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Lagos, Lekki free trade zone stakeholders move to tackle ecological challenges

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Lagos State Government and communities around the Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) have charted a way forward on the ecological challenges in the area.

The Managing Director, Global Impact Environmental Consulting (GIEC) Ltd., Dr Babatunde Osho, who represented the Lagos State Government, gave the advice at a stakeholder meeting in Lagos on Wednesday.

Osho said the stakeholders needed to provide lasting solutions to some of the challenges confronting the host communities.

The GIEC boss said that information from the community stakeholders showed some issues between the government, community and the Free Zone tenants.

The Lekki Free Zone, created in 2006, as a modern free zone and managed in accordance with international best practices, is now a major hub of industrial activities.

Currently, the Lekki Free Zone, located on 16,500 hectares of land is divided into four quadrants and managed by various operators, benefiting from Lagos State’s position as the premier distribution hub in West Africa.

The zone boasts of both local and foreign investments running into billions of dollars, amongst which are the largest oil refinery in Africa and a fertiliser plant.

Others are, the petrochemical plant, a sub-sea gas pipeline project under construction and the largest deep-sea port in West Africa, primed to open up access for export to West Africa and beyond.

He noted that this informed the need for a laid down framework guiding the operations between all parties involved in the development of Lekki Free Zone.

“Before any development can take place, we need to find out the needs of the communities and sign a MoU before going further.

“Based on the challenges emanating from the development of the zone, government needs to assess the plan on ground and its responsibility toward addressing the challenges to provide solution.

“Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is trying to be proactive looking at the kind of investment that will take place along Lekki axis and understand that such development comes with both the positive and negative.

“This meeting is so we have the laid down plan that will guide the government in view of future occurrences,” he said.

He noted that in developed countries, before setting up a Free Trade Zone, strategy environmental and social assessment policy was embarked on.

Osho said that the company would come up with a framework that would tackle how government could address the challenges confronting the affected communities.

He said that the issue of land acquisition would be addressed with recognition to the international best practices in view of recommending Land Acquisition and Resettlement Policy Framework.

Osho said that there was need for predictive studies based on the gradual development at the free zone, to avoid disaster in the future.

He said that government also wanted to document various vegetation that had gone as a result of the development and find ways to preserve such.

The Director, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Omololu Obayomi, said the Lagos State Government had engaged in a separate master plan for Lekki area due to the development emanating lately.

He urged communities affected to cooperate with the government as the incoming development would provide jobs for their youths and develop their environment.

A representative of the Ministry of Transport, Assistant Director, Transport Operation Department, Mrs Fausat Jenty, urged the community to be law abiding and obey road signs to avoid accidents along the trade corridor.

A representative of the Ministry of Trade Commerce and Industry, Sector Unit Head, Mr Abiodun Okesanya,pleaded with the community to cooperate with the Lagos State Government to enable them to benefit from the development.

Mr Wasiu Ayeola, of Lekki Costal, urged government to apply global practices to any development that would be taking place in their community.

Ayeola called for signing of Memorandum of Understanding with the government for future development, to achieve set desired.

He urged government to intervene on the issue of employment and land acquisition.

The Community Leader, and Chairman Lekki Worldwide, Chief Tajudeen Jegede, called for establishment of traditional leaders in Lekki communities to improve further development.

Chief Morufu Alowonle, from Tiye community, Lekki, said that there was no development in Lekki after the commencement and relocation due to the trade zone.

“Initial agreement with tenants at free zone is that they will help us to train our children from secondary schools to university level.

“We gave them list of 666 students, they shortlisted to 444 and later came back and told us that they would train only 160 students,” Alowonle said.

The Women Leader, Origero Community Lekki, Madam Olubunmi Giwa, said they did not have primary schools in their community and had no market for them to trade.

Giwa urged Government to intervene in getting jobs for their children.

She said that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, adding that if they remained idle that they could become miscreants which they never prayed for.

She urged Government to intervene and provide lasting solution to their challenges and improve their livelihood in the affected communities.

 

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ECOWAS Court nullifies ECOWAS Commission staff’s dismissal

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.

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Tinubu names National Theatre after Wole Soyinka

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President Bola Tinubu has named the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.

Tinubu announced this in a tribute he wrote to celebrate Soyinka in commemoration of his 90th birthday.

The tribute dated “Professor Wole Soyinka at 90: Tribute to a national treasure and global icon,” was personally signed by the President and made available to journalists on Friday.

Tinubu expressed his delight to join admirers around the world in celebrating Soyinka, adding that July 13 would be the climax of the series of local and international activities held in his honour.

Tinubu wrote, “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth. Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

“It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us. I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

Tinubu stated that Nigeria not only celebrates Soyinka’s remarkable literary achievements, but also his unwavering dedication to the values of human dignity and justice.

When he turned 80, I struggled to find words to encapsulate his achievements because they were simply too vast. Since then, he has added to his corpus with his series of Interventions, which have been published in many volumes.

“Professor Soyinka is a colossus, a true renaissance person blessed with innumerable talents. He is a playwright, actor, poet, human rights and political activist, composer, and singer.

“He is a giant best riding not just the literary world but our nation, Africa, and the world,” he averred.

According to the President, Soyinka is one Nigerian whose influence transcends the Nigerian space and who inspires people around the world, explaining that since his youth, he has been a vocal critic of oppression and injustice wherever it exists, from apartheid in South Africa to racism in the United States.

“Beginning from his 20s, he took personal risks for the sake of our nation. His courage was evident when he attempted to broker peace at the start of the civil war in 1967. Detained for two years for his bravery, he narrated his experience in his prison memoir, ‘The Man Died.’

“Despite deprivation and solitary confinement, his resolve to speak truth to power and fight for the marginalised was further strengthened.

“Our paths crossed during our struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election,” Tinubu stated.

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Tinubu sympathises with victims of building collapse in Plateau

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President Bola Tinubu receives the news of the tragic collapse of a school building, which resulted in multiple deaths and many surviving victims in Jos, Plateau, with profound grief.

His spokesman, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, in a statement on Friday, said the President described the incident as a huge loss to the nation, as well as a devastating development – too excruciating to imagine.

“The President condoles with the bereaved families, families of all the victims, and the people and Government of Plateau State.

“President Tinubu commends emergency responders, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), security agencies, and all citizens involved in the search, rescue, and resuscitation efforts.

“The President assures the people of Plateau State of his fervent support at this difficult time,” said the statement.

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