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MEND Threatens Fresh Attacks on Oil & Gas Facilities over Okah

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Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), one of the largest militant groups in the Niger Delta region, said it will resume attacks on oil installations in the region, beginning tomorrow (Friday) to drive home its protest over the sentencing, of Henry Okah, leader of the group to 24-year jail term recently by a South African court.

But the Joint Task Force (JTF) codenamed Operation Pulo Shield has dismissed the threats and asked persons “parading themselves as MEND” to embrace the peace in the region or face its wrath.

Okah, accused of masterminding the October 1, 2010 Abuja twin bombing was sentenced to 24 years in prison by Justice Neels Claaseen of the South Gauteng High Court, South Africa after finding him guilty.

Okah was found guilty in January for the October 2010 bombing in Abuja, which killed at least 12 people and wounded three dozen during a celebration to mark the country’s 50 years of independence.

But MEND said that the case against its leader was politically motivated and would therefore embark on “sustained attacks” on oil and gas infrastructure under an operation codenamed “Hurricane Exodus” as from midnight on Friday.

Gbomo Jomo, spokesman, MEND in a statement  said that the  planned attacks were provoked by the way and manner the trial of its leader, Henry Okah, on terrorism charges, was handled in South Africa.

According to the group, the conviction of Okah was based on “a forged threat letter contrived by the Nigerian and South African governments purporting to have originated from MEND.”

“This fake letter was used as evidence against Henry Okah for which a 13 years sentence was passed. To make matters worse, the prosecution’s second witness Mr. Sele Victor-Ben exclaimed in court that the letter was fake after failing to catch the prosecutor’s eye who wanted him to lie under oath.

“We are now determined to conjure this imaginary trumped up threat into a painful reality.

“The attacks will be sustained until an unreserved apology is offered to MEND and the Nigerian government shows their willingness to dialogue. The same way they are willing to dialogue with Boko Haram,” MEND said in the statement widely circulated to the media.

Elsewhere, Lt. Col Onyema Nwachukwu, media coordinator, Joint Task Force, dismissed the threats by MEND and said that the JTF  has positioned its troops in strategic places and put them on alert to tackle any possible upheaval.

The statement said: “Niger Deltans are not in any bondage and therefore do not require armed struggle or emancipation as claimed by this threatening gang.

“What Niger Deltans are in a dire need of now is peace for sustainable development having emerged from the dark days of turbulence in the region.

“Informed by this development we have effected some redeployment to tackle any upheaval. This set of people are advised to toe the path of law and order in addressing whatever grievance they have and to desist from any action that will upset the peace and development of the Niger Delta.

“The good and peace loving people of the Niger Delta are enjoined to dissociate themselves, their communities and leadership from this unwholesome approach as portrayed by this group.”

The MEND threats came amid fresh tension already brewing in the Niger Delta over the allocation of 11 oil blocks located in the region to non-indigenes of the area under an asset redistribution programme by the Federal Government targeted at facilitating more indigenous participation in the industry.


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Rivers State, Shell Inaugurate Cluster Development Board for Assa North Gas Project

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The Rivers State government and the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), energy company, recently inaugurated the Egi/Igburu Cluster Development Board (CDB) for pipeline communities to SPDC’s Assa North Gas project, which has a capacity for 300 million standard cubic feet of gas per day and the potential to be one of the largest domestic gas projects in Nigeria when completed.

Rivers State, Shell Inaugurate Cluster Development Board for Assa North Gas Project

Barrister Elloka Tasie-Amadi, State Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, at the ceremony, urged the Comrade Orikoha Ekwueme-led newly elected officials of the CDB to use the opportunity of leadership to make positive impacts that will improve living standards in their communities.

He said, “The state government is always available to support you. Always speak with your people, including the Community Trust Committees (which were also newly inaugurated). Adequate communication will ensure the buy-in of all your stakeholders”.

He decried those who see leadership as opportunity for self-seeking gains. “Leadership is more of sacrifice; not an opportunity for personal benefit”, The Commissioner said.

Also, at the inauguration, Mr. Igo Weli, SPDC general manager External Relations,  said, “The Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU), that you signed today, sets the framework for long-term partnership between SPDC JV and the Egi/Igburu Cluster. The GMoU runs on the principle of community-led development. Today, SPDC JV commits to providing funding to help you realise your community development aspirations.”

Represented at the ceremony by Dr. Banji Adekoya, SPDC External Relations Manager for Projects and Opportunities, he asked the CDB to “be prudent and implement projects and programmes that will deliver maximum benefits to the Egi/Igburu communities. Note that government, SPDC JV and the communities that you represent will hold you accountable for the judicious utilisation of the development funds.”

“With the inauguration, SPDC reiterates the company’s commitment to the Assa North Gas Project and to making it an exemplary one, particularly in Nigeria’s quest for energy sufficiency, for power generation and industrialization”, he said.

On its part, the new CDB committed to use SPDC’s award-winning GMoU agreement, which is a community-led sustainable development and interface management model that puts the communities in the driving seat in setting development priorities and implementation of programmes and projects to meet their needs.

The GMOU is a proven winning approach introduced in 2006, adopted across SPDC’s operational areas and provides a secure five-year funding for communities to implement development projects of their choice.

With the inauguration of the Egi/Igburu CDB, SPDC now has 40 active GMoUs in Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo and Rivers States. Since 2006, SPDC JV has disbursed a total of $252 million to communities through these GMoUs.

The Assa North/Ohaji South gas project is a joint venture project involving the SPDC, the NNPC, Total E&P Nigeria Limited, and Nigerian Agip Oil Company, and will result in a new SPDC gas processing plant.

The development will help the federal government deliver on its ambition to provide enough gas for domestic consumption, power generation and gas-based ammonia and urea fertilizers for farmers.


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African Entrepreneurs Vying for Anzisha Recognition

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The Anzisha Prize, a partnership between African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation, has revealed its top 20 finalists for 2020. Winners will be announced at this year’s Anzisha Prize Conference on 27 October 2020.

Organisers say this year’s application season saw a record 1 200 applicants vying for a chance to join the Anzisha Prize fellowship.

From these applications, 20 businesses emerged that were 45% percent female-owned and represented sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and education.

Young entrepreneurs from Morocco, South Africa and Tanzania displayed impressive ventures that are tackling critical issues within their communities while also turning a profit. Through their businesses and entrepreneurial leadership skills, these job starters are paving a way for other young Africans to pursue entrepreneurship.

Selected as a top 20 finalist is 21-year-old Alaa Moatamed who is the co-founder of Presto, a company she describes as one of the leading delivery management platforms in Egypt. The venture provides business owners with an affordable and convenient delivery service for their customers.

Joining Alaa is 20-year-old Benjamin Mushayija Gisa from Rwanda who manufactures and packages natural organic products for consumption and for cosmetic purposes in the form of lotions and coconut soap.

“2020 has seen a global shift in the future of work. This year’s applicants have personified the resilience and innovation that Africa needs as we navigate our way into a post-COVID-19 future,” says Melissa Mbazo-Ekepenyong, Deputy Director of the Anzisha Prize.

The Anzisha Prize, a partnership between African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation, has supported 122 entrepreneurs and 77 of those businesses have created over 2 000 jobs, with 56% of those being employment provided for young Africans under 25.

Peter Materu, Chief Program Officer, Mastercard Foundation says, “The success of the Anzisha Prize over the last decade stands as a resounding testament to the creativity and entrepreneurial potential of Africa’s very young people—a hugely under-tapped resource.

Through Anzisha, we’re reminded of what they can achieve when challenged and enabled to own and solve the problems they see around them. Now, as ever, the innovations that have emerged through the Anzisha Prize inspire and renew our faith in and commitment to their promise.”

This year, the top 20 will gather virtually from their various countries to share knowledge and learn from expert coaches and mentors as they prepare for their final pitches to a panel of external judges.

All the entrepreneurs will receive a cash prize of US$2 500. The grand prize winner will receive US$25 000, while the 1st runner and 2nd runner receive US$15 000 and US$12 500 respectively.


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FG Bans Emirates Airlines from Operating in Nigeria

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Federal Government has included Emirates Airlines in the list of airlines not allowed to operate in Nigeria.

FG Bans Emirates Airlines from Operating in Nigeria

This is part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Hadi Sirika, minister of Aviation, confirmed this via his Twitter handle on Friday.

According to Sirika, the decision was taken following a meeting between the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and European Unions (EU).

The ban would take effect from Monday, September 21, 2020.

“The PTF sub-committee met today with EU Ambassadors to discuss Lufthansa, Air France/KLM ban.

“The meeting progressed well. Emirates Airlines’s situation was reviewed and they are consequently included in the list of those not approved, with effect from Monday the 21st September 2020,” Sirika tweeted.


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