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Is Nigeria Ready To Pay The Full Cost Of Harnessing Power From Coal By Kikiowo Ileowo

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With a population of over 180 million and growing, Nigeria with an average power generation of 4,500mw, requires 12,000mw megawatts to ensure steady power supply, but ultimately needs 200,000mw for all her electricity requirements. To meet this power need, the present administration has vowed to look towards other sources of producing electricity away from the hydro and gas-powered plants, which has been a source of epileptic power supply into the national grid.

The problems faced in the mentioned methods of power production are low level of water to drive the huge turbines at the hydro power plants and lack of gas to fuel the generating sets at the gas-powered plants which litter the Nigerian scape. To deal with this challenge, the government of President Muhammudu Buhari stated it will start producing power with the use of Coal – a decision which will see coal-powered plant contribute at least 30% into the current power-mix by 2030.

However, many questions exist: does the government recognize the full cost of harnessing power from Coal? If it does, is it ready with her partners to pay the price?

Answers to these questions and more were the focus of Global Rights in conjunction with Heinrich Böll Stiftung Nigeria, when the organizations presented a report on the Impact of Coal Mining and Coal Power Generation on Okobo and Itobe Communities in Kogi State.

According to Mrs. Tsema Okoye, a programme officer with Global Rights, Coal provides 40 percent of the world’s electricity, thus causing 39 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions which is responsible for rapidly depleting the Earth’s Ozone layer.

It may interest you to know that the destruction of the eco-system does not start at the point of using Coal to generate electricity; it begins at the point of mining the coal itself.

However, since Nigeria does not generate any power from Coal yet, we must ask ourselves the hard questions, such as: what commitments are we undertaking to ensure power would be produced from coal in a clean and efficient manner? How do we mitigate the negative effects of Coal mining on host communities, and many other questions?

A close examination of the report on visited coal mining site in Okobo, Kogi state tells the story of anguish, bitterness, resentment, anger, destruction, loss of livelihood, loss of life and suffering as expressed by community representatives who attended the event.

One of the major problems faced in Okobo community is access to portable water. The community members claim the company mining Coal in the area, Eta Zuma Mining Company which also had representatives in attendance at the event, had polluted their only source of water. Now, community members – usually women and children – have to travel many kilometers to get water fit for human consumption.

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Mrs. Okoye noted that Eta Zuma had commenced coal mining four years prior to the study, and as a result, there has been weathering and leachate of the host rock. In fact, it was noted that a high quantity of heavy metals have resultantly dissolved into the water bodies around the mining site, making well water in the community highly acidic and unfit for human consumption.

Sadly, the report claims waste water collected from the mining pit was directly disposed into the community’s stream, which residents relied on for its domestic and commercial consumption. Thus, the only stream at Okobo has been polluted.

However, in a robust rebuttal, the mining company tried to shift blame, claiming they can’t take up the role of the government. Truly, in other part of the world, the government provides, roads, schools, electricity, water and other essentials of life the community is expecting the company to provide.

And in fairness to the company, they had dug at least three boreholes to source for clean water, but all the efforts failed; now they supply the community with clean water in tankers, thrice a week. The representative of Eta Zuma, its executive director, Ambassador Joseph Ayalogu stated that before their arrival, the quantity and quality of water available in the community had always been a problem. This assertion is understandable because of the large coal mineral deposits.

Another point of note is the death of a pupil who lost her life when a wall inside Okobo’s old school building collapsed while Eta Zuma was carrying out its Coal mining activities. The mining company has since built a modern six (6) classroom block for the community.

The effort of Eta Zuma in and around Okobo is generally commendable, owing to the fact they have no Community Development Agreement (CDA).

According to the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007, a CDA is a formal agreement between the mining companies and host communities on obligations and terms of engagement of both parties. The document is a compulsory requirement before mining license can be granted by the supervising ministry.

The unavailability of the document four years after the company began mining legally in Okobo is an indictment on the Ministry of Solid Minerals.

Representatives of the ministry at the event claimed they are extremely understaff and underfunded. In fact, the Director Environmental Compliance Department, Ministry of Mines and Steel, Engineer Salim Salaam who attended the report presentation revealed that the Ministry of Information has eleven times the budget of his ministry – another indictment of the Buhari administration which had before now vowed to diversify the economy, using minerals resources spread across the country as alternative source of revenue.

It may also interest you to know that many licensed and unregulated artisanal miners in Nigeria have no plan for reclamation; neither do they give consideration to host communities.

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So, in generating electricity through Coal, one must earnestly ask, is the federal government ready to pay the full cost of sourcing power through this means? In Nigeria, environmental laws are not strictly enforced, unlike the United States which produces about 1 billion tons of Coal annually, a little less than 12% of the world’s supply—second only to China and produces 40% of its electricity need from Coal.

In fact, U.S. mining companies have reclaimed more than 2.6 million acres of mined land over the last 35 years and have contributed nearly $10 billion for the reclamation of areas mined decades ago before reclamation was a common practice and legal requirement.

The case of Eta Zuma is a unique one – at least, they are engaging all the stakeholders. Most mining companies in Nigeria don’t. Though they are involved in one form of activity or the other that negatively impacts the eco-system, they are less concerned of the effects, and neither do they take conscious effort to mitigate the damage. Sadly, there is lack of political will to rein in their activities.

The Ministry of Environment can at best be described as clueless and confused. Representatives of the ministry at the event gave no articulate answers on what the ministry was doing to mitigate the destruction of the Nigerian environment. The role it plays in ensuring mining companies conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, before mining license is granted could not be discerned.

In view of the environmental damage associated with generating power from coal, this writer asked Mr. Umaru Gambo, representative of the Minister for Power, Works and Housing on the provision of clean alternative source of producing electricity, specifically the wind mill farm that has been lying fallow in Kastina State. The timid representative muttered some words that were unclear and incomprehensible.

Truth be told, the Nigerian government seems ready to access the benefits of coal mining, but have no clue as to how to mitigate the attendant effects of such activities across the country. In the next few months, the steps taken by regulators would determine how willing the government is on paying the full cost of generating power from coal.

Ileowo is the chief strategist at Revamp Media.

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IMN React To Claim By FG That El-Zakzaky Sought Asylum In India

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El-Zakzaky

Proscribed group, Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), has refuted claims that its leader Sheikh El-Zakzaky sought asylum in India before his repatriation.

According to the group, the position adopted by the Nigerian government is a campaign of calumny.

Accorsing to IMN, the position is a lie fabricated to cover government’s “own gross misconduct in a foreign land”.

Ibrahim Musa, president Media Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria stated this at a press briefing on Sunday, where he accused the Federal Government of planning to kill El-Zakzaky for insisting on which doctors the Sheikh and his wife must see, while refusing to allow them access to their own doctors.

“Before efforts at resolving this impasse could be concluded, the Sheikh was brought back to Nigeria, since their evil schemes could not be executed”, Musa said.

Read IMN’s full statement below:

Sequel to the Nigerian government’s sinister operation that frustrated the treatment of the revered Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H) and his wife Malam Zeenat Ibrahim in India that led to the repatriation of the couple, the Nigerian government, in its effort to deceive the general public, has concocted contradictory statements and lies to colour its acts of violating the order given by the Kaduna High court allowing the Sheikh to seek treatment in India, with the government only supervising.

The facts are that the government mischievously went beyond its role of supervision to the level of maliciously interfering in the medical process, instructing on which doctors the Sheikh and his wife must see, while refusing to allow them access to their own doctors. Apparently, the government had a hidden mission, the details of which they had detailed specific doctors to execute.

The Sheikh was forced to either accept their choice or return home within two hours.  Being mindful of the government’s various previous plots to eliminate him since 2015, first through the barrels of the gun and much later through poisoning in detention while refusing him access to adequate medical care until the court’s intervention, the Sheikh sensed the government’s intention of inducing killer doctors to finish what they had earlier started, now through the back door.

He therefore insisted on having the presence of the doctors that initially assessed him in Nigeria, who also worked in that hospital, failing which, he preferred to return to Nigeria.  He refused to be subjected to any breach in the basic ethical principles guiding the medical treatment of people of respect for persons: protecting the autonomy of all people and treating them with courtesy and respect and allowing for informed consent, which the Nigerian government had contracted medical personnel in the Indian hospital to throw to the wind.

Before efforts at resolving this impasse could be concluded, the Sheikh was brought back to Nigeria, since their evil schemes could not be executed. The government is now churning out contradictory explanations to blame the Sheikh for not allowing himself to be killed in the name of medical treatment. The Nigerian government is also blackmailing the Sheikh that he sought for asylum in India just to cover their own gross misconduct in a foreign land.

The campaign of calumny has been championed by the Federal Ministry of Information, which sarcastically even said they were apologising to India for the Sheikh’s “unruly behaviour” rather than for their own obvious attempted assassination of somebody in another country!  Isn’t it rather contradictory that someone allegedly seeking asylum would be unwilling to stay back irrespective of the circumstances but preferring instead to return to his home country.

It is on record that it was the Sheikh who requested to be brought back home having been denied access to his doctors and rejecting the killer squad engaged to “treat” him instead.  The government’s claim that Sheikh’s wife antagonized the Nigerian officials by accusing them of killing her three children is yet another spurious search for justification for its maltreatment of the couple. Isn’t it true that it is the government that killed her three sons when its army invaded their residence at night in December 2015?

Wasn’t her husband dragged over the corpses of their murdered children having been shot himself and left swimming in his own pool of blood? Wasn’t she also shot and left lying lifeless in the process? Were they expecting a cheer from her for all these severe gross violation of their fundamental rights, even as judged by a competent federal court?  It is rather very shameful and a slap in the face of Nigeria that the government which hitherto claimed it had no hand in the case, now has to resort to lies, calumny and blackmail against a couple whose alleged crimes has never ever been proved in any court of the land.

All the allegations against this couple have always been merely spurious and unproven, and knowing that they could never prove in any court use the might of state power to intimidate and misinform the public.  It is noteworthy to state that the government is yet to respond to the confessions by the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince that they sponsored the Zaria genocide and the subsequent continued detention of the Sheikh in Nigeria.

This same fact was earlier alluded to by President Muhammadu Buhari during a state visit to Qatar. The world is watching all the persecution of the Islamic leader with keen interest. The government can never change the narrative.

We wish to thank the general public for their continued understanding and show of support in all these. No amount of feeding the public with concocted half-truths, lies and campaigns of calumny would swerve the course of justice for all the victims of Zaria genocide and its aftermath”

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Senate President Condemn Shameful Assult On Ekweremadu

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The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has described as shameful the assault on former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.

Recall that the ex-Senate President was recently assulted by members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), in Nuremberg, Germany where he was to give a keynote address at the Second Igbo Annual Cultural Festival and Convention organised by Ndi-Igbo Germany.

Condemning the assult on Ekweremadu, Lawan said:

“It is incredibly absurd for anybody to blame the distinguished Senator for the violent criminal activities in his home base, the purported reason cited by the mob for the bewildering attack.

“Senator Ekweremadu, like all his distinguished colleagues in the Ninth Assembly of the Senate, is concerned about the insecurity and other challenges in that area and other parts of Nigeria. Senator Ekweremadu has also been at the forefront of the patriotic efforts to find lasting solutions to the challenges.

“The barbaric attack on Senator Ekweremadu at a forum to which he was invited to contribute to charting a course for the progress and happiness of Ndigbo debase our values as civilised people. It is most reprehensible and should be condemned by all right-thinking Nigerians,” Lawan said.

He urged the German authorities to identify those involved in the despicable act so that the law can take its course against them. Lawan also urged Nigerians to always reflect deeply and broadly before embarking on a course of action and advised the youth to ventilate whatever grievances they have along lines prescribed by the law and recommended by reason and democratic ethos.

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The Senate President then urged Senator Ekweremadu not to be deterred by the incident from his path of service to his people and Nigerians in general, but to take it as part of the sacrifice of leadership.

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Boy Found Two Years After Going Missing In Ogun State

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RCCG

The police has found a seven year-old boy who went missing in Ogun State two years ago.

Joshua Joseph, was declared missing by his parents in Ijebu-Ode area of Ogun State in 2017.

Two years later, he has now been found with one Blessing Ozor who reportedly paid N1.05m for his ‘adoption’.

The boy renamed Chisom was adopted by a level-13 civil servant in the Anambra State Ministry of Women Affairs identified as Ifeoma Joy.

Speaking at the state police headquarters where the boy was handed over to his parents, Ogun State Commissioner of Police Bashir Makama said the boy was found after officers from the command carried out a painstaking investigation.

The staff of Anambra State Ministry of Women Affairs accused of collecting over N1m from the boy’s adopted mother and forging adoption documents from the Anambra State Ministry of Women Affairs, was linked to a three-member syndicate which specialised in stealing and selling children. Other members of the gang include Rita and Angela and it was learnt they are serving time in prisons at Edo and Ondo states.

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“Joy is working at the Ministry of Women Affairs in Anambra State. She used the opportunity to arrange buyers for stolen children.

“In the cause of looking for her, she got transferred to four local government councils within one month in order to evade arrest.

“Our findings showed that eight children had been stolen by this syndicate from Ogun State and four had been recovered.

“One of the stolen children was found when the people, who adopted him, saw the boy’s picture on the pages of newspapers and returned him” Ogun state police PRO Abimbola Oyeyemi said.

 

However Joy on her own part insisted that she did nothing wrong but only helped out a sister in fellowship.

 

She said, “I never did such a thing. I know the woman, who brought this boy, as a worker at the Peace Sisters’ Home.

“So, when my sister in fellowship (Ozor) came up with the idea of adopting a child, I called the other woman to help us get a boy and I gave Rita my sister’s particulars. When she finished with the particulars, she now came with this boy. I never knew the boy was stolen.”

 

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Recounting how she made the payment to alleged member of child-trafficking gang, Ozor said she paid N150,000 for processing of the adoption papers and additional N900,000 when the process was completed.

 

“I am just a victim of circumstances by my foolishness. I went to a sister in our fellowship, who had adopted a child before, because I have two daughters already but I had a feeling for a son; my last daughter is 24 years old.

“I went through Rita because she and her husband had adopted a child before and they led me to this woman, Joy. I believed that everything was okay because she made me believe that she runs the Peace Sisters Home” she said.

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