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UPDATE: 63 Vehicles, 98 Shops Burnt In Abule-Egba Pipeline Explosion

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No fewer than 63 vehicles, 98 shops, four tricycles, six houses and one church got burnt in the Abule-Egba pipeline explosion which reportedly began around 2am on Wednesday morning in Lagos.

Properties worth several millions of naira were destroyed as the fire from a petroleum products pipeline ravaged the area.

It was gathered that the affected streets were Arowolo, Shobowale, Iyalode Abule-Egba, Taiwo Adewole, Adepegba, Wamon Taofeek, Santos and Owode.

The explosion,we gathered, was as a result of the activities of suspected petroleum products’ thieves from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s pipeline in the Arowolo area.

An eyewitness, Junad Aderogba, said the fire arose from the activities of vandals scooping fuel from a pipeline, adding that the incident was a reoccurrence of a similar one on December 26, 2006.

The 48-year-old said, “This is the third time such a fire incident is happening in the area. The hoodlums, who vandalised the pipeline, came with three tankers to steal fuel. When they finished scooping the fuel, they did not close the pipe and the fuel passed through the gutter and flowed down to the abattoir.

“Some butchers, who were roasting cow skin at the abattoir, were not aware that there was fuel in the gutter. So, the fuel attracted the fire and that was what led to the fire outbreak.”

A visibly distraught widow, Nkem Esezobor, who sells foodstuffs and pastries in the area, said her loss was too much for her to bear.

She said, “A friend called me around 4am to inform me of the inferno but I could not come out at that time because I was alone in the house. By the time I got to the scene, everything in my shop had been destroyed by the fire.

“I lost my husband in July and I moved into the shop barely two months ago. What was lost in my shop was worth over N1m. I don’t know where to start from.”

An automobile mechanic, Mr John Ishola, said he had yet to come to terms with the loss.

He said, “I live in Sango, Ogun State. I was called by my friends in the Abule Egba area. By the time I got to the scene, all the vehicles in my workshop had been razed. When I called the owners of the vehicles, they were not ready to listen to my explanation. I don’t know where to start from now.”

A haulage truck driver, Saka Jibola, begged the government to come to the aid of those who lost properties to the inferno.

“Our members lost eight trucks to the fire. We want the government to help us. We all have families to take care of and this is our only means of livelihood,” he added

One of the residents, whose house was razed down by the fire, accused the police of being accomplices of the fuel thieves.

She said, “The police know those bursting the pipeline in order to steal fuel. Now, the situation has spiralled out of control and they have rendered many of us homeless.

“They are not just doing it; it is the police that have been shielding them. They are the ones who make it possible for the vandals to perpetrate the act. As of 11pm yesterday (Tuesday), policemen were chasing us into our homes after which they stood guard for the thieves. They should make arrests around here too, because some major stakeholders in the area also know about the activities of these thieves.”

However, some properties and a church, Jesus Chosen shepherd Ministry, were spared by the inferno.

Victor Aigbogun, whose shop was spared by the inferno, attributed it to providence.

“When I was called about the fire incident, the first thing I did was to go on my knees and pray. I told God to take control and I had the faith that my prayer had been answered,” he said.

The General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Mr Adesina Tiamiyu, said in a statement that the fire started around 2am.

“The spilled fuel from bunkering activities came in contact with an ignitable source and the impact resulted in the inferno, which razed several houses and cars. No fatality was recorded and the few people injured were immediately attended to by the Lagos State Ambulance Service and the agency’s paramedics,” Tiamiyu stated.

He added that a car lot inside a petrol filling station was affected by the inferno as several vehicles parked there were destroyed.

Giving an inventory of the burnt items, Tiamiyu said nine streets were affected with 38 vehicles, four tricycles, 71 shops, 30 rooms, two blocks of flat and one church auditorium burnt, while several other properties were salvaged, including the Just Rite mall, petrol filling stations and other facilities around Abule Egba bus stop, Awori and U-turn.

The LASEMA boss noted that investigation was ongoing to determine the cause of the inferno and the people involved.

The Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, said undercover operatives of the command were on the trail of the vandals.

He said, “The Commissioner of Police visited the area for an on-the-spot assessment and he was able to speak to the residents to be on the lookout for the vandals, who brought this hardship on the people.

“The source where the fire emanated from was also visited. The CP has detailed undercover operatives of the command to fish out those behind the fire outbreak.”

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Federal Government Plans Petrol Alternative, To Crash Fuel Price To N97

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The Federal Government on Thursday said it would crash the price of petrol by providing Compressed Natural Gas as an alternative source of fuel for vehicles nationwide.

The CNG is a fuel that can be used in the place of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol. It can also be used in the place of diesel and Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

Speaking on what the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources would work on this year during a press conference in Abuja, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, stated that the Federal Government was working for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill before May.

He further stated that moves by the Federal Government to recover $62bn from international oil companies were seemingly impossible, as no such money was sitting anywhere to be harvested by the country.

Sylva further declared that the Nigerian oil and gas sector was retrogressing, particularly when compared to the oil sector of other nations.

He stated that the use of petrol had caused a serious drain on the finances of the Federal Government as a result of the continued subsidy on the commodity.

Explaining how the government intends to crash petrol prices, Sylva said, “When you say we are thinking about reducing the pump price of petrol, I could easily say yes. Why I could say yes is because we are looking at giving the masses an alternative.

“Today, we are using the PMS but what we want to do, going forward is to see that we are able to move the masses to the CNG. If we take all transport vehicles to the use of the CNG, you would have impacted the poor positively.”

Sylva said findings by the government showed that the CNG cost less than the subsidized PMS and that once the CNG was fully deployed, the price of fuel would crash.

“The subsidized rate of the PMS per litre is N145 but the CNG cost between N95 to N97 per litre and that is why I said that we want to reduce the cost of fuel,” he stated.

He said Nigeria had abundant gas and that deploying the CNG would not be tough for the country.

“Nigeria’s gas reserve is significant. Nigeria currently has estimated 202TCF (trillion standard cubic feet) of gas, with a projection of 600TCF,” Sylva said.

On the PIB, the minister said, “We are optimistic that both the Petroleum Industry Governance Administration and Host Communities Bill, on the one hand, and the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill, on the other hand, will be passed within the first anniversary of the second tenure of this administration.”

Commenting on moves by the Federal Government to recover $62bn from international oil companies based on an October 17 judgment of the Supreme Court, Sylva stated that it was practically impossible to recoup such funds from the IOCs.

He declared that no $62bn was anywhere for release by the IOCs and explained that it was best for the government to sit and discuss with the oil firms on how to go about the issue.

The Federal Government had through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation written to the IOCs, demanding various sums of money on the basis of the Supreme Court judgment.

The court had ordered the Federal Government to recoup all revenues lost to oil-exploring and exploiting companies due to the wrong profit-sharing formula since August 2003.

Sylva said, “Yes there was a provision in the amended Deep Offshore Act, but when we had crude oil prices above $20 per barrel, the Federal Government should have asked for some form of an increase in its take.

“Unfortunately we didn’t activate that aspect. You will not blame the Federal Government or the oil companies for not activating that aspect of the Act. You will agree that $62bn could not have been sitting somewhere for us to harvest; it is not possible.”

The minister stated that Nigeria was retrogressing in the oil sector, particularly when compared to other nations that started at similar times with Nigeria in the oil and gas business.

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Ghana Emerges 3rd Most Corrupt Country In The World

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Ghana has emerged as the third most corrupt country in the world in the most recent version of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

The West African country scored 67 points in the rankings released earlier this week.

Another African country, Kenya, also made the top 10, occupying the 8th position with 53 points.

Colombia is perceived to be the most corrupt country in the world, according to U.S. News’ 2020 Best Countries rankings, a characterization of 73 countries based on a survey of more than 20,000 global citizens.

In the survey, respondents answered how closely they related each of the countries to the term “corrupt”, the exact meaning of which was left to their own interpretation. The attribute is factored into the Best Countries rankings for transparency, as well as the best countries to invest in and headquarter a corporation.

Colombia, which sees an estimated $14 billion a year in corruption-related costs, experienced a wave of anti-government protests starting at the end of November. A new set of strikes could ensue after protest leaders meet with government officials later this month.

While the country is known for its decades of political scandals, voters recently elected Claudia López, a member of Colombia’s green party and a prominent activist, as the mayor of Bogota. López is the first woman and openly gay individual to become mayor of Colombia’s capital city.

Mexico, known for its deadly drug cartels, follows Colombia as the No. 2 most corrupt country in the 2020 ranking. Myanmar, Guatemala, Saudia Arabia, Brazil, and Bolivia also made the top 10.

Russia, which has been accused of election meddling and Olympic doping, joins the top 10 list this year after placing No. 12 in 2019.

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Catholic Church May Bar Fr. Mbaka From Preaching Over His Partisanship Prophecies —- Archbishop

Peter Okunoren

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The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Adewale Martins, says the Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, could be banned from preaching if he continues to deviate from the doctrines and tenets of the Catholic Church.

Martins, who was appointed Archbishop of Lagos by the Pope in 2012, said this during an interview with the BBC Igbo while reacting to Mbaka’s prophecy that Hope Uzodinma would emerge as governor of Imo State.

Mbaka had on New Year’s Eve prophesied that Uzodinma would emerge as governor in 2020, a prophecy which came to pass on Tuesday when the Supreme Court sacked Emeka Ihedioha and named Uzodinma as the duly elected governor.

Reacting to the prophecy, which has stirred heated debate, the archbishop said Mbaka was under the Diocese of Enugu and did not report to him.

He, however, said if Mbaka continued in the manner he was doing things, the Catholic Church may bar him from ministering.

Martins said, “Fr. Mbaka falls under the authority of the Bishop of Enugu Diocese and therefore he has the responsibility of cautioning him. I can imagine that this must be giving the bishop some challenges.

“It must be giving him a bit of a headache and I feel sorry for him and I hope he will find some way of dealing with this matter that has been recurring. Of course, what could be done in the end is either to say, ok you receive the sanction of being stopped from public ministry. That is a possibility. If it is not done, there must be a reason.”

Martins, who was ordained a priest in 1983, said the Catholic Church does not engage in partisan politics.

He said even if Mbaka received a prophecy from God, he ought to ensure that his conduct corresponds with the scriptures and the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

The archbishop added, “It is utterly surprising that Fr Mbaka would go as far as naming one person as governor against another. It is embarrassing when you hear of priests or people in a position of authority making statements that are clearly partisan.

“The position of the Catholic Church on matters that have to do with politics is not to be partisan. Of course, we as a church cannot be oblivious to political events and happenings in the country or the world at large and therefore we must speak from the point of view of principles.

“The priest who believes he has a gift of prophecy has to test whatever has been told to him in the light of the scriptures, in the light of the teachings of the church and in terms of the authority that has been given to leaders in the church.”

Martins said Mbaka’s behaviour was at variance with the teachings of the Catholic Church and he had fallen below the standard expected of priests.

Mbaka, who was ordained a Catholic priest in 1995, has been known to give many controversial prophecies.

In 2002, he prophesied that the then Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, would not return to office in the election but the governor won a second term.

In 2015, Mbaka prophesied that President Goodluck Jonathan would lose to the current President, Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), which came true.

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