Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “promptly set up a presidential panel of enquiry to thoroughly, impartially, and transparently investigate the operations of illegal oil pipelines from 2001 to date, and to widely publish the names of anyone suspected to be involved.”
SERAP urged him to “ensure the prosecution by appropriate anti-corruption agencies of anyone suspected to be responsible for the plundering of the country’s oil wealth and the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.”
SERAP also urged him to “promptly authorise the investigation of reports of the destruction of an oil bunkering vessel by security agencies and to ensure that suspected owners of the vessel are identified, named and brought to justice.”
SERAP’s letter followed the recent reports that two illegal pipelines used to steal the country’s oil wealth from Forcados Terminal, and connected to the 48-inch Trans Forcados Export Trunk line, have been uncovered.
In the open letter dated October 15, 2022, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians have continued to pay the price for the stealing of the country’s oil wealth apparently by both state and non-state actors.”
SERAP said, “Your government has a legal obligation to ensure that the country’s oil wealth is used solely for the benefit of the Nigerian people, and that the wealth does not end up in private pockets, for the sake of the present and future generations”.
The letter, read in part: “Despite the country’s substantial oil wealth, successive governments have largely squandered the opportunity to use the wealth to improve the lives and well-being of ordinary Nigerians. This is a clear violation of the government’s anti-corruption and human rights obligations.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“SERAP urges you to consider referring the reports to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate whether the allegations of oil theft in the country amount to crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and to surrender all suspected perpetrators for trial by the ICC.
“SERAP is concerned that the illegal pipelines have been operated for many years without notice, implying a flagrant violation of constitutional and international obligations to ensure the proper, effective and efficient management of the country’s wealth and natural resources.
“It is in the public interest to promptly investigate the discovery of the illegal pipelines, publish the names of those suspected to be involved, and ensure that they are brought to justice, and that any proceeds of crime are fully recovered.
“Taking these steps would advance the right of Nigerians to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition and improve public confidence in the fight against corruption and related crimes, especially in the oil sector.
“As the President and Minister of Petroleum Resources, you and your government have a legal responsibility to ensure accountability for these human rights crimes, and end the culture of impunity, which is fuelling the stealing of the country’s oil wealth.
“The proposed presidential panel of enquiry should be headed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, and its members should include people with proven professional record and of the highest integrity that can act impartially, independently, and transparently.
“The plundering of the country’s oil wealth has resulted in the downward trend in revenue and increasing level of borrowing, with reports of a projected N11.30trillion deficit budget for 2023.
“SERAP is concerned that the unaddressed plundering of the country’s oil wealth has for many years contributed to shrinking revenue, chronic underfunding of public goods and services such as education, health, and access to safe drinking water, recurring budget deficits, growing level of borrowing, and unsustainable debt profile.
“According to our information, security agencies recently reportedly uncovered an illegal pipeline used to steal the country’s oil wealth for nine years from Forcados Terminal.
“Another illegal pipeline connected to the 48-inch Trans Forcados Export Trunk line, at the rear of a military security post in Burutu Local Government Area, Delta State has reportedly been discovered.
“The discovery of the second illegal pipeline followed the recent destruction by security agents of a vessel allegedly used for crude oil theft off the Niger Delta creeks. About 58 illegal oil points have reportedly so far been discovered.
“Section 15 Subsection (5) of the Constitution requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
“The UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party obligate your government to effectively prevent and investigate acts of corruption and hold public officials and non-state actors to account for any violations.
“Specifically, Article 26 of the UN convention requires your government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption.
“Article 26 complements the more general requirement of Article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.
“According to a Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) audit report, 160million barrels of crude oil valued at $13.7billion, was stolen in four years (2009-2012). There is also report of $17billion debt of under-declared crude oil lifted by some international oil companies (IOCs) between 2011 and 2014.
“According to reports, Nigeria has seen increased oil theft in recent years. The country loses 470,000 barrels of crude oil monthly amounting to $700million to oil theft.
“The country has reportedly lost $10billion to crude oil theft in seven months, which is stated to be more than 50per cent of Nigeria’s external reserves. The Chatham House, a think-tank based in the United Kingdom has noted that oil theft in Nigeria is ‘on an industrial scale.’”
2023: Rivers’ll Soon Decide Which Presidential Candidate To Vote -Wike
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has informed that the decision on the presidential candidate to vote in the 2023 general election in the state would soon be made known.
He said when the decision would be taken, Rivers electorate, who have enjoyed good governance under his watch and already desirous to reciprocate the gesture, would be told which presidential candidate to vote.
Wike made the position known while inaugurating the Rukpokwu-Rumuapu-Izo-Ogbodo-Igwuruta Link Road, which took place in Rumuapu community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, yesterday.
The governor said, for what his administration has done in terms of performance and provision of critical infrastructure, Rivers people were already home with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He then charged the electorate to cast their votes only for PDP gubernatorial candidate as well National Assembly and State Assembly candidates.
“Then, the other one (presidential), I will come and tell you where we will vote. These ones (governorship, senatorial, Reps and State Assembly candidates) I mentioned now, make sure you come and vote for them. Very soon, we’ll meet in our houses and a take decision where we are going to.”
Wike mocked governorship candidates of other parties in the state, who he said are not in touch with the people at the grassroots.
According to him, these candidates, he stated, do not also have any follower, no traditional or political opinion leaders who can help galvanise the support of the electorate for them.
Such candidates, Wike noted, were only desperately going about collecting money from people in the guise of preparing for election when they know that they are not in the race to win the election.
Wike said Rivers electorate would vote the party that has come to their aid, supported and made them happy while also sustaining the peace in the state.
“You will work for a party that has come to your aid, a party that has brought dividends of democracy. If the people of Rukpokwu are not happy, will they be here. Governance is all about the happiness of the people. When the people are happy, we are happy. So, if I come here to address you everybody will listen to me.”
The Rivers State governor boasted that his administration has attended to every area of development concern in Apara Kingdom, particularly on the provision of roads.
He has, therefore, challenged any person within the kingdom in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area to dare mention any that has been left unattended.
On the issue of security, the governor said with the inauguration of the Police Intelligence and Surveillance Centre in Port Harcourt by the Inspector General of Police, last Monday, criminals involved in kidnapping would be easily arrested for prosecution.
“Yesterday (Monday), the Inspector General of Police came and we commissioned the Intelligence and Surveillance Centre. I want to tell all of you who may be thinking of kidnapping. The time is over. As it is now, in that Intelligence Centre, we will be watching you on screen. Anywhere you are on the road we are seeing you. That period is over when you think you will commit a crime and runaway.”
In his address, Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Dr Dakorinima Alabo George-Kelly, stated that the Rukpokwu-Rumuapu-Izo-OgbodoIgwuruta Link Road connects the Obio/Akpor and Ikwerre local government areas.
The road, he said, was 7.6km in length, 7.3meters in width with 7km of drains, which has been delivered in the best quality specified, adding that it has already enhanced the ease of doing business in the area.
The Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Barrister George Ariolu, who commended the governor for his aggressive infrastructure development, assured him that the people of the council would be fully mobilised to vote for the state PDP candidates in the 2023 general election.
Buhari Links Rising Terrorism In Lake Chad To Russia-Ukraine War
The ongoing confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, together with other violent incidents in the Sahel region of West Africa, has made the Boko Haram terrorist activity in the Lake Chad Basin region even worse, President Muhammadu Buhari, has said.
He made the disclosure, yesterday, in his opening address at the 16th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, held at the State House Conference Centre of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari, who is also the summit’s chairman, asserted that fighters and weapons are already entering the region via Russia and Ukraine, escalating the spread of small arms and light weapons.
He said this situation necessitates a reawakening of border security in the region’s member states.
The President also pointed out that despite significant efforts to weaken Boko Haram and other violent extremist organisations in the area, terrorist threats continue.
“I am glad to inform my dear brothers that in keeping with that decision, the MNJTF has since then, successfully conducted three major operations: Ops‘YANCIN TAFKI (I&II) and Ops Lake Sanity I, with, the fourth one, Ops Lake Sanity II, being planned. The next phase of the operation will take cognisance of lessons learnt from previous exercises and effectively consolidate the gains attained by preceding Ops.
“I am glad to note that during the execution of Ops Lake Sanity I, regrouping terrorists in the Lake Chad Islands were effectively decimated.
“It must, however, be stated that despite the successes recorded by the gallant troops of the MNJTF and the various ongoing national operations in the region, terrorist threats still lurk in the region.
“Regrettably, the situation in the Sahel and the raging war in Ukraine serve as major sources of weapons and fighters that bolster the ranks of the terrorists in the Lake Chad Region. A substantial proportion of the arms and ammunition procured to execute the war in Libya continues to find its way to the Lake Chad region and other parts of the Sahel.
“Weapons being used for the war in Ukraine and Russia are equally beginning to filter to the region.
“This illegal movement of arms into the region has heightened the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which continues to threaten our collective peace and security in the region. There is, therefore, the urgent need for expedited collaborative actions by our border control agencies and other security services to stop the circulation of all illegal weapons in the region”, he said.
Buhari stressed that government presence must be positively felt in the area to restore the confidence of citizens in the ability of the state to protect them and provide basic infrastructure for all.
He said: “It is in view of the foregoing, that the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram affected Areas of the region must gain further traction without any delay.
“I am glad to note the development, costing and validation of the territorial action plans for the eight Boko Haram most affected territories of the region.
“These action plans which are the basic building blocks for the implementation of the strategy for the developmental needs of the people of the area. While we commend these initiatives, we must immediately commence efforts at their operationalization.
“In this regard, I urge our partners to continue to support us as we redouble the ongoing efforts at developing the region, to win the hearts and minds of the citizens in the area.”
He emphasised further that the region around Lake Chad is, indeed, dealing with a complicated security scenario that is highly dynamic, continuously changing, and increasingly influenced by the effects of climate change and other causes, including, tragically, some external ones.
Due to these reasons, he said, “it is essential that we routinely evaluate the development and anti-terrorism policies in place in the area.
“We must continue together to proffer ingenious solutions to the challenges confronting us. We must, through the commission, continue to make concerted efforts to provide the desired leadership, and ownership and ensure that our experts and troops are adequately motivated and supported to achieve our objectives.
“We must strive to continue to view our region through the lens of equity, fairness, diversity, and inclusion. It is imperative that we all see ourselves reflected in the kind of leadership we provide for the region. We must continue to support and contribute to the success of the organisation. We all must rise and face the challenges of the region headlong in order to deliver the bright future we envisage for our region.”
He noted that although budgetary concerns remain a challenge for all member countries, considering the declining global inflows and increasing demands, “we must, however, never lose sight of the vision of the Founding Fathers of the commission. We must continue to strive and make collaborative efforts at upholding the ideals for which the LCBC in its near 60 years of existence has continued to pursue.”
He applauded the gallantry of the troops in the field, ensuring the safety and stability of the region, stating: “We recommit ourselves to sustaining the ongoing counterterrorism efforts by providing you with the requisite needs to function optimally. I wish to assure you that your welfare would continue to remain our priority. I urge you all to rededicate yourselves as we take the final push towards eradicating terrorism from our region. Together, we shall restore and transform the Lake Chad region to its former glory.”
Meanwhile, in his welcome address to the Summit, the Executive Secretary of the LCBC, MammanNuhu, disclosed that Nigeria had remitted a total of $209,075,748 to the funding of the MNJTF between 2015 and 2021.
“I want to avail myself of this opportunity to express our deep appreciation to your Excellencies for your unwavering support to your respective MNJTF sectors, regardless of other challenges that equally demand similar support from you.
“Special thanks also to the chairman of the summit, for his tireless support to the MNJTF, the last remittance of the sum of $10,500,000 on April 6, 2021, brought the total direct disbursement of Nigeria to the MNJTF to $209,075,748 from 2015 to 2021”, he disclosed.
The event had Presidents and Heads of State of the six member-states in attendance, with the exception of President Paul Biya of Cameroon, who was represented by one of his ministers.
Those in physical attendance were President of the Central African Republic, Prof. Faustine Archange Touadera; President and Head of State of Niger Republic, Mohamed Bazoum; President of the Republic of Benin, Patrice Tallon; President of the Transition Military Council of Chad, MahamatIdriss DebyItno; President of the Republic, Head of State, Mohamed Al-Menfi; chairman, Presidential Council of Libya.
FG Approves Paternity Leave For Civil Servants
The Federal Government has approved a 14-working-day paternity leave for federal civil servants in the country.
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, made this known via a circular dated November 25, made available to newsmen, yesterday.
The circular with ref no HCSF/SPSO/ODD/NCE/RR/650309/3 was titled, ‘Computation of Leave Based on Working Days and Approval of Paternity Leave in the Public Service’.
Yemi-Esan, in the circular addressed to the Chief of Staff to the President, Ministers, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Clerk of the National Assembly, and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), among others, said the approval of the paternity leave was in line with the provisions of the Public Service Rules, 2021 Edition, adding that the computation of all leave shall be based on working days.
The HoS stated that the period of the leave shall be 14 working days and shall not be more than once in two years, and for maximum of four children.
“Government has also approved Paternity Leave for serving male officers whose spouse delivers a baby. The period of the leave shall be 14 working days.
“The leave shall not be more than once in two years, and for maximum of four children.
“Where the family of a male officer adopts a child under four months old, the officer will similarly enjoy Paternity Leave for a period of 14 working days,” Yemi-Esan noted.
She said the request for such leave shall be accompanied by the Expected Date of Delivery’s (EDD) report of the officer’s wife or evidence of approval of the adoption of the child by the relevant government bodies, adding that the effective date of the circular was November 25, 2022.
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