Twenty five years after the Ogoni born environmentalist and minority rights activist, Ken Saro Wiwa and his fellow Ogoni compatriots were contemptuously murdered on trumped-up charges by the ill fated military junta of late General Sani Abacha, his spirit continues to resonate indomitably, questioning the very foundation of Nigeria as a true Federal State.
Using the instrument of mass mobilisation as the vehicle for the articulation of the ideas of his struggle, Saro Wiwa set on stage the full waves of the complexities that defined the Abacha era.
As a dramatist and consummate stylist, he deployed his fecund mind to confront a ruthless military junta in a most sacarstic, satirical and unnerving measure that deflated the vaunted mights of the powers that be and plunged the echelon of the then military regime and its tacit collaborator, shell, to consider his physical elimination as the only option of shelving the inflictions of his revolutionary agenda.
Last week, precisely on the 10th of November, in a pitch akin to a fiesta, thousands of ogonis and other fans and adherents of the late writer besieged the streets of Bori, the headquarters of Ogoni, and Port Harcourt to celebrate the exploits of Saro Wiwa.
The celebration of the 2020, Ogoni Matyrs day, started with candle night processions on the eve of November 10th, the day Saro Wiwa himself evidently described as a “black day for the black man”.
Apart from the litany of solidarity activities in virtually all ogoni communities, Aggrey road in old Port Harcourt Township, hosting Saro Wiwa’s house and other adjoining streets were inundated with processions of men and women paying tributes to the late ogoni hero.
A memorial church service was later held at the All Saints Anglican Church Bori, with one of Saro Wiwa’s associates, Inimoh Bassey, a renowned activist delivering one of the key sermons.
Bassey decried the fact that, 25 years after, not much attention was paid to the issues of environmental justice raised by Saro Wiwa.
As part of events to mark the 2020 Ogoni Matyrs Day, the Environmental Rights Action, and Friends of the Earth Nigeria in conjunction with other civil society organisations held a seminar at Visa Karena hotel, relayed through zoom to the entire world. Acting Executive Director of CERA/FOEN, Chima William disclosed that some of the resolution reached at the end of the seminar was for the Federal Government to exonerate Saro Wiwa of the accusations placed on him to justify his “judicial murder”, while Shell should be counted as accomplice to the murder of Saro Wiwa.
He said the gathering of key environmental stakeholders also recommended that the ongoing building of a correctional centre in Ogoni by the Federal Government should be halted while the full recommendations of the United Nations Environment Project (UNEP) reports should be implemented. Other key Ogoni stakeholders who spoke with The Tide metro, said Saro Wiwa though his non violent approach had proven that the rights of social liberties could be achieved without recourse to violence.
National coordinator, Ogoni Aborigenes Congress, world wide, High Chief Godae Beesor said, “Saro Wiwa’s death has provided the only niche for Ogoni to get positive development, environmental justice, unity and peace in the land.
Saro Wiwa’s daughter, Nor, on her facebook page said the only crime of her father was to “peacefully pursue human rights for the people of Ogoni and campaign against oil spills in the oil rich Niger Delta”.
The key to Saro Wiwa’s social activisim was his bold optimism to dust up the hitherto docile oil bearing communities to confront their formidable foes, the unconscientious oil companies, particularly Shell, and the military junta. The Saro Wiwa factor has also become an independent variable in the definition of the future of Nigeria.
Yet, the Federal Government still hold the name of Saro Wiwa in their book of felons. But Ken Saro Wiwa continues to sower in death, as he is among the few black men celebrated in the international mainstream of martyrdom.
For Saro Wiwa who remained undaunted, even in death, the price was worth it.
By: Taneh Beemene
FRSC Begins Ember Month Safety Campaign
The Rivers State Command of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has commenced its sensitisation campaign on safe driving in “ember months.
Public Enlightenment and Education Officer of the command, Juliana Enyi said though the campaign would officially be launched by November, already the the agency has commenced enforcement and campaign.
She said, “What we son during the ember month safety campaign is to let drivers know that this period is just like any period of the year. Drivers need to accommodate other road users, so that the road will be safe.”
Enyi said over the past years the campaign had yielded results as road carnage had reduced hugely within the state.
However, she noted that the major challenge of the agency was logistics in covering all parts of the state, “Rivers State is big and there is not much vehicles and logistics to reach all parts.”
It’s against this backdrop that she disclosed that the commission unveiled a toll free emergency numbers to help drivers and members of the public that would be facing vehicular challenge on the road.
“The numbers are and once you call us from any part of the state we will be there to tow your vehicle” Enyi said.
Meanwhile, the State FRSC says it will officially launch its mber month’s safety campaign in November,” we have already enforcing the rules, but we will pick a date and venue for the event.
The campaign is expected to last for four months between September and January.
By: Kevin Nengia
NSCDC Records Massive Arrests Over Oil Theft In PH
The fight against illegal bunkering in the city recorded success with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in Rivers State impounding trucks, cars and boats used in ferrying products.
Already 19 suspects on account of their involvement in oil theft and illegal dealings in petroleum products have been arrested.
Speaking to newsmen over the development, the Rivers State Commandant, Michael Ogar, said despite efforts of the corps, oil thieves and those engaging in illegal bunkering had remained defiant.
He lamented that despite continuous sensitization and relentless war against economic sabotage of the nation revenue source, those milking the common wealth through illegal oil dealings have blatantly refused to change their ways.
Commandant Ogar maintained that sequel to the reconstitution of a new Anti-Vandal Team of the command, the Marine and land Patrol operatives had commenced full operations with renewed vigour, professionalism and tactics in waging war against the menace of vandalism of oil pipelines and oil theft in Rivers State.
“As directed by the NSCDC Commandant General, Dr Ahmed Abubakar Audi a marching order was given to the marine and land operatives to massively arrest pipeline vandals and illegal oil dealers in the State and this has enhanced our doggedness in the series of arrests made by the Command”.
The marine and land patrol team arrested 19 suspects at different locations in the State; 4 Suspects named: Peter Udo ‘M’ 20years, Benjamin God’s power ‘M’ 16years, God’s gift Nicholas ‘M’ 19years and Goodness Sunday ‘M’ aged 19years were arrested with one (1) big wooden boat and a 40 HP outboard engine along Bakana river close to Bakana Community in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
In addition, 3 suspects named: Jacob Fewu ‘M’ 23years, George George ‘M’ 20years and Stanley Bruce ‘M’ 20years were arrested with one (1) wooden boat laden with 10,000 litres of illegaly refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), a 40 HP Outboard Engine used for propelling the boat.
“The marine team in an all night tactical operations arrested 2 additional suspects named: Ade Monday 27 years and Abiola Gift 29years with One (1) wooden boat, 25 drums (6,250 litres) of illegal refined AGO and One (1) 15 HP outboard engine.
Following a tip off, the Antivandal Unit also uncovered a building used as dump site for storing locally refined AGO along Cornerstone junction in Ogbogoro, Obio/ Akpor Local Government Area. We discovered an underground tanker containing unquantified litres of locally refined AGO, a plastic tank containing about 3,500 litres of AGO and a pumping Machine. The entire compound is now under seal and manned by our personnel while the Command would continue to chase the culprits tiil they are arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
In another development, five suspects were arrested at Oyakama community in Ahoada West LGA and Njemanze Street in Port Harcourt. They are: Onorode Daniel 34years, Samuel Odirode 32years, Charles Okeke 43years, Uche I’ve 32years and Chinedu Iroanya 36 years all Male. They were in conveyance of an ash colour Toyota Sequoia SUV with number plate: LAGOS Epe 539 AT laden with about 1,000 litres of AGO, a Golden colour Toyota Camry Car with about 1,500 litres of illegally refined AGO, an Ash Colour Toyota Camry Car with registration number RIVERS BER 951 MU, a green colour Toyota Camry Car with number plate: RIVERS AH 824 AHD laden with illegaly refined AGO concealed in cellophane and packed in sack bags which totalled 5,000 litres.
Another building close to Akpos Jetty in Abuloma community in Port Harcourt was also uncovered while the Suspects took to their heels upon sighting the NSCDC operatives; a short green and white colour DAF CF 250 Truck with number plate LAGOS EKY 206 XS laden with illegally refined AGO and Pumping Machine were recovered as exhibits.
The land patrol team also arrested 5 suspects along Agwu/ Elechi Street Mile 1 Diobu, Port Harcourt. They are: Musa Mohammed 36years, Elisha Iyalla 18years, Iyeneobong Emmanuel 25 years, Felix Ukele 45years and Mba Awajimimam aged 42years. We recovered from them a green colour Sienna Car with registration number LAGOS DL 218 APP laden with 800 litres of AGO and a Truck branded liquid bulk with number plate LAGOS EKY 852 XS laden Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
This was followed by the arrest of Ifeanyi Nwauwa 43years along Azikiwe road who was in conveyance of One (1) Gold colour Toyota Camry with number plate ABUJA HX 937 ABC laden with illegally refined AGO.
“To serve as deterrent to those still getting involved in this unscrupulous and illegitimate business, all the arrested suspects would be charged to court of competent jurisdiction while the Command would do everything possible to unravel, chase and apprehend their sponsors”, he stated.
The command will further approach the court with application for forfeitures of both the contents and the mode of conveyance, assured.
By: Kevin Nengia
Pains And Gains Of Illoabuchi Road Expansion
Two weeks ago, some landlords whose properties were marked for demolition at Illoabuchi Street at Diobu raised an alarm over the burglary unleashed on them by hoodlums following government expansion of the road, but for the quick intervention of the Diobu Vigilante.
The Tide Metro conducted investigations on the road project and with recent developments coupled with the recent announcement by the Commissioner for Works calling on property owners to visit the office to ascertain claims of compensation doused tension.
So far, the project is at top gear as bulldozers have moved to site. From the Azikiwe Junction at the back gate of the Rivers State University down to Sandfield by Achi Street, the once busy district is now in rubbles waiting for the eventual commencement of work.
A roadside POS operator whose store was demolished at Nwachukwu Street, Mr. Solomon Chinedu, told The Tide Metro that currently they are passing through pains, but expressed hope that the project would beautify and attract development to Illoabuchi Street.
He said, “My store was among the properties that was brought down, so currently, I don’t have anywhere to stay but I am hopeful that when this project is completed, Illoabuchi would wear a new look.”
Chinedu continued, “If you look closely, most of the properties hardly attract high rent, but after this road expansion, values of most of the properties would go up. Across Illoabuchi, there is no filling station so I’m confident that this road would bring a filling station here.”
The POS operator said he now hangs on the road as his store was part of the buildings demolished to pave way for the road.
While dismissing claims that hoodlums invaded the area as a result of the road, Chinedu explained that the problem emanated from lack of communication and ignorance by the residents.
His worry was that most of the landlords were not able to reach out to their tenants, and that compensation was below what was expected.
The Tide Metro’s investigations revealed that most of the owners of buildings in the area do not have certificate of occupancy, hence, government had to give compensation based on grace to reduce pains on those affected.
Mrs. Agatha Okpala of 35 Obidianso Street revealed to The Tide Metro that compensation was low compared to what was acquired by the authorities for the road expansion.
Her three-storey building, according to her, was cut into half, “and they are planning to take more and I and my family don’t have anywhere to go”, she lamented.
She described the compensation as peanuts compared to the cost of renting an apartment and relocating her family.
In her words,” I will beg government to please help us. The cost of living is too high and most of us don’t have any where to go than back to the village.”
While many are raising alarm over compensation and loss of their properties, commercial taxi drivers are worried that the project is affecting their operations.
Most of the road outlets from Illoabuchi were blocked by the contractor handling the project. For instance, to get a taxi or bus plying from Illoabuchi to Education or Park, one has to trek to either Echue Junction or to Sandfield.
So far, streets outlets at Ohediohanma, Nwachikwu and Obidianso were blocked to allow ongoing work.
A taxi driver, Kufre Effiong lamented to The Tide Metro that the traffic jam along the axis has made many of the commercial taxi operators to avoid the route. “We cannot drive on the road. Most of our taxi drivers stopped this morning since we can’t get to some streets,” he said.
“The road is good because when it’s finished we will enjoy it, but for now we want them to open up some streets so we can access our shops”, Effiong remarked.
By: Kevin Nengia
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