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Pipeline Explosion: Abia Community Files N3bn Lawsuit Against FG

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Some residents of Osisioma Ngwa community in Abia State have filed a lawsuit against the Nigerian government accusing it of neglect after a pipeline explosion ripped through their homes.

The suit, filed by 80 victims before an Abia State High Court in Osisioma Ngwa, is seeking damages totalling N3.2 billion for the injuries and trauma suffered during the explosion.

Joined in the suit as respondents are the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In October 2018, a system 2E petroleum pipeline belonging to the NNPC caught fire and exploded in Osisioma Ngwa destroying lives and properties. Some of the villages affected include Umuaduru and Umuimo, as well as residents of Uratta, Umuze, and Njiko Umunna autonomous communities.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said at least 60 persons died in the explosion. But the community put the figure to about 200.

In his reaction to the incident, President Muhammadu Buhari blamed the explosion on “vandals who pilloried the pipelines to scoop the products.”

According to the claimants, the fire incident left some of them with “fractured bodies, wounds and scalds.”

They alleged that the NNPC and PPMC were aware that their pipelines in Osisioma Ngwa community were ruptured and spilling out petroleum products into the community and did not shut them down.

They also accused the government of indifference to the “excruciating and blistering hardship” caused them by the explosion.

“In the wake of the tragic pipeline fire explosions and the traumatising and extensive losses suffered by the casualties of the fires, the defendants did virtually nothing to provide emergency or other relief to the claimants and their loved ones who were casualties of the explosions,” the claimants stated.

“Up till this time too, the defendants have not sought to identify or reach members of the affected communities who, against heavy odds, survived the pipeline fire incident, in order to find ways of supporting them through their rehabilitation process.”
Access to Justice, an advocacy group and lawyers to the claimants, said the lawsuit is aimed at holding the federal government and oil corporation to account.

 

“Access to Justice expects that there will, ultimately, be a day of reckoning for the impunity of both the government and the oil corporations towards the Osisioma Ngwa population,” said Chinelo Chinweze, senior programme officer at Access to Justice.

“And a day of justice for the victims of the pipeline explosions whose lives have been broken so horrendously and disdainfully by government and Nigeria’s state oil corporations.”

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Man, 56, Defiles Neighbour’s 10-Year-Old Girl, Remanded

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An Ikeja Magistrates’ Court on Thursday remanded a 56-year-old estate agent, Lawal Taiwo, in the Kirikiri Custodial Centre for allegedly defiling his neighbour’s 10-year-old daughter.

The magistrate, Mrs B.O. Osunsanmi, who did not take the plea of the defendant, ordered that the case file be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for legal advice.

Taiwo, who resides at Iju-Ishaga, Lagos, is being tried for defilement.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the police prosecutor, ASP Ezekiel Ayorinde, told the court that the defendant committed the offence at his house in September 2018.

He said the defendant unlawfully had carnal knowledge of the girl.

“The defendant called the girl into his room when he discovered that her parents had gone out and had sexual intercourse with her.

“He threatened to kill the girl if she told her parents,” he said.

The prosecutor said the victim, however, told her friend’s mother, who in turn, informed her mother.

“When the parents interrogated their daughter, she told them that the defendant had defiled her on three occasions.

“The parents of the victim reported the case to the police, leading to the arrest of the defendant,” the prosecutor said.

Defilement violates Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015, and is punishable with up to life imprisonment.

Osunsanmi adjourned the case till March 16 for mention.

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Father’s Attempt to Smuggle Hard Drug to Detained Son Quashed by EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested a 60-year-old fish-farmer, Muyiwa Otulayo, for attempting to smuggle substance believed to be hard drug to his detained son, Damilola.

Otulayo is currently in the commission’s detention at the Ibadan zonal office.

The older Otulayo was on the premises of the EFCC in Ibadan on Monday, February 17, supposedly on a visit to his son.

However, while discussing with the son, an officer of the commission noticed that he handed over a sachet of drugs to him.

The drug was taken from him and kept as an exhibit.

The in-house nurse, who examined the content, confirmed that it was Rohypnol, a tranquillizer, used under strict prescription for the treatment of severe insomnia and assist in anaesthesia.

The drug, according to experts, contains high sedative effect and is rarely used except when prescribed by licensed medical officers.

The younger Otulayo was recently arrested after a criminal case of money laundering, detected in the United Kingdom, was reported against him.

The case, involving the sum of £45,000, was said to be a part of a wider amount (about £500,000) for which he was declared wanted by the London’s Metropolitan Police.

He is on the wanted list of the International Police before the petition was filed at the Ibadan Zonal Office of the EFCC.

It was learnt that officers of the Interpol were already in touch with the commission in respect of the said case.

Further investigations are said to be ongoing on the case.

The commission added that the suspect (older Otulayo) would be handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency for prosecution.

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Kidnappers Abduct Another 12 Travellers in Kogi, Demand N30m

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The Kogi State Police Command has confirmed the abduction of another set of 12 persons in Itobe/Ajegu community in the Ofu Local Government Area.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP William Aya, said the victims were travelling from Warri in a Toyota Hiace bus when they were abducted.

He, however, said that the number of victims had yet to be ascertained.

A source told our correspondent that the kidnappers had demanded N30m ransom to free the victims.

He said, “The victims boarded a Toyota Hiace bus belonging to Eleojo Transport Service with number plate KSF 19 XZ from Warri in Delta State on Sunday with 16 passengers heading to Anyigba in the Dekina LGA of the state.”

The source also said four of the passengers alighted at Okene, leaving 12 persons in the car, including the driver.

The vehicle was said to have run into the kidnappers between Itobe and Ajegu in the Ofu LGA, Kogi State.

The driver reportedly escaped and went to the Police at Itobe division to report the incident.

Recall that on Sunday around six o’clock, six passengers were abducted along Lokoja-Kabba road in the state.

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