A non-governmental organisation (NGO), Sustainable Initiative for Nurturing Growth (SING) Nigeria, says Nigerian youths have been vindicated by the report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Oct. 20, 2020 #EndSARS protest at Lekki Toll Gate.
Mr Mohammed Basah, Associate Member, SING Nigeria, said this in Abuja on Friday, while reviewing the report.
“The report is a vindication and validation of the position of unarmed Nigerian youths at the Lekki tollgate that indeed, live bullets were shot at them on Oct. 20, 2020 by officers of the Nigerian Army,” he said.
Basah said the report was now a legal stamp on the already circulated evidence that authorities went overboard to interrupt citizens’ democratic and constitutional processes in a gruesome manner.
He noted that government officials should be reminded of the fundamental principles of democracy in section 40 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
“These provisions guarantee right to freely assemble and associate with other persons, with no restrictions; it’s a fundamental right and not a privilege that can be withdrawn by government should it go against the wish of a political class.
“To this extent, we reiterate our position and strongly condemn the Gestapo actions of the Nigerian Army which the Judicial Panel confirmed were mobilised to the scene of the incident by the Lagos State Government.
“Beyond the paper indictment of authorities involved in the Lekki Tollgate shootings, those involved in giving order that led to the shootings should be publicly prosecuted.
“We must commend the excellent job done by the Panel of Inquiry led by retired Justice Doris Okwuobi.
“Their factual and elaborate research into the #EndSARS protest in Lagos has renewed the hope of many Nigerians that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man.
“It is our hope that their efforts would not be treated as another paperwork, but would be implemented to the fullest,” Basah said.
Also speaking, Ms Obianuju Iloana, Programmes Manager, SING Nigeria, said Nigerians would continue to refer to the report of the panel in years to come.
She regretted that the position of some highly placed Nigerians on the Lekki incident was part of the reasons Nigerians were maltreated in some foreign countries.
“What some of our leaders have done in the EndSARS protest saga is to make people question their own mental health and eyes and also say that technology is a farce.
“If government wants to maintain the trust of the people, they must eschew all forms of rascality and that is what some of them have done by showing that they don’t have respect for scientific finding or technology.
“Some of them that spoke would have waited for the Panel’s report before speaking, to avoid them contradicting themselves,” Iloana said.
She urged the government to quickly act on the report to ensure justice for those who lost their lives during the incident.
Chrisland Schools hold annual Colour Day
In a bid to encourage the appreciation and diversity of colours, the management of Chrisland schools organized its 2021 colour day themed “Creative World of Colours”.
The annual event is held for the Foundation Stage classes (Nursery classes) across all Chrisland Schools and is aimed at exposing learners to the utilitarian nature of colours; the aesthetics, the symbolic nature and the application of colour to our everyday life.
Speaking at the event in Chrisland school Opebi, the Headteacher of the school, Olabimpe Akenroye, explained that the annual event is designed to foster a genuine appreciation of the beauty and diversity that colours bring.
“If the whole world were blue, then we would all be like fishes in the sea, if the whole world were green like leaves, then we would all be birds and monkeys on trees,” she said.
She advised everyone to embrace the diversity of colours and bask in the smiles they bring to our faces.
The activities of the day were centred around the creativity behind colour choice, the hidden meanings of colour and the encrypted message that each colour carries and symbolises.
In attendance were parents, educators and management of Chrisland schools.
Nigeria needs unifiers, Osinbajo says at Bida Emirate turbaning ceremony
- Etsu Nupe: VP is concerned about all Nigerians irrespective of differences
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, says that Nigeria needs not just achievers, but more importantly, men and women who are bridge-builders and unifiers, and who see the country’s ethnic diversity as a source of strength, and not as a point of difference.
The VP said this on Sunday during the turbaning ceremony of some prominent persons in Bida emirate, Niger State. It was his second public outing of the day after he was Special Guest of Honour at the National Institute for Security Studies in Bwari, FCT.
In Bida, the Etsu Nupe and Chairman, Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, Alhaji Dr. Yahaya Abubakar, CFR, in a show of goodwill and appreciation, conferred on the Vice President the “Garkuwan Yamma Nupe” which means “the Defender of Nupe Kingdom.”
“I am short of words to express our gratitude to the Vice President. It shows the concern you have for all Nigerians irrespective of who they are and where they come from,” Etsu Nupe stated.
The Etsu Nupe turbaned four prominent public officials, including Hon. Said Musa Abdullahi, a member of the House of Representatives who was made the Gwarzon Nupe, and Hon. Bako Alfa Kasimu who became the Zarman Nupe. He is also a House of Representatives member.
Others were Hon. Engr. Muhammed Alhaji Haruna who was Turbaned as the Dan Turakin Nupe. He is a member of the Niger State House of Assembly, and Dr. Suleiman Sheshi, the Chairman of the Bida Local Government Council who was given the title, Maina Nupe.
Congratulating those who were honoured at the event, the Vice President stated that “the Etsu Nupe has wisely chosen today to celebrate excellence and selfless service.”
“They have all brought competence, commitment and character to the positions of responsibility entrusted to them. And this is evident from all we know and what has been said about them,” he stated.
In his remarks after the turbaning, the VP noted that the conferment of the titles was a fresh call to service to the Bida community and the nation, adding that “our country needs men and women who understand that all men and women regardless of race and faith deserve to be treated equally, fairly and justly.”
Prof. Osinbajo also restated the Federal Government’s commitment to enhancing security nationwide.
“We will continue to work with key stakeholders and the people to effectively tackle the current insecurity challenges in order to achieve a peaceful and prosperous society. This we promise to do to the glory of the Almighty and for the benefit of the people who elected us into office,” he said.
While noting that “many sons and daughters of Nupe land have risen to prominence in Nigeria in both the pre- and post-independence era, making significant contributions to national development,” the VP further said that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration recognized the strategic importance of Nupe-land in national development.
According to him, “that is why only a few weeks ago the Federal Executive Council approved the reconstruction of key roads here in Niger State. This Administration understands that in order to sustainably improve the standard of living of the people, we must address the persistent socio–economic inequalities in our society by ensuring our people are gainfully engaged in legitimate economic activity.
“That is why we have and will continue to prioritize agricultural growth and development. Between July and September 2021, agriculture contributed almost 30 per cent of Nigeria’s total GDP. Nupe-land, with its vast farmlands and extensive farming activities, is key in delivering this figure.”
The VP celebrated the culture of the Nupe people and their contributions to national development over the course of the nation’s history.
“Nupe kingdom is a land that is steeped in the splendour of tradition. Indeed, this occasion provides us a platform to appreciate the rich cultural heritage of the Nupe people, a proud and distinguished people with a unique history; and looking around Wadata Palace here, we can see some of the vestiges of the battles, symbols of Nupe bravery and heroism,” he stated.
The VP further said Nupe land is today “very fortunate to have one of its great sons, who had an illustrious career in the Nigerian military and rose to the rank of a General before he answered the call of service to his people, to take the seat of his forefathers as the 13th Etsu Nupe: His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar, CFR, our host today. And he is easily one of the most respected traditional leaders in Nigeria today.”
On arrival in Bida, Prof. Osinbajo was welcomed by the State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, and was also accompanied on the trip by Senator Sani Musa who represents Niger State at the Senate.
Ondo oil community sues Chevron for N3.4bn over alleged damage to land, ecosystem
The descendants of Adeli Oriyomi Awoye, in Ilaje Local Government Area, Ondo State, have asked a Lagos Federal High Court, to order Chevron Nigeria Limited, to pay them a total sum of N3. 451, 970, 000 billion, as general and exemplary damages, for alleged breach of their rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and for loss of earnings occasioned by the loss of their fishing grounds, fishing lines, fishing fences, gears and surface rights to the Chevron’s oil operations.
The plaintiffs specifically asked the court for an order awarding the sum of N1, 451, 970; 000 billion, as special damages, for loss of earnings occasioned by loss of their fishing grounds, fishing lines, fishing fences, gears etc and surface rights to Chevron’s oil operations. And an order awarding the sum of N500 million, against Chevron, as compensation to them, for Chevron’s breach of their rights under Section 38 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) as well as under other statutes and the terms of the applicable Oil Mining Lease as it relates to the killing or displacement of their object of veneration namely; Aghon Erin Adeli.
The Plaintiffs in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1815/2020, are; Elisha Omomowo; Abiye Ehinmore; John Omomowo; Benson Omomowo; Omotola Omomowo; Eyisogo Omomowo and Shiloh Ebun Omomowo, suing for themselves and as descendants Of Adeli Oriyomi Awoye of Awoye, llaje LGA, Ondo State.
Joined as Chevron Nigerian Limited’s co-defendant is Minister of Petroleum Resources.
The Plaintiffs in their endorsement of clams filed before the court through their counsel, Mr. Ige Asemudara, are also seeking a declaration that Chevron’s entry of their land, Omi Adeli (now known as Oke-Oluwa) in Awoye town of llaje Local Government Area of Ondo State for the purpose of carrying out easy operations in their oil facilities or having easy access to same without prompt payment of adequate compensation is in breach of the Plaintiffs’ Fundamental Human Rights guaranteed by Sections 43, 44(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Petroleum Act, other statutes as well as the terms of the applicable Oil Mining lease.
A declaration that Chevron’s killing or permanent displacement of their huge and highly venerated Sea Turtle (Aghon Erin Adeli) kept and nurtured for decades by their matriarch for prayer and conservatory purposes, is in breach of their rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as guaranteed by Section 38 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended), the Petroleum Act, other statutes as well as the applicable Oil Mining Lease.
They also asked the court for an order compelling Chevron to immediately abate and prevent the sea incursion into their community which was occasioned by Chevron’s alleged ‘reckless dredging of a canal that opens into the sea and leading to their Location “K”.
An order directing the second defendant to closely monitor Chevron’s activities, to ensure full compliance with the terms of the Oil Mining Lease and all environmental protection legislation for the benefit of the Plaintiffs.
But Chevron Nigeria Limited, in its preliminary objection filed before the court through it’s counsel, Mr. Ama Etuwewe (SAN), asked the court for an order striking out the suit for want of jurisdiction.
At the hearing of the suit on Wednesday, plaintiffs’ counsel, Mr. Asemudara told the court that all the defendants in the suit have been served with every process including the hearing notice, adding that the matter is riped for hearing.
However, Chevron Limited’s Counsel, Mr. Etuwewe (SAN), informed the court that his client, has filed a preliminary objection to the suit, however, drew the Court’s attention to the absence of the second defendant, Minister of Petroleum Resources.
With the absence of the second defendant, Mr. Atuwewe (SAN) asked the court for a short adjournment, for all parties to be fully represented.
Following Atuwewe’s submissions which was not opposed by the Plaintiffs’ Counsel, Justice Lewis Allagoa, while ordered that hearing notice be issued and served on the second defendant, adjourned till January 19, 2022, for hearing of the suit.
The Plaintiffs in their Statement of claims before the court stated that they are all descendants of Late Madam Adeli Oriyomi Awoye (also simply referred to as Adeli or Adeli Oriyomi) of Awoye town in llaje Local Government Area of Ondo State Nigeria. The said late Madam Adeli Oriyomi Awoye was the owner of a piece of swampy land called “Omi Adeli” or “Ufo Adeli” located at the outskirts of Awoye town and she was in possession of same till her death.
They stated that Chevron, which was formerly known as Gulf Oil Company (Nigeria) Limited, is an incorporated oil company, a multi-national having its head office at Chevron Drive, Kilometre 19, Lekki-Epe expressway, Lekki, Lagos State within the Court’s jurisdiction and operating oil facilities and mining activities in different parts of Nigeria including the Plaintiff’s Awoye community in llaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.
The plaintiffs stated that Chevron had in 1993 invaded and dredged through their land, Omi Adeli in Awoye, in order to have multiple and more expansive operations and access to some of it’s oil facilities in that part of Awoye. Particularly, Defendant dredged to a location it called, ‘Location “K”, on their land and continued to hold and remain on that land up till date in gross disregards to their fundamental rights to property and rights to compensation incidental to same.
They stated that the second defendant granted Chevron an oil mining lease namely: OML 49 in an area contiguous to their land vide a lease dated July, 14 1970 which lease has been further renewed by the second defendant in Chevron’s favour.
The Plaintiffs averred that their title to and possession of the land was derived from Madam Adeli Oriyomi who was a direct daughter of Awoye, the man who founded Awoye town which was named after him. Awoye in his lifetime gave the said land to Adeli Oriyomi hence the land was called, Omi Adeli. Recently (a few years ago) Adeli descendants decided to rename the place as Oke-Oluwa.
The Plaintiffs state that Madam Adeli Oriyomi had been married to a man known as Omomowo at Obe-Rewoye, another town in llajeland and had children for him. Omomowo took ill and died leaving Adeli and her children who could not make both ends meet. Awoye, Adeli’s father could not stand the suffering of his daughter and grand children. He brought Adeli back home from Obe-Rewoye and gave her, in fee simple, a portion of his land in Awoye, which portion of land is the place where the 1st Defendant unlawfully entered, dredged and is now carrying out activities relating to oil exploration and mining.
The Plaintiffs averred that since the land was given to Madam Adeli Oriyomi by her father, she has been fishing there at as her fishing ground, having her fishing lines, channels, traps, shrines and fishing fences or enclosures known among the llajes as Ufo on the land known as Omi Adeli and exercising several possessory and proprietary rights on the land including building thereon houses on stilts and exercising surface rights thereon. And that upon the death of Madam Adeli Oriyomi, she was inherited by all her children and grandchildren including the Plaintiffs who continued to fish, rear fishes and ofher aquatic species, farm, live and worship their gods and God on the land called Omi Adeli.
The Plaintiffs stated that through their progenitors and themselves had been in an unbroken, undisturbed possession and enjoyment of the land for more than a century before the events of 1993 and subsequent continuous events orchestrated by Chevron. Thus in 1988, a certain Taylor Amabamije Ikumapayi unsuccessfully challenged their rights over the said land. His failure and the findings of the High Court of Ondo State in their favour, are contained in the judgment delivered on December 10, 1990 by Justice S. A. Ajayi J. in Suit No.HOK/12/88.
They claimed that Chevron dredged their land thereby destroying fishing lines, fishing fences enclosures, ponds, surfaces etc and the said dredging to Location ‘K’ continue to cause disruptions to their fishing activities and day-to-day life and living unabated up fill the time of filing this suit.
They stated that Chevron has failed and refused to pay them the constitutional and statutory compensation for the huge damage, loss and injury occasioned by its reckless acts. Instead, Chevron had engaged them in unconscionable and oppressive litigations at various level of courts, the last being Suit No. HOK/37/1994, in which the High Court of Ondo State by Justice Yemi Fasanmi, delivered a judgment on August 8, 2014, and declined jurisdiction to determine the dispute, holding that only the Federal High Court has the jurisdiction.
They averred that Chevron further employed all sorts of unorthodox divide-and-rule tactics to combat them, one of which was to “trump-up” other members of the Awoye community who have nothing to do with their land at Omi or Ufo Adeli to lay claim to same with it’s connivance. Adding that following the acts of Chevron, the Plaintiffs suffered and are still suffering several specific and general losses and injuries to their properties and livelihoods unabated for which they are entitled to special and general damages.
The Plaintiffs averred that Chevron unlawful and reckless acts breached their rights and they shall rely on all constitutional and statutory provisions in asserting their rights and seeking redress before the Honourable Court. Stating that they shall also rely the terms of OML 49.
They further stated that the acts of Chevron in dredging their land turning same into canal leading to Location ‘K’ and Chevron’s other oil facilities have exposed them and their environment to serious pollution, environmental hazard including flooding and incessant sea-incursion thus they have to the knowledge of Chevron been forced to move from their original residential locations fo new ones on two occasions.
They also stated that the invasion of their land and the dredging of same to Location ‘K’ destroyed their object of veneration namely, aghon erin Adeli i.e. Adeli’s Sea Turtle. This was a huge Sea Turtle weighing up to 150 kilogram that had been preserved for several decades before Chevron recklessly attacked and dredged the sacred heap where the sea tutle was welcomed and venerated periodically by Madam Adeli Oriyomi and her descendants.
The plaintiffs averred further that their matriarch Adeli Oriyomi had this Sea turtle that came visiting either once a year or once in two years and would stay a few days before returning to the sea. Libation would be poured for the sea turtle, prayers would be offered during her period of visit and the heap of soil where she perched whenever she came was destroyed by Chevron’s dredging activities in 1993 when she was last seen. Stating that they honestly believe that the mechanized dredger used by the Chevron killed the Sea Turtle as she has never been seen since that time.
They averred that as at the time of the Chevron first dredging of their land turning it into a canal, the canal was about 50 feet in width, The canal which opens into the sea is now over 120 feet in width thereby constituting a floodgate of sea incursion into their lands and homes, leading to grievous injuries and huge losses, without Chevron abating same or cushioning its effect. Adding that the canal dredged by Chevron now constitutes grave environmental threats to the life and properties, as the canal now serves as an inroad through which the sea now surges and violently attacks their houses, remaining ponds and other valuables belonging to the Plaintiffs and their community.
The Plaintiffs aver that since Chevron’s operation on their land and in areas contiguous to their land, Chevron has NEVER deemed it fit to confer any benefit in the form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Community development programme on their Community. And that they have consistently suffered oppression, dehumanization and derogation of their shared humanity in the hands of the 1st Defendant and only an order of this Honourable Court can redress same.
They stated that the killing or the permanent displacement of the sea turtle, Aghon Erin Adeli, an object of veneration by their matriarch and some members of their family is a breach of their right to freedom of religion, expression, thought and conscience which still suffers serious setback till date as their religious rites about the sea turtle is incomplete without if year in year out and this can only be remedied through payment of prompt and adequate compensation.
They stated that they have suffered environmental hazards, pollution, loss of surface rights, loss of object of veneration, desecration of venerated heap of soil, loss of fishing grounds, loss of earnings and various injuries to their fundamental rights.
Chevron in its notice of preliminary objection brought pursuant Order 29 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure rules) and under the court’s inherent jurisdisction, asked for an order striking out this suit for want of jurisdiction.
Chevron claimed that by the continued effect of Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Section 7 of the Federal High Court Act, Federal High Court is not statutorily empowered to determine the Plaintiffs/Respondents’ claims which border on compensation for land and matters incidental thereto.
Chevron also claimed that by virtue of section 19 of the Oil Pipelines Act, Federal High Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the Plaintiffs’ claims. Adding that Plaintiffs’ action is statute-barred as their claim is caught up by the provisions of Section 4 of the Limitation Law of Ondo State CAP 83 Laws of Ondo State 2006.
Responding to Chevron’s preliminary objections, the plaintiffs in their affidavit of fact deposed to by Daniel Shedrack, a Litigation Clerk with the plaintiffs’ counsel law firm, stated that the plaintiffs had previously brought this action on this subject matter against Chevron before the Ondo State High Court in Suit No. HOK/37/1994; and that it’s counsel, Mr. Ama Etuwewe (SAN) was the counsel to the same defendant, Chevron Nigeria Limited in the said Suit No. HOK/37/1994 before the Ondo State High Court.
He stated that Suit No. HOK/37/1994 was struck out on August 8, 2014, upon the objection and submission of the said counsel that the Ondo State High Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit and that only the Federal High Court has the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit. Stating that he is surprised that the same Ama Etuwewe (SAN) now turns around to say the Federal High Court does not have jurisdiction over the matter that only the Ondo State High Court does.
The deponent stated that the objection is a deliberate ploy to frustrate the plaintiffs from getting justice against the oppressive and unlawful conducts of Chevron. And that even the Oil Mining Lease (OML 49) which empowers Chevron to mine petroleum resources around the Plaintiff’s land recognizes the need to compensate the Plaintiffs accordingly.
The deponent stated that he was further informed by lge Asemudara, the plaintiffs of counsel on November 3, 2021, and verily believe him as follows: (i) That he is aware that Chevron through its counsel also made reference to Suit No. HOK/37/94 and that he knows that Counsel could not approbate and reprobate or double-speak on issues of law before different courts being a minister in the temple of justice and a very senior member of the bar and a member of the inner bar.
He stated that such conduct of counsel impedes the administration of justice and further abuses the processes of the Court.
He also stated that the Plaintiffs are very poor natives and indigenes of the oil-producing Awoye community in llaje Ondo State, whose rights have been breached by Chevron, adding that it is in the best interest of justice to refuse the objection and proceed to hear and determine the suit on its merit.
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