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Illegal refineries: Senate wants FG to introduce pollution tax  

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Senate in Session
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…demands sanction of security agencies involved in sabotage

The Senate, on Wednesday, urged the Federal Government to introduce pollution tax on those involved in economic sabotage by engaging in illegal refining of crude products in oil producing areas of the country.   

The chamber also called on the federal government to  sanction security agencies culpable of sabotaging the nation’s interest by vandalising pipeline installations and facilities.

These were part of resolutions reached by the Senate on a motion titled, “curbing soot’s particulate droppings, health hazards concerns and economic sabotage by illegal refining of crude products in Rivers State.”

The motion was sponsored by Senator George Thompson Sekibo ( Rivers East), and co-sponsored by seven other lawmakers.

Sekibo, in his presentation, noted that droppings of unidentifiable sooty particulates in Rivers State, suspected to be after effects of incomplete crude refining process has taken a more dangerous dimension.

According to the lawmaker,   an environmental audit due to the degradation of the environment has never been carried out since the commencement of the exploration and exploitation activities in the area which lasted for over 60 years.

He lamented that the attendant effect has left the contaminated environment “without hope of remediation.”

Sekibo expressed worry that, “the sooty particulate substances dropping in the State is becoming too visible that one cannot stay outdoors without receiving drops of them on his body.

“It has become more worrisome that they are seen on bedspreads in bedrooms, worktops in kitchens, chairs and other materials in houses, meaning that they are entering through every available crevice into inner spaces of buildings as the wind carries them.”

The lawmaker stated further that, “residents in Rivers State have noticed lots of these sooty particulates settling in their nasal tracts which has occasioned cleaning of their nostril several times in the day.”

“Concerned further that the amount of these particulates being inhaled daily by Nigerians resident in the State cannot be estimated just as the after-effects of their inhalation have not been determined.

“Disturbed that the sooty particulates are dropping on water bodies, farmlands and whatever is left open under the sky, which is detrimental to human health, as residents in the area are exposed to consumption of harvests from, both the seas and the lands as well as drinking rainwater and water from streams and rivers”, Sekibo said.

He observed that the recent outbreak of difficulty in breathing caused by congestion of nasal tracts of many residents in Rivers State could be linked to the epidemic.

He added that, “this may be the cause of the recent cases of deaths without noticeable ailments in many towns of the state.”

The lawmaker warned that the situation had the potential to snowball into a national emergency if  not nipped in the bud.

He raised the alarm that, “some security agents posted to secure these national assets have turned themselves to partners in this dastardly acts, thus giving the criminals impetus to openly commit this national economic crimes.”

He, however, commended the Rivers State Government for taking the bold step to fish out those involved in the criminal act for prosecution.

He observed further that the issue of clean environment is one of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of the Nigerian State as provided in Section 20 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

He noted that the Constitution, within the context of its Social Order in Section 17(2)(d) admonished that exploitation of natural resources to the detriment of the citizens shall be prevented.

Sekibo recalled that in a bid to forestall an emergency from hazardous pollution that may arise due to Oil and Gas exploitation activities, the Federal Government set up the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) in 2006.

He listed the objectives of the agency to include: implementing the National Spill Contingency Plan for Nigeria; Responding to major or disastrous oil pollution; Identifying high risk areas for protection and clean up; and Establishing the mechanism to monitor and assist or where expedient direct the response, including the capability to mobilize the necessary resources to save lives, protect threatened environment, and clean up to the best practical extent of the impacted site.

He added that Section 6 of the NOSDRA Act saddles the agency with the responsibility of carrying out surveillance, coordinating issues on oil spillage and associated pollution as well as implementing such plans as may be issued by the Federal Government.

He bemoaned the failure of NOSDRA to live up to its mandate, saying the agency has “not informed the nation of this occurring national epidemics.”

Accordingly, the Senate in a six-point resolution, urged the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to note that there is an impending environmental danger that is occurring in Rivers State and its environs orchestrated by miscreants who are engaged in illegal refining as well as looting national crude oil assets.

It urged the President to audit security agencies saddled with the responsibility of securing these assets but are involved in this national sabotage and for them to be sanctioned appropriately by the laws of the country.

The chamber further urged the President to use his constitutional power to support the Government of Rivers State in combating these criminal activities and fishing out national economic saboteurs.

It mandated the Senate Committees on the Navy, Police Force, Interior and Army to carry out holistic investigation of these illegal activities with a view to ascertaining those involved in these dastardly acts and report within four weeks.

The Senate further directed its Committees on Environment, Petroleum Upstream and Primary Health to visit Rivers State and carryout observatory assessment of the level of damage these activities have caused the environment and the health concern the activities have occasioned as well as suggest solution and report within four weeks; and It also urged the Federal Government to institute pollution tax which can be scientifically measured and the proceeds therefrom to part finance the cleaning of the environment and provide medical cares to the affected communities.

 

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Buhari Pledge to Rescue Kaduna Train Attack Hostages

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday assured to rescue 31 hostages taken in a train attack and return them “safe and unhurt”, his office said, five months after their abduction.

Gangs of bandits with no ideological or religious motives are known to kidnap for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria.

On March 28, armed men blew up a train travelling between Abuja and Kaduna and opened fire, killing eight people, wounding 26, and taking an unspecified number of passengers hostage.

A week later, they freed one hostage — a top bank executive — as a goodwill gesture for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, because of his “advanced age”.

Dozens of hostages have already been freed following negotiations, but 31 remain in the kidnappers den.

“I have been informed that at last count, there remain about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers,” Buhari told representatives of the families of the hostages in Abuja on Thursday.

He said his government would ensure the safe return of the remaining hostages to their families.

“My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt,” he assured.
The president commended the security forces on recent successes against kidnappers and “terrorists”.

“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralised by the military, and a number of hostages freed. These efforts will not stop, or reduce,” he said.

“We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country,” he said.

“Each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand,” he added.

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja
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The Nigerian Army on Thursday buried five members of the Guards Brigade killed by bandits during a clearance operation in the Federal Capital Territory recently.

The soldiers were laid to rest at the Guards Brigade Cemetery, Maitama , Abuja, according to a statement by Guards Brigade spokesperson, Captain Godfrey Anebi Abakpa

Among the deceased was Captain Attah Samuel.

“Until their demise, the gallant soldiers were serving with 7 Guards Battalion, Lungi Barracks Maitama and 176 Guards Battalion Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja respectively,” the statement said.

“While reading the funeral oration of the deceased officer and soldiers, the Commanding Officers of 7 Guards Battalion Lt Col Salim Yusuf Hassan and Commanding Officer 176 Guards Battalion, Lt Col Joshuah Kolowale Adisa described the late Captain and Soldiers as thoroughly bred Infantrymen who were genuinely committed to their duties in defence of Nigeria and whose contribution and services would be greatly missed.

“They asked God to console the families left behind stressing that while the Brigade and the Nigerian Army mourns, the families should take solace in the fact that they have fought a just fight and their souls shall continue to rest with the lord till the resurrection morning.

“Highpoint of the event was the presentation of accoutrements by the representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen James Alilu Ataguba to the next of kins of the deceased personnel and lowering of the remains of the fallen heroes.

There was also the blowing of the last post and gun salute to bid the departed heroes fair well

“The burial process started with Christian wake keep and funeral service held in honour of the fallen heroes at St John’s Military Church (Protestant) before the final Internment at the Guards Brigade Cemetery Maitama Abuja.

“The solemn ceremony was witnessed by senior officers of the Nigerian Army, Commanding Officers, Staff Officers of the Brigade, Bwari Area Council Chairman, Hon John Gabaya as well as family members and the barracks community.”

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Two More ISWAP Terrorists Linked To Owo Church Attack Arrested – DHQ

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Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor
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Two more Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists linked to the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, have been arrested.

Gunmen had on June 5 stormed the Catholic church, killing over 40 worshippers and injuring others.

The incident drew widespread condemnation, with President Muhammadu Buhari ordering security agencies to arrest the attackers.

On June 9, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, blamed the attack on ISWAP, but the claim was countered by Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Just yesterday, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, announced that the gunmen behind the attack on the church have been arrested.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the Director of Defence Information, Jimmy Akpor, said the two suspected ISWAP fighters were arrested through the collaborative effort of the military and the Department of State Services (DSS).

“Recall that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, during his parley with media executives and editors yesterday, Tuesday 9 August 2022, informed of the arrest of 4 terrorists among those who carried out the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo on 5 June 2022,” Akpor said.

“They were arrested through a combined operation by military and DSS personnel at Eika, Okehi LGA, Kogi State on 1 August 2022.

“Those arrested include Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.

“Barely few hours after the disclosure by the CDS of the arrest of 4 of the Owo Catholic Church attackers, 2 additional ISWAP terrorists, who were also connected to the attack on the church were apprehended at Omialafara (Omulafa), Ose LGA, Ondo State yesterday, 9 August 2022.

“The arrests were made through the collaborative effort by military and DSS personnel. The suspects are Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris.

“It is instructive to note that Abdulhaleem, alongside other high profile ISWAP commanders, had also previously coordinated attacks on military targets in Okene, Okene LGA, Kogi State resulting in casualties.”

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