Woman widowed by Boko Haram finds love in America

Seeing this American woman marrying again and rebooting her life was an emotional experience for me. When governments fail, God doesn’t. Hope is indeed the heart’s great quest and love it’s healing balm.

By Emmanuel Ogebe

With her son leading the bridal train as the little groom, the resplendent bride made her way into the packed Texan church in the United States of America to a different kind of wedding song. The lyrics: “God sent you to love and comfort me,” couldn’t be more apt. The bride, Sarah (name changed for her safety), was remarrying in America after Boko Haram killed her husband in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria a few years before.
The wedding was on Martin Luther King holiday weekend this year, the holiday commemorating the civil rights icon who advocated for racial equality. However it was just days after US President Donald Trump made disparaging remarks about African immigrants’ (expletive) countries.
At the Houston wedding reception, I was seated next to a medical doctor and his wife, also a doctor (relatives of the bride.) To my left was a medical doctor and her kids (friends of the bride). The wedding guests in Houston were a true microcosm of highly educated Nigerian American immigrants. As lawyers, my wife and I were probably the least educated professionals on our table.
The Liberian American MC made a joke about this phenomenon, saying if you asked a Nigerian what they had studied, you were likely to hear: “I have a degree in Chemistry but I have gone back to earn a degree in Physics.” He pointed out for illustration that Sarah the bride had a degree in Finance and another degree in Nursing.
The crowd was a mix of family, friends, coworkers and members of the ethnic church where the couple served and met. A toast to the couple hinted that this all began when the Liberian groom served in the parking ministry of the church and helped Sarah find parking before service. After that, she was regularly needing parking assistance from one volunteer in particular….

Her marriage to a Liberian is especially intriguing. Her late husband had served in Liberia during a military Peace keeping mission to bring stability back to the war-torn country. The US supported that mission in view of its historical ties to Liberia founded by freed African American slaves. However the US relied on officers from Nigeria to be the boots on the ground in their place.
I met him in 2014. He had just finished a tour of duty fighting the terrorists in their north central hub. You could tell right away he was a consummate warrior – a soldier’s soldier. He had served in many peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone amongst others in his 25 military career. He had spent most of his life in the army having joined as a teen.
At his command, he barely slept, keeping ahead of the terrorists at their game of war. He inculcated friendships with the community using community policing as his key counterinsurgency strategy. This way he suppressed attacks before they happened. There was calm and tranquility during his three year duty tour.
As I shared about our work helping victims, unknown to me this officer and gentleman who was on a break to visit his family in the US, was in the audience. Even though he had himself sacrificed much including his family for the sake of the people, he still donated to our project.
His wife told me how when she’d visit him in Nigeria, sometimes she’d see pockmarks on his bulletproof vest. When she asked what happened, he’d remain silent…
On Christmas the following year, I met her again.
Months before, she’d gotten an abrupt four-word call from his batman. “Madam, Oga (boss) is dead.” It was the shortest most devastating phone call imaginable.
Mysteriously, only he died that day in the defence of the city of Maiduguri which came under a second attack in a week from Boko Haram terrorists. How they broke through his helmet, vest and protective gear is a puzzle but the bottom line is that they scored a major victory in taking out this Lieutenant Colonel who had frustrated numerous attacks over the years.
His widow looked at me and said, wistfully: “I told him to join me in the US and leave the army.” She says if he had been here, those wounds were recoverable – she sees far more trauma cases. She is a nurse, you see.

But the nightmare of widowhood is far worse than you’d expect. Widows continue to be deprived matrimonial property under ignominious disinheritance practices in Nigeria. Then there are demands to engage in burial rituals that can be unwholesome. Worse still, is getting the government to process death benefits for the families of heroes who died in service of their fatherland.
She had to work on Christmas Day and couldn’t find childcare for her kids.
If only he were here…if only he’d agreed to come to America! He sacrificed too much, she said. The army was his life and the army was his death. But the army appreciated him only in life and not in death when he could no longer be used.
Even in his final battle when he radioed for back up from a borrowed radio because his wasn’t working, no reinforcements came…
I told her that in every generation, there are people who must sacrifice more than most for the good of all. Someone has to do it for our common humanity. Many go through life oblivious of the sacrifices these heroes make on our behalves.
I tried to encourage her that there are countless people alive today because of her husband’s efforts. A lot of what we do on earth will ultimately be measured in eternity and that’s what counts the most.
As I tucked her kids into their car seats, I said to myself: this is what he would have been doing if he was home for Christmas. The families of our servicemen and women make sacrifices just as though they themselves are in the battlefield. In fact they worry more from not knowing…
She didn’t get to have his body for burial. The army kept it for speedy burial in the north where he was killed – not his hometown in southern Nigeria.
She didn’t get his wedding ring back, nor the matching gold chain which he had purchased for them both.
She has no souvenir left of him but the boy and girl who are too young to understand that dad traveled to Nigeria for work and isn’t home for Christmas and is never coming back…
I have brought more victims of Boko Haram to the US than anyone. I am in touch with many survivors.

Seeing this American woman married to a Nigerian officer suddenly have her life turned upside down was a new experience for me but it brought it real close to home. I know of no other widow of the Boko Haram insurgency in the US.
Her late husband, a Lieutenant Colonel was Killed In Combat by Boko Haram in February 2015, almost three years before Sarah remarried. Sadly his death benefits and life insurance as well as scholarships for their two children have not been paid years later by the government of Nigeria and its contractual parties. I offered to serve as her pro bono lawyer to obtain the death benefits but the bureaucratic bottleneck is such that I was limited in what legal options to employ. I have seldom felt so helpless!
Thinking back on her wedding song: “God sent you to love and comfort me,” that is the true redeeming grace in what would otherwise have been a heartbreaking story.
Seeing this American woman marrying again and rebooting her life was an emotional experience for me. When governments fail, God doesn’t. Hope is indeed the heart’s great quest and love it’s healing balm. I admit it, I teared up during the wedding – overwhelmed by God’s solution to this situation.

. Written by Emmanuel Ogebe, an International Human Rights Lawyer and Victims’ Advocate.


‘We can no longer pay for darkness’

• Lagos communities revolt, bemoan outage, ‘crazy’ billing

• How consumers can calculate electricity consumed

• ‘We will disconnect any community once we perceive violence’

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor

Post 1

The trees dotting the corporate headquarters of Ikeja Electric (IE) on Obafemi Awolowo Way, Alausa in Ikeja, Lagos State have other uses besides providing shelter from the scorching sun. The sprawling trees, otherwise known as Abe-igi have become synonymous with Ojota’s Freedom Park, which in 2012, hosted two weeks of fierce protest against petrol subsidy removal.

Every other week, a group of exasperated electricity consumers, disenfranchised communities or disgruntled former employees gather carrying placards and chanting protest songs to express their dissatisfaction with the services rendered by the distribution company (DisCos). Their major grouse bothers on non-supply of prepaid meters, issuance of outrageous estimated bills and epileptic power supply.

When residents of Onilekere, Onipetesi, Valley Estate, Santos Estate Phase I & II, recently thronged the IE office to protest against the poor state of a substation mega transformer that feeds about 20 smaller transformers in the four communities, they were dramatic, dressing in an all-black attire to reflect the blackout the communities were experiencing, and they went bold with their demands, insisting: ‘No prepaid meter, No payment’.

There are two slogans Nigerians love to doubt. The first is promoted by the Nigeria Police Force that ‘bail is free’. The second is ‘the customer is always right’. In Nigeria, the customer is not king. While interrupted supply of electricity has become part of our national life, the ugly experiences of electricity consumers – estimated crazy billings, abrupt disconnection of cables, neglect of communities in need of transformer repairs, ordeals of getting pre-paid meters and nonchalance of DisCos to consumers’ complaints – are an unending bane.

Post 2

In Iwowokekere, Ijede area of Lagos State, the community is at its wits end over failure of Ikeja Electric (IE) to energise the 33kv, 500kva transformer donated by the community since 2014. The community also lamented the high estimated bills imposed on consumers by the electricity company.

According to the chairman of Progressive Estate Community Development Association (PECDAS), Femi Ibrahim, the association has complained severally and written countless petitions on IE’s laissez faire attitude towards installing the transformer and restoring electricity to the community.

“We have remained in darkness for years, leading to incessant robbery attacks, and deprivation of economic activities in the area. We have invested emotional, physical, and financial expenses and commitment in the community only to suffer serious hardship of epileptic power supply from a single transformer used by over three communities,” he said.

Ijegun community in Lagos is still waiting on IE to repair the transformer in the area vandalised seven months ago to save them from perpetual power outage. Abimbola Alabi, a landlord in the area, said they had reported the case of vandalism of the transformer to the firm.

“Since the incident on May 3, the company has not made any effort to repair or replace it. We are left in darkness and this is really affecting us in the community. The outage has really affected socio-economic activities in the community. We were told until the community offset its backlog of bills before repair can be effected.”

Felix Ofulue, the Head, Corporate Communications Unit in IE, however said the company is aware of the outage. He added that they were collaborating with consumers in the affected areas to resolve the problem. He urged the communities affected to safeguard the company’s equipment in their areas, adding that the Ijegun community was notorious for frequent vandalism of power facilities.

Post 3.jpg

After being inundated by the plights of consumers, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) recently made the rights of every electricity consumer public, which are: All new electricity connections must be done strictly on the basis of metering before connection; unmetered customers should be issued with electricity bills strictly based on NERC’s estimated billing methodology; it is the customer’s right to be notified in writing ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo; it is not the responsibility of electricity customer or community to buy, replace or repair electricity transformers, poles and related equipment used in supply of electricity; and it is the customer’s right to contest any electricity bill.

Furthermore, NERC has instituted a mechanism to redress consumer complaints through the establishment of consumer forum offices across the country. The customer is expected to lodge a complaint with the DisCo. If the customer is not satisfied with the resolution, he can escalate the complaint to the consumer forum.

At the Ikeja NERC forum office located a stone throw from IE’s headquarters, customers come in trickles to file their complaints. The office then investigates it and if necessary calls for hearing with the DisCo.

When asked why there seems to be less activity at the forum office, an official simply identified as Chinedu, said activities are usually at a peak at the beginning of a new month when IE usually carries out its disconnection exercise.

“People usually don’t know their rights, so they resort to begging officials not to disconnect them and attempt to bribe them. We are busy because of the perception that IE is not treating customers well maybe due to the fact that it is the largest DisCo in the country with so many communities under its network. We have been able to resolve many community disputes.”

In a bid to assert their rights, 57 streets in Onipanu wrote to IE in September saying there will be no payment of bills until prepaid meters are installed. The residents of the 57 streets, on the platform of Concerned Residents Community, led by their chairman, Engr. Yusuf Usman, said they would no longer pay any bill without prepaid meters.

“We have dropped our letter. We could not meet with any of the managers. If they want dialogue, let them invite us. Otherwise, this is the end of paying bills for darkness. How can anyone justify the increase of a three-bedroom flat bill from N4,000 to N30,000? Our lawyer is preparing. We have been making attempts to talk to officials of the undertaking office and the headquarters since January without success.”

Post 4

Describing the estimated billing methodology as unfair and exploitative, president of Nigerian Consumer Protection Network, an advocacy group, Kunle Olubiyo, said the methodology is an incentive for DisCos not to invest in metering.

Metering statistics released by NERC in 2016 revealed that there were over six million customers with verified accounts throughout the country. While 3.3 million of them had meters, the other 2.7 million did not; hence they were placed on the estimated billing methodology.

Olubiyo also bemoaned the lack of understanding on how to properly calculate electricity bills among electricity consumers. “To calculate energy consumption costs, simply multiply the unit’s wattage by the number of hours you use to find the number of watt-hours consumed each day. For example, if you use a 60watt bulb for six hours per day, multiplying the wattage by the number of hours used means you are using 360 watt-hours per day, multiplied by the number of bulbs in your apartment.

“Electricity is measured in kilowatt hours. One kilowatt is equal to 1,000watts. Calculating how many kWh a particular device uses is as easy as dividing by 1,000. So, for the bulb with 360 watt-hours per day would be 0.36 kWh, multiplied by 30 days is 10.8kWh per month. Next is to check your bill to see how much you pay per kWh.

“For example, residential customers (R2) pay N25 per kilowatt-hour. By multiplying electricity rate by kWh, this will give an estimate of how much the bulb cost you. The above consumer spends N270 in electricity bills for a bulb monthly. If he has six bulbs, he will spend N1,620.

“To get the estimate of electricity consumed, check the wattage label of all the household appliances such as refrigerator, television, fan, iron, etc and work it out. So ideally, a regular flat with necessary appliances averaging 1,000watts on six hours of electricity daily should get an estimated bill of between N4,000 to N5,000. Anything higher than that is crazy and excessive,” he explained.

Post 5

Ofulue, IE’s Head of Corporate Communications, reacting to the allegations, said some complaints are beyond the firm. “Complaints like metering and power supply are things not within our control. The reason why we cannot meter everybody at the same time is because we cannot afford it. Thankfully, the regulators are doing something to address this. For instance, you can be consistently out of power for certain number of reasons, like a problem with transmission, during upgrade and overloaded feeders.

“That your bill is crazy is an assumption. There are methods of arriving at the estimation, part of which includes demographics. If a consumer feels his bill is crazy, take it to your business unit, our men will come to your house for a load assessment to measure what you use and if there is any need, it will be adjusted accordingly.

“We have defined channels for complaints and resolution. The moment you see a linesman, the guys who carry ladder and you make a complaint to him, you have not followed the right process. In fact, you are giving room for extortion. We have over 50 undertaking offices across our network, that should be the first level of complaints. It is when it cannot be resolved that it can be escalated to the business unit and in certain instances when such issues cannot be resolved, you can then escalate it to the head-office. All these take time. We have social media channels, but most times people come there to abuse us not to make a formal complaint,” he said.

In August 2017, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) released a 65-page report titled: ‘From darkness to darkness: How Nigerians are paying the price for corruption in the electricity sector,’ which detailed how over N11 trillion had been pumped into the power sector since 1999 without any result to show for it. The group also concluded that the perennial poor power supply in the country was proof of corruption in the power sector.

Post 6

SERAP Deputy Director, Mr. Timothy Adewale, a lawyer, has urged Nigerians to be abreast of their rights as consumers as enshrined in the 2005 NERC Act. According to him, under the Part VI, Section 80-81 of the Act titled Consumer Protection Standards, customers have a right to electricity supply and a properly installed meter.

“It is the customers right to be notified in writing ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo. The Commission also established standards for compensation to consumers who do not enjoy regular power supply. Something absolutely illegal that the DisCos do is to shut out a community entirely from electricity because of a few defaulters. Mass disconnection is absolutely unacceptable.”

When asked why some communities are shut out of power including those who are regularly paying their bills, Ofolue said it is a last resort strategy. “We disconnect any community once we perceive violence. Once there is a threat to life, we have to move away and shut the community down. A community in Lambe just protested at our head office against disconnection. You don’t want us to disconnect you, but you are not paying your bills and you are asking for prepaid meter. We can’t keep giving free light.

“It is not a regular case, it is not something you hear everyday. Why is it that it is only in the hinterlands that customers get violent against our staff. It is done only as an extreme measure. Many of the communities where this is rampant are in Ikorodu. They don’t want to pay and they prevent you from coming to disconnect those who are owing. Seventy per cent of the complaints come from Ikorodu. We know our customers; you can never hear these incidents in the cities.

“And on informing customers in writing before disconnecting them, see, we have disconnection orders but what these guys do is when you disconnect them, they engage artisans to reconnect them immediately we are gone. Let us be practical here so that we don’t get academic. We know what happens in the business. What rights are we talking about here? Most people believe that this electricity is a social entitlement.”

While the brickbats between DisCos and consumers persist, it is expected that NERC as the regulator would be alive to its responsibilities by expediting action on getting more consumers metered. Having barely three million metered consumers in a country with a population of over 180 million and nearly 36 million households (an average household size is five persons) is a far cry. It is also a good reason for inefficiency to thrive in the sector and extortion of consumers by DisCos’ officials.

And so, NERC should do a lot more to ensure DisCos comply with its regulations by promptly addressing the plight of many electricity consumers in the country.



What is the ‘rock’ upon which the church is built?

Vince Arnone

Hey- did you know?….

– When Peter first confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, it was at a place called ‘Caesarea Phillipi,’ which actually featured a temple dedicated to the pagan god, ‘Pan.’

Here’s an artist’s rendering of it:

And here’s a photo of the ruins from above the altar that still exist:

– The worship of Pan and the worship of Baal (both considered fertility and vitality gods capable of bestowing wealth) by the ancient Hebrews were really similar.

Both groups:

– celebrated their gods by participating in live sex acts of all sorts (even with children) in the style of an orgi.


– sacrificed their newborn infants….

Huh. A culture that celebrates all sorts of sexual deviancy and predation against children as righteous…

and celebrates sacrificing its babies because they believe it enables them to live a more prosperous personal life…

sound familiar? …(But…

View original post 965 more words

Political friends, foes unite at Alhaja Obanikoro’s Fidau prayers

By Tope Templer Olaiya
THE 8th day Fidau prayers of Alhaja Wosilat Ejide Obanikoro, mother of immediate past Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, united political friends and foes across all divides at the weekend in Lagos.
No sooner had the prayers started, led by the Chief Missioner of Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Olanrewaju Ahmad and the Chief Imam of Lagos, Mohammed Akinola Ibrahim, than the hall began to witness the presence of dignitaries walk in to take their seats.

Obanikoro (left) exchanging pleasantries with Seriki, Fashola (second right) and Banire

But there was some noisy interruption as soon as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, stepped in. It caught many by surprise as the former governor of Lagos State has lately stayed away from social functions, noticeably the just concluded Lagos @ 50 celebrations.

Also, the duo of Fashola and Obanikoro had squared up fiercely as governorship candidates since the 2007 elections down to the run-up to the 2015 elections. He didn’t come alone, his mother, Madam Cecilia Omolara Fashola and Alhaji Kayode Fashola, were present.

The Minister took his seat, flanked by Chief Rasak Okoya, Justice George Oguntade, National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Muiz Banire, and former Minister of State for Defence, Ademola Seriki, and began going through the programme booklet.

Some paragraphs in the Obanikoro’s tribute to his late mother caught the attention of the former governor. Fashola got his chance moments later to throw banters at Obanikoro after they embraced, reading the paragraph to him: “I can recall how troublesome I was growing up and how much my troubled nature tested your patience. Even when bad companies derailed me, you never gave up on me. Your commitment to my education and self-discipline is legendary.” This was followed by outbursts of roaring laughter.

Obanikoro welcoming Senate President, Olubukola Saraki

Things got to a head with the arrival of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki Saraki, who was returning from the wedding ceremony of one of the daughters of Chief Bisi Akande, a former National Chairman of the APC in Ibadan. He had stopped by to honour Obanikoro, whose mother died on July 2, aged 95.

Saraki was accompanied by Senators representing Lagos West, Ondo Central, Ogun East and Bayelsa East, Solomon Adeola, Omotayo Alasoadura, Buruji Kashamu and Ben Bruce, respectively. A special prayer session was held for Saraki, albeit on Obanikoro’s request.

Obanikoro, Saraki and Alao-Akala, former governor of Oyo State

Others at the event included former governors Gbenga Daniel (Ogun) and Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo); Senator Ganiyu Solomon, former Air Marshal, Adesola Amosu (rtd); former Deputy Governors of Lagos State, Otunba Femi Pedro and Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele; Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, who represented Governor Ambode; former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin; Dr. Reuben Abati; former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu and prominent Borno State politician, Malam Kashim Imam.






Inside the toxic graveyard of Lagos

• Saving 21 million Lagosians from toxic waste
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor
That Lagos, the commercial capital of the most populous black nation in the world, Nigeria, is the fifth largest economy in Africa is undisputed; what may not be known to many is that Lagos is also the world’s leading destination for toxic and electronic waste.

Only recently, the Koko community of Warri North Local Council of Delta State, hugged the limelight over a toxic waste dump, which is a repeat of the sad episode of the 1987/88 incident when two Italians – Giafranco Raffaeli and Renato Pent of the waste broker firms, Ecomor and Jelly Wax conspired with a Nigerian, Sunday Nana of Iruekpen Construction company to import from Italy, 18,000 drums of hazardous waste under the pretext of substances relating to the building trade, and as residual and allied chemicals.

The latest development is, allegedly, being perpetrated by a local company, Ebenco Global Links Ltd., an integrated waste management facility based in Koko. Already, the Executive Director of ERA/ FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, has called on both the Delta State government and the National Environmental Standard Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to immediately set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the recent dumping of toxic waste in Koko town.

But beyond Koko is the disaster waiting to explode in the beautiful city of Lagos. With a population well over 20 million, Lagos has a rich history of economic growth and transformation. Although it covers only 0.4th of Nigeria’s territorial landmass, making it the smallest state in the country, it accounts for over 60 per cent of industrial and commercial activities in the country.

Lagos has emerged as a major hub for the hundreds of national and multinational companies and the complex business and professional services that support them.

Koko toxic waste dump in Delta State

Inside this boisterous state, which is the seventh fastest growing city in the world, and the second largest city in Africa, is a thriving informal sector, fueled by a burgeoning secondhand culture. This has given rise to a web of intricate industries and mega-markets that are mostly import-dependent.

The disposal of computers and other electronic and electrical goods, known as e-waste, is a growing global problem, though junk electronics represent a quality raw material for waste processing industries, especially in the developing world.

It is, however, no news that many of these junk electronics find their way to some Lagos markets like Ladipo auto spare-parts market in Mushin, Computer Village in Ikeja and the International electronics Market in Alaba.

These products come largely in 40-feet containers.

“On average, a 40-feet container weighing 9.9 tonnes of used electronics can contain 195 pieces of TV, 94 pieces of computer (monitor), 230 pieces of DVD players, 322 pieces of video player, 249 pieces of pressing iron, 810 pieces of blenders, 113 pieces of microwave ovens, 106 pieces of HiFi, 616 pieces of radio, and 558 pieces of electric kettles,” a 2012 Nigerian country assessment report, which contains data for 2010, noted.

In 2016, the world threw away 91.5 million tonnes of electrical equipment. A tonne is the equivalent of a thousand kilogramme, which is about the weight of a small car. It is left to be imagined how many of these found their way to the Apapa and Tin Can seaports.

In 2005, it was estimated that 75 per cent of electrical and electronic goods imported into Lagos were junk, with e-waste accounting for 12.5 per cent of shipments in 2009. By 2011, 70 per cent of electronics imported into Lagos were second-hand and only 15 per cent of that was non-repairable.

This is a huge concern because dumped electronic consumer goods are, essentially, toxic waste. Old-style televisions and monitors contain lead and phosphorous pentachloride, printed circuit boards contain arsenic mercury and bromides, same as fridges.

Buried in landfill, broken up improperly or burnt, these toxins can be exposed to the air or leach out into the soil and water table, leading to a severe healthcare crisis.

In the European Union (EU), the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) regulations govern how e-waste should be treated and processed, and also restrict where it can be exported. For instance, equipment cannot be shipped to developing countries for recycling and recovery, only for reuse. They must be tested to show that they are fully functional and packed so that they are not damaged in transport, otherwise they are classed as waste.

Unserviceable TV sets at Alaba market, Lagos

In the second-hand markets of Lagos, little consideration is given to whether the item is tested or untested due to an abundance of local repairers. Equipment shipped untested is classified as e-waste, and so it is in the country illegally. They are usually shipped in containers hidden behind working goods, concealed inside a car, or falsely described as personal items.

With a very lax regulation at the port of entry, there is often poor treatment of toxic waste materials, leading to the release of hazardous chemicals that can harm both people and the environment.

Most consumers abroad making the journey to the local dump with their “e-waste” might expect their equipment to be disposed of properly and safely, even if they are unaware of the WEEE directive that requires the disposal or reuse of this waste without damage to the environment.

How has Alaba electronics market infamously become the final destination for thousands of tonnes of televisions, computers, DVD players and other electronic items that previously sat in homes and offices of European countries before being taken for disposal to a municipal waste site?

In 2010, following a tip-off from a local authority insider that unusable e-waste was being bought and sent for export, there was a joint investigation by The Independent, Sky News and Greenpeace all based in the United Kingdom.

A large television set, with the base cut away to render it beyond repair, was left at a Hampshire County Council civic amenity site by investigators.
Under the WEEE regulations, it should have been disposed of by a specialist recycler, but the set was bought along with other electronic items by BJ Electronics (UK) Ltd, one of about 200 companies and individuals who tour municipal waste sites in Britain buying equipment.

A satellite tracking device inside the television showed it was taken to BJ Electronics’ warehouse before being sold to another company, who loaded it onto a cargo container bound for export.

The economics of the illegal export trade are straightforward. A whole consignment can be bought for a pittance from a civic amenity site, most of which will be working and a proportion of which will not. The system is supposed to filter out the hazardous e-waste and allow a legitimate second hand export trade. But what is happening is that it is all being lumped together and sent abroad, where the working items are sold and the broken stuff just thrown away to cause pollution.

Within days, the container was loaded onto the MV Grande America cargo ship bound for Lagos, from where it was unloaded and delivered to one of the hundreds of secondhand dealers in Alaba market.

It was just one of up to 15 containers of used electronics arriving in Alaba from Europe and Asia everyday.

Prof. Osibanjo

Igwe Chinedu, leader of the Alaba Technicians Association, said of the 600 to 700 televisions in each container, about 250 do not work. “We find that for each container, about 35 to 40 per cent of its contents are useless. Of those, only 35 per cent can be fixed. The rest goes to the scavenger children at the dumpsite.”

Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, retired professor of analytical and environmental chemistry at the University of Ibadan (UI), former director at the Basel Convention Regional Co-ordinating Centre for Africa in UI and a board member of Sustainable Electronic Recycling International (SERI), United States, said: “We have about half a million used electronics coming into Lagos every month, and only 25 per cent are working. The volume is so large that the people who trade it burn it like ordinary refuse.

“We have done a lot of studies and we were able to show that all the cells where e-waste dismantling takes place are heavily polluted. You are not only dumping the hardware, but also hazardous substances.”

Osibanjo explained that the poisonous chemicals withstand high temperature and are eventually released into the soil and ground water. “Where you burn them, they are being released into the earth. When it is really raining, they will wash into rivers and so on. A Ph.D student of mine in Abuja went to dump sites where they also raise cattle. She was able to get milk from a cow and then we looked at chicken eggs and all eggs. We found them all contaminated.”

However, the respected analytical chemist, said electronic recycling, when properly done, could be a goldmine for Nigeria. In this regard, he advised the Federal Government to consider recycling old phones, computers and other electronics, saying it was a good source of wealth and employment.

According to him, there were about 250 kilogrammes of gold in one million phones, adding that with e-recycling the country would witness economic prosperity and massive job creation. He stated that the United Nations had acknowledged the wealth potential of recycling, noting that Nigeria would no longer have to bank on oil, as she would be getting gold and silver from e-recycling.

Osibanjo further stated that although plans were underway to attract investors into the country for the establishment of e-recycling centres, poor regulations suffocating business environment were impeding the efforts.

Underscoring the dangers of e-waste on the environment, a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 6, 2017, has revealed that one in four young children die each year as a result of unhealthy environments.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one—particularly for young children,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, in a press statement. “Their developing organs and immune systems and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

Beginning in the uterus, children are exposed to harmful environmental risks. According to the study, roughly 1.7 million children under the age of five die each year from factors that could have been prevented through addressing environmental risks, which WHO called “a shocking missed opportunity.

“Another category of threat to children’s health is emerging environmental hazards, including chemicals, electronic waste and climate change,” the report said. Electronic waste was “another growing concern”. When it is not disposed of properly, it can expose children to “a myriad of chemicals and toxicants, many of which are associated with reduced intelligence, attention deficits, lung damage and cancer”.

The import of e-waste from Europe into Nigeria is illegal by both European and Nigerian standards. Still, hundreds of thousand tonnes of illegal e-waste are imported annually into Nigeria. Despite local laws banning the import, inefficient enforcement still makes Nigeria one of the largest e-waste importing countries in the world.

The e-waste trade is illegal because Nigeria does not possess any organized e-waste recycling or dismantling facility. The mass deposits of e-waste are therefore left to be crudely recycled under hazardous conditions. This crude recycling of e-waste is toxic to humans and to the environment.

Intriguingly, it is not only the electronic secondhand markets that populate Lagos with toxic waste. Cosmetic manufacturing industries produce ignitable waste, flammable solvents, strong acids and bases. Printing industry dealing in heavy metal solutions, waste ink, solvents and spent electroplating wastes contribute its fair share to the toxic waste deposit.

Same with furniture and wood manufacturing and refinishing plants, which produce ignitable wastes and spent solvents; metal manufacturing firms producing waste containing heavy metals, strong acids and bases; as well as leather products manufacturing and processing firms producing benzene and toluene wastes.

Ladipo Market

Another notorious spot where heavy metal wastes, ignitable wastes and spent solvents are generated in quantum quantity is the Ladipo auto spare-parts market tucked between Oshodi industrial estate and Mushin city centre at Toyota bus-stop along Apapa-Oshodi expressway.

Like a cancer, the market, which has become a Grease Land, has grown in leaps and bounds, spiraling into every available space. As the motor spare parts merchants expand their empire, even the service lane of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway from Five Star to Charity bus-stop is not spared.

There are more than 30,000 parts in a car. There is none hard to find in Ladipo. In fact, there are several assembly points where vehicles are butchered into parts, and scraps brought into the country are remodeled into useable vehicles.

At the Grease Land, every section of the market is a beehive of metal merchants’ activities. Daily, vast stretches of the roads are converted to mechanic workshops, where cars take turns to be serviced. These artisans that have appropriated large parts of the road as adhoc mechanic workshops, carry out major assignments including replacing car engines and even spraying of vehicles right on the road.

Apart from thousands of importers of used electrical equipment making money off e-waste, the industry has also created a lot of jobs in the informal sector. Nearly 100,000 people are estimated to work as scavengers, people who pick the electronic waste from homes, dumpsites and other places.

Another 50,000 are estimated to work as refurbishers, repairing the ‘non-tested’, non-functional electronics. They make a living sweating to see that the imported waste can be repaired and have their life cycle extended.

Despite being illegal and hazardous, there is a craving for both e-waste and used electrical equipment among many Nigerians. The major reason for this, several retailers and traders said is economic. Most Nigerians cannot afford new products.

According to the United Nations Human Development Index, over half of Nigeria’s N170 million live in poverty. To enjoy the luxury of basic electrical and electronic equipment like fridges, TVs, and microwave ovens, most of them turn to the secondhand market. Besides cost, some Nigerians quite curiously feel the used products from Europe and America are of better quality than new ones imported from China.

“I’m even afraid of the quality of the new equipment coming into Nigeria, because you find out that most of these new equipment transforms faster into e-waste because of low quality,” said Segun Odeyingbo, an official of StEP Initiative, an organisation dedicated to combating shipment of e-waste to Nigeria.

“A DVD player can easily be designed to last you for six months, and then it has already turned into e-waste.”

In his reaction to the growing incidence of toxic waste being imported into the country, Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr. Lawrence Anukam, blamed the rise in global electronic or e-waste scourge on technological advancement.


Anukam, who spoke during a recent sensitisation workshop on the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for the electrical/electronics sector at the British High Commission residency in Ikoyi, Lagos, said the high technology consumption rate implies that sustainable production and consumption of electrical/electronics equipment would help control e-waste.

He explained that as a regulatory agency, NESREA is working with International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Lyon in France on issues of environmental crime such as e-waste, illegal wildlife business and trans-boundary pollution.

The programme provides alert system on any ship bringing in e-waste into the country and enable coordinate action with the customs and the Navy to arrest such ships. He said NESREA had developed 24 regulations which are sector specific, one of which is protect species of endangered wildlife from extinction through the prohibition of trade, importation, etc.

Other measures the country’s e-waste regulator has adopted to regulate importation of used electronics is by registering the importers. This is to ensure only functional used electronics are imported.However, a lot of the importers are still not registered, the Lagos State coordinator of NESREA, Nosa Aigbedion Dickson, said.“Some of them are trying to evade the process. We have a situation where someone just goes to, maybe, the UK, takes equipment from the road free, assembles them together, puts it in the container, and ships it down to sell the junks as untested. But we are trying to see how we can ensure that it is only registered dealers that are bringing used electronics.”



#IStandWithBuhari, #IStandWithTuface, #IStandWithNigeria

• Showdown as citizens take to the streets
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor
THERE’S no sitting on the fence. This weekend, Nigerians will be sharply divided into three distinct groups – #IStandWithBuhari, #IStandWithTuface and #IStandWithNigeria. All three will be stomping the streets in a popularity contest from Sunday.
Of the three, #IStandWithTuface, a sort of 2012 remake of #OccupyNigeria and #EnoughisEnough fuel subsidy protest, is leading the pack in popularity and resilience, as the other two appear to be a belated afterthought in response to the growing acceptance of a movement that may well define public consciousness and shape the next general elections in 2019.


The missions of the three groups are well stated. Popular music icon, Innocent Idibia, popularly known as Tuface, is leading a nationwide protest against the government and for good governance; a group, which sponsors are yet to be unveiled, #IStandWithBuhari immediately launched a counter protest in support of the government; while a fairly unknown group, led by those who refuse to be bystanders in the emerging power show, is floating #IStandWithNigeria.

The third group will on Monday, February 6, assembly by 8a.m. at the National Stadium, Surulere in Lagos and march to the National Theatre, Iganmu. According to Bemigbo Awala, one of the organisers, “we are marching on the two national icons that epitomizes our decline as a nation.

“We want to state very clearly and peacefully that #IStandWithNigeria and the country must work for all of us and all of us must work for Nigeria,” he wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.


Ahead of the clash of the mega rallies, it has been a feverish war on the social media space with each canvassing for supporters and maligning the others.

The group in support of the government had on Wednesday in a Facebook post stirred some controversy when it announced its nationwide solidarity rally for February 5 to take place on the same day Tuface had earlier fixed his protest march.

Not taking the bait, the #IStandWithTuface group immediately shifted their rally to Monday, February 6, to avoid some clash with the president’s supporters, while announcing they intend to hold the march on the day President Muhammadu Buhari would be returning to the country from his 10-day vacation in London.

Despite the controversies generated by the much-publicized protest, including the warning by the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, stopping the protest, the ‘African Queen’ crooner yesterday vowed to go ahead with the planned protest.

#OccupyNigeria - #EnoughisEnough protest against fuel subsidy removal at Ojota, Lagos, renamed Freedom Park in 2012

#OccupyNigeria – #EnoughisEnough protest against fuel subsidy removal at Ojota, Lagos, renamed Freedom Park in 2012

Meanwhile, the police have been advised to desist from becoming tyrannical by attempting to stop the Tuface Idibia-led rally. A pro-democracy and Non-Governmental Organization, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said the Nigeria police should not attempt to stop an idea whose time has come just as it affirmed that the peaceful nation-wide rallies called by the reputable social crusader and musician, Idibia is in compliance with a plethora of human rights provisions enshrined in the Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution.

In the same vein, activist-lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, yesterday said the police cannot stop the planned mass rally organised by the popular musician. Adegboruwa said he considers it to be an attempt to intimidate those who wish to partake in the rally.

“For the information of the police commissioner, Nigeria is a democratic country governed strictly in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. Section 39 of the Constitution grants freedom of expression, including the right to be heard and to disseminate information and ideas.




Sanity takes flight from Lagos’ Grease Land

• We are helpless, says Ladipo Market leader
• Govt plans car park, shelves relocation

By Tope Templer Olaiya, (Metro Editor) and Gbenga Salau
Once upon a time, Matori, Palm Avenue and Papa Ajao were the highbrow areas of Mushin Local Council of Lagos State. It was a scenic enclave tucked between Oshodi industrial estate and the riotous Mushin city centre, infamous for its incessant street combat. That was before Ladipo auto spare parts market berthed there.

Like a cancer, the market, which has become a Grease Land, has grown in leaps and bounds, spiraling into every available space. As the motor spare parts merchants expands their empire, even the service lane of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway from Five Star to Charity bus-stop is not spared.

The worth of the market is too enormous to evaluate. It is an informal market brimming with massive human and material resources. Directly or indirectly, there is a touch of Ladipo market in every Lagos home with an automobile.

An overgrown canal by the market

An overgrown canal by the market

Besides, the market also services the spare part needs of many car owners across Nigeria, as most of the parts are shipped into the country through the Lagos ports.

The market is rumored to generate about eight per cent of the state’s revenue yearly. There are over 10 million cars plying Lagos roads. Nearly 90 per cent of these cars are potential Ladipo Market clients. A 2015 statistics released by the Lagos State government stated that 78 per cent of the 1.8 million vehicles that were registered in the state were used ‘tokunbo’ vehicles.

There are more than 30,000 parts in a car. There is none hard to find in Ladipo. In fact, there are several assembly points where vehicles are butchered into parts and scraps brought into the country are remodeled into useable vehicles.

At the Grease Land, every section of the market is a beehive of metal merchants’ activities. The grease-soiled ground reminds any visitor that the market isn’t meant for suits and knotted ties. The regular work tools are a simple shirt (T-shirt preferably) on a pair of jeans and a boot or any footwear that must definitely cover your toes.

Though the business might look greasy and dirty, there are huge profits being churned out by the dealers of spare parts and used goods, cart pushers for hire, and most especially the throng of bystanders also known as freelancers, whose job it is to scout for prospective buyers and link them up traders for a commission.

Traders pouring to the expressway

Traders pouring to the expressway

However, the boisterous market has become a menace too hot for any administration in the state to handle. Countless shutdown to rein in traders for flouting sanitation laws, constituting environmental hazards and breaching public peace over leadership tussle, has proved futile.

Residents and road users within and around the market have resigned to fate after deploring severally in very strong terms the incessant gridlock occasioned by the deteriorating state of the road, and the abhorrent activities of traders and artisans in the market.

Daily, vast stretches of the roads are converted to mechanic workshops, where uncountable numbers of cars take turns to be serviced. These artisans that have appropriated large parts of the road as adhoc mechanic workshops, carry out major assignments including replacing car engines, and even spray vehicles right on the road.

The gridlock experienced around the market is worsened when warehouses, which line the service lane at the Toyota bus-stop, receive batches of containers bringing imported spare-parts and scraps from the wharf. They are offloaded right on the road, making swift movement become cumbersome and near impossible.

Outraged at the chaos in the market, the state government has on a number of occasions, made efforts to return sanity to the place, and restore law and order, but all to no avail.

Measures taken in the past, which range from shutting down the market for lengthy periods, to compelling the traders to clean it up, and attempting to ease the traffic with security personnel, have all failed woefully.

Policemen stationed around to help matters and maintain law and order, have become an addition to the problems, as some of them now allocate parking lots to shoppers and motorists who want to fix their vehicles, for a fee.


A motorist, Mr. Akeem Bello, expressed disappointment at government’s failure to take a firm stand on returning sanity to the market. He said whatever revenue the government may be getting from there notwithstanding, the comfort of other road users should never be sacrificed for that of the traders.

President, Ladipo Market Central Committee, Mr. Kinsley Ogunor, lamented that efforts to rid the service lane of the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, have been unsuccessful, as the prevalent hardship in the country is still forcing artisans to convert parts of the road to mechanic workshops.

“I have mandated those operating there not to be parking vehicles on the side bordering the expressway. Sadly, the current hardship in the country is not helping matters, and that is why some of these problems cannot be completely eradicated. As a group, we will continue to do our best to ensure that sanity returns in the market,” he said.

Governor Ambode (right) discussing with the Sole Administrator of Mushin Local Council, Mr. Yinka Kazeem (middle) and treasurer of the market, Chief Cyril Onyema (left) during the governor's visit to the market.

Governor Ambode (right) discussing with the Sole Administrator of Mushin Local Council, Mr. Yinka Kazeem (middle) and treasurer of the market, Chief Cyril Onyema (left) during the governor’s visit to the market.

AND for many residents of Mushin and its environs, who have been troubled by the perennial traffic snarl around Ladipo Market, relief may have come finally, as the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday promised to build a multi-layer car park within the market, so that vehicles will not be parked on the roads, obstructing free flow of traffic.

The governor also promised to reconstruct the two major roads within the market, which are in deplorable state to further aid free flow of traffic around the area.Ambode, who was on an unscheduled visit to the market, was welcomed by jubilant traders, who must have been apprehensive that the governor was there to inspect the market with the intention to order its relocation.

But rather than announced the rumoured relocation of the market, immediately the governor announced the plan to reconstruct the deplorable roads and build a multi-layer car park, the traders applauded with claps and praise singing.

He asked the traders to cooperate with the various chairmen in the market, as he would be meeting with them next week to discuss modalities to uplift the market’s physical plan.

Over the years, commuting around the market has been a perennial headache because traders and customers usually park their vehicles on the road.With the governor’s new position, the call for the relocation or demolition of the market has now been buried.

“When I came here during the campaign, part of my promises was to construct the bad roads here. I should have come earlier because I have spent one and half years in office. I am not pleased with the state of the roads within this market. So we are going to reconstruct Alhaji Akinwunmi and Ladipo streets.

“I have noticed that some things are missing in this market. We will construct a multi-layer car park within this market. With this, all the cars will be at the same location. Only loading and offloading will take place on the road.

“To start with, we will commence the process for the construction with a stakeholders’ meeting next week. At the meeting, we will agree on the process and how the project will be done. We will rearrange the market so that we can commence the construction work next month.