The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, yesterday, began hearing in the suit filed by some Niger Deltans against the Federal Government, over the allocation and ownership of oil blocs in the region.
The plaintiffs in the landmark case include Mr. Nosa Ehanire-Osaghae, Mr. Jonah Gbemre, Mr. Aiko Obobaifo and Mr. Daniel Ikponmwosa, who sued on behalf of the Niger Delta people while the Defendant is the Federal Government, representing the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The plaintiffs, represented by their counsel, Barrister Sophia Okoedion, in the suit No: ECW/CCJ/APP/20/15, notified the general public, interested parties as well as oil and gas stakeholders “on the commencement of hearings after pleadings have been concluded by learned counsels on both sides of the Plaintiffs and Defendant since the suit was instituted just over a year ago.”
Okoedion said that the expectation of the plaintiffs is that the defendant takes plea on the reliefs sought to enable the court to hear witnesses on both sides, adding that the plaintiffs were set to go on with the matter until the determination of the case.
He hoped that “as a noteworthy International court for the common man in West Africa, the ECOWAS Court will at the end of this landmark case, grant the orders we sought in our prayers.”
The Tide reports that the plaintiffs are arguing: “That the Federal Republic of Nigeria has violated the fundamental human rights of Niger Deltans by depriving them of their God-given oil blocs vis-à-vis natural resources, which they allocated to foreign oil companies and non-indigenes from other parts of the country at their own expense and impoverishment.
“That the Federal Republic of Nigeria has violated the fundamental human rights of Niger Deltans to life and a healthy environment by the hazardous flaring of gas in their host communities unabated for the last 30 years, which has resulted in many health casualties, fatalities and untimely deaths without adequate reliefs and compensations.
“That the Federal Republic of Nigeria should put a stop to all acquiring, renewal, award, allocation, transfer, prospecting, buying and selling of oil blocs and their assets until the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.
“That the Federal Republic of Nigeria should re-allocate the ownership of all onshore and offshore oil blocs in the Niger Delta region back to the indigenous oil communities forthwith in accordance with its United Nations and African Union treaty obligations and statutory international law.
“That the Federal Republic of Nigeria should immediately pay remedial environmental damages to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in order for them to speedily facilitate the total remediation of the oil polluted farmlands and fishing waters in Niger Delta region to the tune of $30billion, for the excess of five million barrels of spilled crude oil in the Niger Delta region and for the hazardous gas flaring over the last 50 years of oil exploration and exploitation in the Niger Delta.
“That the Federal Republic of Nigeria, should not impede and mitigate but rather assist and facilitate an enabling environment for the people of Niger Delta to conduct a peaceful and democratic Referendum to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations and African Union treaties, which it ratified and is a signatory in accordance with the statutes of international law”.
The plaintiffs are also seeking “for any other order or further orders that this honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.”
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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