Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Confusion in Lagos as passenger plane is towed along highway

A plane that was towed along the side of a busy expressway in Lagos on Tuesday night has caused widespread confusion and amusement to commuters – and rumours it had crashed – before Nigerian authorities said that it was being delivered to its new owner via the busy road.

Several videos of the aircraft posted on social media showed it at various points along the side of a major road, within a mile of the international and domestic airport terminals and plane storage facilities in the Ikeja area of Lagos.

Footage showed the passenger aircraft being towed alongside heavy traffic as pedestrians passed closely by, with videos taken from one side of the plane showing trucks towing away part of one of the aircraft wings.

Some initial reports spread online claimed that the plane had crash landed in the populous area.

In response to questions on how the surprise aircraft had arrived on the side of the road, Ibrahim Farinloye, the head of Lagos’ emergency management agency said officials “tracked all incoming and outgoing flights in Lagos and there is no plane missing so far.”

Then in a statement on Tuesday night Nigeria’s airport authorities said reports of a crash landing were false. “The aircraft was sold by the owner to a buyer, who was talking it to its final destination. Thank you,” the statement said posted on social media.

Isaac Eneji, who took a video of the plane on his way home from work after 8pm said the sight of the plane left him and others baffled. “At first I thought it was an art work. I was arguing with a colleague until we saw it was a plane on the road. How can a tow truck move a plane’s fuselage along a major highway during the peak of traffic?” he said.

“I saw a towing truck pulling the fuselage of the plane out of something that looked like a ditch, and the cockpit was on the road,” Eneji said.

Jude, another eye witness who posted footage of the plane said, “It was a shock to everyone, seeing a plane on the express road. The things we see in Lagos.”

By Emmanuel Akinwotu 

The Guardian 

‘Green Nobel’ Winner Warns Oil Majors May Abandon Nigeria on Pollution Cleanup

A Nigerian lawyer awarded a top prize for grassroots environmental activism has warned that international oil companies divesting from the West African country will abandon their obligations to compensate and clean up communities polluted by decades of crude production.

Multinationals such as Shell Plc and TotalEnergies SE have been selling onshore and shallow water permits to local firms for more than a decade to focus on deep-water projects off the Nigerian coast. That process is accelerating as the majors map out plans to transition to cleaner forms of energy and avoid problems associated with operating close to communities in the crude-rich Niger Delta, where the oil industry has wreaked massive environmental devastation.

“Once they have divested, then they will say that he who buys the assets also buys the liabilities,” Chima Williams, who on Wednesday was named a winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, said in an interview. The risk is that “incompetent domestic companies” short of know-how and resources will end up in possession of the licenses, he said.

Williams, who is currently the executive director of Nigerian advocacy group Environmental Rights Action, has spent decades at the forefront of efforts to hold oil companies accountable for pollution from their facilities in the Niger Delta. The 52-year-old worked with farmers from two communities and the Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth to sue Shell in the Netherlands in 2008 over pipeline leaks that had occurred several years earlier.

In January 2021, the Court of Appeals in The Hague ordered Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary to compensate the villagers and also instructed the parent company to install better warning systems. The amount of money Shell will pay has yet to be determined.

While Shell didn’t respond to a request for comment, the company has argued most spills in the Niger Delta, including those in the Dutch case that affected the Goi and Oruma communities, are caused by theft and sabotage rather than equipment failure.

But Williams said much of the infrastructure for pumping oil and gas in Nigeria, including pipelines, “has outlived its lifespan,” which makes it “easy prey.”

“There is contributory negligence on the part of the operators,” he said. The prize, dubbed the Green Nobel, is awarded annually by San Francisco’s Goldman Environmental Foundation to six recipients recognized for their grassroots work.

Read more: A King in Oil-Rich Nigeria Delta Pins Hope on U.K. In Shell Case

Formerly a UK business with headquarters in the Netherlands, Shell relocated in January from The Hague to London – where it is also facing a potentially precedent-setting lawsuit brought by Nigerian communities. The UK Supreme Court ruled last year that more than 40,000 residents of the Niger Delta could sue Shell in England over oil contamination the plaintiffs blame on the company.

The claimants from Goi and Oruma filed their suit in Europe because they think it will be easier to enforce court decisions than in Nigeria, said Williams. “We decided to bring this case in the Netherlands where we feel that Shell respects the law, respects judicial orders,” he said. Other communities have contacted Williams and ERA about the possibility of taking legal complaints against oil companies overseas, he said.

Shell is considering bids for its remaining onshore and shallow water permits, while Total last month announced it would also seek to offload its minority interest in the same group of licenses. “You leave your legacy onshore pollution problems unsorted and you are receiving incentives for making investments in areas where it would be difficult to scrutinize what you’re doing,” Williams said. 

By William Clowes


Related stories: Oil spills in Nigeria could potentially kill 16,000 babies a year

New inquiry on oil spills in Nigeria launched

The Criminals Undercutting Nigeria’s Oil Industry

Monday, May 23, 2022

Video - Nigeria’s medical brain drain

Nigerian doctors are leaving Nigeria in droves to seek better working conditions abroad. Health workers say decades of neglect by the government has led to mass exodus. While the doctor-patient ratio recommended by the World Health Organization is one for every 400, but in Nigeria, its one for 2,500. Nigeria’s nurses’ union says 11,000 members have left the country in the first three months of 2022, to work in hospitals abroad. Senior consultants say while the immediate future is bleak, the government can reverse the trend. Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports from Kano, Nigeria.

Passport Issuance: Nigeria immigration introduces tracking system

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) said it has introduced a tracking system for the monitoring of statuses of passport applications by applicants.

The acting comptroller general of NIS, Isah Idris, who disclosed this during a brief media interaction on Saturday evening, said the initiative is part of the agency’s efforts toward sustaining transparency and accountability in the passport issuance process.

Mr Idris said since the launch of the online appointment system by the agency, the allegations of corruption and harassment against his personnel have significantly reduced. This is even as he appealed to Nigerians to always stick to the rules and “stop inducing our officers.”

He said: “Like parcels sent through logistic companies or visa applications, we have introduced a tracking system so that people can stay in the comfort of their rooms and know the status of their passport applications.

“You don’t need to offer anyone any kobo. All that you need to do is to log into our website on, upload the required details and see an immediate response on the status of your passports.”

Significance of the initiative

According to Mr Idris, the new initiative is part of the efforts to phase out human interactions, saying the rowdiness and delay in the passport issuance would soon be a thing of the past.

He said the best method to address the inadequacies identified with the production process is the deployment of technology and pleaded with Nigerians to always apply for their passport before its expiration or “only when they need it.”

He added that other measures are being put in place to resolve all the challenges identified with passport application in Nigeria, saying the challenges currently being experienced are results of combined problems of the coronavirus disease, foreign exchange scarcity, national identity number validation, among others.

Other measures

The acting comptroller general said apart from the tracking system, the agency will also in the next four weeks introduce self-validation of applicants’ NIN available on its portal and that only when such is done will the applicant proceed to pay and book an appointment for capturing.

He said: “We must also note that passports confer on holders the integrity of a nation, therefore the integrity of producing such documents should also not be compromised. So we must verify the authenticity of applicants’ claims before we proceed for production.

“Also, most times, delays are usually caused by the NIN validation problems and what we want to do now will allow individual applicants to, first of all, verify and validate their NIN and only upload validated NIN before they can pay for passports. By doing that, we would have successfully tackled the issue of a delay from other partners which we don’t have control over.”

Alert system introduction

Meanwhile, Mr Idris also explained that the Service is working on the introduction of an alert system “so that holders of passports can be reminded when it is six months to the expiration of their passports.”

“Like the driver licences, NIS is planning to introduce an alert system as soon as passports have about six months to expire. This is how much we are trying to leverage on technology to ease the stress currently being experienced,” the acting CGI said.

Production domestication

He also spoke on the plan to domesticate the production of passports, saying efforts have reached an advanced stage towards achieving that.

Mr Idris said President Muhammadu Buhari has since issued a directive towards achieving that, and that the ongoing process will only continue pending the completion of the domestication project.

He thanked the minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, for his efforts towards achieving the target, and pledged his administration’s commitment to “the dream.”

“If we eventually do that, we would have opened more job opportunities for Nigerians, improve the national economy by stopping the capital flight, and also enhance the sanctity of our nation. But there is more to it than just the production. The integrity of the system matters a lot and we cannot afford to have a passport that would lose its integrity,” he added.

By Mojeed Alabi

Premium Times

Severed head of missing Nigerian lawmaker found in park -police

Police in Nigeria have discovered the severed head of a state legislator who went missing last week in the southeastern state of Anambra, where the government accuses separatists of carrying out a spate of killings and kidnappings, police said on Sunday.

The southeast, homeland of the Igbo ethnic group, is agitating to secede from the rest of Nigeria and the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group has been leading those calls.

Okechukwu Okoye, a legislator in the Anambra state assembly and his aide went missing on May 15. His head was found on Saturday night in a park in the Nnewi south local government area, Anambra state police spokesman Tochukwu Ikenga said.

"The lawmaker was killed. His head was found along Nnobi road. There is no suspect in custody yet," Ikenga said.

The Anambra state governor has put up a 10 million naira ($24,000) reward for information on the killers.
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Early this month, gunmen killed and beheaded two soldiers in neighbouring Imo state. The government accused IPOB, which denied the charge.

The violence in the southeast is another layer of insecurity in Nigeria, where kidnappings for ransom are common in the northwest and an Islamist insurgency has been going on for more than a decade in the northeast of the country.

Amnesty International said last August that Nigerian security forces had killed at least 115 people in the southeast in the first eight months of 2021 and arbitrarily arrested or tortured scores of others. The government did not comment.