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CORRUPTION

CORRUPTION, CRIME, Nigeria, Reports

ILLEGAL OIL REFINING IN NIGERIA

INTRODUCTION Crude oil, one of the main sources of energy supply worldwide, was discovered in Nigeria in 1956. The first commercial oil well was drilled in Oloibiri, a town located in Bayelsa state, in the Niger Delta.  The country as of today has a total of 10 leading oil-producing states across the six geopolitical zones. Owing to the fast-rising growth in the oil sector, there have been irregularities in its production and like every facet of a country’s economy, exploitation has taken the form of illegal oil refineries predominantly in the Niger Delta. CONTEXT Illegal oil refineries commonly referred to as bunkering in Nigeria encompass all acts involving oil theft, including diversion and smuggling of oil and unauthorised loading of ships. A typical process of accessing the oil involves puncturing an existing oil pipeline at night and establishing a tapping point from which operations are done. The effects of bunkering have led to several risks ranging from economic, political, and environmental due to oil spillage and explosions to security risks ranging from armed robbery and civil unrest owing to clashes between indigenes and illegal operators. Additionally, no fewer than 285 persons have lost their lives to explosions from illegal refineries and tanker explosions from January 2021 to date. On October 3 at least 37 people were burnt to death after an explosion in an illegal oil refinery in iIbas Community, Emuoha Local Government Area of River State. Although popular opinion attributes the causes of illegal refineries to poverty and low living standards, it is largely carried out by militants in the operating areas. HIGHLIGHTS ON SECURITY OPERATIONS Security threats posed by the operation of illegal refineries cannot be overemphasized as they leave irreversible consequences in the affected areas. In a bid to regulate oil production in the country and to eradicate illegal activities, Government Security Forces (GSF) have sprung into action to cripple these operations through raids and swoops. Reports reveal that cumulatively from 2015 to 2023, at least 5,840 illegal refining sites were deactivated by security forces. Recently, Troops of the Nigerian Army destroyed an illegal oil refinery in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State on August 23, 8 active ovens used for illegal refining of stolen crude oil, and 14 storage reservoirs containing stolen crude oil estimated at 200, 000 litres and 90, 000 litres of locally refined Automotive Gas Oil were destroyed during the operation. In September, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) reported that troops of Operation Delta Safe, in 2 weeks, had uncovered and destroyed 89 illegal refining sites in the Niger Delta region. 21 dugout pits, 56 boats, 138 storage tanks, 235 cooking ovens, six pumping machines, one outboard engine, and two speedboats were discovered and destroyed while about 1.2 litres of stolen crude oil, 452,910 litres of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil and 22,650 litres of Premium Motor Spirit were recovered from the operations. CONCLUSION The downside of illegal refinery operations, beyond the obvious environmental risks which are irredeemable, is the security threats they pose in the communities where these operations are done. These are but not limited to recurrent clashes by opposing communities encountering pollution, raids by security forces rendering the community in a state of unrest and the influx of militants in the affected communities.

CORRUPTION, CRIME, Ghana, INTELLIGENCE, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

GALAMSEY: UNDERSTANDING GHANA’S ILLEGAL MINING MENACE

Gold contributes significantly to the economy as Ghana is one the largest producers of gold in Africa. Alternatively, small-scale mining is permitted by Ghana laws and serves as a source of income for many low-income households. Albeit illegal mining remains a national security issue. Illegal gold mining operations known as ‘Galamsey’ have been largely criticised by civil society groups and ordinary citizens across Ghana, particularly for their negative environmental impacts. The term ‘Galamsey’ is derived from the phrase “gather and sell” referring to the traditional method of mining for gold made by the first foreign big-scale miners The substances retrieved from the mines, which are believed to contain gold ore are often washed into water bodies, primarily rivers, thereby contaminating them. Mercury has also been identified as the main chemical used for gold extraction polluting the soil and water bodies such as the Birim, Ankobra, Pra, Densu, Offin and Bia. Exposure to Mercury is very harmful, especially to children, teenagers and pregnant women who often work and handle the liquid metal at galamsey sites. Additionally, Mercury poisoning affects people near these sites through drinking water and fish consumption leaving them with neurological disorders. The above factors threaten the constant water supply to communities in the Ashanti, Western, Eastern, Central regions and other parts of the country. The Ghana Water Company Ltd warned that it could shut down operations in areas affected by galamsey soon due to the high costs of treating the polluted water. The rising cost of processing potable water could also be passed down to consumers, through increased utility tariffs, although a large percentage of Ghanaians are already bearing the brunt of current harsh economic conditions.  Foreigners Over the years, there has been a surge in unregulated mining and this has been largely attributed to foreigners, mainly Chinese nationals. The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) indicated that over 1,600 Chinse nationals engaged in illegal mining were apprehended and repatriated between 2009 and August 2022. The rearrest of Aisha Huang, who has been labelled as a ‘galamsey queen, in September 2022 saw massive public outcry. There have also been several claims of some government officials, traditional authorities and politicians being complicit in this menace by shielding foreign and local miners in return for private payments. Ghanaians, both at home and abroad, have also shown their displeasure with this menace through protests and online campaigns while calling for a total ban on illegal mining activities.  Reports have also shown that increased armed robberies, violence, and other criminal activities are prevalent in some of these communities. In October 2022, two people were injured in a clash between illegal miners and a security team manning the concession of Anglogold Ashanti in the Obuasi East district. Recently, an individual was allegedly murdered by Chinese miners at Dompim in the Western Region working in a forest close to the Bonsa River. An increase in criminality linked to galamsey has also been captured in the Kwaebiberem Municipality in the Eastern Region. There are also some concerns that these security issues would create unstable environments, paving the way for violent extremism.  Government Policies Against Illegal Mining Activities In 2017, the current government initially declared ‘war’ on these illegal activities by implementing several interventions to fight illegal mining including setting up the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) to coordinate efforts aimed at sanitising the small-scale mining (SSM) sector however this was dissolved in 2021. Millions of Ghana cedis from both previous and incumbent administrations have been poured into various task forces and initiatives to curb these issues however these issues prevail. The government also adopted a military-style approach comprising the military and police, to curb this menace. A military contingent labelled Operation Vanguard, was deployed to mining communities to clamp down on illegal mining activities. Subsequently, the Operation Halt I and Operation Halt II teams were also deployed to focus on fighting galamsey in water bodies. In a 3-week operation carried out between 11-31 October 2022, the Operation Halt II team deployed by the Ghana Armed Forces seized 30, destroyed 4 and immobilised 4 excavators used for illegal mining in areas including Kade, Ofoase, Oda, Pra Anom along the banks of Rivers Birim, Pra, Yawkrom, Agroyesum and Takorase along the River Offin.  These approaches have failed to address the key fundamental issues in local communities, such as poor economic conditions and high youth unemployment rates. Notwithstanding, these activities contribute significantly to the rural economies of the communities through job creation which they are practised due to the lack of alternative jobs.   Disclaimer: Images are for descriptive purposes only. We do not own the rights to the images used in this article. Images are from Google.com.

CORRUPTION, CURATED OSINT, GEOPOLITICAL ANALYSIS, Nigeria, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

PRE-ELECTION PERIOD: AN ARENA FOR CIVIL UNREST IN NIGERIA

Since Nigeria attained independence in 1960, violence attributed to political, ethnic and social conflicts of varying levels has been a major trend often affiliated with pre-election periods. Electoral violence across the country can be described as a distinctive and poignant strategy to limit the impact of rival parties while aiming to control the voter demographic. The unrest mainly driven by economic and social issues would trigger dissatisfaction from one or more political groups as well as agitations from citizens impacted by unfavorable conditions such as unemployment, poor governance, inflation and rampant corruption scandals increasing the likelihood of violence in the country. Studies showed that 9.8% of the 265 total civil unrest cases were attributed to electoral violence while the 346 recorded fatalities from civil unrest cases across the 6 geopolitical zones of the country was an accumulation of data before and after the 23 February 2019 Presidential Election. Reports indicate state elections were also regarded as more violent and deadly than federal elections. This aligned with threats of insecurity which were predominant in the Southern and Northern parts of the country, with the most dangerous areas being. Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Benue, Bayelsa, Lagos, Kogi, Ogun and Kano. On the other hand, Rivers, Taraba, Delta and Abia states recorded the highest number of election-related violence. In Nigeria, the main reasons for the increase in insecurity during the election period have been connected to the profitable nature of politics and the well-known fact of affluence embedded in political positions. There are also claims that terrorist groups and organized crime syndicates have high stakes in the processes of the electoral system as electoral governance is believed to be susceptible to external coercion or manipulation. The consistency in claims of infractions from past elections raises alarm for the safety of citizens in the upcoming  February and March 2023 elections. During the ongoing campaign and election period, an upsurge in violence has already been reported, with abduction cases on the rise and ethnic, targeted politically motivated attacks, and social violence taking center stage. From IPOB militants in the South to ISWAP terrorists in the northern zone, the fragile nature of the country’s security status poses a threat to peaceful and fair elections. Furthermore, the spike in violence may impact the polls as fear of civil unrest may cause low-voter turnout in various polling stations across Nigeria, creating a conducive environment for altering and influencing the election results. A security crisis within any given country tends to divert attention from the primary focus of higher voter turnout and transparent elections. The unending cycle of violence is one of the recurring features of electoral history that necessitates the involvement of government security forces and governing bodies to invest in programs and initiatives that factor in conflict management initiatives while limiting the power of organized political vigilantism. These initiatives may serve as a precautionary method that could mitigate risks in the upcoming federal election  scheduled for 13 March 2022 and ongoing state elections.  

CORRUPTION

Nigerians are not criminals but why so much crime in Nigeria?

Crime in Nigeria today is at the worst level we have ever seen They say the first step to solving any problem is admitting that there is indeed a problem. There was a lot of social media backlash against President Buhari when he stated during a UK Telegraph interview that Nigerians’ “reputation for criminality has made it hard for them to be “accepted” abroad.”  A lot of Nigerians took to social media to express their displeasure that President Buhari will say such a thing publicly. But if Nigerians take an honest look at the country, we will see that something has gone terribly wrong. A review of security related headlines over the past week revealed stories such as a school headmaster in Kaduna being sacked for taking the lunch meant for hundreds of students, and selling it for his personal gain. There was another major headline about EFCC recovering $1 million from a newly built septic tank in the home of a retired military personnel who pilfered funds meant for weapons for thousands of Nigerian military troops. Corruption, crime and blatant disregard for law appear to be ingrained in just about every facet of society. An everyday example has to do with road traffic laws. Many Nigerian motorists simply disregard driving rules. Okada riders frequently drive against traffic unhindered, Danfo buses stop in the middle of the roads unopposed, and pedestrians disregard the pedestrian bridges, choosing instead to sprint across the expressway. Perpetrators of this act do so because there is nothing and no one is stopping them from doing so. Reverse the criminal culture There was a story this week about a kidnapping syndicate that was busted in Imo state. The kidnappers said that poor socio-economic conditions drove them into kidnapping. One of the kidnappers stated that after his first successful kidnap for ransom operation, he “was able to save enough money to buy a Lexus Jeep. And to show his friends in Lagos that he was doing well” He said, “I travelled down with the vehicle and as expected, they were excited and very happy for me”. No one questioned how he was able to afford a luxury vehicle in such a short period of time or afford a luxury vehicle with no legitimate job. Back in the day, every new item that surfaced in a home had to be explained. If a child brought home a ruler that wasn’t bought by his parents, his parents would diligently inquire how the ruler was acquired. If it was found to be taken without permission, his parents would personally drag the child by the ears to the home of the rightful owner of the ruler. But today, ill gotten wealth is glorified. Beneficiaries of ill gotten wealth are highly rewarded within the society. Parents, kinsmen, elders and communities need to restore morals to the Nigerian society, this will go along way in reducing crime in Nigeria. Nigerian youths need to understand that poor socioeconomic conditions are no excuse to turn to a life of crime, and one of the ways the government can do this is to ensure that rules are enforced. Law enforcement in Nigeria is below average at best and a number of Nigerians have grown up believing that they can circumvent or completely disregard societal laws and get away with it. The belief or narrative that poor socio-economic conditions justify criminal acts needs to be put to an end. Some of these individuals end up going to other countries attempting to do the same thing and meet with effective law enforcement and persecution. In order for crime in Nigeria to reduce , the government must run an effective an effective police force. Law Enforcement Unfortunately, the Nigerian police is unable to carryout effective law enforcement for two key reasons, first, they are underfunded and second, they are understaffed; the latter partly being as a result of the former. Back in August 2015, the government stated that it would begin the recruitment of extra 10,000 policemen into the force to help boost law enforcement around the country. Well over the past week, the IGP stated that lack of funds had delayed police recruitment. Most veterans of the Nigerian Police Force will agree that this lack of funds issue has always plagued the force. Reports indicate that hundreds of police divisions under the 37 commands of the Nigeria Police have no budgets to run their offices. Budgit’s breakdown of the Nigerian Police Force’s 2015 budget, revealed that if split evenly, each police station was left with an average of N1.3m to run the station’s utility bills, fueling costs, car maintenance and so on, for the entire year! Former Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola while referencing the need for the creation of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund stated that “in a 2,000 strong squad to protect 18 million people at the time, they had only 37 rifles. This scenario is pretty much the situation of the whole country. Funds allocated to the police get watered down as it moves from the disbursing ministry to the police commands. Lack of funds as a result of corruption has affected Nigeria’s ability to run effective law enforcement. Corruption and Funds Some Nigerians are already getting impatient with the current administration’s fight against corruption. President Buhari has come under a lot of criticism recently for being too focused on corruption and security and not diverting more of his focus on the national budget. Others are quick to attack the president for being bold enough to point out how the current culture of impunity in Nigeria is affecting our reputation around the world. Unfortunately, all these areas are intertwined. Diminishing corruption in Nigeria will lead to the country having enough resources to run more effective law enforcement agencies which in turn will help develop a law abiding culture, and eradicate crime in Nigeria. The bottom line is that Nigerian youths are growing up in a society that puts more emphasis on wealth and less

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