Amnesty Int’l Accuses Shell, Eni Of Negligence Over Niger Delta Oil Spills

 

 

Rights group, Amnesty International, has faulted reports of oil spills in the Niger Delta by Shell and Eni, and is asking the Federal Government re-open investigations into 89 oil spills in the region.

According to the group, the oil giants under-reported the number of spills in the last seven years and also attributed the causes to activities of militants and oil thieves.

But findings by pipeline experts, accufacts, which carried out the investigation on behalf of Amnesty International, also blamed the spills on pipeline corrosion.

Part of the report also accuses the companies of responding late to reports of oil spills.

It added: “We consider Shell and Eni to be deliberately reckless and therefore wilfully negligent in their operations in Nigeria – their failure to operate in line with Nigerian law and best practice standards is having a devastating impact on the human rights of Niger Delta communities.”

Amnesty International is, therefore, calling on the Nigerian government to strengthen its regulation of the oil industry, including the oil spills agency, NOSDRA, with adequate tools to ensure that the oil companies prevent and clean up spills.

The call was made after crowd-sourced analysis of the companies’ publicly available documents on pipeline failures in the Niger Delta region.

Activists who pored over reports found that since Shell began publishing details in January 2011, it had 1,010 spills amounting to 110,535 barrels or 17.5 million litres of crude.

ENI had 820 spills — the equivalent of 26,286 barrels or 4.1 million litres of oil — since it made its reports public in 2014.

The companies blamed “third party interference” — either sabotage of pipelines by militants or the theft of crude known locally as “bunkering” — for most of the spills.

‘Insult To Injury’

But Amnesty’s business and human rights researcher Mark Dummett said the companies’ claims to be doing all they can to prevent spills were at odds with the analysis.

“(Researchers) found that the companies often ignore reports of oil spills for months on end — on one occasion ENI took more than a year to respond,” he said in a statement.

“The Niger Delta is one of the most polluted places on Earth and it beggars belief that the companies responsible are still displaying this level of negligence.

“Adding insult to injury is the fact that Shell and ENI seem to be publishing unreliable information about the cause of extent of spills,” he added, accusing both firms of “recklessness”.

Allegations about misreporting, including under-estimating the amount of oil spilled, are significant as they could affect claims for compensation for local communities.

In January 2015, Shell agreed to pay £55 million ($77 million, 62 million euros) in compensation to more than 15,500 people affected by oil spills in the Ogoniland area of Rivers state.

The case saw the company admit the spills were greater than first reported.

Food, water contamination

Oil companies are required to make an initial assessment of any spill within 24 hours of detection, put in place measures to prevent wider contamination and clean up spills swiftly.

But the analysis indicated Shell responded within 24 hours on only 26 per cent of occasions during the period in question, while ENI did so on 76 per cent of times.

The risk of contamination of food and water sources increases the longer the response time to spills.

Many spills happened in the same area. ENI, for example, had 262 spills on its 92-kilometre (57.5-mile) Tebidaba-Brass pipeline in Bayelsa state.

ENI blamed sabotage for 260 of the spills but the company was warned multiple times to improve surveillance, it was alleged in Amnesty’s report, “Negligence in the Niger Delta”.

Shell rejected the allegations, saying they were “false, without merit and fail to recognise the complex environment in which it operates”.

ENI similarly rejected claims that it was failing to take prompt action or was providing unreliable or misleading information.

It said spills were down by more than 50 per cent last year compared to 2014.

Investigators Hunt For Clues After Miami Bridge Collapse Kills Six

MIAMI, FL – MARCH 16: Florida Highway Patrol troopers are seen as they investigate the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed a few days after it was built.
JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Investigators were combing the scene of a footbridge collapse in Miami on Friday to determine how a brand-new structure could fail in less than a week, as police said the death toll of six was set to rise.

The operation has shifted from rescue to body recovery, with engineers fearing the support structures at either end of the bridge could also come down, Alvaro Zabaleta, police spokesman for Miami-Dade County, told reporters.

“The entire bridge is in jeopardy,” he said.

Juan Perez, director of the Miami-Dade police department later told reporters that a team of government prosecutors were on the scene as part of the investigation, but stressed it was too soon to say whether criminal charges would be brought.

“It is important that we understand, this is a homicide investigation. That’s all it is,” he said. “That means that somebody died… It does not mean there (are) criminal charges looming or pending or anything like that.”

The toll meanwhile was likely to go up when authorities extracted and identified the remains of victims in vehicles trapped under the rubble, he added.

The walkway, which connects Florida International University to a student housing area, went up less than a week ago but was not yet operational.

Ten people were taken to the hospital, Zabaleta said, with emergency crews working all through the night at the scene.

Video footage showed the concrete structure suddenly crashing onto the road below.

At least eight cars were trapped when the 950-ton (tonne) bridge suddenly gave way on Thursday, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Division Chief Paul Estopinan said earlier.

Police detective Juan Carlos Llera said when the bridge came down, it “sounded like an explosion. A huge bang.”
“It looks like a disaster area. It looks literally like a bomb went off,” Llera told AFP.

Miami Fire Chief Dave Downey meanwhile emphasized there was no hope of finding survivors.

“We exhausted last night all of our search and rescue capabilities in the hopes of finding additional survivors,” he said. “This is going to be a long-term operation.”

– Loose cables –

The bridge was suspended from cables which had come loose and while they were being tightened, the whole thing collapsed, Florida Senator Marco Rubio wrote on Twitter.

The bridge had only been installed on Saturday, ahead of its planned opening in 2019.

One shaken driver, Lynnell Collins, told CNN he was about to make a right turn when “the whole thing really just came down.”

“I got out of my car and me and a few other people were sprinting over there. We started helping people whose cars were at least half crushed and whoever was easily saved.”

He said he saw two trucks that were completely crushed.

– Quickly erected –

The university had only recently been celebrating the construction of the bridge across a busy and dangerous section of highway that students said had been the scene of accidents.

It had been erected using an accelerated modular building method that enabled it to go up in the space of a day.

“We are stunned by today’s tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge,” said FIGG Engineering Group, one of the partners involved in the walkway’s construction.

“We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why,” the firm said in a statement.

Munilla Construction Management, which was also involved, also issued a statement of condolence. Bridge collapses in the United States are infrequent despite rising risks associated with ageing infrastructure.

The deadliest such incident this century was in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2007, when an eight-lane bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people.

‘Life Of Pi’ Star Irrfan Khan Reveals Struggle With Rare Illness

In this file photo taken on April 10, 2015 Indian Bollywood actor Irfan Khan speaks during a promotional event for a sustainable living project in Bangalore.
Manjunath KIRAN / AFP

Bollywood star Irrfan Khan, known internationally for his roles in blockbusters “Life of Pi” and “Slumdog Millionaire”, shocked fans Friday by revealing he has a rare tumour.

In a statement addressing speculation by fans and the media over his health, Khan said he has been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour.

The disease affects the body’s hormonal messaging system and studies suggest it afflicts just 35 in 100,000 people.

“Learning that I have been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour as of now has admittedly been difficult, but the love and strength of those around me and that I found within me has brought me to a place of hope,” Khan said on Twitter.

“To those who waited for my words, I hope to be back with more stories to tell,” he said, adding that he would leave India for treatment.

Referring to rumours about his illness, Khan said a neuroendocrine tumour “is not always about the brain and googling is the easiest way to do research”.

The 51-year-old Indian actor, who was in the 2016 film “Inferno” alongside tom hanks, is one of Bollywood’s most globally-recognised exports, with a stellar career at home and in Hollywood.

He had been scheduled to start work on a film by Bollywood Director Vishal Bharadwaj, who recently announced the production had been postponed due to Khan’s illness.

AFP

Hollywood Director, Gilliam Hits Out At #Metoo ‘Mob Rule’

In this file photo taken on October 27, 2011 British actor Director Terry Gilliam arrives for the Premiere of the film “The Deep Blue Sea” in London’s Leicester Square.
MAX NASH / AFP

 

Hollywood director Terry Gilliam said Friday that the #MeToo movement has morphed into “mob rule”, claiming that while some women suffered, others used Harvey Weinstein to further their careers.

The Monty Python member said Weinstein “is a monster” and that there are “plenty of monsters out there… There are other people (still) behaving like Harvey” in the film industry, abusing their power for sex.

Weinstein was exposed because he “is an asshole and he made so many enemies,” he told AFP.

But Gilliam said the reaction against the wave of sexual abuse and harassment revelations had become ugly and “simplistic… people are frightened to say things, to think things.

“It is a world of victims. I think some people did very well out of meeting with Harvey and others didn’t. The ones who did knew what they were doing. These are adults, we are talking about adults with a lot of ambition.

“Harvey opened the door for a few people, a night with Harvey — that’s the price you pay,” said the maker of “Brazil” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

“Some people paid the price, other people suffered from it.”

Gilliam, who is in Paris to direct an opera, “Benvenuto Cellini”, said the atmosphere around #MeToo has “got silly, people are being described in ridiculous terms as if there is no real humanity left anymore.

“I feel sorry for someone like Matt Damon who is a decent human being. He came out and said all men are not rapists, and he got beaten to death. Come on, this is crazy!”

‘No intelligence anymore’

“I know enough girls who were in Harvey’s suites who were not victims and walked out.

“It’s crazy how simplified things are becoming. There is no intelligence anymore and people seem to be frightened to say what they really think. Now I am told even by my wife to keep my head a bit low,” said the 77-year-old American-born animator.

“It’s like when mob rule takes over, the mob is out there they are carrying their torches and they are going to burn down Frankenstein’s castle.”

But Gilliam said the truth was that abuse of power has “always happened. I don’t think Hollywood will change, power always takes advantage, it always does and always has.

“It’s how you deal with power — people have got to take responsibility for their own selves.”

Human beings, he said, “are physical creatures. There is touching and there is grabbing, that is the problem. I find it funny that (while this is going on) a self-confessed pussy-grabber is the president of the US and is just walking around.

“I find it incredible,” he said, calling Trump a “conman”.

– ‘A nightmare world’ –

Gilliam, who is now a British citizen, also took a swipe at Python colleague John Cleese, saying that “he is an idiot” to support Brexit.

“Look at America under Trump, look at England under the Conservatives — it is just a joke and it is costing fortunes. Britain is part of Europe and to think it can be Great Britain again is utterly foolish.

“It makes me feel like I’ve gotten very old and I am living through a nightmare world at the moment,” he added.

Gilliam said the biggest failure of the 1960s generation was not delivering true equality for women.

“The only thing that we did not do well is get women paid the same money as men are paid for the same job, that’s the one big failure of our time.”

Buhari, Others Storm Kano As Dangote’s Daughter Weds Ex-IGP’s Son

Aliko Dangote Welcomes Buhari as he arrives Kano for daughter’s marriage ceremony

 

Daughter of business mogul, Aliko Dangote, Fatima, on Friday tied the knot with her soulmate, Jamil Abubakar, son of the former Inspector General of Police Dikko Abubakar, in Kano State

In attendance were President Muhammadu Buhari; the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje; Former Head of State Abdulsalami Abubakar, Emir of Kano H.H. Muhammadu Sanusi II, Senate President Bukola Saraki among other top government officials.

Read More: Osinbajo’s Daughter Engages Fiancé In Presidential Villa

See photos below.

Court Orders Continuation Of Senator Melaye’s Recall Process

INEC Accuses Melaye Of Frustrating Recall Process
File photo

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), can continue with the recall process of the senator representing Kogi West senatorial district in the National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye.

Justice Tunde Awotoye, leading two other justices on Friday, read the lead judgement.

The appellate court held that the 90 days stipulated by the Constitution within which a recall process will take place “has no time limitation”.

It also held that the lower court ought not to have entertained Melaye’s suit ab initio.

Consequently, in a unanimous decision, the court dismissed the appeal filed by Melaye against the judgment delivered by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba at the Federal High Court in 2017, on grounds that there was no cause of action.

Justice Dimgba had on September 11, 2017 dismissed the suit filed by Senator Melaye, seeking to stop INEC from initiating his recall from the National Assembly.

He held that senator Melaye’s complaints were ‘hasty, premature and presumptuous” and therefore ordered INEC to go ahead with its planned verification exercise of the 188,588 registered voters who were said to have signed in support of the recall process.

The 188,588 voters were said to have constituted 52.3 per cent of the 360,098 total registered voters in the Kogi west senatorial district.

Buhari Condoles With Kaduna State, Christians Over Bishop Bagobiri’s Death

SDP Asks Buhari To Take Decisive Action Against Killings
File photo: President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed condolences over the passing away of the Bishop of Kafanchan Catholic Diocese, Joseph Danlami Bagobiri.

The Bishop died in Kaduna on February 27, 2018 after an illness and was buried on Thursday, March 16.

In a message to the government and people of Kaduna state, the Catholic faithful, and the Christian community at large, the President described the late Bishop as a committed Christian who loved his community.

“He fought injustice and all forms oppression. He helped the poor, established schools including a seminary described as one of the best in the country,” President Buhari noted in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

The President also prayed for the repose of his soul.

Residents Of Delta Community Lament Poor Health Care System

Delta Govt. To Partner With NDDC On Projects

 

Residents of Bomadi and Ughelli North Local Government Areas of Delta state have raised serious concerns over what they’ve described as poor healthcare systems in their community.

According to them, the Bomadi General Hospital is the only hospital that serves communities in the entire local government and its environs and for many months now, the hospital has remained under renovation.

The state Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa who inspected the site on Friday, explained that part of the reason for the slow pace of the project was inadequate funds.

But he has promised to mobilize funds for its immediate completion.

“The contractors need to work on a gradual basis because if they don’t, then, it means that services will be shut down but I have made a stern promise that I will try to raise mobilisation for the contractor because he has been working with his own funds,” the governor said.

The inspection was part of his ongoing tour around the 25 Local Government Areas of the state to commission and inspect projects completed and under construction respectively.

Subsequently, he moved to inspect the on-going rehabilitation of the Urban Water Supply Scheme, general hospital, ultra-modern market and other projects.

Gunmen Snatch N3m Cash From School Bursar In Ondo

Gunmen Kill 37 People In Fresh Kaduna Attack
File photo

 

Heavily armed hoodlums have robbed St Peter’s Unity Secondary School Akure, Ondo state, carting away almost three million naira belonging to the school.

The attack took place on Thursday at the school premises where the bursar was said to have been trailed from the bank where he earlier went to withdraw the money.

There was pandemonium in the school as teachers and students scampered for safety while the hoodlums fired gunshots into the air to scare people away and escape easily before police arrived at the scene.

But the Public Relations Officer of the Ondo Police Command, Femi Joseph who confirmed the robbery blamed the school bursar for going to the bank to withdraw such a huge amount of money without having a police escort.

He said the bursar has been arrested and is currently helping the police with investigations.

“There was no robbery at the school, the robbers only traced the bursar and disposed him of the money. What we learnt was that the hoodlums traced him to the school after he had gone to withdraw a large sum of money without police protection. The money should be close to three million naira.

“He is with us, he is helping us with investigation. We will quiz him to know whether he knows more than he claims.” Joseph said.

Australian Paraplegic Aims To Reach Everest With Wheelchair

In this picture taken on March 15, 2018 wheelchair-bound Australian Scott Doolan makes his way along a street in Kathmandu. A wheelchair-bound Australian is aiming to become the first paraplegic to reach Everest base camp unaided, a breathless trek he reckons he will mostly make on his hands. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

 

A wheelchair-bound Australian is aiming to become the first paraplegic to reach Everest base camp unaided, a breathless trek he reckons he will make mostly on his hands.

Scott Doolan, 28, sets out Friday for Mount Everest’s base camp, which lies 5,364 metres (17,598 feet) above sea level and is traditionally only accessible on foot or by helicopter. He is out to prove that it is also accessible to wheelchair users.

Doolan will be using a specially designed wheelchair with mountain bike wheels when the trails allow, but thinks he will mostly be on his hands with a friend holding his legs in a move he’s dubbed “wheelbarrowing”.

“I jump out of my chair and my mate Matt, he’ll grab me and hold my ankles and I basically walk on my hands,” he said, explaining a technique that’s similar to the wheelbarrow race of school sports days.

Doolan has spent the last eight months training for the trek, doing daily cardiovascular and strength training.

He also spent time in Australia’s Blue Mountains to get some experience on trails, wearing a mask that limits oxygen flow in a bid to replicate the high altitude conditions that await him in the Himalayas.

The dramatic trek to Everest base camp begins from Lukla — 140 kilometres (86 miles) east of Kathmandu — and follows an ancient trading route that once linked Nepal and Tibet, taking hikers over a soaring pass before dropping down into the lush Khumjung valley.

A series of narrow suspension bridges criss-cross the river that runs along the valley floor, before the route climbs sharply towards the base of Mount Everest.

Along the route there are steps and narrow paths hewn into the valley wall, forcing hikers to clamber over rocks and occasionally trek in snow or mud, all at an altitude where limited oxygen can cause headaches and nausea, and if left untreated a potentially fatal build-up of fluid in the lungs.

“I have no idea what it’s going to be like. Obviously there are going to be parts when I can’t physically go in a wheelchair so I’m going to get out and use my hands. That will probably be the most challenging of it all,” Doolan said.
“Hopefully I don’t get altitude sickness.”

‘Rise above it’

Every year, Everest’s base camp is transformed into a nylon tent city of around 1,500 people for two months starting in April, when climbers descend on the mountain with the sole aim of reaching its summit.

Meanwhile, around 5,000 trekkers a year take the eight to 10 days to trek to the base of the world’s highest peak, according to figures from Nepal’s tourism department. Doolan expects to take about twice as long and will then have to retrace his route back to Lukla.

Doolan has been confined to a wheelchair since he was 17 when he broke his spine in a motorcycle accident.

An athletic teenager, it took him a few years to get back to the gym after the accident, but once he did, it helped him come to terms with his disability, he said.

And then he met Matt Laycock, founder of the Apexgen clothing brand, which has a philanthropic mission that aims to build awareness of mental health and disability under the tagline “Rise above it”.

It was Laycock who came up with the idea that Doolan should try to become the first paraplegic to get to Everest’s base camp mostly under his own power. The company is backing the trip, which has cost Aus$70,000 (US$54,400) including Aus$15,000 for Doolan’s custom wheelchair.

Laycock pitched the idea to him over coffee — and Doolan initially said no. But a few weeks later he came round to the idea.

“Anything you set your mind to you can achieve it. That’s what I’ve learned so far. Your mind is your only limitation,” said Doolan of the precipitous challenge awaiting him.

Killer Herdsmen More Dangerous Than Boko Haram, Says Akintoye

Historian, Professor Banji Akintoye, has supported the proposition that the Federal Government should declare killer herdsmen across the country as terrorists.

According to him, they appear to be more dangerous than Boko Haram terrorists and therefore, must be stopped before their activities get out of hand.

He addressed the issue when he appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Thursday.

“We can’t have a country in which people feel that they are free to move around, killing people at random and at will. We cannot have a country like that, obviously, these are terrorists and the government owes Nigeria the duty of getting them out of Nigeria.

“In any country in the world, people like the killer herdsmen would be terrorists and the government would be acting strongly against them, taking action against them the way we have taken action against Boko Haram or even worse.

“They are all over Nigeria, there is no state in the middle belt and the south that they have not killed people in so they are more dangerous than Boko Haram,” Akintoye said.

Read Also: Declare Herdsmen Terrorists, Soyinka Tells FG

This comes barely 24 hours after Nobel Laurette, Professor Wole Soyinka asked the Federal Government to declare the criminals as terrorists.

He also advised that the government should give a stern and final warning to perpetrators of the wanton killings across states in the country.

“We’re speaking of governance, will, and responsibility, the readiness to respond with massive punitive action when the fundamental security of a people is violated.

“We’re speaking of the courage to decree such monsters terrorists and enemies of humanity with the same dispatch as the declaration of fireless violent, far less destabilising movements, albeit disruptive, supernaturalism and sometimes nasty in their attestation and activities,” Soyinka said while delivering his keynote speech at the Ripples Nigeria Dialogue; an annual forum designed to broaden the conversation on issues troubling Nigeria.

Rating the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and what he thinks about a coalition against the government, Akintoye said: “ I think Buhari should not continue to rule us anymore”.

“Well I don’t know how it may work and I don’t really care how, all I want is that Nigerians should unite and get Buhari and his government out of the place of the Federal Government of Nigeria because Buhari is destroying our country.

“Look at what he is doing with people who are going around killing.

“You send your men to those places and the killings are going on there, it’s all kid gloves. There is nothing concrete happening,” he stressed.

When asked if he thinks a political coalition, especially with a major opposition party, might do ‘wonders’ in 2019, he said; “I hope so, I will desire so because I think that Buhari should not continue to rule us anymore.

A former FCT NBA Chairman, Victor Ekim who was also on the show, believes that with the dissatisfaction of many, the Buhari administration may need to take a break.

“The only constant thing is change, change brought in the APC and if the entire nation is dissatisfied with the state of affairs in the country, then the only thing necessary is change.

“I just hope this coalition will get its acts together and give the APC a run for its money,” he said

Rihanna Blasts Snapchat Over Domestic Violence Inciting Ad

 

Rihanna on Thursday denounced Snapchat after an advertisement made light of her beating by fellow pop star Chris Brown, sending the company’s share prices tumbling.

The social media platform — which counts 187 million users, especially young people drawn to its quickly vanishing posts — had featured an advertisement for “Would You Rather?,” a game app that asks sometimes provocative questions.

The commercial showed the two singers and asked Snapchat users whether they would rather “slap Rihanna” or “punch Chris Brown.”

The company pulled the advertisement and apologized, but Rihanna took to rival platform Instagram to denounce Snapchat.

“You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV (domestic violence) victims and made a joke of it!!!!” she wrote.

“This isn’t about my personal feelings, cause I don’t have much of them…but all the women, children, and men that have been victims of DV in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet….you let us down! Shame on you.”

Suggesting that fans may have as little need for Snapchat as she has for its explications, she wrote: “Throw the whole app-oligy away.”

 

In a sign of Rihanna’s power, shares in parent company Snap Inc. fell 3.64 per cent on a largely stable day on Wall Street.

Last month, Snap share prices also went into a tailspin after socialite Kylie Jenner tweeted that the platform was becoming passé.

A Snapchat spokesperson said that the advertisement featuring Rihanna had been “reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines.”

“We immediately removed the ad last weekend, once we became aware. We are sorry that this happened,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Snapchat came under fire from activists and social media users who questioned how the post made it past the platform’s review process.

“Just awful. Awful that anyone thinks this is funny. Awful that anyone thinks this is appropriate. Awful that any company would approve this,” Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, wrote on Twitter.

Chris Brown was convicted in 2009 of beating Rihanna, his then-girlfriend, who was forced to miss the 2009 Grammy Awards.

The assault further shocked many observers when Rihanna, one of the most successful singers of the 21st century, temporarily resumed her relationship with Brown afterwards.