Citizen Journalists Who Exposed Beijing’s Lies In Wuhan Have Suddenly Vanished

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Citizen Journalists Who Exposed Beijing’s Lies In Wuhan Have Suddenly Vanished

As we reported late Thursday evening, the death toll from the viral outbreak on mainland China has surpassed 600. With global markets once again in the red, Bloomberg reports that Beijing has silenced two of the citizen journalists responsible for much of the horrifying footage seeping onto western social media.

As BBG’s reporter explains, Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin have effectively been “the world’s eyes and ears” inside Wuhan (much of the film produced by American news organizations has consisted of drone footage). In recent days, SCMP and other news organizations reporting on the ground and publishing in English have warned that Beijing has stepped up efforts to censor Chinese social media after allowing citizens to vent their frustrations and share news without the usual scrutiny.

On Wednesday, China said its censors would conduct “targeted supervision” on the largest social media platforms including Weibo, Tencent’s WeChat and ByteDance’s Douyin. All in an effort to mask the dystopian nightmare that life in cities like Wuhan has become.

But that brief period of informational amnesty is now over, apparently. Fang posted a dramatic video on Friday showing him being forcibly detained and dragged off to a ‘quarantine’. He was detained over a video showing corpses piled up in a Wuhan hospital. However, he has already been released.

Chen, meanwhile, seems to have vanished without a trace, and is believed to still be in government detention. We shared one of Chen’s more alarming videos documenting the severe medical supply shortages and outnumbered medical personnel fighting a ‘losing battle’ against the outbreak.

The crackdown on these journalists comes amid an outpouring of public anger over the death of a doctor who was wrongly victimized by police after attempting to warn the public about the outbreak. Beijing tried to cover up the death, denying it to the western press before the local hospital confirmed.

The videos supplied by the two citizen journos have circulated most freely on twitter, which is where most in-the-know Chinese go for their latest information about the outbreak. Many “hop” the “great firewall” via a VPN.

“There’s a lot more activity happening on Twitter compared with Weibo and WeChat,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. There has been a Chinese community on Jack Dorsey’s short-message platform since before President Xi Jinping rose to power, she added, but the recent crackdown has weakened that social circle.

Chen has now been missing for more than 24 hours, according to several friends in contact with BBG News.

Chen has been out of contact for a prolonged period of time. His friends posted a message on his Twitter account saying he has been unreachable since 7 p.m. local time on Thursday. In a texted interview, Bloomberg News’s last question to Chen was whether he was concerned about his safety as he’s among the few people reporting the situation on the front lines.

It’s all part of the great crackdown that Beijing is enforcing, even as the WHO continues to praise the Communist Party for its ‘transparency’.

“After lifting the lid briefly to give the press and social media some freedom,” said Wang about China’s ruling Communist Party, the regime “is now reinstating its control over social media, fearing it could lead to a wider-spread panic.”

With a little luck, the world might soon learn Chen’s whereabouts. Then again, there’s always the chance that he’s never heard from again.


Tyler Durden

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Facebook hammered for Nigerian child trafficking adverts on its platform | P.M. News

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Cameroonian children who fled the fighting in their country’s English-speaking regions are taking refuge in Adagom community in south-central Nigeria, where some have been exploited by people looking to take advantage of their vulnerability. [Photograph: Philip Obaji Jr.]

By Philip Obaji Jr.

The Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, United Kingdom, and Centre for Children’s Health, Education, Orientation and Protection, Nigeria, have criticised Facebook following revelations that children, especially girls, were being trafficked from a refugee camp in Ogoja, Cross Rivers State, after being advertised for labour exploitation on the popular social networking platform.

The groups slammed Facebook for permitting child trafficking to take place on its service and also being slack to take action when such incidents happen.

In a joint statement, the non-profit organisations expressed dismay that it took Facebook 29 hours to suspend the account of the suspect, after investigative journalist, Philip Obaji Jr, had reported the account in contravention of the company’s policies of responding to enquiries within 24 hours.

The report revealed details of a named person, who had used his Facebook page to advertise photos of Cameroonian girls fleeing the ongoing conflict in Southern Cameroon’s Anglophone region.

This conflict has so far displaced millions of people with several thousand staying in refugee camps across Southern Nigeria.

The NGOs were exceptionally concerned that despite this case being reported to Facebook, it took the online platform hours to take action, thereby putting the victims at further risk of harm.

In one of the Facebook posts cited, the person had uploaded an image of a girl he claimed was “intelligent, hardworking and about 17,” and asked persons “interested in hiring her as a maid to inbox me.”

The organisations recalled that this would not be the first time Facebook would be accused of enabling child trafficking on its platforms.

“In 2018, Facebook was severely criticised by NGOs in South Sudan and across the world that its site had been used for the auctioning of a child bride in the country.

“Human trafficking is a growing global problem with over 40 million people at risk, according to the International Labour Organisation.

“Nigeria is known as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking victims with over one million trafficked each year, according to the Global Slavery Index.

“Human trafficking and slavery is illegal in most countries around the world, including Nigeria,” the NGOs said.

Debbie Ariyo, Chief Executive Officer of UK-based AFRUCA, an anti-child trafficking organisation, said, “It is concerning that social media platforms are increasingly being used by human traffickers to facilitate the sale of human beings, with little being done to address this. Social media platforms have become the 21st century slave markets. This has to stop.”

Betty Abah, Executive Director of CEE-HOPE Nigeria, stated that it appears Facebook has a discriminatory approach to addressing crimes against vulnerable children in Africa than other more advanced parts of the world.

“I do not believe Facebook would have failed to act if this was happening in a European country,” she added.

Both organisations urged the relevant government agencies in Nigeria to act to secure the well-being of refugee children in the country, and investigate the child trafficking allegations to ensure all perpetrators are brought to book.

They also called on Facebook to investigate the case as well as tighten its safeguard mechanisms to ensure that crimes such as human trafficking are completely eradicated on its platforms.

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Facebook Appoints Derya Matraş as Regional Director For Africa

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Social media giant, Facebook has appointed Derya Matraş as its Regional Director for the Africa, Middle East and Turkey.

This new appointment comes quite early in 2020 and according to Facebook, Derya will be charged with leading the platform to serve Facebook’s businesses and communities in the region.

@Facebook Middle East has just appointed their new Regional Director, Derya Matras. https://t.co/WYYL0Gjh8E

— CommunicateOnline (@CommunicateME)

This is because the regions, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, are an important market for Facebook and it is important that the company’s impact on the region increases.

The fast-growing Middle East, Africa and Turkey region is an important market for Facebook. Derya’s wealth of experience in emerging markets and her pioneering spirit will help us further drive impact and value in this uniquely diverse region, while maintaining our mission of bringing people together and building communities.

Derya holds a BsC in Electronics Engineering from Bogazici University, Instanbul, Turkey as well as an MBA from Columbia Business School. Prior to this recent appointment, Derya was the Country Director for Facebook in Turkey charged with the role of driving growth for brands, agencies and the digital ecosystem.

Facebook Appoints Derya Matraş as Regional Director For Africa, Middle East and Turkey
Derya Matraş, the New Regional Director for Facebook

Before Facebook, she has worked in executive roles at various companies. One of them is McKinsey and Company where she served as an management consultant. She was also vice president of the largest media conglomerate in Turkey, Dogan Media Group.

She’s expected to bring her wealth of experience to her new role as Regional Director where she will lead the company’s charge to grow its economic and social impact across the regions.

Speaking on her appointment, Derya Matraş reiterated Facebook’s commitment to supporting the millions of businesses in the region that rely on its services.

“As a woman leader, I am very proud to be appointed to this region where diversity is of crucial importance, and I am looking forward to continuing to drive our significant economic and social value contribution,” she says.

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Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History | Art Practical

Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History

The 2019 Venice Biennale feels like the end of everything: the end of art tourism, the end of vacations, the end of the beach and the climate of pleasure. With bad news about the climate crisis worsening every day, the nationalistic turn of governments from the U.S. to Britain to Italy to India and Brazil, it’s unclear whether the liberal ideology that produces world-scale cultural events like the Biennale can hold much longer, or whether the economic or ecological structures of global tourism can continue to support it. The liberal democratic order of free markets and free will is undermined around the globe by violent nationalism and economic protectionism. The Biennale exhibition, May You Live in Interesting Times, offers little but a hollow scream in opposition. The whole thing feels a bit like buyer’s remorse, a magnum opus from a lapsed believer in Francis Fukuyama’s promise that we’d reached the End of History.1

Arthur Jafa

Joint Italy-EU military vessel with helicopter, Piraeus Port, Greece, August 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Both the main exhibitions and the various national pavilions feature more women and artists of color this year than any previous. Diversity is manifest with respect to types of work, interests, materials, biographies, and ages of the artists on view. Curator Ralph Rugoff states that “[the artists’] work grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world.”2 Diversity and multiplicity appear here to be set up as counternarratives to universalism, the ideology that has historically governed the international contemporary art discourse. But is this in fact the case? Fukuyama says, “The spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere.” If, as Fukuyama suggests, there are  “fundamental ‘contradictions’ of human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure,”3 diversity is not one of those contradictions. Rather, pluralism reinforces the “common ideological heritage of mankind,”4 while fascism’s resurgence around the globe and the popular embrace of nationalist identity are more of a contradiction in light of the realities of international markets. This is the turn of events that market utopians like Fukuyama failed to anticipate.

Rugoff never comes off as a utopian, given his pervasive air of weary detachment. Rather, the exhibition transmits how it feels to watch the ascent of Donald Trump and the unfolding catastrophe of Brexit from the “all-knowing,” cool remove of the contemporary art insider—omniscient, yet impotent, and unable to divest from toxic habits. George Condo, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Christian Marclay, and Arthur Jafa channel an anxiety bordering on panic. Construction, shipping, air travel, commerce, monuments, the body, gender—all once fixed as concepts in the Western imagination, with clearly associated positive values, are now invoked by artists such as Yin Xiuzhen, Nicole Eisenman, Slavs and Tatars, and Martine Gutierrez as hazardous, unstable, and volatile. Nowhere is this instability more evident than in the work of Mari Katayama, a Japanese artist whose self-portraiture tableaus tease the boundary between agency and objectification. These artists, more than the comparably straightforward representation advanced by artists like Zanele Muholi, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, or Gauri Gill, capture the zeitgeist of not just the show but the present time. Our historical moment is monumentally catastrophic, and the usual serious response to extremism doesn’t seem to be working. Instead, the images range from abject to absurd.

astronaut

Indios antropófagos: A Butterfly Garden in the (Urban) Jungle. Peru Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Especially relevant are the artists who toy with the fetishization of Indigenous bodies and cultures for Western consumption. Within the main exhibition curated by Rugoff, Gutierrez situates her U.S.-born Latinx, trans body within a series of photographic landscapes, Body in Thrall, that challenge touristic notions of indigeneity, cultural authenticity, and romanticized poverty around non-white people. She occupies diverse personas, from a film noir femme fatale to the terrifying Aztec deity Tlazolteotl, “Eater of Filth,” always negotiating the high fashion aesthetics of desire with a subversive decolonial aggression. Similar themes and tactics appear in Indios antropófagos in the Peruvian Pavilion, curated by Gustavo Buntinx, in which historical artifacts from the Spanish colonial era and large mosaic tile works by Christian Bendayán depicting frolicking Indigenous youth come together in a scathing critique of cultural tourism. In the French Pavilion, curated by Martha Kirszenbaum, artist Laure Prouvost references the oceans and the sea life projected to die out by 2048, only 29 years into the future, with a number of glass animals seemingly cast into the sea floor, strewn across a landscape of refuse and discarded technologies.

Back in the real world, there’s no way to excise or sequester the beautiful parts into a future that can outlast the very real catastrophes happening now. The overwhelmingly urgent need for a complete lifestyle change played in my head over the week following my visit to the Biennale, as I recuperated from a difficult personal and professional year on a seven-day Greek Islands cruise with my young children, partner, and parents. Looking over the waters where thousands of migrants have drowned, from the top deck of a massive, yet outdated, luxury vessel, I considered how the looming climate crisis creates a condition of simultaneous enjoyment of the modern world that is all around us, and a mourning for its obvious and inevitable loss. Is this the end of curating? The traditional role of the curator as guardian of the world’s collected treasures seems as irrelevant as the contemporary job of mounting resource-heavy exhibitions for an international crowd of jet-setters. Conceptualism has begun to rot from the head, as when Rugoff controversially chose to include Christoph Büchel’s installation of a salvaged boat that, in 2015, sank in the Mediterranean with more than 800 people aboard. I reflected on this watery tomb, recommissioned as a tourist attraction, while looking out across Piraeus port. In the distance, a military troop (jointly operated by Italy and the European Union) performed exercises atop a warship in a city where anti-immigrant attacks are on the rise. In the seventeenth century, the Venetians gained and lost control of Athens in a rivalry with the Ottomans. Today, it seems the EU’s primary objective in the Mediterranean is to sever thousands of years of interconnection between these three regions. Two years ago, the regenerative promise of art as a universal cultural good was undermined when documenta 14 recreated the financial dynamics of German austerity policies in Athens, Greece afresh. Debts went unpaid, workers uncompensated, all in the name of “fiscal responsibility” that nearly shuttered the sixty-year-old event for good. What better outcome ought we to expect this year from an art event born out of universal nationalism?

Christine Wertheim

Halil Altindere, Space Refugee, 2016. May You Live in Interesting Times, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

An explicitly utopian impulse is fugitive in May You Live in Interesting Times, but it manifests in the intersection of art, science, and technology. Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef raises awareness about preservation of the oceans through a crowdsourcing practice that combines mathematical learning with environmentalism and craft. Tavares Strachan’s meditation on African American astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., locates metaphysical discourse about the afterlife within a scientific conversation about space travel—where elsewhere Halil Altindere complicates this view with the tale of Syrian cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Faris and his persecution by the state. Ryoji Ikeda bathes us in cleansing white light and describes a massive, thunderous universe of data that takes breathtaking shape before our eyes. Hito Steyerl’s This is the Future is a post-internet pastorale in which computer vision is applied to the Venetian landscape to depict a state of perpetual, dreamlike futurity in which the present persistently refuses to resolve into view. The protagonist of Steyerl’s installation seeks out a garden that she had previously hidden in the future in order to protect it from the ravages of the present.

The song of the Lithuanian Pavilion Sun & Sea (Marina) still rings in my ears:

“When my body dies, I will remain,
In an empty planet without birds, animals and corals.
Yet with the press of a single button,
I will remake this world again”

The finale of Sun & Sea (Marina) details the 3D printing of facsimiles of species in widespread collapse, taking comfort in their simulated resurrection as one would in the cold rays of a dying sun.

Greek Islands

Sun & Sea (Marina), Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

The gentle tenor of the apocalyptic visions in Sun & Sea (Marina) perfectly encapsulates the feeling of living at the outside edge of the story of the human species on planet Earth, with the knowledge that history as we know it may well be about to end because our species is one of millions undergoing collapse. The emptiness of our endeavors is invoked by Shilpa Gupta, whose wildly swinging metal gate hammers an effigy of national borders into a gallery wall. Otobong Nkanga’s drawings in acrylic on crayon reference the mechanical, industrialized nature of exploitation in the 21st century. Unlike the bees, whose society is organized around abundance, we humans have engineered systems to maximize our suffering. If humankind can truly lay claim to a common ideological heritage, as Fukuyama once argued, we have only ourselves to blame for our impending end.

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Soyinka tackles NASS over death penalty for hate speech

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Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has written to the National Assembly, warning of the consequence of passing a bill which stipulates death penalty for hate speech.

The bill, which is sponsored by Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North), has already scaled the first reading at the Senate. Titled: “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019”, the bill also proposes the setting up of a Commission on hate speech.

In a letter to the National Assembly, titled: “Is it now cool to kill?– An anguished letter to Nigerian Lawmakers,” Soyinka said though, he is against Fake News and other debiitating vices on social media, he would not subscribe to pronouncing dead penalty for hate speech.

“I hope you will excuse me for distracting you from your onerous duties, but I am a current sufferer – and I am not alone – from a persistent nightmare. That affliction has been induced by your most recent approach to addressing an acknowledged problem that affects, not only Nigerians, but the entire global community. The nightmare consists of the fear of waking up one morning to discover that one’s name has been cited among those helpless victims on behalf of whom a repellent legislation is about to be enacted.

“The likelihood in my case is especially acute. Yes, indeed, it is no Fake News that I have denounced the purveyors of public lies and hate material as the very scum of the earth. I have called them names that come close to enrolling me among the very reprobates we all so fervently denounce. From Abuja, through Paris, London, Sochi, Dar es Salaam, Chandrigah, etc. etc., I have utilized every available platform to highlight their perverse mentality and call for concerted action against their hyper-activism against humanity in general. I have singled out the Nigerian species of this criminal pursuit as an especially virulent breed, as a subhuman aberration without conscience, incapable of remorse, sustained by abnormal reserves of sadism.

“I have closed down dozens of fake sites instituted over my name, and set in motion mechanisms for the pursuit of those who steal my identity, even where the content is quite harmless, even positive. Only recently, in Paris, I proposed that judicial mitigation under the recognition of crime passionnel should be considered for victims of Fake News who ‘lose control’ on physically encountering their violators. As you may have discerned so far, I again, and unapologetically, exploit this very development to reiterate my detestation and contempt for such pestilences that plague our humanity,” he said in the letter.

Soyinka urged the lawmaker to consider more deeply the path on which they had chosen to embark and invited them to reflect quite objectively on the company into which they were about to throw yourselves, and the consequences for the very nation they represent – including its social psyche.

According to him, the lawmakers were about to corrupt youthful impression, to join the brigade of closet psychopaths for whom the only solution to any social malaise from the trite to the profoundly” affective is – Kill! Is this what humanity and society are all about?”

“You are psyching up your ranks to pronounce yourselves affiliates of inhuman aberrations such as Boko Haram, Isis (Da’esh), al Shabbab, nomadic cow herders etc. etc. for whom killing is the only response for real or imagined wrongs, perceptions of entitlement and/or deprivation, sense of righteousness and generally – concept of a thoroughly sanitized community of mortals. You are sending out applications to join the ranks of those inadequate males who believe that the only cure for adultery is to b”ury a woman up to her neck in earth and reduce her head to a pulp under a rain of stones.

“You affirm yourselves – not for the first time, alas! –allies of those who believe that death is the appropriate cure for that physiological conditioning which, through no fault of theirs, attract them to others of the same sex. You pronounce yourselves clones of demented rulers like Yahayah Jahmeh of Gambia who preached that we all cut off the heads of homosexuals and poison alleged witches– and so on and on down a dismal list of silent, instinctive killers who have somehow managed to manipulate themselves into the corridors of ‘legitimatized’ – or illicit recesses of – Power and Force.

“By the way, are you aware that a school of thought passionately believes that thieves such as Yahayah Jahmeh, formerly of Gambia, Omar Bashir of the Sudan etc in company of numerous members of African leadership elite, including this very Nigerian society, deserve no less than the death penalty for pilfering public resources, and on a scale that continues to stagger even the most inured in this nation? Do you really, as presumably analytical minds believe that a facile and final recourse to the gallows or a fusillade of bullets at the stake, is the sole remedy to the phenomenon of the diffuse classifications possible under the abuse of communication and the sowing of hate among people?

“How precise is the definition of ‘hate’ when it becomes a yardstick for the extinction of even one human life? Haunting, hopefully, our collective conscience as a nation, even till today, is recollection of a clique of social army reformers who instituted, and carried out the execution citizens under a retroactive law. Yet others wiped out entire communities as collective punishment for the loss of members of their elite class, the military. And surely it is too soon to dismiss memory of the mass decimation of a religious group, the Shi’ites, for obstructing the passage of a motorcade of that same elite class. These are classic instances of murder, albeit under the immunity of power legitimation,” he stated.

He added that “Your motivations are also spectacularly dubious. Silencing the voices of criticism is a perennial preoccupation of power, but we know that a far more penetrative form of death, spelling the end of social vitality and relevance is incurred when human voices are silenced. Try and imagine how many “deserved” executions would be taking place in this nation right now – beginning with nearly all of you in the exalted homes of legislation – if Boko Haram had succeeded in subjugating this nation under its creed.

“Well, do not even bother with imagination, which is not as common a faculty as we tend to assume –simply check with neighbouring Mali how many, convicted of crimes against faith, Mr. Answar Dine eliminated during his brief sway in northern Mali. Or remain within this nation itself – check the statistics of death inflicted from indiscriminate bombings of the thriving concourses of humanity – schools, markets, motor parks, media houses, churches, mosques, shrines by believers in the doctrine of death as divine solution to the very crime of existence outside their narrow and perverted set of beliefs. Consider the fate of Uganda if Joseph Kony had indeed succeeded in his mission of converting Ugandans to his doctrine of – Salvation or Death!”

Soyinka said these were not imaginary scenarios, stressing that, that quick but facile option – killing – had become the current emblem of this very nation, effectively replacing the green-white-green, lamenting that something had collapsed.

He noted that the carefully calibrated structures of fellow feeling, supposedly inculcated from infancy, lied in ruins, as life wass now held cheap, casual, and trite.

He said “students kill for the thrill of it, and for assertion of cultic supremacy. Kidnappers collect ransom, yet kill. They kill even intermediary couriers. Fetishists kill in pursuit of illusions of instant wealth. Others, highly placed, kill for political office, and yet others to cover up criminalities by the deployment of killers. You cannot claim ignorance that there have been identified, over the past few decades, consortiums of killers who actually advertise their trade in select circles and canvass for clients. Your businessmen – and women – have used them. So have politicians.

“And now, you wish to add, to this culture of rampaging morbidity, the state empowered deaths of those dregs of society who titillate themselves with corrosive narratives from diseased minds, and boost their meaningless lives with the degradation of others? Are they even worth the cost of the hangman’s noose? No. True, governance has a responsibility to protect its citizens, but social malefactors must be fought and neutralized through far more painstaking methods. Reformed if possible, exposed and publicly humiliated, punished and compelled to make restitution where their actions have caused pain, anguish and destruction. That option, we know, is the more arduous path, but then, where did you obtain the notion that you were elected to occupy cushy, stress-free arm-chairs?”

Soyinka realled that when a section of this national community wanted to execute a lady called Safiyat for alleged adultery some years ago – and through the singularly revolting means of stoning to death – the nation rose above religious partisanship in repudiation of this barbaric trivialization of human life, saying that “we continue to rail against the solution of death as penalty against those whose sexual orientation is different from ours, and thereby offends the sensibilities of others. I await persuasion, offered through objective, not emotive arguments, that this new extension of the homicidal imperative is fundamentally different from those other globally repudiated candidates for the killing route to social sanitation.”

“For now, may I passionately plead with you to consider that the coarsening and debasement of youth sensibility – already too far gone – through the trivialization of life – is a spectre that may return to haunt you if coming generations are taught that it is “cool to kill”. Remember that example, especially by leadership, is a hundred times more explicit and enduring than the mere propagation of any counter-doctrine. Do not embrace the awful responsibility of impressing homicide as a way of life on the ethical template of coming generations. The chickens have a way of coming home to roost. I may be wrong of course, but their droppings already foul the common air we all breathe. Just take a deep breath, look around you, and re-consider,’ he stated.

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Soyinka confronts National Assembly over death penalty for hate speech | P.M. News

person

Prof. Wole Soyinka

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has written to the National Assembly, warning of the consequence of passing a bill which stipulates death penalty for hate speech.

The bill, which is sponsored by Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North), has already scaled the first reading at the Senate. Titled: “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019”, the bill also proposes the setting up of a Commission on hate speech.

In a letter to the National Assembly, titled: “Is it now cool to kill?– An anguished letter to Nigerian Lawmakers,” Soyinka said though, he is against Fake News and other debiitating vices on social media, he would not subscribe to pronouncing dead penalty for hate speech.

“I hope you will excuse me for distracting you from your onerous duties, but I am a current sufferer – and I am not alone  – from a persistent nightmare. That affliction has been induced by your most recent approach to addressing an acknowledged problem that affects, not only Nigerians, but the entire global community. The nightmare consists of the fear of waking up one morning to discover that one’s name has been cited among those helpless victims on behalf of whom a repellent legislation is about to be enacted.

“The likelihood in my case is especially acute. Yes, indeed, it is no Fake News that I have denounced the purveyors of public lies and hate material as the very scum of the earth. I have called them names that come close to enrolling me among the very reprobates we all so fervently denounce.  From Abuja, through Paris, London, Sochi, Dar es Salaam, Chandrigah, etc. etc., I have utilized every available platform to highlight  their perverse mentality and call for concerted action against their hyper-activism against humanity in general. I have singled out the Nigerian species of this criminal pursuit as an especially virulent breed, as a subhuman aberration without conscience, incapable of  remorse, sustained by abnormal reserves of sadism.

“I have closed down dozens of fake sites instituted over my name, and set in motion mechanisms for the pursuit of those who steal my identity, even where the content is quite harmless, even positive. Only recently, in Paris, I proposed that judicial mitigation under the recognition of crime passionnel should be considered for victims of Fake News who ‘lose control’ on physically encountering their violators. As you may have discerned so far, I again, and unapologetically, exploit this very development to reiterate my detestation and contempt for such pestilences that plague our humanity,” he said in the letter.

Soyinka urged the lawmaker to consider more deeply the path on which they had chosen to embark and invited them to reflect quite objectively on the company into which they were about to throw yourselves, and the consequences for the very nation they represent – including its social psyche.

According to him, the lawmakers were about to corrupt youthful impression, to join the brigade of closet psychopaths for whom the only solution to any social malaise from the trite to the profoundly” affective is – Kill! Is this what humanity and society are all about?”

“You are psyching up your ranks to pronounce yourselves affiliates of inhuman aberrations such as Boko Haram, Isis (Da’esh), al Shabbab, nomadic cow herders etc. etc. for whom killing is the only response for real or imagined wrongs, perceptions of entitlement and/or deprivation, sense of righteousness and generally – concept of a thoroughly sanitized community of mortals. You are sending out applications to join the ranks of those inadequate males who believe that the only cure for adultery is to b”ury a woman up to her neck in earth and reduce her head to a pulp under a rain of stones.

“You affirm yourselves – not for the first time, alas! –allies of those who believe that death is the appropriate cure for that physiological conditioning which, through no fault of theirs, attract them to others of the same sex. You pronounce yourselves clones of demented rulers like Yahayah Jahmeh of Gambia who preached that we all cut off the heads of homosexuals and poison alleged witches– and so on and on down a dismal list of silent, instinctive killers who have somehow managed to manipulate themselves into the corridors of ‘legitimatized’ – or illicit recesses of – Power and Force.

“By the way, are you aware that a school of thought passionately believes that thieves such as Yahayah Jahmeh, formerly of Gambia, Omar Bashir of the Sudan etc in company of numerous members of African leadership elite, including this very Nigerian society, deserve no less than the death penalty for pilfering public resources, and on a scale that continues to stagger even the most inured in this nation?  Do you really, as presumably analytical minds, believe that a facile and final recourse to the gallows or a fusillade of bullets at the stake, is the sole remedy to the phenomenon of the diffuse classifications possible under the abuse of communication and the sowing of hate among people?

“How precise is the definition of ‘hate’ when it becomes a yardstick for the extinction of even one human life? Haunting, hopefully, our collective conscience as a nation, even till today, is recollection of a clique of social army reformers who instituted, and carried out the execution citizens under a retroactive law. Yet others wiped out entire communities as collective punishment for the loss of members of their elite class, the military. And surely it is too soon to dismiss memory of the mass decimation of a religious group, the Shi’ites, for obstructing the passage of a motorcade of that same elite class. These are classic instances of murder, albeit under the immunity of power legitimation,” he stated.

He added that “Your motivations are also spectacularly dubious. Silencing the voices of criticism is a perennial preoccupation of power, but we know that a far more penetrative form of death, spelling the end of social vitality and relevance is incurred when human voices are silenced. Try and imagine how many “deserved” executions would be taking place in this nation right now – beginning with nearly all of you in the exalted homes of legislation – if Boko Haram had succeeded in subjugating this nation under its creed.

“Well, do not even bother with imagination, which is not as common a faculty as we tend to assume –simply check with neighbouring Mali how many, convicted of crimes against faith, Mr. Answar Dine eliminated during his brief sway in northern Mali. Or remain within this nation itself – check the statistics of death inflicted from indiscriminate bombings of the thriving concourses of humanity – schools, markets, motor parks, media houses, churches, mosques, shrines by believers in the doctrine of death as divine solution to the very crime of existence outside their narrow and perverted set of beliefs. Consider the fate of Uganda if Joseph Kony had indeed succeeded in his mission of converting Ugandans to his doctrine of – Salvation or Death!”

Soyinka said these were not imaginary scenarios, stressing that, that quick but facile option – killing – had become the current emblem of this very nation, effectively replacing the green-white-green, lamenting that something had collapsed.

He noted that the carefully calibrated structures of fellow feeling, supposedly inculcated from infancy, lied in ruins, as life wass now held cheap, casual, and trite.

He said “students kill for the thrill of it, and for assertion of cultic supremacy. Kidnappers collect ransom, yet kill. They kill even intermediary couriers. Fetishists kill in pursuit of illusions of instant wealth. Others, highly placed, kill for political office, and yet others to cover up criminalities by the deployment of killers. You cannot claim ignorance that there have been identified, over the past few decades, consortiums of killers who actually advertise their trade in select circles and canvass for clients. Your businessmen – and women – have used them. So have politicians.

“And now, you wish to add, to this culture of rampaging morbidity, the state empowered deaths of those dregs of society who titillate themselves with corrosive narratives from diseased minds, and boost their meaningless lives with the degradation of others? Are they even worth the cost of the hangman’s noose? No. True, governance has a responsibility to protect its citizens, but social malefactors must be fought and neutralized through far more painstaking methods. Reformed if possible, exposed and publicly humiliated, punished and compelled to make restitution where their actions have caused pain, anguish and destruction. That option, we know, is the more arduous path, but then, where did you obtain the notion that you were elected to occupy cushy, stress-free arm-chairs?”

Soyinka realled that when a section of this national community wanted to execute a lady called Safiyat for alleged adultery some years ago – and through the singularly revolting means of stoning to death – the nation rose above religious partisanship in repudiation of this barbaric trivialization of human life, saying that “we continue to rail against the solution of death as penalty against those whose sexual orientation is different from ours, and thereby offends the sensibilities of others. I await persuasion, offered through objective, not emotive arguments, that this new extension of the homicidal imperative is fundamentally different from those other globally repudiated candidates for the killing route to social sanitation.”

“For now, may I passionately plead with you to consider that the coarsening and debasement of youth sensibility  – already too far gone – through the trivialization of life – is a spectre that may return to haunt you if coming generations are taught that it is “cool to kill”.  Remember that example, especially by leadership, is a hundred times more explicit and enduring than the mere propagation of any counter-doctrine. Do not embrace the awful responsibility of impressing homicide as a way of life on the ethical template of coming generations. The chickens have a way of coming home to roost. I may be wrong of course, but their droppings already foul the common air we all breathe. Just take a deep breath, look around you, and re-consider,’ he stated.

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2020 presidential race could weigh on FANG stocks

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The 2020 presidential race could weigh on ‘FANG’ stocks as Democrats attack big tech

As 2020 presidential campaigns accelerate, the dominance of Silicon Valley technology companies is likely to remain a key issue for Democratic candidates, Bank of America analyst Justin Post said in a note to investors on Monday.

“Campaign focus on FANG regulation [is] likely here to stay,” Post said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren last week unveiled a plan to break up the biggest tech companies if she is elected president. The Massachusetts Democrat is especially focused on four of Wall Street’s beloved “FAANG” stocks: Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google-parent Alphabet. The group also includes Netflix.

“The giant tech companies right now are eating up little, tiny businesses, start-ups – and competing unfairly,” Warren told CBS on Sunday.

“We’ve got to break these guys apart,” Warren added. “It’s like in baseball: You can be the umpire or you can own one of the teams, but you don’t get to be the umpire and own the teams.”

Post analyzed the “breakup scenarios” for Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook, which Warren referred to repeatedly in her criticism. While forced spinoffs may largely help the former two tech giants, Post thinks Facebook is the most at risk to seriously losing shareholder value.

Bank of America sees “a partial breakup of Alphabet (including spin of YouTube or Waymo)” as possibly “value enhancing.” With the broad reach of each of Alphabet’s business units, as separate entities, each brand “has enough scale to capture vast advertiser interest,” Post added.

Similarly for Amazon, Post said a breakup “would be somewhat neutral for the stock,” as investors in Jeff Bezos’ empire “are generally comfortable” with how much Amazon’s businesses would be worth on their own.

Breaking up Facebook “could be most concerning for investors,” Post said. He found that if Facebook’s Instagram and WhatsApp platforms were separated, they “would likely compete directly with Facebook for usage and advertisers, raising concerns on increased competition.”

That overlap in Facebook’s businesses is a key reason Warren believes they should be separated.

“They bought the competition and now they’re sucking the data out of the competition,” Warren said.

While Bank of America did not include Apple in its breakup analysis, Warren confirmed to CNBC that she intends to break up the iPhone maker. In her interview with CBS, Warren argued that she is not against markets, which she said “produce a lot of good,” but instead thinks “markets have to have rules.”

“It is not capitalism to have one giant that comes in and dominates, a monopolist that dominates a market,” Warren said.

Warren said recent talks with technology venture capital firms revealed that the places where Amazon, Facebook and Google compete are known as “kill zones” to entrepreneurs.

“They call it the kill zone because they don’t want to fund businesses in that space because they know Amazon will eat them up, Facebook will eat them up, Google will eat them up,” Warren said.

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OML 25 OCCUPATION: ‘Some of us gave birth to babies here!’ – Vanguard News

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…N-Deltans set new standard for prosecuting resource control

By Egufe Yafugborhi

For two years, resolute host communities to Oil Mining Lease (OML) 25 in Akuku Toru Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State  sacked on duty personnel, shut down operations and occupied key assets.acquisition

Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director (GMD), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), lead stakeholder in the OML 25 Joint Venture (JV) with Shell Petroleum Development Company as Operator, lamented  that the shutdown resulted in consequential “loss of 25, 000 to 35, 000 barrels of oil per day (bpd);  in monetary terms, that is about $1.7billion.”

The  fulcrum of the assets occupation by Belema, Offoin-Ama and Ngeje host communities was that, for four decades, such humongous accrued income as Kyari declared lost to the JV partners in two-year of shutdown failed to provide schools, hospitals, potable water, capacity building or meaningful employment for the host communities.

Mrs. Ogbumate Opumabo, among the womenfolk who occupied the flow station, narrated: “Since good things don’t come easy, as living conditions in our community got more pathetic, we subjected ourselves to suffering, even set up church where we fasted and prayed to God everyday at the occupied facility. Some of us gave birth to babies here where we also had our pots, plates, mats, everything needed to aid our occupation. Our experience there is unexplainable, but God answered us in the end”

October 10, as the teeming community protesters eventually pulled out of OML 25 for its formal reopening, following, the  win-win resolution of the conflict among stakeholders, the original demand to evict Shell was not met as set, but the protesters won even a bigger prize, an awakening of a new narrative for prosecuting the struggle for gainful resource control in the Niger Delta.

Checkered  history of long suffering

According to the communities, their hardship was rather aggravated by avoidable oil pollutions that degraded their land and aquatic environment, jeopardising their livelihood which depends on fishing on the rivers and cropping on the soils. Their clear demand was, “Shell must go”, relinquish OML 25 to preferred competitor, Belemaoil Producing Limited (BPL), to farm the assets.

Publicity Secretary, Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Anabs Sara-Igbe, who hails from the OML 25 host communities, said, “We have been agitating for long. The flow station was shut down as far back as 2004. Government intervened and we let them re-open it. 2008, it was again shut, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed, and we let them resume. In 2014, same thing happened, so in 2017, the communities said we have had enough.

“There was no time Shell provided us water. Infrastructure in our communities were poor. Government under military regime gave us water, but it was laden of iron, not healthy for consumption. Fetch it today, the following day the whole water will be coloured. So, we have not been using the water. In recent times, state government has not done anything for us.”

At the latest reopening of the assets, Sen Ita Enang, Presidential Adviser, Niger Delta, representing President Muhammadu Buhari, attested to the health dangers at ‘Opusuya”, the age-long pond water that sustains Belema people in the absence of functional modern taps from government and Shell, which was laden with crude oil when Enang scooped it with bare hands.

At the co-host communities of Offoin-Ama and Ngeye, the story of squalor, deprivations and neglect was pretty much same. At Offoin-Ama, the only educational institution present, a piteous makeshift basic school, made of wooden structure was said to be from communal effort. The European Union and Rivers State Government had erected in the village square, a water project five years back, but Amayanabo of Offoin-Ama, HRH King Sibia Sukubo Aaron, Kilima Diaba Offo XIII said, “It was never completed.”

King Sibia, in unison with his Belema counterpart, King Boudilion Ekine, Oko XXVIII, Amayanabo of Kula, alleged that SPDC had  always reneged on its agreements with the community.

However, the reality of pervasive emptiness and squalor in the community supported the perception of his Highness, Ibinabo Daniel Kiliya, Regent of Ngeje Community when he said, “Shell in 40 years never thought of tangible projects in the community.”

Belemaoil, Jack-Rick Jr as game changers

Before now, oil communities in the Niger Delta, even in the days of  the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, have hardly been taken serious by government and industry regulators in agitations for control of their oil and gas endowment chiefly because they prosecuted such struggles in the absence of adequate home capacity (technical or financial) to farm those oil fields on their own. The common approach was to call for eviction of one operating IOC whenever relationship are strained in the hope of patronizing another to take over.

The coming, into the oil and gas space, of Belemaoil changed that narrative. Founded by Jack-Rick Tein Jr, a son of the soil, who has felt the hardship among his Belema folks, Belemaoil wasted no time in building confidence among the host communities the moment it acquired 40% participating interest in neighboring OML-55 from Chevron Nigeria Limited in the Joint Venture (JV) with the NNPC.

Within a year of taking over OML 55 five years ago, the host communities in Kula claimed Belemaoil surpassed 40 years of both International Oil Companies (IOCs) Chevron and Shell interventions in their respective assets host communities through infrastructural transformation and human capital development among the people.

In  its  core business, Belemaoil also grew production from 7000bpd under Chevron to as much as 12000bpd, and  added to more than 70 MMscfd recoverable volume of gas, generating more revenue and sacrificing more funds to develop and carry the communities along in the process. The company through gainful engagement of community youths in facility surveillance has also eliminated rampant oil theft and vandalism on OML 55.

Today the company is reputed as the first upstream major to have began construction of its head office in its operating field while also constructing its own oil terminal, hitherto the exclusive preserve of the IOCs. So, beyond fraternal attachments, these attributes informed OML 25 host communities insistence on “Shell must go” for Belemaoil replicate the achievement in OML 55 in their communities.

A leader among the protesting youths, Iselema Ekini, said,

“We see how Belemaoil employed youths, built markets, clinics, in the places they operate, proving that an indigenous oil company would look after its host communities better. We therefore urged Shell not to seek renewal of OML-25 license, but allow Belemaoil to take over. All the IOCs have been doing is how to repatriate as much revenue to their home offices abroad while we suffer.

Win-win resolution of conflict

In the win win resolution of the OML 25 crisis, Shell, having renewed its ownership of the lease, wasn’t displaced, but Belemaoil with 7.7% stakes on that lease got the privilege of maintaining operations and earning the communities confidence to be the oil firm with right of first refusal to acquire Shell stakes at any point SPDC decides to divest her stakes.

Already Belemaoil has hit the ground running with the sustained commitment to make the difference, facilitating the groundbreaking for 1.5million liters potable water and 12Km treated water reticulation project for Oko-Ama and Belema by the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mele Kyari. Kyari, represented by Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investments Management Services (NAPIMS), Musa Lawan who also hoisted the Nigerian Flag and those of key stakeholders at the OML 25 platform to signal its reopening.

HRM King Boudilion Ekiye Okor, Amayanabo of Belema, said in the occasion, “Today, I am the happiest man. Belemail, owned by our son is now in charge of maintaining operations. Now we know who to hold if we are disappointed. If he (Jack-Rich) fails us, we go to his mother and father’s house to complain, but he has given us so much confidence that we know he can’t fail.

Chief E K Clark, Leader of PANDEF which prominently provided motivation for shutdown of the OML25 thanked key stakeholders for the peaceful resolution. Clark represented by PANDEF’s Vice Chairman, Godknows Igali, particularly recognised the role of federal government, host communities, BelemaOil, NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry under Timipre Sylva.

“When the GMD NNPC, Kyari came 28 of last month, he promised to grant all your wishes. I am happy you are already attesting to some being meant already. PANDEF is grateful we are all winners. We have, by this struggle of the past two years, redefined the struggle for resource control”, Clark told the communities.

I am sorry, Buhari empathises with host communities

President Mohammadu Buhari, represented by Sen Ita Enang, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, tendered apology on behalf of the nation to the host communities over their long suffering in the midst of plenty all these years.

Buhari said at the formal reopening of OML 25 that, “We’ve been to the communities. I felt touched that they are asking for for a school, hospitals in 2019 after 40 years of oil and gas being taken from their soils. I scooped the water from pond which you people drink. It is smeared with oil.

“On behalf of the nation, I apologise to you. We will change for the better for you, for us all as a nation. We will not only build schools, hospitals for you, we will provide complete communities for you. Working with state government, Niger Delta Development Commission, Amnesty, Ministry of Niger Delta Affair, we will ask to know what they are doing.

“We are coming here at a very good time. Just two days ago, the President presented the draft 2020 budget to National Assembly (NASS). Now that I have seen what you go through, we are going to take this message to the NASS, to redirect the budget to know what they are providing for you.”

At the OML25 Platform and Flow station where hundreds of community protesters, mainly women formally vacated the flow station and other key assets they have occupied and shutdown since August 2017, Sen Enang expressed Buhari’s gratitude for their peaceful disposition while it lasted.

He also cautioned, “The whole struggle has come to conclusion. We thank you for your peaceful disposition through the struggle. We can now vacate peacefully and allow work to continue, as the issues are being addressed. You are aware that some immediate demands have already been met.”

Lifting up the hand of Jackrich Jr, Enang also told the host communities, “Every community who has sons as Jackrick who care this much for his people should take care of him and pray for him to remain safe, healthy and blessed to continue to move your communities forwards.”

Founder of Belemaoil, Mr Jack-Rich Tein Jr, hardly involved in comments and speeches over the unfolded drama has maintained that, “If you engage the community and make the people an important element of your business, the communities and you will have mutual values and mutual gains.

“If the communities are happy, your business can thrive, but if the communities are not happy, you have lots of operational bottlenecks, sabotage and all that. The most important thing for us today is to see that the resolution, reconciliation has taken place.”

Already, stakeholders in Ogoni, Rivers are canvassing the Belemaoil CSR model to agitate for who takeovers OML 11 that had abandoned for years over the conflict conflict which claimed the lives and Ken Saro-Wiwa and co agitators under Movement For Survival of Ogoni People. Governor Wike, though, had already announced Rivers Government acquisition of Shell’s stakes on that lease.

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Angry reactions, as death toll rises in Onitsha tragedy

3 more dead bodies found in Ochanja market

By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu & Omeiza Ajayi

THREE more dead bodies were recovered, yesterday, at the Ochanja Market in Onitsha, which got burnt when a tanker filled with fuel caught fire at the Upper Iweka area of the commercial city.

This came as Governor Willie Obiano invited the affected traders to assemble at the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka on Monday for documentation and possible assistance from the state government.

Two of the dead bodies were suspected to be salesgirls in one of the burnt  shops, while the other male body was found in another shop close to the scene of the fire incident.

Yesterday, the traders constituted themselves into rescue groups and were packing the debris, only to discover the three dead bodies.

Some of the traders almost threatened to cause riot when they were informed that Governor Obiano was coming to sympathize with them.

The governor, who visited the scene at about 9.20am for on the spot assessment of the disaster, could however not enter the burnt market.

Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. Don Adinuba, in a statement said Governor Obiano and the entire people of Anambra State regret the unfortunate situation, adding that the state government had taken steps to address the concerns of those affected.

He said: “ Government therefore requests owners of properties affected by the tragic accident, shop owners and family members of deceased victims to assemble at Ekwueme  Square, Awka on Monday October 21 2019 at 11am for documentation and to see how the Anambra State government can assist them.

“ A panel headed by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nkem Okeke has been set up by the governor to immediately determine the cause of the accident, why the firemen could not put out the fire and how the condition of the victims can be ameliorated.

“Governor Obiano and all citizens of Anambra State identify with victims of this unfortunate fire incident and the general inhabitants of Onitsha over this sad inferno. The Anambra State government will do it’s best to stand by those affected.

“Government therefore calls on all citizens to remain calm in the face of this disaster and be reassured of government’s commitment to the well- being of all and sundry.”

He explained that security agencies in the state had been directed to ensure that law and order were maintained within and around  the affected areas.

Former member of House of Representatives, Dr. Tony Nwoye said it was a sad day for Anambra State, regretting the enormous loss of lives and property.

He added: “I empathise with the families of the dead victims and  those who lost properties to the inferno. I urge them to show courage and utmost faith in the Creator. The sun will still shine on them all

“This accident has become too recurring in Anambra and should worry everyone. The collaboration of the government, relevant stakeholders and the citizens, is needed to develop a proactive strategy that will forestall any further occurrence of this nature. Never again shall we witness anything such as this.

“This is a time for us to show faith in our state and rally around the victims of the carnage. I call on Anambra people to come to the aid of the victims and collectively give them support to rebuild their businesses and overcome their grief. It is indeed a troubling time and we must have to show that brotherly spirit and love that make us Ndi Anambra at this time.”

In his reaction, the Director General of Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, and a chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief George Moghalu, called on the state government and other influential people in the state to come to the aid of the victims.

He added: ”I am saddened at the loss of lives and we never wish for incidents like these in our dear state.

“I urge the Anambra State government to do what it is supposed to do to ensure that the traders continue to earn a living.”

One of the victims, Mr. Chukwuka Okeke, a neighbour to the woman who died with her baby in the fire incident, described the tragedy as unfortunate but avoidable.

According to him, it was not up to twenty minutes he chatted with the woman before she was consumed in the inferno.

In an emotion-laden voice, he said: “We were in our shops when I got the call that there was fire incident at  Iweka. Though we saw smoke going up from a distance, nobody could believe it would extend to this place.

“For over three hours, we were perceiving the smell of fuel mixed with gas from the tanker as it flowed through the drainage until the whole thing went up in flames.

“The woman had already rushed out of the shop with her baby when she suddenly went back. But she slipped and fell inside the gutter, which was already in flames.”

Okeke said the woman whose husband also owns a shop in the city, had the baby early this year after 16 years of marriage.

“She got married in 2003 but had her first baby early this year. It’s really a tragedy,” Okeke said.

Efforts to speak with some landlords whose houses were burnt along Upper Iweka Road proved abortive as some, who were around were still in deep shock and their children could not speak for them.

One of them, who managed to speak but did not give his name, said he is devastated and cannot able to quantify what he had lost.

He said: “I cannot even do any quantification of my losses and you know my tenants also lost greately in goods and house hold items.

“Today is not the time to speak. We are still in great shock. This incident is not because we are careless, but something that happened in far away Upper Iweka and here we are counting loss on Iweka Road.”

Other affected traders in the incident along Menax, Iweka Road and Zik Avenue by Ochanja Market Roundabout also declined to speak with Vanguard, saying they are still counting losses and will not be able to give account of what they have lost.

When Vanguard visited the Ochanja Market and Zik Avenue, angry traders were seen salvaging, in pains and bitterness, some goods they felt could still be useful while others whose wares and shops were burnt completely, were bemoaning their losses and raining insults on all the relevant authorities that could not come to their rescue.

Speaking with Vanguard, Chairman of Ochanja Central Market, Mr. Nelson Ojukwu confirmed that five shops inside Ochanja Market were burnt, adding that but for his traders and the leadership of the market who mobilised water tankers, the whole market and the surrounding buildings would have burnt to ashes.

Ojukwu called on the Anambra State government to provide the markets with fire-fighting trucks to alleviate the sufferings and losses the traders and individual house owners incure during fire incidents.

How mob stopped firefighters

Meanwhile, the Federal Fire Service, FFS, has expressed sadness over the loss of lives and properties during the fire outbreak, saying its men were stopped by a mob, who pelted its officials with stones and equally blocked the road.

Controller-General of the Federal Fire Service, Liman Ibrahim, who disclosed this in a statement by Service Public Relations Officer, DSF Ugo Huan, said the nearest fire station to the scene is in Asaba, Delta State.

His words: “The Federal Fire Service received a call about the fire outbreak at about 2p.m. The control room at the headquarters in Abuja immediately turned out the nearest Federal Fire Service Station at Asaba, Delta State, to attend to the fire.

“Our men immediately headed to the scene, but it was not possible to contend with the traffic at the head bridge and the behaviour of angry mob who pelted stones at them.”

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