Ainsley Maitland-Niles is also being name-dropped as a potential target for the Magpies.
Newcastle have failed in their pursuit to sign Idrissa Gueye on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, despite holding initial talks.
Gueye has fallen out of favour in Paris in recent months and is free to leave the club as a result.
Newcastle are in search of a midfielder, but are yet to use the January transfer window to strengthen their squad and are running out of time.
L’Equipe initially reported that Newcastle had made contact over a loan move for the 31-year-old, but the Daily Mail have since confirmed that Gueye has turned down the chance to return to the Premier League with Steve Bruce’s side.
The midfielder was signed by then-PSG manager Thomas Tuchel for a reported £29m fee in summer 2019 and has made 16 appearances this season but has featured in limited capacity, having completed just one full game since October.
Gueye is now struggling to find a regular place in the side under the new management of Mauricio Pochettino, with a change of system taking him out of the side.
Pochettino has been in pursuit of Dele Alli since taking the PSG job, with the England midfielder out of favour at Tottenham.
PSG’s pursuit of Alli has since broken down, however, and is now expected to remain in north London beyond the deadline, which could affect any move for Gueye.
Newcastle have also been linked with a loan move for Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury, but any deal could be dependant on whether the Foxes get an attacking midfielder in before the deadline themselves.
The versatile midfielder is expected to leave on loan before the transfer window slams shut and Newcastle have been in contact over a loan move, as have Leicester and Southampton.
Kabak has been one of the shining lights in what has been an otherwise disappointing season for Schalke.
Liverpool are pushing to sign Schalke defender Ozan Kabak, but face a race against time to get the deal over the line before the transfer window closes.
The Reds have sparked into life in the transfer window and are looking to conclude deals for two centre-backs. Preston’s Ben Davies is expected to be one, while Marseille’s Duje Caleta-Car was identified as an option late on Sunday.
However, talks with the French side quickly hit an impasse, with Mohamed Bouhafsi revealing that a deal was now off the table, and sources have confirmed to NoRM‘s known Media that negotiations are now underway over a loan deal for Kabak.
A target during the summer, Liverpool have long admired the 20-year-old, who has also played his way onto the radar of Manchester United.
A report from Sky Sports News adds that Liverpool have already made preparations for Kabak to undergo a medical in Germany, but it could all come down to whether Schalke can find a replacement before the Bundesliga window closes at 17:00 (GMT).
Schalke have identified their preferred target, but there is no guarantee that they will be able to get a deal over the line in time, particularly as they will not be pocketing much money from Liverpool if they do loan out Kabak.
The Reds are keen to pay a loan fee of around £2.5m and pick up the option to sign Kabak permanently in the summer, but Schalke are yet to accept the bid as they are focused on finding an alternative.
They currently sit bottom of the Bundesliga table, having picked up just eight points from 19 games, but their young defender has definitely stood out.
The commission “can expect no further cooperation from me in any of their processes going forward,” Zuma said in a statement.
South Africa’s beleaguered ex-president Jacob Zuma vowed Monday to not appear before a judicial panel probing corruption during his nine-year tenure, defying a court order compelling him to testify.
Zuma, 78, has played cat-and-mouse with the commission since it was set up in 2018 to investigate looting of state coffers during his rule.
He accuses the commission of bias and has demanded that its chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, recuse himself from the anti-graft inquiry.
However, Zondo has dismissed the calls, saying Zuma failed to make a case that he was being unfair.
Zuma, while highlighting his anti-apartheid exploits, said he was ready for “the law to take its course” and did not fear being arrested, convicted or incarcerated.
“The wrath visited upon me as an individual knows no bounds,” said Zuma, adding that his children and associates had also been “targeted and harassed” as their bank accounts were closed.
South Africa’s top court on Thursday ordered him to appear before the Zondo commission, ruling that he had no right to remain silent during the proceedings.
“It is clear that the laws of this country are politicised even at the highest court in land,” Zuma said.
But Zuma argued that court decision rendered him completely defenceless.
He said he “never imagined that there would come a time when a democratic government in South Africa… would behave exactly like the apartheid government in creating legal processes designed to target specific individuals in society”.
Zuma, who came to power in 2009, was forced to resign in 2018 over graft scandals involving an Indian business family, the Guptas — who won lucrative contracts with state companies and were allegedly even able to choose cabinet ministers.
He set up the commission shortly before his ouster and only testified before it once in July 2019, but staged a walkout days later.
Since then, Zuma has not testified again, citing health concerns or preparation for another corruption case related to a 1990s arms deal which will resume this month.
The storm is expected to continue in the region until Tuesday, capping off with a mixture of ice, sleet and freezing rain.
A powerful winter storm is set to dump feet of snow along a stretch of the US east coast including New York City on Monday, after blanketing the nation’s capital.
The National Weather Service issued storm warnings from Virginia to Maine — a swathe home to tens of millions of people — and forecast snowfall of 18 to 24 inches (45-60 centimeters) in southern New York, northeastern New Jersey and parts of southwest Connecticut.
The NWS warned New Yorkers to expect a snowfall rate of two to four inches per hour beginning on Monday, with “near blizzard” conditions closer to the coast.
Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a local state of emergency as the city of over eight million braced for the storm, restricting non-essential travel to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles.
“This winter storm will be dangerous with heavy snowfall and strong winds. If you can stay home, stay home,” he said on Twitter.
New Jersey governor Phil Murphy also issued a state of emergency ahead of the storm’s expected arrival, allowing authorities to close roads, evacuate homes and commandeer equipment needed for public safety.
Public transportation throughout the state will be suspended as of Monday, in anticipation of the storm’s impact.
“Charge your devices, and if you experience a power outage — report it immediately,” he urged New Jersey residents on Twitter.
Philadelphia also declared a snow emergency, closing city government buildings for Monday and ordering residents to move their cars off snow emergency routes so the plows can get through.
“Philly, please be safe and look out for each other,” Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted.
The storm is expected to hit Maine by Tuesday, where it will drop between eight and 13 inches of snow, as well as sleet.
The storm hit mountainous parts of California with more than six feet of snow and heavy rain last week.
Panda-monium The extreme weather led a chunk of Highway 1 to collapse into the sea, following a landslide in an area near the mountainous Big Sur coastline in the central part of the western state.
The snow later moved on to the Midwest, dumping about eight inches of snow in Chicago, according to the NWS.
Snowfall began overnight Saturday to Sunday in Washington. A winter storm warning from the NWS predicted between three and five inches in the area around Washington and Baltimore, Maryland.
President Joe Biden met with advisors Sunday to discuss “a range of issues, including the approaching winter storm,” as well as Covid-19 vaccines and economic relief, according to a White House official.
Meanwhile, Washington residents hurried outside to enjoy the snow, building giant snowmen near the National Mall, going sledging and having snowball fights.
“I feel like a kid on Christmas,” said Emilee Truitt, a student from Alabama interning in the capital.
“I woke up really giddy this morning, excited to go out and see the snow for the first time.”
It wasn’t just the humans of Washington who were out to have some snowy fun.
At Smithsonian’s National Zoo, giant pandas made the most of the winter flurry, frolicking in the snow and rolling and sliding down a slope in their enclosure.
The new thrilling song is coming off the young musical act and Canny Consults For Oneword Global Records frontier, Bella Shmurda long-awaited project “Hypertension” which is expected to drop later this year.
The hotel is frequented by Somali officials, members of the security forces and community leaders.
At least five people were killed in an hours-long Al-Shabaab attack on a Mogadishu hotel which ended around midnight on Sunday, Somali police said.
The Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists detonated a car bomb at the entrance to the Hotel Afrik at a busy junction near the airport before gunmen stormed the hotel, exchanging fire with security personnel.
Somali police spokesman Sadik Dudishe told a press conference that four attackers had also died.
“Among the dead are five civilians and the gunmen — three of them shot and another who detonated himself. The death toll can be higher and some of the wounded people may succumb.”
He said 10 people had been injured.
The information ministry said in a statement that one of the victims was well known retired military official General Mohamed Nur Galal.
Ali Ato, who went to the hotel to recover the dead body of a colleague who was killed during the raid, described the scene.
“I have never witnessed such a level of devastation. We found the dead body of my colleague in front of the room where he stayed but I don’t know if they shot him or he was killed in a grenade explosion,” Ato told AFP.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement, saying: “The mujahidin stormed in an ongoing operation inside Hotel Afrik where members of the apostate team are stationed.”
Al-Shabaab has been waging a violent insurgency across the Horn of Africa country seeking to unseat the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.
They were driven out of Mogadishu by government forces backed by African Union peacekeepers in 2011.
But the group still controls swathes of territory outside the cities, from where they launch attacks against government and civilian targets. It has also carried out deadly attacks in neighbouring Kenya.
Somalia was scheduled to hold indirect parliamentary and presidential elections before February 8, but the process has been derailed by political disagreements between the central government in Mogadishu and its federal states.
Those operating on generators are managing to render skeletal services.
Residents of Maiduguri and environs have been thrown into lingering blackout following the destruction of one of the towers supplying electricity to the city from the national grid.
Noble Reporters Media reports that the blackout, which has lasted for one week, has grounded many businesses that are relying on power.
Some residents, who spoke to NoRM, not only condemned the action of the insurgents but lamented the continued inability of the authorities concern to restore the power.
“It’s now one week and most people don’t know why there is no electricity in Maiduguri.
“We need to know what caused it and efforts by the power company to address the matter.
“You can’t leave people in darkness without explanation,’’ a resident, Ibrahim Abubakar, said.
Also, a welder, Moses Bala, said the development has grounded his business because he solely depends on electricity from the national grid for his work.
“Because of steady supply over the months, I solely depend on power from government and now that there is no power for one week; I remain out of business.
“I can’t afford a generator as I am still young in this business,’’ Bala said.
He appealed to the authorities concern to expedite action to restore the electricity.
Musa Idris, Sahabi Abdulrahman, Amina Bello and Talatu Musa who also lamented on the power outage on their small businesses said they do not know the cause of the power outage.
They said that they would want something to be done urgently to ameliorate their plight.
When contacted, the Corporate Communication Manager of Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) in charge of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Taraba states, Mr Kingsley Nkemneme said he could not comment because the problem has to do with Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
“The TCN is in a better position to comment on this as the problem is not about distribution but transmission,’’ Nkemneme said.
NoRM reports that this is the second time in three months that insurgents will be attacking the power transmission line to Maiduguri.
Suu Kyi went to the United Nations to defend Myanmar against the allegations.
Myanmar’s military seized power in a bloodless coup on Monday, detaining democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and declaring a one-year state of emergency.
The intervention ended a decade of civilian rule in Myanmar, with the military justifying its power grab by alleging fraud in the November elections that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won in a landslide.
Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained in the capital Naypyidaw before dawn, party spokesman Myo Nyunt told AFP, just hours before parliament was meant to reconvene for the first time since the elections.
The military then declared, via its own television channel, a one-year state of emergency and announced that former general Myint Swe would become acting president for the next year.
It alleged “huge irregularities” in the November polls that the election commission had failed to address.
“As the situation must be resolved according to the law, a state of emergency is declared,” the announcement said.
Suu Kyi issued a pre-emptive statement ahead of her detention calling on people “not to accept a coup”, according to a post on the official Facebook page of the her party’s chairperson.
The military moved quickly to stifle dissent, severely restricting the internet and mobile phone communications across the country.
In Yangon, the former capital that remains Myanmar’s commercial hub, troops seized the city hall just ahead of the announcement, according to an AFP journalist.
AFP saw several trucks in Yangon carrying army supporters, with Myanmar flags and blaring nationalist songs, and some NLD members reported that security forces had ordered them to stay at home.
All banks across the country were also closed, and queues formed at ATMs.
Elsewhere, the chief minister of Karen state and several other regional ministers were also held, party sources told AFP.
However, the military did not deploy masses of troops onto Yangon’s streets.
Swift condemnation The United States, the United Nations and Australia quickly condemned the coup, calling for a restoration of democracy.
“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Australia said the military was “once again seeking to seize control” of the country.
“We call on the military to respect the rule of law, to resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and to release immediately all civilian leaders and others who have been detained unlawfully,” Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.
Myanmar’s November polls were only the second democratic elections the country had seen since it emerged from the 49-year grip of military rule in 2011.
The NLD won more than 80 percent of the vote — increasing its support from 2011.
Suu Kyi, 75, is an immensely popular figure in Myanmar for her opposition to the military, having spent the best part of two decades under house arrest during the previous dictatorship.
But the military has for weeks complained the polls were riddled with irregularities, and claimed to have uncovered over 10 million instances of voter fraud.
It had demanded the government-run election commission release voter lists for cross-checking — which the commission did not do.
Last week, military chief General Min Aung Hlaing — arguably the country’s most powerful individual — said Myanmar’s 2008 constitution could be “revoked” under certain circumstances.
Myanmar has seen two previous coups since independence from Britain in 1948, one in 1962 and one in 1988.
Suu Kyi’s previous opposition to the military earned her the Nobel peace prize.
But her international image was shredded during her time in power as she defended the military-backed crackdown in 2017 against the country’s Muslim Rohingya community.
About 750,000 Rohingya were forced to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh during the campaign, which UN investigators said amounted to genocide.
Suu Kyi was only ever de facto leader of Myanmar as the military had inserted a clause in the constitution that barred her from being president.
The 2008 constitution also ensured the military would remain a significant force in government by retaining control of the interior, border and defence ministries.
But to circumvent the clause preventing her from being president, Suu Kyi assumed leadership of the country via a new role of “state counsellor”.
“From (the military’s) perspective, it has lost significant control over the political process,” political analyst Soe Myint Aung told AFP.
Keshinro Ololade Ifeanyi Kenechuwu, known professionally as Lil Kesh, is a Nigerian singer, rapper and songwriter. He rose to fame after releasing the hit single "Shoki". Lil Kesh was born and raised in Bariga, a suburb of Lagos State. His career in music began in 2012 when he rapped among his colleagues in Bariga.
The governor warned that if the new service chiefs are to toe the path of those before them, then the nation will not experience any turnaround in security issues.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State says the security challenges faced under the former security chiefs came as a result of their delving into politics.
According to Governor Wike, “instead of concentrating on the security of the nation, the service chiefs were very much involved in politics.”
Speaking as a guest on NoRM‘s known Media, Wike urged the new leaders of the armed forces not to toe the path of their predecessors.
“This was the problem we had with the previous chiefs, they were involved in politics rather than face the security of the nation.
“Nobody can deny that fact; the moment you politicize security, then you are bound to have problems,” Wike stated via a zoom call.
The PDP chieftain said the nation appreciates the change of service chiefs, but warned that the issues do not end at the exchange of baton.
“The new people that are appointed must ask themselves, what is our agenda? Is our agenda to continue with where the last service chiefs stopped, or to make sure we improve?”
The governor’s statement comes few hours after New Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor led other service chiefs on an operational visit to the Headquarters, Command and Control Centre of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital.
This trip by the new service chiefs serves as the first operational visit aimed at better prosecuting the war against the insurgents and other miscreants across the country, a task which Governor Wike says is too enormous to be mixed with politics.
The girls were forced from their dormitories onto trucks and driven into the bush.
Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, says no escaped Chibok Girl is currently in the custody of Nigeria’s military.
Major General Irabor who on Sunday led other Service Chiefs on an operational visit to the Headquarters, Command and Control Centre of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital, told newsmen that contrary to claims making the rounds, there are no new set of escaped Chibok girls in the army’s custody.
The CDS, however, said “we desire that the rest of the Chibok Girls receive their liberty and if our operations have helped these ones to escape, if it yielded such results, then we are glad. ”
The Military Chief said more is being done to strengthen the efforts of the army, with the hope that they will yield desired results.
Daring escapes On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram gunmen seize 276 girls aged between 12 and 17 from the Government Girls Secondary School in the remote town of Chibok in Borno state.
Since the attack in 2014, Boko Haram has continued to kidnap and lay claims to the kidnapping of several girls and women within the region.
While some girls were rescued by troops in 2016, others have reportedly escaped over the years, with the latest report coming barely two days before the service chiefs’ operational visit to Borno.
Fifty-seven managed to flee in a daring escape.
Though it is not yet clear how many of the remaining missing girls have managed to escape, reports, however, suggest that some more girls escaped and have been reunited with their families.
The military says it is not aware of any escape and have no girls in their custody, but hopes that the operations being carried out at the moment will see that more Nigerians within the den of the insurgents will regain their freedom.
PSG went in search of a winner, but the closest they came saw full-back Layvin Kurzawa’s drive fly narrowly wide.
Paris Saint-Germain suffered their first defeat under Mauricio Pochettino as lowly Lorient fought back to claim a dramatic 3-2 victory on Sunday and prevent the defending champions from retaking top spot in Ligue 1.
Neymar scored two penalties but the visitors collapsed late on at the Stade du Moustoir, as Nigerian Terem Moffi netted an injury-time winner.
The loss saw PSG stay one point behind league leaders Lyon, although third-placed Lille could go two points clear when they host Dijon later on Sunday.
“We have to keep the positive aspects and move forward,” said former Tottenham manager Pochettino.
“Accidents happen in football. We have to keep working. It makes us realise that it can happen if we don’t play at 100 percent.”
It was the first defeat in six games as PSG coach for Pochettino since he took over from the sacked Thomas Tuchel.
The win takes struggling Lorient into the relegation play-off spot.
“(Moffi’s goal) was magical. Against PSG, it’s even crazier,” said Lorient’s Laurent Abergel, who scored the opening goal.
“For a Marseille fan like me, the first dream is perhaps to play for OM and the second to beat PSG.”
Lorient started brightly and had the first real shot in anger in the 30th minute, as Adrian Grbic’s long-range strike had to be pushed away by PSG goalkeeper Sergio Rico.
The hosts did take the lead six minutes later, though, as PSG failed several times to clear and Abergel picked out the top corner with the outside of his left boot.
Neymar levelled on the stroke of half-time from the penalty spot with his fifth league goal of the season.
PSG improved after the break and took the lead in the 57th minute as Houboulang Mendes, who also conceded the first penalty, brought down Mauro Icardi and Neymar again made no mistake.
It was the first time since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2015 that a PSG player had netted two spot-kicks in a Ligue 1 match.
The visitors pressed for a third, but Lorient goalkeeper Matthieu Dreyer made an excellent stop to keep out an Icardi header.
That proved to be crucial, as the stubborn home side equalised in the 80th minute.
Substitute Yoane Wissa scored an excellent individual goal, his sixth of his first full campaign as a top-flight player.
They over-committed in the second minute of added time, leaving no defenders within 60 yards of their own goal as Moffi was sent racing clean through.
The 21-year-old, on as a sub, slotted the ball into the bottom corner to spark wild celebrations for the home team.
The two suspects are Oluwadamilare Folami, m, 22 and Desire Chukwu, female, 21.
Police operatives attached to the Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Police Command, between January 29 and 30, arrested 13 suspected traffic robbers in Oshodi and Ketu (Alausa) areas of the state, as it intensifies efforts in mopping up criminals suspected to be attacking motorists and commuters in traffic.
The arrest came on the heels of a four—day surveillance on black spots in Oshodi and Alausa (Ketu) with a view to weeding out criminals in the areas where it was reliably gathered that the suspects, most of who pretend to be load carriers in Oshodi, but abscond with travellers’ loads at dawn and at night.
It has also been gathered that they often attack and rob unsuspecting Lagosians, especially travellers and commuters, in the areas.
The suspects were picked up by the Rapid Response Squad’s (RRS) Commander, CSP Olayinka Egbeyemi’s led team between 10:45pm on Friday and 4:30am on Saturday at Oshodi Oke and Alausa respectively.
The suspects that were picked up in Oshodi include, Tinuola Ajibola, male (18), Adeniji Farouk, male (16), Wale Ajetunmobi, male (24), Chibueze Okasa, male (17), Taiwo Goodluck, male (36), Sodiq Timileyin, male (23), Salami Alex, male (21), Umar Abubakar, male (20), Micheal Iroaja, male (36), Abba Mohammed, male (20) and Mukaila Fasepe, male (43). While the other two suspects, Saviour Nwoko (21) and Ayomide David (19) were caught in the act by the team, at different locations, with machete and stolen phones in Alausa Lagos.
David, alias Sharwama, one of the suspects and ex-convict, told the police that his gang used to operate along Olowopopo Road, Ojodu and Ojota.
In another development, police operatives attached to Meiran Division of the command have arrested two suspected armed robbers at Ikola Ipaja Bridge, while on pin down point, on January 27, 2021 at 11:20pm.
The suspects were stopped on a motorbike before they were arrested and searched.
Upon search, one locally made pistol, charms and weed suspected to be Indian hemp were recovered from them.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has directed that the 15 suspects be transferred to State CID Panti, Yaba for proper investigation, while he assured the good people of Lagos State of adequate security and conducive environment to live in and do businesses as expected.
Despite this, they managed to keep Spurs at arm’s length throughout.
Tottenham recent poor run of Premier League form continued on Sunday night, as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat away at relegation threatened Brighton.
Since ‘kickstarting their title bid’ with a fine 2-0 victory over Manchester City back in November, Spurs have won just three of their subsequent 11 league games.
Throughout this period, a common theme has been a frightening lack of creativity and nowhere was this more evident than against the Seagulls this weekend.
Going into the game, Brighton were perched perilously close to the drop zone.
After going ahead 17 minutes in, as a result of fine team move involving Alexis Mac Allister, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard, Graeme Potter’s charges retreated into a well organised 5-4-1 out of possession.
In doing this, they were essentially challenging the opponents to break them down, a task that was well beyond Tottenham’s capabilities on Sunday. Spurs registered just one shot in the entire first half – a scrappy effort pulled wide by Steven Bergwijn – despite dominating possession. It was turgid stuff.
Things were not much better after the break either. Although the second half saw Spurs rack up seven attempts on goal – the exact same as their 17th placed opponents – they never looked like converting.
Saying that, when they are chasing a lead, Tottenham are often tragic to watch.
This trend continued against Brighton as they lacked coherence, consistency and any discernible plan or patterns of play. If Spurs had prepared in training for the unthinkable possibility of going behind in a game of football, it did not look like it.
Mourinho’s selection did not help their case either. The team was packed full of players lacking quality on the ball.
Lined up to 3-4-3, wing-backs Moussa Sissoko and Ben Davies contributed next to nothing in the attacking phase, while Matt Doherty watched on from the sidelines.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, for all of his destructive brilliance, was also ill-suited to the task at hand. What Spurs needed was someone capable of picking the Brighton lock.
Up front, Gareth Bale was given a run out despite his recent patchy form. It was another nothing display from the forward who is increasingly looking like a signing fuelled by doe-eyed nostalgia, rather than fiscal or footballing sense.
That brings us to the third reason for Tottenham’s creative dirge – the absence of Harry Kane.
Just as Leicester’s reliance on another mercurial English striker was exposed earlier on Sunday, the devastating impact that Kane’s absence could have on Spurs over the next few weeks was laid bare against Brighton.
Much has been written about Kane’s development into one of country’s best creators this season, but perhaps the best endorsement of his ridiculous influence came in the form on his side’s stodgy display without him.
The England captain has been directly involved in 68% of Tottenham’s Premier League goals this season, more than any other player in the division, and it is becoming increasingly clear that his personal brilliance may have been papering over cracks in Spurs’ flawed approach earlier on in the season.
Like many others, he has been forced to move with his family to a nearby town to escape the contamination.
It has taken 13 years for Fidelis Oguru to get the victory that he and a group of other farmers in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region so badly wanted.
On Friday, the Court of Appeal in The Hague ruled that Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), was at fault for environmental degradation caused by pipeline leaks in the villages of Oruma and Goi in the Niger Delta region.
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The Dutch court ordered the Nigerian arm of the British-Dutch company to pay yet-to-be-decided compensation to the affected villages.
“I am very happy and I thank God,” said Oguru, an 80-year-old farmer and one of the plaintiffs from Oruma village.
He told NoRM‘s known Media oil leaks from pipelines have devastated farmland and waterways in the region, and the SPDC’s reluctance to replace old pipelines had led farmers to watch in angst as their crops such as cassava and plantain succumbed to oil pollution and their livelihoods eroded.
Frequent appeals to the SPDC for compensation and environmental clean-up had been futile, he said.
In 2008, four farmers from the villages of Oruma, Goi, and Ikot Ada Udo received backing from an environmental campaign group, Friends of the Earth Netherlands, to file lawsuits against Shell in a Dutch court over oil spills related to the SPDC between 2004 and 2007.
“In 2013, I went to the Netherlands when the judgement was on and the [court] ruled against us,” Oguru recalled.
SPDC and other oil companies often blame oil leaks on sabotage. Under Nigerian law, applied in the Dutch civil case, the company is not liable if the leaks were the result of sabotage.
But on Friday the court found it could not establish “beyond a reasonable doubt” that saboteurs were to blame for leaks that spewed oil over an area of a total of about 60 football pitches in Oruma and Goi.
Although the court ruled that sabotage was to blame for an oil leak in the village of Ikot Ada Udo, it said the case over whether Shell was liable would continue.
Eric Dooh, a 50-year-old plaintiff from Goi, told NoRM‘s known Media the victory meant “oppressed people” such as farmers from the Niger Delta can take their “rightful place in society”.
He said the ruling sets a “world-class precedent” that could a be a turning point to give hope to those who have similar cases against multinational oil companies that they can get justice regardless of “the number of years and tribulations that they have been going [through]”.
“Other multinational companies must also know that they must adhere to international best practices in their oil exploration activities and respect fundamental human rights,” he said.
“The victory is not for only me,” Dooh added. “It is for the entire Niger Delta region.”
Nnimmo Bassey, a Nigerian environmental activist, also believes Friday’s ruling is the beginning of “a process that should bring hope … [because] lies told by the [oil] industry cannot hold water forever”.
“The victory means no matter how long an injustice prevails, justice must come one day and it means that the people did not persist for nothing for 13 years,” Bassey, former executive director of Environmental Rights Action, a local advocacy NGO, told NoRM‘s known Media.
Shell discovered and started exploiting Nigeria’s vast oil reserves in the late 1950s and has long faced heavy criticism over oil pollution and for allegedly close and enabling ties to the government.
Bassey said vast swaths of the Niger Delta remain “sacrifice zones” and there are still oil spills and contamination on a daily basis in many areas. He also cited a fire at an oil well in Ondo State that has been raging since May with “no stoppage, no clean-up”.
The only place a serious effort is being made to carry out an environmental clean-up in the Niger Delta is in Ogoniland, Bassey said, and even that is “very tentative and not yet comprehensive”.
Meanwhile, Shell said it was dismayed by Friday’s ruling as it believes the spills were caused by sabotage.
“We are … disappointed that this court has made a different finding on the cause of these spills and in its finding that SPDC is liable,” the company said in a statement.
The SPDC said in a statement: “Like all Shell-operated ventures globally, we are committed to operating safely and protecting the local environment.”
But Bassey said sabotage had been ruled out in many instances of oil pollution in the Niger Delta.
“Saying the spill was caused by sabotage was a formula for escaping responsibility, which has to be debunked,” he said.
Despite the ruling, Dooh lamented the damage done – he said oil leaks in Goi had ruined his fish farm and destroyed his father’s bakery.
“It has been very difficult and hectic for me to cope,” he said.
The successful plaintiffs are now waiting to see how much compensation they will receive.
Dooh said he hopes to use the funds to restore his damaged land and businesses, as well as building a school.
“If I reinvest [in my village], it will give me the opportunity of creating job opportunities for the people.”
But for Oguru the compensation will likely come too late.
He said Shell had destroyed all of the land he used for his fish farms. “The loss [caused by the spill] has given me a very bad setback that has affected my means of livelihood – farming and fishing,” Oguru said.
In 2018, he started developing eye problems and became blind in 2020. His age and health problems will likely prevent him from using the compensation to restore his land.
The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President Dr Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives Mr Femi Gbajabiamila to urgently probe allegations that N4.4 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, as documented in three audited reports by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
In an open letter dated January 30 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “By exercising strong and effective leadership in this matter, the National Assembly can show Nigerians that the legislative body is a proper and accountable watchdog that represents and protects the public interest, and is able to hold both itself and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to account in the management of public resources.”
The agency believes that if the matter is not satisfactorily addressed, the allegations would undermine public confidence in the ability of the National Assembly to exercise its constitutional and oversight responsibilities to prevent and combat corruption, and to ensure the public interest, transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.
SERAP also expressed concerns that the allegations of corruption, mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds amount to fundamental breaches of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international obligations, including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.
The letter, read in part: “Any failure to promptly, thoroughly and independently investigate these serious allegations, prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recover missing public funds and assets would undermine public trust in the ability of the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.”
“The Auditor-General noted in his 2015 report that the National Assembly account was spent N8,800,000.00 as unauthorised overdraft, contrary to Financial Regulations 710. The National Assembly also reportedly spent N115,947,016.00 without any documents. Another N158,193,066.00 spent as cash advances to 17 staff between January and June 2015 is yet to be retired.”
“The Senate reportedly spent N186,866,183.42 to organise Senate Retreat and Pre-Valedictory Session for the 7th Senate, although the money was meant to pay vehicle loan. The Senate also reportedly spent N15,964,193.63 as bank charges between July and December, 2015, contrary to Financial Regulations 734.”
“The House of Representatives also reportedly spent N624,377,503.30 to buy 48 Utility Vehicles. However, 14 vehicles were not supplied. The House also failed to make the 34 vehicles supplied available for verification. Similarly, the House spent N499,666,666.00 as cash advances to staff to carry out various assignments but has failed to retire the money.”
“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N70,560,000.00 as overtime and ‘special’ allowances to officials who are not legislative aides between November and December 2015 without any authority.”
“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly failed to remit N30,130,794.10 deducted from the salaries of the Executive Chairman and the Commissioners as car loan.”
“The National Assembly Budget and Research Office reportedly spent N66,303,411.70 as out-of-pocket expenses without any documents. The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies paid N246,256,060.51 by cheques, despite the prohibition of payments by cheque by the Federal Government, except in extreme cases, and contrary to Financial Regulation 631.”
“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2017, the House of Representatives reportedly spent ₦95,212,250.00 without due process and without any documents. The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents. The Auditor-General reported that the funds may have been misappropriated.”
“The Senate Account also reportedly shows that ₦1,364,816,397.95 was spent on store items without any documents to show for the spending. The Auditor-General stated that his office was denied access to the store and to the Senate’s records.”
“The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies also reportedly failed to remit ₦2,181,696.50 from contract of goods and services. The Institute also paid ₦67,296,478.00 without any payment vouchers.”
“We would be grateful if you would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the leadership of the National Assembly to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the National Assembly.”
“The Auditor-General also noted in his 2018 report that the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies failed to remit N577,634,638,20 due from contracts and supplies, even though the deductions were made. However, the Institute claimed that it was the National Assembly that was required to remit the money, as it is the body that maintains the account on behalf of the Institute.”
“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. Nigeria has ratified both treaties.”
The letter is copied to Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and Mr Mohammed Abba, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).