The Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Marion Kappeyne, on Wednesday said the country was ready to support Nigeria to clean-up decades-long oil spills in Ogoniland.
Kappeyne made the disclosure in Ebube while inspecting ongoing remediation of one of the polluted sites in Ebube community, Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers.
She said the clean-up project was one of the Nigerian government’s top priorities that needed the support of all to succeed.
“I came to see things for myself rather than sitting in Abuja and just reading them in the newspapers.
She expressed confidence that the clean-up would be carried out in line with global best practice due to collaboration and supervision of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“The people are assured that they are not forgotten, as we came to see how we can support the clean-up exercise.
“I understand the impatience as people want to see results in cleaning up of their lands. I can see that work is ongoing and hopefully it will produce results soon.
“However, it will be of no one’s interest that the lands which are being remediated get re-contaminated again,” she said.
Also speaking, the UNEP representative to Nigeria, Mike Cowing, said the global body was satisfied with biological processes being carried out in the Ebube remediation site.
He said that the Federal Government had re-engaged UNEP to strengthen the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) for full implementation of the 2011 UNEP recommendations.
“The Ebube site is a site that is going to be less complex. When we move to the heavily contaminated sites, then we will face a more sophisticated remediation approach.
“For site of this nature, what I am seeing now is appropriate and in line with what I had expected.
Cowing said that UNEP had initiated some training courses and had taken members of the clean-up governing council to the United Kingdom (UK) for training.
“We took them to the UK to expose them to large remediation projects in the UK, so that they would have an understanding of how projects are done.
“The council members were exposed to the technology, planning, contractual relationship as well as compliance to legislation.
On his part, Dr Marvin Dekil, Project Coordinator of HYPREP, said that contractors handling the clean-up were already using one of the best soil treatment technologies, biocell, for the project.
According to him, biocell was a biological treatment facility that remedies contaminated soil with use of natural micro organisms.
“The contaminated soil is excavated and put into the biocell for bio-remediation treatment to take place. This allows the natural micro organism to degrade the contaminated soil.
“The micro organism degrades the contaminated soil to a level that would be good enough for us to return the soil back to where we took it from,” he said.
Dekil said the clean-up was the first time the Federal Government would be undertaking such task and, as such, was taking practical steps to ensure its success.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that HYPREP in the Federal Ministry of Environment was set-up by the Federal Government to coordinate the clean-up of oil-rich but polluted Ogoniland.
Jumia suspends its e-commerce business in Cameroon
Online retailer Jumia Technologies, often called “the Amazon of Africa”, said it had suspended its e-commerce platform activities in Cameroon on Monday because it was not suitable for the country.
Its shares have tumbled from its Wall Street initial public offering price of 14.50 dollars in April, hitting a record low of 5.10 dollars on Monday after third-quarter results missed revenue estimates for the second time in three quarters.
“Based on our review, we came to the conclusion that our transaction portal as it is run today is not suitable to the current context in Cameroon,” the company said in a statement.
The company added that its e-commerce operations there had been suspended.
Founded in 2012 by two French former McKinsey consultants, Jumia has grown quickly to become Africa’s leading e-commerce firm, operating in more than a dozen countries across Africa.
With an e-commerce business similar to Amazon and a classified portal like Alibaba, it sells from its own stock and takes a cut of third-party transactions on its website.
Edited by Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide
ADB, India sign $91m loan for irrigation farming project
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on Monday signed a 91 million dollars loan to modernise an irrigation system in the country, official sources said.
The loan would help t in southern state of Karnataka in preparing river basin management plans in the ‘Krishna River Basin’.
The project will help improve irrigation water use efficiency and contribute to improving sustainable water security in Karnataka.
After the signing, a top official in Ministry of Finance Sameer Khare said that the investment programme would help the state government in strengthening its institutions involved in integrated water resource management.
Khare said that modernising the irrigation system infrastructure would improve water use efficiency in the state.
ADB’s Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama said that the project loan would continue to strengthen state and basin institutions for the “Integrated and Sustainable Water Resources Management Investment Programme (IWRM).”
This will also finance the modernisation of Vijayanagara Channels by upgrading headworks and about 442 kilometers of main, distributaries and minor canals.
The project interventions are also tackling inefficient water use in agriculture that accounts for over 84 per cent of the state’s total water use.
This will improve water availability to meet the rising demand from other users in the state.
About 30 water user cooperative societies will also be established and strengthened for improving their farmer irrigation canals under the second project. (Xinhua/NAN)
Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim
23 arrested in Europe-wide operation against smuggling of artefacts
A large-scale operation against smugglers in Europe has led to the arrest of 23 people and the seizure of some 10,000 archaeological artefacts, Europol and Eurojust said in a statement on Monday.
According to Europol and Eurojust, as part of the operation conducted by the European Union’s (EU) police and justice agencies, 103 searches were conducted, with the same number of seizures made.
The artefacts came from the southern Italian region of Calabria.
Two Calabrians from Crotone province were in charge of the criminal network, with middlemen in France, Germany, Britain, and Serbia.
Police forces from all countries involved helped to bust the ring, Italy’s Cultural Ministry said.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini thanked everyone, who had helped take part in the investigations.
In the southern German city of Munich, historical coins had been confiscated during the action after the apartment and workspace of a 31-year-old Italian woman and her 37-year-old brother were searched.
(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)
S. Africa’s parliament warns against attempt to sabotage national carrier
South Africa’s Parliament on Monday warned against any “restless” attempt to satotage South African Airways (SAA) being gripped by a strike.
Recent reports in the public domain urging South Africans not to fly with SAA “are restless” and would sabotage the national carrier, said Khaya Magaxa, chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises.
Magaxa said that parliament noted with concern the utterances made by trade unions currently engaged in the SAA strike.
The South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), which organised the strike, had urged South Africans to avoid SAA as its flights would be operated by short-term contracted personnel without the requisite experience.
The unions made the appeal after SAA announced on Sunday that its international flights would be resumed from Sunday night after being suspended since Friday when SAA employees began an indefinite strike.
The airline said in a statement that it had taken the decision to reinstate international service on its route network after assessment of its personnel numbers who are available and willing to operate the flights.
The airline said that while some employees are on strike and have elected to do so in exercising their rights, the airline has a duty to render services to its customers where it has employees who have elected to report for work.
Magaxa said his committee acknowledges the challenges facing SAA, which are a direct result of malfeasance and corruption.
“Workers are not responsible for the situation at the national carrier,” said Magaxa.
He urged SAA management and unions to negotiate to find a solution to resolve the strike, as it has serious ramifications for SAA’s financial situation and other unintended consequences in the economy and the tourism sector.
“The committee would like to appeal to workers not to damage and destroy SAA’s credibility.
“If the employees continue down the path of destruction, this will lead to the destruction of jobs that we seek to protect and increase,” Magaxa said.
According to him, the SAA brand is important in ensuring improvement and profitability.
The work stoppage came after the national flag carrier rejected demands for an eight-percent wage increase and planned to go ahead with its retrenchment of 944 jobs — almost a fifth of its employees, as part of its turnaround strategy.
Cash-strapped SAA has relied on government bailouts for continued operation mainly due to poor management.
Over the past 13 years, the flag carrier has incurred over 28 billion rand (about 1.9 billion U.S. dollars) in cumulative losses.
This loss in revenue is compounded by the fact that the airline is already technically insolvent, without sufficient capital to fund its daily operations. (Xinhua/NAN)
(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)
4 Tunisian women arrested in Morocco over cannabis smuggling
Morocco’s police at Marrakech Menara Airport, on Monday arrested four Tunisian women over alleged involvement in cannabis smuggling.
The suspects, aged between 19 and 45, including the mother of a five-year-old child, were arrested with 6.485 kg of cannabis hidden in their personal belts, the Moroccan Police, said in a statement.
They were nabbed while preparing to leave the Moroccan tourist resort of Marrakech on a flight bound for Tunis, the statement added.
In spite of efforts to crack down on cannabis cultivation in the past decade, Morocco remains one of the world’s largest producers of the narcotic plant, according to the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime.
The Moroccan security authorities seized 112 tons and 138 kg of cannabis and its derivatives from Jan. 1 to Sept. 15, 2019, according to official statistics.
Edited by Fatima Sule/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore
Trump says he might be willing to testify in impeachment inquiry
U.S. President Donald Trump indicated publicly on Monday for the first time that he might be willing to testify in the impeachment inquiry over his dealings with Ukraine “even though I did nothing wrong”.
Democrats leading the impeachment process in the U.S. House of Representatives have not formally called Trump as a witness in the inquiry into whether he used foreign policy to try to get Ukraine to investigate domestic political opponent Joe Biden.
During former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, Trump said he was willing to testify in person but ultimately did not speak to Mueller.
Instead, after extensive negotiations, Trump provided written answers to questions from Mueller’s office.
Denying any wrongdoing, the Republican president has railed on Twitter and elsewhere against the impeachment inquiry and attacked witnesses by name.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said on Sunday in a CBS interview that Trump had every opportunity to present his case, including coming before intelligence committee hearings.
“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea and will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Trump said on Twitter.
At the heart of the inquiry is a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open a corruption investigation into former U.S. Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and into a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.
The public phase of hearings shifts into higher gear this week when a parade of officials will face questioning by Democratic lawmakers seeking details that could link Trump to a pressure campaign against Ukraine.
Eight more witnesses are due to testify in the second week of the televised hearings.
They include Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the EU, whose direct interactions with Trump are likely to be a main focus in the investigation of whether the president made security aid to Ukraine contingent on it agreeing to dig up dirt on Biden.
Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to take on Trump in 2020.
Several witnesses testified last week that they were alarmed over the pressure tactics used against Ukraine, as well as the role of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
The hearings could pave the way for the House to approve articles of impeachment – formal charges – against Trump.
That would lead to a trial in the Senate on whether to convict Trump and remove him from office.
Republicans control the Senate and have shown little support for Trump’s removal.
House Speaker Pelosi said: “The president could come right before the committee and speak all the truth that he wants if he wants to take the oath of office … or he can do it in writing.
“He has every opportunity to present his case.”
The latest round of hearings will stretch from Tuesday to Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee.
Democrats are looking into whether Trump abused his power in part by withholding 391 million dollars in aid to Ukraine as leverage to get Kiev to investigate Biden.
The money, approved by the U.S. Congress to help U.S. ally Ukraine combat Russia-backed separatists, was later provided.
At the first impeachment hearing last Wednesday, Republicans repeatedly blasted Democrats for not calling an anonymous whistleblower to testify publicly or behind-closed-doors.
The whistleblower account of the July 25 call led to Democrats opening the inquiry.
“There’s one witness, one witness that they won’t bring in front of us; they won’t bring in front of the American people, and that’s the guy who started it all – the whistle-blower,” Republican Jim Jordan said on Nov. 13.
Democrat Peter Welch responded at the time by saying: “I would be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify.
“President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.”
(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)
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