Category Archives: Environment

OkomuOil: Endangering Okomu National Park and Edo future

Tony Erha

Since about 35 years of a troubled existence as a former Wildlife Sanctuary and now Okomu National Park (ONP), the inestimable conservation enclave hadn’t suffered deadly violations as had been unleashed on it by the Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC (OkomuOil for short), under over two decades of tenacious stay by Dr. Graham Hefer as its Managing Director.

Surely, conservationists and villagers of the host communities of ONP, OkomuOil and others would readily be flabbergasted that Hefer, a South African immigrant to Nigeria, had supervised the extensive plundering of ONP by OkomuOil, a gigantic multinational plantation firm and Nigerian franchise of Socfin, the Octopus agro-allied conglomerate which was originated in faraway Belgium and Luxembourg in Europe.

Indeed, the plundering by the Hefer’s OkomuOil had encouraged the selfsame loggers and poachers, who Hefer, recently turned around to condemn as the real violators of the park.

Through choreographed and monotonous insertions of a news item that competed for choice spaces in the Nigerian media, Hefer, in a rather sanctimonious overcook attempted to misinform the public and whitewash his company. Titled “Another Lucky Elephant Rescued For National Park By Okomu Oil Palm PLC”, it added a sub-title, “…MD calls on Govt. to rescue Park and forest reserve from illegal loggers, total lack of law”.

Hefer was said to have “led a team of his staff to rescue a second elephant on behalf of the Okomu National Park, the first being in October 3, 2019”. He also appealed to “the Nigerian Government and other relevant authorities to rescue the Park and forest reserves from illegal loggers and others who have cultivated the habit of desecrating the natural habitat”.

ONP is a globally acclaimed conservation centre and valuable ecotourism destination, managed by the National Park Service (NPS), a Federal Government’s agency.

ONP is the last vestige of a (“protected”?) lowland rainforest habitat; the smallest in size amongst the old seven national parks, until recently when more of the parks were created. The park 200 sq. km by size and is situated at Okomu-Udo, in Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo State, on about 50 minutes road distance from Benin City, the state capital. It is very rich in biodiversity and other attractions, with the said endangered African Lowland Rainforest Elephant (Loxodonta Africanna cyclotis), as one of its unique fauna flagships.

The wakeup call by Hefer though suitable, appeared lacking, coming from OkomuOil, a conservation-unfriendly business concern and a boss, who professes to love ONP and nature conservation principles, but soon reverses to do the opposite. Once beaten twice shy. If after confessing to conservation niceties and the overriding need of protecting the park in the past, OkomuOil sooner go ahead to plunder the same, what is the exactness to trusting the latest display of fickle love by its boss?

Firstly, it was outright falsehood that the multinational company “saved a distressed Elephant for the park on October 3, 2019”. Instead and evidently, OkomuOil was serially condemned by a preponderant public and a key civil society group, the Coalition Against Landgrabbing and Deforestation (CALD), after a thorough investigation that workers of the company did attacked with cutlasses and cudgels, the said Elephant, which strayed into its newest plantations, the original home and wandering range and buffers of the park, which the company had grabbed and converted into oil palm plantation. This led to the death of the Elephant at the park’s quarantine, where it received medication. (“Okomu National Park’s Elephant” ThisDay: December 7, 2019: 12/07/okomu-national-park-elephant/)

Dr. Heifer as the boss, brought about the ‘casual workers’ rule, where thousands of OkomuOil’s workforce, especially the unskilled, are hazardously employed by contractors. They are un-gainfully employed, even without ‘pensions’ and willfully sacked, as against the labour laws. The army of sacked and new casual workers, who swell the population of the host communities, easily resort poaching in the park and illegal logging, where the company fails to train them to imbibe conservation principles and support the park.

Again, Dr. Hefer was off-point that the recent Elephant was trapped in the mud, inside the park, as he sought for praises over its exaggerated accounts of helping the park’s management to bring the bulldozers and other earth moving equipment to rescue the Elephant! Was the Elephant a mountain to be bulldozed? A photograph clip of the endangered Elephant would purely show that it wasn’t stuck in a pit in the park, but one bulldozed and not de-silted by OkomuOil, on the same land it had grabbed and turned into a new plantation. Instructively, there are no bulldozed pits in the park’s main land.

Revealingly, OkomuOil had been the most violator of the park and plunderer of the park and Edo forest reserves. For instance, a tiny stream is all that separates the park and the old oil palm plantation of the company (to the left from its main entrance), making the open to poaching by its workers.

If not grandstanding, how come that Hefer, who assisted the company to grab and convert over 16,000 hectares of the original designate land areas and buffers of the park, that it bought from the Iyayi Group of Companies, is the same accusing others of desecrating the park? If Hefer and his company want to be taken seriously for making genuine and redemptory outbursts, they should hand over to the park and the host communities of Okomu forest and the Owan forest zone the 13,750 hectares of lands, which Iyayi sold to it, wherein about 8,000 hectares of the land revoked by Sdo State Government, was from Okomu forest reserve. (See Edo State Government of Nigeria Gazette No. 16 Vol. 19 (page 48-50), published on 5th November, 2015)

Irrefutably, OkomuOil is the single largest driver of land-grabbing, deforestation and livelihood loss in Edo State, regarded as the highest incidence of the just-mentioned threesome scourges, amongst the 36 states of the Nigeria country. Of the total 1081 sq. km land area of the now depleted Okomu Forest Reserve, that was the largest rainforest reserve in Nigeria, OkomuOil alone had the rare benefit of having been ceded with vast land areas and the other vastness it had grabbed from it, in addition to the over 16,000 hectares of Iyayi’s grab.

Had the state government properly catalogued and protected Okomu and other forest reserve estates of the state, OkomuOil would not cash in on the loophole to grab and destroy Okomu and the threesome forest reserves of Ehor, Owan and Ora-Iueleha-Ozalla (sometimes called Owan Forest Zone), thereby causing acute deforestation and livelihood losses to the villagers, the land owners.

Which other forestry laws did Dr. Hefer want government to establish, when he exhibits daylight impunity, by his refusal to obey existing state and federal laws, with his company’s slipshod operations in Okomu locale and Owan forest zone, where it had forcibly established its so called Okomu PLC Oil Palm Extension II? And isn’t a sheer mockery of the Nigerian jurisprudence, which tended to prostrate to the whims and caprices of a foreigner, on Nigeria soil? Has Nigeria submitted her sovereignty to him?

Why did Okomu Oil often ridicule and ignore the Environmental Impact Assessment Law, especially by disobeying severally directives from the Federal Ministry of Environment, on two letters to Dr. Hefer, by the Environment Minister dated 8th January, 2014 (Ref: FMEnv/EA/ 2712/Vol.1/82 and the other dated 22nd December, 2015 (Ref: No FMEnv.123:271/Vol.1/28), that it must follow the due processes of acquiring the Owan forest lands? Is it not shameful that OkomuOil now parades the same EIA certification, even though it burgled the due process?

Yet, OkomuOil craves for lofty praises over its tokenistic or mere cosmetic activities, which it often amplifies as justifiable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) offers to the park and host communities, despite excessive annual dividends from its huge investments in oil palm and rubber plantations, premised on the forest reserves, including the gigantic processing industry situated in Okomu forest.

Amusingly, Hefer, in the same media commentary flaunted the Roundtable Sustainable Palm (RSPO) certification as authorization to commit such heinous atrocities against the ONP treasure and poor Edo communities, in the same manner of the outlaw Apartheid of Dr. Hefer’s South Africa, where lands are still wrested from the local owners, by fastidious settlers.

Alas, the OkomuOil boss had also audaciously poked to our faces that a certain Billy Ghansah, a Ghanaian and Operational Director that goaded the grabbing of lands from the Owan Forest Zone, is the same who had also been recruited to obliterate the Okomu National Park, so that the company’s oil palm and rubber trees could take over the sacred land.

Those who destroy a global monument, like the priceless Okomu National Park, grab and terminate the people’s land heritage are destroyers of their pride and future.

Tony Erha, a journalist, conservationist and Forest Certifier of the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), writes from Benin City, Edo State.

FG bans open grazing in Abuja, establishes 3 RUGA settlements

The Federal Capital Territory Administration has prohibited open grazing of cattle in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The Administration said it had communicated the directive to the leadership of the Fulani herdsmen in the FCT.

Disclosing this in an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, the Director, Abuja Environmental Protection Agency, Dr Hassan Abubakar, stated that the one-month ultimatum issued to the pastoralists had expired, adding that violators would be sanctioned henceforth.

The decision of the FCTA is coming against the ban on open grazing by the Northern Governors’ Forum, which described the practice as outdated.

The AEPB director said over 100 cattle earlier confiscated were returned after their owners were fined by courts, adding that any herdsman found grazing his animals on Abuja streets would be penalised heavily.

A special team, he said, had been constituted to enforce the directive.

Abubakar further revealed that the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, had earmarked five locations for cattle grazing in Abaji, Kwali and Kuje Area Councils.

He said, “We held meetings with the leadership of Fulani herdsmen in the FCT and they have agreed on so many issues. We have given them time, which they asked for, and when the time lapses, we will strike. They are not allowed to graze inside the city; that’s prohibited.

Enugu set to host Coal City Film Festival maiden edition March 2021

The madien edition of the Coal City Film Festival will be rolled out in March, 2021 in Enugu, capital of Enugu State.

According to a Press Release signed by Sammy Ajufo, Director of Communications of Coal City Film Festival, “It has finally come to stay, the premiere edition of the Coal City Film Festival has found a definite landing pad in the month of March 2021”.

Recall last year that at its inception, the festival was scheduled for March also, when the historic city of Enugu was set to host Nigeria and the world to the best of film festival. Hopes were however dashed when the previously unknown Coronavirus seeped into our consciousness and wrecked havoc to nations and caused a nation and worldwide lockdown.

Undaunted by the effects of the pandemic and resolved to adapt and keep the Festival dream alive, the Board of Directors of Coal City Film Festival set plans in place to host the Festival in the month of March from the 25th to 27th 2021.

As in its original plan, all the composite events earlier scheduled are set to make a return, like the Free Training for actors, Directors and Producers which will be handled by leading industry icons like Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, Kabat Esosa Egbon, Segun Arinze, Fred Amara, Charles Inojie, Zack Orji among many others.

“We learnt that after an exhaustive and rigorous vetting process by a team of the Nigerian film industry’s best from over 700 films submitted from over 50 countries, a total of 100 indigenous and international entries have received the nod to feature for screening at the festival. Attendance for the screening is FREE only at the Coal City Film Festival.

“Venue for the film showcase is Diamond Cinemas, Enugu Mall, Independence Layout.
According to Ajufo, “It should be noted that attendance at all Festival events is strictly by registration via our website http://www.coalcityfilmfestival.com and it is free”.

“The CoalCity Film Festival will be hosted in the city of Enugu and is open to attendance by the general public. The Festival, the first of its kind of this scale and magnitude within Enugu and the South East affords every film lover, practicing and aspiring actors, filmmakers, investors, International community, government agencies and sponsors to be a critical part of history”.

Also speaking, founder and Executive Director of the festival, Uche Agbo said that “Coal City Film Festival vision is to open the doors of South East Nigeria to the rest of the world, increasing cultural exchange through the celebration of African and World Cinema”.

He went further to state that the festival has a ten year master plan, which will culminate into a film village where the festival will now hold annually. Mr. Uche Agbo, who is also a filmmaker and the current National Secretary, Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN) told Jungle Journalist Media Ltd that this year’s film festival will be both physical and online, and there will be complete compliance to COVID-19 guidelines as stipulated by NCDC.

The passionate festival founder highlighted some of the events to take place during the three days event to include, trainings for both beginners/intermediate classes and master classes, as well as tour around major tourist sites in Enugu, as well as screening of over 140 movies, and award/gala night.

No Hiding Place for Shell Plc, says ERA/FoA, As Dutch Court of Appeal Slams Oil Company Over Niger Delta Spillages

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria has expressed satisfaction over the recent judgement by the Netherlands Court of Appeal that held Shell liable for the oil spills it caused across Nigeria’s coastal communities of the Niger Delta in 2008.

Recall that in 2008, four Nigerian farmers from Ikot Ada Udo, Oruma and Goi in the Niger Delta supported by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria and sister organization, Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands, sued Shell because of oil pollution in the three Nigerian villages. This case was the first in which a Dutch company, together with its subsidiary, had been sued in a Dutch court for damage caused abroad.

Shell in the process argued that the actions committed in Nigeria cannot be tried in the Netherlands. It also denied it caused the spill and that criminals and third party interference were responsible for oil spills in 2008. On their part, the farmers demanded that Shell clean up the oil spills; pay compensation for thedamages caused; and improve the maintenance of its pipelines and installations to preventfuture spills. The court had ruled in December 2015 that Shell must provide the plaintiffs internal company documents essential to the case and this was the first of its kind in the Dutch legal history.

In a press statement, Barr Nosa Tokunbor, legal officer, Environmental Rights Action/Friends ofthe Earth Nigeria stated that the case had dragged on for over 13 years with a lot of legal somersaults occasioned by Shell, noting the appeal court in the Hague on January 29, 2021 ruled that Royal Dutch Shell was liable to pay compensation for the oil spills which polluted rivers, fishpond and farmlands that thousands of local farmers and fishermen.

Reacting to the court ruling, Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), described the outcome of the case as a landmark judgment which the organisation is very proud of.

He said the judgement showed that the days of oil companies in Nigeria, particularly Shell criminalizing local communities and framing them up for sabotage of crude oilpipelines are over. According to him, “Shell no longer has any hiding place, as this victory will open up a floodgate of court cases against Shell and the oil companies doing business in Nigeria and hiding under weak regulations, lack of enforcement of its extant rules, and taking advantage of the lack of political will of the Nigerian government tobring oil transnationals to account.”

“The significance of the landmark judgement is that it addresses the question of access to justice that is very much in question in Nigeria when it comes to holding the oil companies accountable for their human rights violations and environmental degradation. The judgment has further shown the environmental liability of parentcompanies for the conduct of their foreign subsidiaries,” Ojo stated.

Ojo further stated that “the judgement is urgent and strategic as the world transits away from fossil fuels there is the need to ensure that the devastation done to our environment by Shell is cleaned up and appropriate compensation is paid to communities that have suffered in many cases irreparable losses”.

“Notably, Shell has been selling its land based assets and along with it , its legacies of environmental devastation, social dislocation, violence and poverty to avoid accountability.

Therefore, “Our communities owe it to themselves and their generations unborn to ensure that Shell does not escape its responsibilities”.

Ojo, called on the Niger Delta communities and CSOs not to relent in their pursuit for justice, adding that over 13 years struggle in the court has paid off. He enjoined Shell to comply with the court proceedings while urging the judge to do the needful in awarding compensation and preventive costs.

“ERA/FoEN again calls on the Nigerian government to revamp its regulatory bodies in the oilindustry, ensure that criminal acts of oil transnationals are punished severely and that the country starts taking concrete steps to wean Nigeria of its dependence on revenues from oil and gas , build a new economy on the back of a clear renewable energy framework as quickly aspossible and ensure the gradual phasing out of oil and gas activities in Nigeria.

Environment Group marks 25th year of Ken Saro-Wiwa legacy of environmental justice struggles

PRESS RELEASE

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) marks the 25th anniversary of the killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni eight activists fighting for environmental justice, the clean up, compensation and remediation of Ogoniland from Shell Oil Company’s operations in the area.

The anniversary also provides the opportunity to underline the fact that the death of the Ogoni martyrs shall never be in vain.

The legacy of Ken Saro-Wiwa lives on in environmental justicestruggles in Ogoni land and across the entire Niger Delta and at national and international levels.

For over 60 years, the Nigerian Government exploited oil and gas resources in the Niger Delta region. During this period, extensive pollution of the air, water, sediment and soil in local communities in the region exposed humans and other life forms to severe risks resulting infrequent deaths.

In a statement released in Benin City, Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, ERA/FoEN stated that in marking a quarter-century since the death of the Ogoni Nine, the Niger Delta environment still groans under the severe weight of environmental despoliation and poverty remains widespread with little or no change on the welfare and livelihoods of the people.

Recall that in 2011, the United Nations Environment Programme documented the devastatinglong term impact of the oil industry in Nigeria’s Ogoniland, setting the urgent recommendationsfor a clean-up, and emergency relief measures that was sidelined. However, the systematic failure of oil companies and the Nigerian government to clean up has left hundreds of thousands of Ogoni people facing serious health risks, struggling to access safe drinking water and unableto earn a decent living.

The commemoration provides the opportunity to highlight the ecological disaster and human rights violations that the entire Niger Delta is still facing even after 25 years have passed since Ken Saro-Wiewa was executed, along with 8 other Ogoni leaders for standing up to Shell’s operations in Nigeria. The legacy of Ken Saro-Wiwa confronts directly the Multinational Oil Companies enormous political and economic powers over the Nigerian State and in countries in the global south where they conduct business often without respect for national laws and regulations.

In this regard, we
call for a United Nations legally binding treaty to hold multinational companies accountable for their human rights violations. This treaty will also ensure access to justice and remedy that iscurrently a major challenge in developing countries in their attempt to bring multinational companies to justice.

Shell must account for its human rights violations in Ogoniland and the entire Niger Delta and ensure proper clean up of the pollution in their areas of operations.

For the Nigerian state, the Hydrocarbon Remediation Project (HYPREP) slow pace of clean up isunacceptable and require improved capcity and restructuring to properly clean up Ogoniland.

Nigeria should key into the unprecedented momentum for leaving the fossil fuel age behind and the need to embrace decentralized energy democracy model that allows people driven off-grid and mini-grid solar systems for energy access for all. A post-petroleum economy devoid ofenvironmental degradation and destruction of lives and property is expedient.

For the Ogonis, it is time for sober reflection. It is time for forgiveness, healing and unity among the Ogonis, especially all the martyrs of the environmental justice struggle.

Surely, the collective will of the people shall never be broken.

Central Bank to Convert Estate Into COVID-19 Treatment Centre as Residents Plan Showdown

The Central Bank of Nigeria CBN is planning to convert it’s clinic inside Garki 2 estate into a Covid-19 treatment centre. Jungle Journalist Media Ltd has learnt.

According to a resident who spoke with our Abuja Correspondent, the clinic doctor and CBN management staff had met officials of the estate association to brief them of the proposed plan but the residents wee against the idea.

Leaders of the association wondered why the clinic inside an estate where more than 200 residents live should be converted into a treatment centre. They said the risks are overwhelming.

“If executed, the estate will have only one entrance instead of the regular two as expected by law. The association intend to approach the court should CBN insist on converting the estate into covid treatment centre”, the resident said while speaking with Jungle Journalist Media Ltd on the telephone.

Below are copies of petition the community has already written to the Governor of the Central Bank, the Coordinator of National Centre for Disease Control, and the Managing Director, Development Control, Abuja.

Please click the link below to watch the residents preparing to protest https://youtu.be/SxEgR1zHYdg

Ogui Nike Youth Council reject Enugu govt committee on Ugwuaji land crisis

Ogui Youth Council, in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State have rejected the six man panel set by the State Government to investigate the Ugwuaji land dispute as the land in question is a subject of litigation in court between Ogui Nike Community and Awkunanaw communities.

The youth body instead called on the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to use his good offices to effect the immediate cessation of trespass and intrusion into Ogui Nike land by the Ministry of Housing, Awkunanaw Communities and illegitimate entrants.

In a letter to the Governor, titled, RE: AGUOWO OGUI NIKE COMMUNITY LAND: HISTORY, FACT AND A CALL FOR GOVERNMENT RESOLUTION AND JUSTICE, signed by it’s Chairman Oluchukwu Fidelis, the youths faulted the setting up of a committee to only investigate issues of contention among Ugwuaji communities even where the said land in question do not belong to Awkunanaw.

They requested for the immediate implementation of the boundary decision between Ogui and Awkunanaw communities as established by a 1942 Inter-tribal Boundaries’ Settlement Ordinance No. 49 of 1933, which was further affirmed by the former Deputy Governor, who was the then Chairman, Enugu State boundry Committee , Ezenwata Okechukwu Itanyi, the then Surveyor General of Enugu, C C Isife and others.

The youths who claimed that various key institutions and offices of the State are in the custody of some of the facts, evidences and credible documents regarding the Ogui Nike land boundry with Awkunanaw communities said, government should be proactive in order to forestall a possible breakdown of law and order which could be born in the course of the land dispute adding that it is now like a gathering storm which may snowball into a hurricane of sort if good measures are not taken.

According to them, some of the facts annexed in there letter to the governor as it relates to the land predate Nigeria independence which were recognized by the previous successive governments of Eastern region, East Central state, old Anambra, old and the present Enugu States of Nigeria.

They include, “The 1942 enquiry into a land dispute between Ogui Nike and Awkunanaw which was headed by Geoffrey Horne, A.D.O under the inter-tribal boundaries’ settlement ordinance No. 49 of 1933 to decide boundary between Awkunanaw and the Nike Clan in the then Agbani District of Udi Division of the Onitsha province.

“Through this Ordinance, the boundaries of Ogui Nike/Awkunanaw as well as Nike/Ngwo were determined and it established that the Aguowo land which includes the dispute area has been in exclusive possession and farmed by Ogui Nike without any challenge whatsoever.

“Also in 2002 following the acquisition of Independence Layout phase 11, Enugu State Government had set up a committee headed by the then Deputy Governor of Enugu State; Ezenwata Okechukwu Itanyi.

“The Committee after deliberations resolved the problem of boundry between Ogui and Awkunanaw communities by adopting a three-pronged approach viz; reconnaissance, field operation, GIS mapping and coordination as well as invoked the decision of the national boundary commission that adopted boundary for Enugu North and Enugu South, which by extension served as the boundary for the two communities.

The Youth council noted that, both Ogui Nike, Amaechi and Ugwuaji communities were both represented by professional surveyors as witnesses in addition to State Government Surveyor General and Zonal surveyor. The following surveyors were nominated by the communities,
L.C Eneje- Ugwuaji
R.C Chukwu-Amaechi
N.J Igwebike- Ogui Nike.

They further stated that following a request by Ogui Nike, Awkunanaw communities the government of Enugu State after careful assessment and evaluation confirmed that 33% of the land used for the development of the independence layout phase II housing estate project, was originally owned by
Ogui Nike, while 66% fell in the land originally owned by Awkunanaw (Amaechi and Ugwuaji). Consequently, both Awkunanaw and Ogui Nike received compensatory plots which were ceded back to them by government in 2005.

The youth council also attached a letter from Bar E.E Egbo, a native of Ugwuaji and Company dated 23 May 2012 which equally confirms and recognises the indisputable fact that 33% of the land used for the Independence Layout, Phase ll belongs to Ogui Nike wherein he pleaded to the Enugu State Government to recognise Ugwuaji as beneficiaries to the compensation due to the Awkunanaw communities.

Also included in the letter is a court case filed in 2005 by Ugwuaji Community of Awkunanaw seeking the nullification of the government final decision in respect of the report of the boundary between Ugwuaji Community of Awkunanaw and Ogui Nike.

“After series of court appearances for about fourteen years from 2005 to 2019 without credible evidence or fact, Ugwuaji Community of Awkunanaw on 5th June 2019 pleaded with the Court to discontinue the matter thereby accepting previous decisions of the colonial administration (1942) and government of Enugu State on the land. The plea for discontinuance was granted on 28th January 2020 by Hon Justice A.O Anidi.

“While recognising the report of the boundary dispute between Obeagu Ugwuaji Awkunanaw and Ugwuaji Awkunanaw communities all in Enugu South Local Government, (ESLN No 16); and the Technical Report of the Enugu State boundary dispute between Ogui Nike Community and Awkunanaw communities comprising (Amaechi and Ugwuaji) part 1 and II (ESLN No 17 and 18), the Enugu State Gazette published on 24, December 2015, Government therefore affirmed and confirmed that the boundary between Ogui Nike Community and Awkunanaw communities remain consistent with 1942, 2002 and 2005 decisions by the successive colonial and democratic government at the times in question.

The youth council while expressing dismay that Ogui Nike Community have been visited with outright violence, torture and intimidation, added that there’s been consistent trespass in their land with impunity which has consequently resulted in the disruption of viable and legitimate economic activities in the Area.

Part of the letter reads: “Over the past few years, there has been consistent trespass into the Ogui Nike Community land by members of Ugwuaji Awkunanaw community including: disruptions of viable and legitimate economic activities of Ogui Nike community members, attempts to illegally usurp and manage properties in the said location, sales and allocation of land belonging to Ogui Nike by Ugwuaji Community, physical torture, intimidation, violation of rights of people of Ogui Nike Community and flagrant abuse of court orders and Executive instructions.

“As we are no longer suspecting that the act is being supported by state authorities which is evident in the presence of State Ministry of Housing in the dispute area,
we therefore call on government to leave our only remaining land and do a wholistic inquiry into not just Ugwuaji land problems but to also determine and recommend effective implementation of existing boundry demercation between Enugu North and South local government areas which include the land in dispute between Ogui Nike and Awkunanaw communities as established by both Enugu state boundry committee and the National Boundry Commission”, they stated.

Umuahia to have pipe borne water by end of September, Ikpeazu assures

Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has expressed optimism that pipe borne water will begin to run in Umuahia urban city by the end of September this year.

The Governor stated this while inspecting new equipment procured by the state government for this purpose at the State Ministry of Public Utilities and Water Resources in readiness for the pumping of water in the urban and semi-urban cities of the State.

He assured of his administration’s support to the ministry of public utilities in realizing government’s dream of providing potable water to the people of the State.

The Governor called on engineers of the ministry to engage in capacity building that will ensure the new equipment are properly maintained directed his Chief of Staff, Dr. Anthony Agbazuere, to station men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the premises of the ministry to protect the new installations.

Dr. Ikpeazu said he was also passionate about giving the rural populace clean water and urged the Commissioner for Public Utilities to intervene in that regard. He also charged the Commissioner to maintain the relationship with the funding agencies and assured that his government will continue to meet its counterpart funding obligations to continue to enjoy the expertise of the agencies.

Earlier, while displaying the equipment to the Governor, the Commissioner for Public Utilities and Water Resources, Engr. Emma Nwabuko, stated that the State Government with the collaboration of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Bank are set to pump pipe borne water into the streets of Umuahia by the end of September.

The Commissioner noted the completion of four industrial wells which aid in pumping of water with a pump house, treatment plant, the installation of a 500KVA power generating set and two solar energy banks for 24 hours regular water supply.

He also disclosed that some buildings including commercial buildings and pump house amongst others have been rehabilitated.

Engr Nwabuko further said that the ministry will soon commence the pumping of raw water as a first step so as to identify leakages among the water pipes and work on them.

The Commissioner commended the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, for his tremendous support to the ministry promising that they will not let him down.

Also speaking, the General Manager of Abia State Water Board, Engineer Ogbonna Chiemela, noted the importance of getting it right from the onset, stating that the ministry has done a lot to prepare for the project so as to ensure its sustainability.

Gregory University Uturu Flags-Off Tree Planting Campaign

The management of Gregory University Uturu has launched an aggressive tree planting campaign aimed at reducing deforestation, increasing oxygen level in the environment and enhancing the aesthetic beauty of the campus.

Speaking during the formal flag-off event of the campaign, Vice Chancellor of the face paced institution, Prof Augustine Uwakwe stated ” the vision of management is to create a people- friendly smart environment devoid of unhealthy pollutants and by so doing encourage knowledge assimilation”.

According to Prof Uwakwe, the objective is to realise an eco green campus environment that will be conducive for the smooth conduct of all forms of schorlary activity.In his words,”this campaign is part of the larger vision borne by the Chancellor of our university,Prof Gregory Ibe, which has found expression in the initiation of many contemporary life-enhancing and health-supportive products, including such anti COVID-19 herbal solutions as Sniff-Sniff, Adonis Yellow,Hybrid Fuelless Generator, Sanitizing Chamber and Furnaces.

Shading more light on the tree planting campaign, the university Farm Manager, Ikechukwu Emezue, stated that his unit had nursed different species in order to realise the objective of raising a total of 1000 trees during the first phase of the exercise.

The exercise witnessed the symbolic planting of trees in different parts of the campus by members of the university management led by the Vice Chancellor.