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Monday, 22 April 2019

A group of indigenes in the oil-rich Omadino land, Warri South Local Government Area in Delta State, have issued a 14-day quit notice to Chevron Nigeria Limited, Nest Oil, NPDC, Lee Engineering, Neconde Energy and Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

The group, known as the Omadino Welders and Filters Association (OWFA) handed the ultimatum to the organisations to “vacate their operational facilities”, over their failure to implement the Nigerian Content Act as it affects Omadino indigenes.

The ultimatum was contained in a communique released and signed by President of OWFA, Comrade Kennedy Ugbameta and Assistant Secretary, Comrade Omasan Ogharandukun, after an emergency meeting held in Omadino, Warri.

The indigenes noted that they would not be able to guarantee the security of facilities of the multinational oil and gas companies operating in Omadino after the expiration of the ultimatum whose notice commenced Friday, April 19.

The communiqué further alleged marginalisation of Omadino people.

It stated that several efforts made to compel the affected companies/agency to stop the alleged marginalisation, including various correspondences to inform the companies, especially Chevron Nigeria Limited of qualified manpower within the host community, have been arrogantly ignored.

Published in Business
Monday, 22 April 2019 09:30

Lagos: The Third Mainland Bridge is safe

The Nigeria Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, on Sunday said that the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos was safe for use, contrary to a Facebook posting spreading fears about the bridge.

The Ministry in a statement attached a video of ongoing under water confirmatory tests on the bridge’s piles.

The statement, signed by Mr Hakeem Bello, Special Adviser, Communications, to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, added that the expansion joints being speculated to be dangerous was among those slated for repairs.

“The General Public is hereby informed that the expansion joint shown in a Facebook video clip, is one of those slated for change during repairs on the Third Mainland Bridge which will commence soon.

“It is still functioning and our engineers and consultants have advised that it does not pose any structural danger to the bridge and it is safe for use.

“Commuters and Lagos residents will recall that the Third Mainland Bridge was shut down for a 3-day Investigative Maintenance in August 2018.

“Tests done on the expansion joints then — called static and dynamic load tests — were to check functionality. A number of expansion joints were identified for replacement then.

“More recently, in March this year, underwater confirmatory tests (video attached) preceding the repair works to be done on the Bridge, were carried out on the piles to determine if there is further deterioration or not on the piles from that done in 2013.

“However, all the tests done preparatory to closure of the Bridge to commence comprehensive Maintenance works indicate that the integrity of the Bridge is intact.

“Therefore, the Third Mainland Bridge is safe for use, and people should desist from spreading or sharing false information about the Bridge on Social Media platforms.

“The expansion joints to be replaced are part of a regular bridge maintenance programme that has been neglected for decades, which the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is now addressing frontally, on many bridges nationwide.

“Such maintenance works include resurfacing of the Bridge, along with several others, which this administration is also undertaking as the bridge users will attest to a better driving surface,’’ it stated.

The Third Mainland Bridge is the longest of three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the mainland; the others are the Eko Bridge and the Carter Bridge.

The bridge was built by Julius Berger Nigeria Plc and opened by President Ibrahim Babangida in 1990; it measures about 11.8 km in length.

By 2006, many commuters reported that the bridge was vibrating noticeably, indicating that it needed urgent maintenance works.

The bridge was the longest in Africa until 1996, when the 6th October Bridge located in Cairo, Egypt was completed.

Published in Engineering
Monday, 22 April 2019 08:57

Sri Lanka bombing: Death toll hits 207

The death toll in Sri Lanka churches and hotels bombing has hit 207, with 450 people injured on Easter Sunday.

Eight blasts were reported, including at three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo’s Kochchikade district during Easter services.

The Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand luxury hotels, all in the capital, were also targeted.

A curfew in Colombo was put in place “until further notice” and social media networks have been temporarily blocked.

It remains unclear who carried out the attacks.

A foreign ministry official has said at least 27 foreign nationals are among the dead.

The prime minister has confirmed that eight people have so far been arrested.

He has said there may have been prior intelligence about the attacks, BBC reports.

Published in World

Pangolins, a group of unique African and Asian scaly mammals, are considered to be one of the most heavily trafficked wild mammals in the world. They are hunted and traded for their meat, scales, and other body parts, and used as traditional medicines in parts of Africa and Asia.

Of the eight pangolin species, four are found in Africa. These are the white‐bellied, black‐bellied, giant, and Temminck’s ground pangolin. Three of these species live in Central African forests. The tree-dwelling white-bellied and black-bellied pangolins, weighing approximately 1.5 to 3kg (comparable to a small rabbit), and the ground-dwelling giant pangolin can weigh up to 33kg (the weight of a small Labrador dog).

But little is known about population sizes, mortality rates, and reproductive potential of African pangolins. Mounting evidence suggests that as the availability of Asian pangolins declines, and international trade flows increase, traders increasingly supply the more abundant and less expensive African pangolins to meet demand.

Seizures of pangolins and their scales and skins from Africa, destined for Asia, are increasing with over 53 tons seized in 2013 alone. These estimates likely represent a fraction of all pangolins traded, and an even smaller portion of the number of pangolins hunted.

To better understand how many pangolins are hunted in Central Africa each year, I and a team of researchers collated information on the quantities of animals that hunting villages extract from the forest, from studies conducted over the last 20 years. By doing this we can provide crucial information on regional trends which can be used to inform conservation actions and policy.

What we found

We looked into the number of animals hunted in villages and offered for sale by collating data from research and reports that covered over 100 areas in sub-Saharan Africa between 1975 and 2014.

We extracted information on whether the animal was eaten or sold, how they were hunted, the sex, age category, and price. Other species typically hunted for meat include blue duikers, brush-tailed porcupines and greater cane rats.

For Central African forests in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo, we estimated that at least 400,000 pangolins are hunted annually for meat.

But we don’t yet know whether pangolins can withstand these levels of hunting. This is mainly because we don’t yet have reliable pangolin population estimates for any of the species that inhabit Central African forests. Ideally, we would also need population and hunting data in the same location to be able to understand the levels of hunting that lead to population declines.


The pressures on African pangolins are likely increasing for several reasons.

Firstly, increasing deforestation across West and Central African countries has reduced their habitat, particularly for the semi-arboreal white-bellied pangolin and the arboreal black-bellied pangolin, which rely on forest habitats.

As the human populations grow in West, Eastern and Central Africa, this may exacerbate trends in deforestation and wildlife consumption.

Secondly, increases in the accessibility of remote areas to people and extractive industries may lead to more pangolin hunting. For example, a recent study showed that Asian industry workers in Gabon requested pangolins from hunters more than any other species.

Seized pangolin scales from Cameroon. Linh Nguyen Ngoc Bao/MENTOR-POP

Finally, the international trafficking of pangolins over the past decade has boomed. They are one of the most trafficked wild mammals in the world. For example, eight tonnes of pangolin scales trafficked from Nigeria, one of the largest ever hauls of scales, was intercepted a couple of weeks ago in Hong Kong.

Time to act

While the media has greatly increased its coverage of the plight of pangolins in recent years, financial and political support for conservation is still greatly needed. This includes support for pangolin population monitoring, identification of pangolin strongholds and areas in need of conservation, and the identification, design and testing of conservation interventions, where needed.

Without these steps we may see the African pangolins follow in the footsteps of their Asian counterparts.The Conversation


Daniel J Ingram, Researcher in Conservation, UCL

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Agriculture

Top congressional Democrats left the door open on Sunday to pursue the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump, but said they would first need to complete their own investigations into whether he obstructed justice in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Democratic Party leaders have played down impeachment talk ahead of the 2020 presidential election, although prominent members of the party’s progressive wing, including White House candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have called for the start of proceedings since the release of Mueller’s report on Thursday.

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Democrats would press ahead on multiple investigations of Trump in Congress and would “go where the evidence leads.”

“Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable,” Nadler said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

A redacted version of Mueller’s long-awaited report, the product of a 22-month investigation, built a broad case that Trump had committed obstruction of justice but stopped short of concluding he had committed a crime, although it did not exonerate him.

Mueller noted that Congress has the power to address whether Trump violated the law, and Democrats said it would be a matter of discussion in the coming weeks.

“That’s going to be a very consequential decision and one I’m going to reserve judgment on until we have a chance to fully deliberate on it,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Published in World

A comedian with no political experience won a landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election on Sunday, exit polls showed, dealing a stunning rebuke to the country’s political establishment.

Volodymyr Zelensky, whose only previous political role was playing the president in a TV show, trounced incumbent Petro Poroshenko by taking 73 percent of the vote, according to exit polls conducted by several think tanks.

According to AFP, it was an extraordinary outcome to a campaign that started as a joke but struck a chord with voters frustrated by poverty, corruption and a five-year war in eastern Ukraine that has claimed some 13,000 lives.

The 41-year-old star of the TV series “Servant of the People” will now take the helm of a country of 45 million people beset by challenges and having run on the vaguest of political platforms.

“I will never let you down,” Zelensky told jubilant supporters at his Kiev campaign headquarters where he was showered with glittering confetti after the exit polls were released.

“While I am not formally president yet, as a citizen of Ukraine I can tell all post-Soviet countries: ‘Look at us! Everything is possible!’.”

Zelensky won in all regions of the country, defeating Poroshenko even in the west where he traditionally enjoyed strong support.

Poroshenko, 53, conceded defeat in a speech at his campaign headquarters.

He said the results were “clear” and enough reason to “call my opponent and congratulate him”.

“I will leave office but I want to firmly stress — I will not quit politics,” Poroshenko said.

Preliminary results were expected in several hours but the same exit polls were accurate in the first round of the election.

After taking the most votes in last month’s first-round vote, Zelensky had enjoyed a strong lead going into Sunday’s poll.

From Ukrainian-speaking regions in the west of the country to Russian-speaking territories in the war-torn east, many voters said they feared uncertainty but yearned for change.

“We’re tired of all the lies,” said Marta Semenyuk, 26, who cast her ballot for the comedian.

“I think it just cannot get any worse and I hope he’ll live up to his promises,” said Larisa, an 18-year-old student from the government-held eastern port city of Mariupol.

Zelensky’s victory opens a new chapter in the history of a country that has gone through two popular uprisings in the last 20 years and is mired in a conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in the east.

His supporters say only a fresh face can clean up Ukraine’s politics and end the separatist conflict.

But others doubt the showman will be able to take on the country’s influential oligarchs, negotiate with the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and stand up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

“People have gone mad,” Viktoriya Olomutska, a 39-year-old Poroshenko supporter, said in Kiev. “Cinema and reality are two different things.”

Poroshenko had previously mocked his rival’s lack of political experience and argued he was unfit to be a wartime commander-in-chief.

The outgoing leader came to power after a 2014 pro-Western uprising ousted a Kremlin-backed regime, triggering Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

His supporters credited him with rebuilding the army and securing an Orthodox Church independent of Russia.

But many feel the country’s ruling elite have forgotten the promises of the revolution.

The comic shunned traditional campaign rallies and instead performed comedy gigs and used social media to appeal to voters.

The Ukrainian president has strong powers over defence, security and foreign policy but needs backing from parliament to push through reforms.

Poroshenko’s faction has the most seats in the current legislature and new parliamentary polls are due in October.

The West has closely watched the race amid concern a new government might undo years of economic reforms.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called both Zelensky and Poroshenko on the eve of the run-off vote.

Published in World

A fire outbreak at Aiteos Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited, has driven down the volume of crude oil export by Nigeria.

The fire outbreak forced Aiteo to declare a force majeure on Nembe Creek Trunk Line.

The NCTL, a major crude oil transportation channel used for export, evacuates crude to the Bonny Crude Oil Terminal. It is 100 kilometres long and has a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day at Nembe Creek.

Force majeure is a legal clause that allows companies to cancel or delay agreed deliveries due to unforeseen circumstances.

“We have been informed of a fire outbreak by our surveillance team comprising the JTF, FSS around NCTL Right of Way near Awoba today, April 21, 2019.

“Our Operations Emergency Response team was immediately activated and following its urgent intervention and containment action, we are constrained to shut in injection as well as other related operations into the NCTL. In accordance with standard procedure, we requested the other injectors to do such”, Aiteo said on Sunday in a statement.

Published in Business
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