ONE: The US Supreme Court decided last week to hear a case that accuses Shell of engaging in extensive human rights abuses in Nigeria. The plaintiff claims that Shell was complicit in the brutal execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and 7 other Ogoni men by then military government of Sani Abacha. The case is on behalf of the dead men and their relatives represent them. The case has moved through the American Judicial system and a court of appeals recently ruled in favor of Shell Corporation. Now the highest court in the land is set to take the final decision in the case. Whatever the result of the case, it will set a strong precedent on whether American Companies can be held accountable for human rights abuses they participate in out of the jurisdiction of their government. Whatever happens, nothing will bring the great Ken back to life, but at least justice will be done.
TWO: Ogale, a village in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, has sued the Royal Dutch Shell PLC for $1 billion. The Elders of the Village claim that the company’s exploration has directly led to water pollution and to the destruction of the environmental integrity of their village. Ogale’s 50 years history of oil exploration has resulted in extensive pollution of the drinking water sources and other life sustaining system of the village. 900 times the international limit of benzene, a known carcinogen, was found in the water wells of the village. Further “3 inches (8 centimeters) of refined oil was found floating on the surface of the groundwater that the citizens of Ogale drink.” It is not clear who is responsible for the damage. Shell, the corporation being sued, stopped its production in Ogale land 18 years ago. Since, NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) has continued extensive oil production activities in the location. It is up to the court to determine whose production caused the damages, Shell or NNPC. The suit will be heard at the US Federal High Court in Detroit. Whomever the culprit is, we hope that justice is done and that the people of Ogale are compensated for this horror.
THREE: The Federal Government has begun the implementation of the Sovereign Wealth Fund.A Sovereign Wealth Fund is a pool of money from a nation’s reserve held for investment purposes. The first stage of the process began last week when the Minister of Finance withdrew $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account into the SWF. It is imperative that the subsequent stages remain transparent.
FOUR: An American government agency as agreed to loan the Nigerian Government $1.5 billion for investment in the power sector. This agency provides export financing for American companies. It has been reported that a $50 billion investment is needed for the sector to perform up to standard. It is hard to be excited considering the precedence that the Nigerian government has set with its use of foreign loans. All the previous loans for infrastructural projects disappeared and generations of Nigerians are still stuck paying these without results. The carcasses of the once bright project ideas are littered all around the Nigerian landscape. We have dams rotting, steel plants that was never viable, and thousands of useless hospitals to show for all the loans we have.
FIVE: It is not clear if the Nigerian Senate is deliberating a bill to legalize prostitution. The alleged sponsor of the bill, Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, denies the existence of such a bill last week. He said: “I think this is total mischief by some mischievous people; you know there is no bill before the Senate, there is none before the entire National Assembly and nobody is talking about legalizing prostitution.” Public opinion seems to be against the possibility of legalizing this profession. Oka Obono writes about it HERE and Ebun Sessou HERE.
SIX: What will the return of the Nigerian expatriates bring for the country? Jonah Fisher of the BBC tries to answer this question HERE.
SEVEN: While the Nigerian National Assembly deliberates on whether or not it should remove the subsidy on petrol, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, has stated that the government will not remove the subsidy on kerosene. The government currently subsidizes each gallon of kerosene at N90 and yet the consumer still pays N50 more than the merchant buys each gallon from the government. There is a need for tighter regulation so that the subsidy actually reaches the consumer. Perhaps the same policy might prove useful to the NASS as it deliberates.
EIGHT: Baba Suwe, AKA Babatunde Omidina was arrested on October 12 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos on possession of cocaine. A National Drug Law Enforcement Agency’s (NDLEA) scanner allegedly found the pellets in the beloved comedian’s stomach cavity. He is being held until he excretes the pellets. The Federal High Court recently granted the NDLEA the right to hold the man for 15 more days. In response Baba Suwe filled for a N1 billion lawsuit.
NINE: Lagos State held a local government and local council elections on Saturday. Observers reported low turnout by the constituents of these councils and Local Governments. ACN won the majority of the seats open.
TEN: WHO KILLED DELE GIWA?