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Nigeria Records Over 100 Waterways Fatalities in Five Months

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By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

No fewer than 100 passengers have died during the course of using waterways as means of transportation across the country between May and September 2021.

This, together with reports of over 300 waterways fatalities in 2020, and other recent unfortunate accidents have caused lawmakers of the lower chamber of the National Assembly to raise concerns.

At the plenary on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, presided over by the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, the House of Representatives urged the Federal Ministry of Transportation and its agencies to enforce safety regulations in all waterways in Nigeria.

The green chamber also mandated its Committees on Inland Waterways and Legislative Compliance to ensure implementation of the resolution and report back.

This was a sequel to the adoption of a motion on the Need to Enforce Safety Regulations in the Nigerian Waterways submitted by Mr Hamisu Ibrahim.

According to the lawmaker, “Boat accidents in the Nigerian waterways are caused by overloading, lack of maintenance, overspeeding, careless driving and bad weather.”

He also recalled the mishap that occurred in Lagos on September 27, 2021, with one person confirmed dead after a boat capsized due to an overloaded boat carrying more than 160 passengers. Another boat broke into two and sank in River Niger on May 26, 2021, leading to the death of 100 people.

“[I am] disturbed that the incessant boat mishaps occurring within the country’s waterways are as a result of the violation of boating laws and regulations by operators who board an excessive number of passengers in their quest to boost income,” the lawmaker said.

He pointed out that “boat accidents can be curtailed by public sensitization campaigns, better enforcement of Rules by regulatory agencies, constant checks on boats, and removal of pollutants in the water.”

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SERAP Drags FG to Court over $23m Abacha Loot

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By Adedapo Adesanya

A suit has been filed against the federal government by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) over the recently recovered $23 million looted by ex-Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

In a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1700/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the group is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari and Mr Abubakar Malami to release and widely publish a copy of the agreement on the Abacha loot with the US.”

In a statement on Sunday by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) is joined in the suit as respondent.

The United States government had in August signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate the $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria. It was in addition to the $311.7 million Abacha loot repatriated from the US to Nigeria in 2020.

“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations impose transparency obligations on the Federal Government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot,” SERAP argued in the suit.

“Publishing a copy of the agreement with the U.S. would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it, and to monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen.

“The repatriated $23 million Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. A substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted, or re-stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for.

“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties, including the management of repatriated loot,” SERAP said.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Atinuke Adejuyigbe, said the Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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Lagos to Severely Punish Those Behind Mushin Collapsed Building

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The owner of the building that collapsed in the Mushin area of Lagos State and others would be “severely punished,” the state government has promised.

On Friday, it was reported that a 3-storey building on 2/4 Oye Sonuga Street, Palm Avenue, Mushin, Lagos collapsed, killing four people and injuring others.

In a statement issued yesterday, the new Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins, said the state government would go after whoever is indicted in the incident, hinting that an investigation has commenced to unravel what happened.

During a visit to the scene of the unfortunate incident, the Commissioner directed that the adjoining building be pulled down for safety reasons, adding that efforts are on to rescue those who might have been trapped in the rubble.

He disclosed that the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory have been directed to unravel the cause of the collapse.

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NNPC Opens Talk with Financers on Gas Projects

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has established talks with the United States Finance Corporation and the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) to seek financing for its multi-billion-dollar gas projects.

The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, disclosed this at the Nigerian International Economic Partnership held in New York as part of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Mr Kyari said: “Inclusion (in energy transition) means we need to be supported. We are already talking to the US DFC, and the EXIM so that they can give us financing and funding for our gas projects, and this is very critical so that we can have that flexibility to move forward and at the back of this.

“I’m sure some of you may be aware that today, we are getting a grant to build baseline carbon emission studies in our country by the United States Government. This is very helpful in the sense that President Muhammadu Buhari, has also asked that we need to be supported. Currently, the major source of financing we are having is from the African Exim.”

Nigeria’s transition to net zero by 2060 requires enormous investments in gas projects which have been positioned as the country’s major transition fuel.

Mr Kyari said Nigeria is looking for opportunities to leverage the gas resources in the country to provide the possibility required for the energy transition.

It will cost $410 billion to transit, according to the federal government, and huge gas projects like the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NNPC, ECOWAS Commission, and Morocco to deliver pipelines along the African corridor will gulp billions of dollars.

“We are embarking on massive infrastructure and to see how we can deliver the Morocco gas pipeline which will pass through some countries to provide a number of securities including bringing people out of poverty and increasing gas supply in the domestic market,” Mr Kyari said.

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