and appealed to the international community to assist in the efforts to combat the menace.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy yesterday intensified its search for four foreigners kidnapped during a deadly attack on a vessel belonging to an oil services company, the navy said.

The suspected pirates stormed the vessel belonging to the Sea Trucks Group early Saturday in the Gulf of Guinea, an area that has seen a sharp spike in the number of reported maritime attacks over the past six months.

“We have intensified our search for the kidnappers and the abducted four foreigners,” Nigerian navy spokesman, Commodore Kabir Aliyu told AFP.

Another naval officer, who declined to be named because he has no authority to speak to reporters, said that the search for the foreigners had continued in the creeks and waterways in the region.

A spokeswoman for Sea Trucks Group, which provides support vessels to oil companies operating in Nigeria, said yesterday that her company was focused on the safe release of the hostages.

“We are very focused on getting our crew back safely,” Corrie van Kessel told our correspondent on telephone.

She declined to say categorically if contacts have been established with the abductors and efforts being made to secure their freedom, saying that releasing such information “could jeopardise current efforts.”

Van Kessel confirmed that the four abducted foreigners were from Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Thailand.

Sea Trucks Group is heavily involved in the oil and gas sector in the Niger Delta.

The group, which also operates in Australia and East Asia, was founded as a Nigerian firm in 1977 before expanding and currently has a “corporate support office” in the Netherlands, according to its website.

Aliyu said during the attack “four expatriates are reported to have been kidnapped from the vessel; two sailors were killed.”

Aliyu said six naval personnel were stationed on board the Sea Trucks Group vessel following a security request from the company.

The gunmen also shot and wounded two others while the remaining two escaped unhurt, he said.

The motive for the attack and the identities of the gunmen are still unknown, added Aliyu.

The volatile area was for years crippled by armed insurgency, largely made up of militants who claimed the region’s prosperous oil industry was not benefiting the local population and destroying the environment.

Armed groups in the Delta were notorious for kidnapping oil workers, especially foreigners.

A 2009 amnesty deal greatly reduced the unrest, but sporadic incidents have continued to occur including robberies and, most prominently, piracy.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in a report released last month that there had been 32 piracy incidents recorded in the Gulf of Guinea in the first half of 2012, up from the 25 attacks in 2011.

Years of unrest in the Delta had curbed oil production in Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer and the world’s eighth largest, but output has recovered since the amnesty.

On Friday, Nigeria said oil production had hit its highest level ever, reaching 2.7 million barrels per day.

In a related development, the NNPC has pledged to collaborate with other agencies in efforts to stem crude oil theft in Nigeria.

A statement issued by NNPC’s Group General Manager (Public Affairs), Mr Fidel Pepple,  in Abuja yesterday said that the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Andrew Yakubu, made the promise.

The statement said that Yakubu, who made the pledge when members of the Inter-Agency Maritime Operation Committee paid him a courtesy visit, bemoaned the activities of unscrupulous individuals who engaged in oil theft.

It said that illegal bunkering and crude oil theft had negative impact on the economy and the environment, stressing that it should, therefore, be stamped out.

It said that the NNPC chief lamented that several thousands of barrels of crude oil were lost to illegal bunkering everyday.

“The blocking of this leakage would go a long way in efforts to improve the standard of living of Nigerians.’’

The statement also said that the Chairman of the Inter-Agency Maritime Operation Committee, Rear Admiral E. O. Ogboh said that the committee was established in June.

“He explained that it was set up to address illegal bunkering in the nation’s maritime waters,’’ it added.

The statement also quoted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Maritime, Mr Leke Oyewole as saying: “The committee was set up to ensure adequate collaboration among all agencies of government in the nation’s maritime industry.’’

Members of the committee were drawn from the NNPC, Nigerian Navy, Air Force, Customs Service, Police, State Security Service and the Judiciary.

 

Shedie Okpara

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Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court

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The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.

Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.

The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.

It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.

They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.

According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.

The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.

However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.

Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.

The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.

Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.

He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.

More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.

Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.

The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.

Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.

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World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.

The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.

The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.

“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.

“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?

“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.

“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.

“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.

“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”

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Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation

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Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.

It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.

The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.

“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.

Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.

It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.

It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.

“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.

“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.

“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’

“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.

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