Saturday, 29 March 2014
YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigeria has arrested two Britons and 10 of its own citizens on charges of trying to bribe a military officer to facilitate oil theft, the military said on Friday.
Oil theft by armed gangs is rampant in Africa’s top crude-producing country, with estimates ranging from 100,000 barrels to 250,000 barrels a day lost to so-called “bunkerers”.
Major-General E.J. Atewe, commander of the mixed military and police Joint Task Force (JTF) for the oil-producing Niger Delta region, said two of the bunkerers, both Nigerian, had gone to an officer to request clearance to move the crude oil.
They had openly admitted their plan was to hack into a pipeline and connect a hose that would siphon crude out of it onto a waiting boat, and offered him $6,500 to provide a gunboat to protect them on the way out.
“The suspects were immediately arrested for attempting to bribe the brigade commander for economic sabotage,” Atewe said in a statement, and a follow-up operation had led to the arrest of two Britons and another eight Nigerians.
Stories of collusion with the security forces are common and the sheer scale of oil theft in Nigeria would not be possible without systematic collusion by various security agencies, security sources say.
Loss of output from theft and outages caused by sabotaging pipelines has cost the treasury – which relies on oil for about 80 percent of revenues – billions of dollars. Critics, however, say theft is exaggerated to cover up embezzlement of oil revenues by officials in the state oil firm, a charge they deny.
Oil theft has contributed to the high likelihood Nigeria will lose its top African crude oil exporter spot in May, as exports could fall to their lowest since records began in 2009.
Production of the Forcados grade has been hit by underwater pipeline leakage, which Shell blamed on oil theft, and which led the operator to declare force majeure on the grade this week.
Despite widespread evidence of collusion between Nigerian security forces, the government has been keen to portray oil theft as the work of foreign criminal gangs. Analysts say the main buyers are gangs in the Balkans and refiners in Singapore.
(Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
Matthew and Grace Huang (pictured), an Asian-American couple, were sentenced Thursday to three years in prison in a Qatar court for starving their adopted daughter to death.
The Huangs, parents to three adopted children, were accused by prosecutors of killing their daughter in order to harvest her organs.
As reported by BBC News, the charges that landed the Huangs in jail were not announced, but outside the court, Mr. Huang presented greater detail.
“We have just been wrongfully convicted, and we feel as if we are being kidnapped by the Qatar judicial system,” said Mr. Huang. “This verdict is wrong and appears to be nothing more than an effort to save face.”
Mr. Huang added, “They accused us of killing our daughter to harvest her organs. That’s how ridiculous this is. This verdict should be overturned immediately.”
Along with the prison sentence, the couple has to pay 15,000 Qatari riyals, or $4,100, in fines. After serving their sentences in Qatar, the couple will be deported. The defense team has been granted 15 days to appeal the sentence and have plans to put that in to motion.
Mr. and Mrs. Huang were arrested in Qatar’s capital city, Doha, back in January 2013, after the death of 9-year-old Gloria (pictured above with her two brothers). The Huang family adopted Gloria from Ghana and have two other adopted children (pictured) also from Africa.
The Huang family arrived in Qatar, after the husband reportedly moved the family to the country for work. Their other children are residing with family back in America.
Via their website, the Huang family claims that Gloria’s death happened as a result of an eating disorder she developed while living in Ghana, but Qatar police officials determined that the Huang family was harvesting the girl’s organs although a second postmortem investigation reportedly revealed that no evidence of organ tampering was found.
Shockingly, this is not the only case dealing with organ harvesting. In 2011, Catholic Online reported on African refugees, attempting to relocate to Israel, having their kidneys and livers removed while they were alive and then being left to die. Then a Somali girl was reportedly smuggled out of her country to Britain for her organs, according to the New York Post, last October. Her case was of particular significance because it was the first time that authorities saw a child being trafficked specifically for her organs.
Another high-profile organ-harvesting, kidnapping case involved the “humanitarian organization” Zoe’s Ark. Back in 2007, Chad’s President Idriss Deby accused the organization of trying to kidnap 103 children and take them to France for illegal adoptions and organ-harvesting. At the time, President Deby told NPR, “Clearly, their goal was to kidnap and steal these kids from their parents, and sell them to pedophile organizations in Europe, or kill them and sell their organs.”
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor recently bared his mind concerning the controversies surrounding churches and their flamboyant pastors.
When asked to explain why churches milk the poor, the CAN president and Senior pastor of Word of Life Bible Church, said “it is cheap to criticise; even to criticise what you don’t understand. Let me put it this way, in every good people, you would always find some bad people. The church is the greatest institution that has made the country today. If you look back, you would find out that the church brought education to Nigeria.”
Speaking further to Punch, he said “The church brought hospital to Nigeria. I think the church should be given credit for that. People don’t understand what they say about the church milking the poor. Can a poor man have money to pay tithe? A man who has no job, can he pay tithe? No, he won’t be able to pay. So how do you milk a man who has no milk? In a church, you have both the poor and the rich. It is generally not the poor that finance the church. It is those with the means. A man, for example, who earns N10,000, how much is his tithe? His tithe is N1,000. A man who earns N500,000, how much is his tithe? His tithe is 10 per cent which is N50,000. How much would you milk from a man who pays a tithe of N1000?
“We won’t say things like this usually because the church is a level-playing ground. Whether you are poor or you are rich, God sees everybody as equal. It is because of a question like this that sometimes, we have to take time to analyse things. I even hear people say that the poor give money to start schools, but their children cannot go to the schools. How will they give this money when they are poor? The truth is that, the people who actually give this money are those who have the means to do so. Those people make it possible for churches to start schools. Now again, why do churches charge high fees in school? You didn’t ask me that, but I’m just throwing that in free. People must understand that there is a standard.
“The church wants to maintain the standard. In those days, some people will say that when missionaries started school, it was free. Don’t forget that those missionaries were being financed from different places. Who is financing us today? We are financing ourselves. If I got free financing, why won’t we make education free? You must also understand that at the time, the cost of living was not the way it is today. The educational system of Nigeria is in serious trouble, so we need to up the standards. And to do that, you should be able to hire the best hands. If you hire the best, how do you pay them? Where do you get the money to pay them? How do you put the right infrastructure in place? How do you do many of the things that need to be done? How do you run the generators?”
On why there are so many poor people in churches yet rich pastors, Oritsejafor who recently completed an ultra modern 40,000 capacity church auditorium in Warri, Delta State, explained, “Remember that the pastors are pasturing both the poor and the rich. They are all in the same assembly. Both the poor and the rich, those who have the means in the church take time to be kind to their pastors. That is something most people don’t realise. They give their pastors money, food and different things. For example, a member of the church goes to his pastor and says, ‘I feel led to give you a car. Take this car.’ Now the pastor has a car. Did he steal it? As I sit here talking to you now, I can tell you that I am training almost 100 people in institutions of higher learning. Nobody is going to broadcast that. On every 26th of December, I organise what I call poverty alleviation. I have been doing it now for about eight years.”
Defending his aircraft and rift with Mallam Nasir el-Rufai “I am glad that there are people who challenged him. I would only be dignifying him if a person at my level starts exchanging words with a small person like el-Rufai. He is too small. I will not dignify him with a response. People responded. They told him that since he knew who gave the gift, he should provide the proof, which he hasn’t done till today. Obviously, he didn’t have any proof. That is the problem with Nigeria. We continue to celebrate people like el-Rufai. He is too small for me. I won’t waste my time on him”