Indigenes of 254 Ijaw communities from Bayelsa State at the weekend protested against the ruling of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, which struck out the $1.5billion oil spillage and environmental degradation case against oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC).
The group lamented that the judges, who handled the case, did not bother to give consideration to the plight of the local people whose environment, they said, had been devastated by oil exploration and its attendant spillage.
An Ijaw leader and spokesman, Chief Pere Ajuwa at a media briefing to drum home the protest on the judgement, alleged that the judges were allegedly compromised by Shell to deliver a favourable judgement for them despite the overwhelming and convincing evidence of death, oil spillages and environmental pollution.
Ajuwa, a former presidential aspirant in the aborted Second Republic, noted that the Ijaw nation has been in a violence-free battle with Shell over the deaths and other hazards the company has caused them, adding that the Ijaw communities have prepared a petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC) against the judges.
Noting that the matter had appeared before the two chambers of the National Assembly, which he noted, ordered Shell to pay $1.5billion to the 145 Ijaw communities in Bayelsa State, Ajuwa said Shell preferred to use its money to pollute the Nigerian judiciary system, alleging that it bought over the Federal Court of Appeal judges to deliver the judgment that was to their favour.
“We have been in a battle with Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria. When the traditional rulers council of Bayelsa State invited me to handle the case, I gave them my conditions, which included non-violence from any Ijaw group. In 2003, a commission of inquiry was called at the National Assembly and there has not been any single violence against Shell since that period till now.
“But in this process, we have been undermined even by certain agents of government and Shell. The commission of inquiry specified that 1,247 indigenes of Bayelsa State died due to Shell’s oil pollution. There was an unmitigated outbreak of cholera and other water-borne diseases. This figure was confirmed by both NNPC and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
“The National Assembly proclaimed that Shell was guilty of environmental degradation that led to death of people, Shell was asked to pay the 145 Ijaw communities in Bayelsa the sum of $1.5billion, but Shell went through the courts and said that the National Assembly cannot give a legislative judgment or award such amount of money to the Ijaw nation.
“When we went to the Federal High Court, it ruled in our favour, noting that if two parties agree to submit themselves to a non-judicial body, any decision taken by the body should stand. It, therefore, upheld that Shell should pay us the stated amount.
“But Shell took us to the Court of Appeal, where they had their judges who struck out the decision of the lower court despite the convincing and overwhelming evidence of oil spillages, degradation and deaths which Shell activities in Bayelsa has brought to us. In striking out our case, the Appeal Court said that we are abusing court process.
“This decision will not stand because we have already prepared our petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC) to sanction those judges. Nigerian judges have always been role models in countries like Uganda, Gambia and Sierra Leone, but just a few bad eggs in the system have allowed themselves to be used by the likes of Shell to upturn justice even in the face of convincing and overwhelming evidence”, Ajuwa lamented.
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
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