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SERAP, Ogonis Take FG To ECOWAS Court Over Illegal Pipelines, Oil Theft

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari over “the failure to probe the operations of illegal oil pipelines between 2001 and 2022, to name and prosecute those suspected to be involved, and to recover proceeds of crime.”
The suit was filed by SERAP, Chief Eric Dooh (who is suing for himself as a leader of the Goi Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, and on behalf of the Goi Community), and 15 other concerned Nigerians.
The suit followed recent reports of the discovery of, at least, 58 illegal oil pipelines used to steal the country’s oil wealth.
The stealing is reportedly carried out through the illicit pipeline connected to the trunk line via an abandoned pipeline, and linked to a location in the high sea, where they load crude oil into vessels and sell overseas.
In the Suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/53/22 filed, last Friday, before the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, the Plaintiffs are seeking: “an order directing and compelling the Buhari government to immediately probe the reports of operations of illegal pipelines and oil theft, name and prosecute suspected perpetrators.
The Plaintiffs are also seeking: “an order directing and compelling the Buhari government to fully recover any proceeds of crime, and to respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights of the people of Niger Delta that have continued to suffer the effects of oil theft by non-state actors.”
In the suit, the Plaintiffs are arguing that, “The Buhari government is failing to uphold its international legal obligations to ensure that the country’s oil wealth is used solely for the benefit of Nigerians, and that the wealth does not end up in private pockets.”
The Plaintiffs are also arguing that, “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.”
According to the Plaintiffs, “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.”
The Plaintiffs are also arguing that, “the illegal pipelines have been operated for many years without notice, implying a flagrant violation of international human rights obligations to ensure the proper, effective and efficient management of the country’s wealth and natural resources.”
In the suit filed on their behalf by their lawyer, Kolawole Oluwadare, the Plaintiffs contend that, “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.”
The suit, read in part: “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 safe drinking water, recurring budget deficits, growing level of borrowing, and unsustainable debt profile.
“There are violations of the economic and social rights of the people of the Niger Delta, including the rights to an adequate standard of living, and to economic and social development – as a consequence of the plundering of the country’s resources through the operations of illegal pipelines by non-state actors.
“The Buhari government has failed to exercise due diligence to prevent and combat oil theft; to investigate and prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recover proceeds of crimes; and to respect, protect, promote and fulfil people’s rights.
“The Plaintiffs contend that the resulting loss from the plundering of the country’s wealth and natural resources by non-state actors and state actors through the operations of illegal pipelines is a contributory cause of poverty and underdevelopment in the Niger Delta.
“The Plaintiffs further contend that the majority of the people of Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole continue to be denied access to basic necessities of life such as clean water, quality education, healthcare, food, a clean and healthy environment, and economic development.
“This illegal oil connection has been operating for nine years with about 600,000 barrels per day of oil lost in the same period.
“According to a Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) audit report, 160million barrels of crude oil valued at $13.7billion were stolen between 2009 and 2012.
“The Plaintiffs contend that the destruction of vessels used for crude oil theft by security agencies under the command of the Defendant was illegal and was done to conceal the identity of the perpetrators.
“It is further contended that the forfeiture of any vessel used for illegal activity can only be lawfully carried out pursuant to the order of a Court of competent jurisdiction.
“The Plaintiffs are, therefore, asking the ECOWAS Court for the following reliefs: A declaration that everyone in the Niger Delta is entitled to the internationally recognised human right to an adequate standard of living, to life and human dignity, to a clean and healthy environment; to wealth and natural resources, to human dignity, and to economic and social development.
“A declaration that the failure and/or negligence of the Defendant to prevent and combat oil theft through the operations of illegal pipelines by non-state actors, and to investigate, arrest, name and prosecute the perpetrators of this oil theft and operation of illegal refineries, and recover the proceeds of crime, is unlawful, as it violates Nigeria’s international human rights and anti-corruption obligations and commitments.
“A declaration that the failure and/or negligence of the Defendant to investigate the reports of operations of illegal pipelines and to recover the proceeds of crime is unlawful, as it amounts to depriving the Nigerian people of their right to the enjoyment of their wealth.
“A declaration that the failure of the Defendant to provide access to justice and effective remedies including reparation for the victims, is unlawful as it amounts to breaches of obligations to ensure the human rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
“An Order directing the Defendant and/or its agents individually and/or collectively to respect, protect, promote, and fulfil the human rights of the people of Niger Delta that have continued to suffer the effects of oil theft and plundering by non-state actors.
“An Order directing the Defendant to pay adequate monetary compensation of $500million to the victims of these crimes and human rights violations within the Niger Delta region, and any other forms of reparation that the Honourable Court may deem fit to grant.
“Such further orders the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this suit.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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Vote Against Candidates In Support Of Naira Redesign Policy Implementation -Wike …Challenges Sekibo To Disclose Why Obasanjo Sacked Him As Minister

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has urged Nigerians not to vote for any candidate that supports the way the currency redesign policy is being implemented, in the forthcoming election.
Governor Wike spoke at Opobo Town Sandfield during the Rivers State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaign flag-off rally for Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area at the weekend.
The governor, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, explained that such candidate is an enemy of Nigerians, who are already plunged into inexplicable economic hardship with nonavailability of both the old and new Naira notes to enable them buy food for their households and fuel for their cars.
Governor Wike said he is convinced that President Muhammadu Buhari, who may not have been properly briefed on the hardship the Naira swap is causing Nigerians, is already getting feedback on the ill advised policy and will review the implementation.
“Anybody who claims he loves Nigeria and is contesting election but is supporting this CBN policy. Will you people vote for such person? It is only the enemies of Nigeria that are supporting this anti-people policy. I believe President Muhammadu Buhari was not properly briefed about this policy”, he said.
Governor Wike insisted that the policy is being implemented to provoke the civil populace into embarking on public protests that could be used as an excuse to postpone the forthcoming election.
The governor pointed out that there is a cabal behind the policy implementation who are pushing to install an interim government, thereby prevent Nigerians from using their Permanent Voters Cards to determine their next leaders.
“The primary target of this policy is to provoke Nigerians to embark on civil disturbance which they will capitalise on to say they cannot conduct election and push for enthronement of an interim government. No matter the provocation, I urge everyone to be calm. This election must hold because nothing will stop an Opobo man to become governor”, he vowed.
Wike challenged the former Minister of Transport, Dr Abiye Sekibo, to explain why former President Olusegun Obasanjo sacked him from his cabinet.
The governor described himself as a man of integrity who served as minister under President Goodluck Jonathan and later resigned honourably to contest governorship election and won.
He also asserted that he is not among those who had caused crisis in their local governments and has blood on their hands, daring Sekibo to also make similar assertion.
Canvassing votes for the PDP governorship candidate in the state, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, Governor Wike enjoined Opobo people not to undermine the opportunity they have now to produce the next governor of the State.
He assured of signing the contract for the construction of Opobo Ring-Road, which will be completed by Fubara when he wins the election and assumes office as governor.
Governor Wike also told the electorate to deliver their votes for all PDP candidates in the state and await instructions from their leaders on the presidential candidate to cast votes for.
Sir Fubara, in his speech, restated his promise to the leadership of the party to never disappoint the confidence reposed in him to fly the party’s gubernatorial flag.
Fubara urged Opobo people to deliver their votes as an appreciation of the opportunity given to their son to become the next governor of the State.
He acknowledged the benevolence of Governor Wike in delivering road infrastructure and land reclamation projects in Opobo town, and assured that they would benefit more when he wins.
Presenting flags to PDP candidates, Chairman of the party in Rivers State, Ambassador Desmond Akawor, enjoined Opobo people to ensure that they deliver winning votes for their son and all the candidates of the party.
In his speech, Senator Adawari Pepple, expressed gratitude to Governor Wike for deeming it necessary to support their son to emerge PDP governorship candidate in the state.
Senator Pepple asserted that a true Opobo citizen is a loyal person and that Fubara will not disappoint the confidence reposed in him.
He assured that the entire Opobo people would follow Governor Wike wherever he goes and vote as he directs.
Dr. Sam Jaja acknowledged that Governor Wike has used his position to give prominence to an Ijaw son of Ibani extraction.
According to him, they have resolved that their votes will be wholesomely delivered for the PDP governorship candidate and the entire consolidation team.
Speaking on behalf of the candidates, Senator Barinada Mpegi, said the entire Rivers South East Senatorial District is fully ready to vote massively for all PDP candidates in the state.
Earlier, Governor Wike, Fubara and other PDP leaders had paid a courtesy visit to the palace of His Majesty, King (Dr.) Dandeson Douglas Jaja, Jeki V, Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom.
The King, in appreciation of the governor’s benevolence to the Opobo kingdom, conferred on him ‘Amafurotuo’ which means son of Opobo.

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Implementation Of New Naira Policy Is Anti-People, Wike Tells Buhari …Insists Cabal In Presidency Backing Atiku

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to reconsider the manner with which the currency redesign policy is being implemented because it is anti-people.
Governor Wike maintained that those who recommended this apparently anti-people monetary policy do not love the President and are bent on tarnishing his legacies.
The governor stated this at the Comprehensive Secondary School field, Ibaka Town, Okrika Island, during the Rivers State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Flag-off Rally for Okrika Local Government Area, last Friday.
Governor Wike, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, urged President Buhari to take a critical look at the socio-economic chaos and hardship that the exercise has caused, and revisit the policy in order to curb the pains of Nigerians.
According to him, “This policy is anti-people. The new Naira note is not there. Even though I have money in my account, I cannot get N10,000. I cannot go and buy fuel. Who is losing? Is it not the masses? Is it not the people?”
He advised the President to stop listening to those who advise him on this monetary policy under the guise that it will curb vote buying, saying those advisors do not mean well for Nigerians and cannot feel their sufferings.
Governor Wike also dismissed the claim that the policy is being implemented to fight politicians and corruption, and wondered if such goals can be achieved within the remaining three months of President Buhari’s administration.
“You’re merely fighting against the poor people. Mr President, I know the pressure, but please since two of us are going the same time, this policy, it has nothing to fight corruption at all. It has nothing to fight politicians.
“This policy is aimed to suffer the people who elected us to govern over them. Our business is not to make the people to suffer. We all know how to fight corruption. We all know how to fight politicians. This particular one, it does not come in at all”, he insisted.
Governor Wike expressed dismay that people were prevented from accessing money lodged in their bank accounts while small scale commercial activities were grounded for lack of cash.
According to him, there is reduced cash flow in circulation and even the redesigned Naira notes are hardly available to the citizenry.
“I know Mr President has good intention, but there are these people who believe they know more than everybody, they go and put the country in total chaos and that is what we are suffering now”, Wike said.
He stressed the futility of presenting credit cards to pay for food items bought from an elderly woman who depends on daily sales to raise money in the rural areas with prevailing illiteracy.
According to the governor, there is no where in the world where such currency change has been done conclusively within six months.
He said, “I have never seen anywhere in this world where you change money within six months and say no more use of old money. It doesn’t work. It takes time and you have to prepare. Look at our economy, look at the rural areas, the level of illiteracy in the country.”
Governor Wike urged President Buhari to avert aggravating the security challenge across the country and pushing Nigerians deeper into economic hardship.
“Can you imagine the problem you’re causing for us. As we are here, the level of insecurity will increase. We can’t get security agencies money any longer for them to use and pay those who are in the field. Even the CIA they carry cash for operation. Even NIA, they carry cash for operation. But here, we can’t even give our security One Million Naira.”
Speaking further, Governor Wike said recent events had vindicated him over his initial public statement that the PDP presidential candidate and his supporters boasted that they do not need the G-5 governors to win election because they had been assured of victory by a cabal in the presidency.
“I said they have been given assurance, but this election is not going to be based on that cabal assurance. It is on the people’s assurance”, he said.
Governor Wike, however, insisted that any party that does not need Rivers State will lose the election.
According to him, “whether you like it or not, you must need Rivers State. If you don’t need Rivers State you must fail. If you say you don’t want us, you’ll fail. There is no two ways about it.”
Soliciting votes for the PDP governorship candidate in the state, Sir Siminialayi Fubara and other PDP candidates, Governor Wike urged the people to vote overwhelmingly for the PDP.
He disclosed that the contract for the Okrika sandfilling project has been re-awarded because the former contractor who is their son has failed to finish the project.
Governor Wike also announced the upgrading to first class traditional stool status, confirmation and recognition of King Nelson Atubo Oputibeya as the Amanyanabo of Koniju.
Sir Fubara, in his address, said his administration, when elected as governor, would work to sustain the existing peace in Okrika, complete any ongoing project it may inherit, and provide more development projects to them.
Rivers State Chairman of the PDP, Ambassador Desmond Akawor, who presented the party’s flags to the various candidates in the area, urged Okrika people to vote massively for the party’s candidates.
Speaking on behalf of other candidates, the Rivers East Senatorial candidate, Chief Allwell Onyesoh, thanked the leadership and members of the party for the privilege given to them to fly the party’s flag, pledging that they will provide quality representation when elected.
Earlier, Governor Wike had inaugurated a 100-Bed Mother and Child Hospital in Okrika, which was built under the auspices of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the office of the presidency.
The project was nominated and attracted to the area by Hon. Bright Gogo, the House of Representatives member for Okrika and Ogu/Bolo federal constituency.
While commending Princess Adejoke Adefulire, the Senior Special Assistants on SDGs to President Buhari, for ensuring the building and equipping of the hospital, Governor Wike noted that Hon. Gogo has distinguished himself for attracting and realising the project in his constituency unlike other federal lawmakers from the state who attracted no projects.

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Rivers Electorate’ll Punish PDP National Leadership -Wike

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Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike says Rivers electorates will use the forthcoming election to punish the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for abandoning them during the October and November 2022 flooding incidence.
Governor Wike made the remark yesterday at the Community Secondary School in Akinima Town during the Rivers State PDP Campaign Flag-off Rally at Ahoada West Local Government Area.
The governor explained that the flooding situation was devastating in some communities of Abua/ Odual, Ahoada West and Ahoada East Local Government Areas with houses submerged, the people displaced, and their socioeconomic life disrupted.
Wike recalled that while the period lasted, the national leadership of PDP refused to visit those communities as a way of identifying with Rivers people when it mattered most.
Governor Wike emphasised that even though the PDP national leadership refused to identify with Rivers communities, they gladly visited flood impacted communities in other States, and identified with them, which can now be interpreted that they hate Rivers State.
He said in retaliation of the hatred, and the mindset that Rivers State does not matter, the electorates will use the power of their permanent voters cards (PVCs) to “pepper” the PDP national leadership in the forthcoming election.
“You had a problem, a major problem. Ahoada West, Ahoada East, Abua-Odual, had a major flooding problem. After they’ll say we are in the same party. Is there anybody from the national of our party that came to visit Ahoada West, Ahoada East, and Abua?
“But they went to other states, which means that they don’t like us. If somebody says he doesn’t like you, will you force yourself on them?”
Speaking further, Governor Wike reassured the people of Ahoada West Local Government that his administration would deliver to them a fully reconstructed Government Secondary School, Okarki.
Governor Wike told them that the contract for the project was awarded long time ago and paid for in full, but their sons who got the contract failed to deliver on schedule.
He assured that the contract would be re-awarded and completed before his tenure ends on May 29.
Governor Wike urged the people not to allow ballot box snatchers in the area to outsmart them anymore particularly, now that the elections will be conducted electronically.
He harped on the need for massive mobilisation of the people per electoral unit, so that the voters will be aware of who to cast their votes for, and to make sure that PDP wins all the election for governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly.
“What I want to advise you this time is, don’t allow those ballot box snatchers in APC to try it again. Luckily, this election is not election of snatching ballot boxes or paper. It is election that will be done electronically and transmitted electronically. All we need from you is to mobilise your people unit to unit.”
In his address, Rivers State governorship candidate of the PDP, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, noted that because of the massive development projects delivered in the area by the PDP controlled State government, the party has first right of winning the election.
Fubara, therefore, urged the people to go and collect the remainder of their PVCs at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said with the PVCs, they can confidently vote into power the PDP consolidation team that will continue to deliver to them more development projects, education infrastructure and to sustain the security experienced in the area.
Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Ambassador Desmond Akawor, who presented party’s flags to candidates contesting for the various elective positions, charged the people to ensure bulk delivery of winning votes to PDP.
Rivers State Deputy governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, who is contesting for Rivers West Senatorial District slot, spoke on behalf of the candidates and said sequel to excellent performance of Governor Wike in office, it is given that Ahoada West is faithful supporter of PDP.
She promised that when elected, they would commit to upholding the interest of their constituents and the State at large.
Before going to the campaign venue, Governor Wike had paid a courtesy visit to the Ahoada West Local Government Traditional Rulers Council under the chairmanship of Chief Moore Maclean Ubuo, the king of Engenni kingdom, to first introduce and secure royal blessings for Sir Siminialayi Fubara, as the incoming governor of the State.

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