Residents of Port Harcourt and other parts of Rivers State have decried the worsening emissions of black substances called soot in the atmosphere, with many flooding the social media with pictures of black coloured feet, hands, cars and houses.
This is as residents of the state renew calls for the state and federal government to tackle the deadly air pollution, expressing fears for their health and wellbeing.
One of the residents who spoke to our correspondent said, “I am experiencing the (black) soot every day. The painful part of it is that after talking like this, we don’t see any action from the government.
“If you go to the villages, nobody is farming again. Nothing is happening there. It is not that the government don’t know about it. The government knows, so why can’t they stop it?
“This soot is a big problem. They should help and stop it.”
A businessman who simply gave his nake as Chijioke said, “Most times if I put my hands in my nose, you will see this black substance coming out.
“This soot has negative effects. I have been having catarrh for a long time now. So we are looking onto the government to help us.”
On his part, a middle aged man said, “I am married with kids. So it is even worse for children because sometimes you see them struggle to breathe while sleeping.
“So, we keep water beside the bed and when they start coughing, we give them water to drink. The health challenge the soot is causing is too much,” he stated.
Our correspondent reports that it has been five years since the soot was first observed in Port Harcourt.
The Rivers State Government has attributed the soot to activities of illegal oil refiners, burning of tyres amongst others.
The State is still without a commissioner for environment about nine months after Governor Nyesom Wike sacked the former occupant of that ministry, Dr. Igbiks Tamuno.
Also a fortnight ago, the Governor sacked Prof. Princewill Chike as the state Commissioner for Health. Like Dr. Tamuno, Prof Chike is yet to be replaced.
Meanwhile, some residents have started signing a petition to raise awareness about the worsening situation of the soot in the state, with over five thousands persons already secured.
One Kenneth Green was said to have started the petition which would be sent to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) and Governor Nyesom Wike for them to take urgent action and end the soot.
One of the signatories, Joy Daminabo said, “I am signing because the soot because it is a health hazard and I would rather live a very long and fulfilled life than die because of something that could have been controlled.”
Another signatory, Mfon Eyoma said “I have many friends and relatives living in Rivers State and what is happening is worse than chain smoking.
“It’s a real shame that these illegal refineries have become a permanent feature of the state under successive government and their joint task forces.This official corruption and gross disrespect for public health must stop.”
Though the wearing of facemasks have suffered relapse despite the new variant of COVID-19, including the deadly Omicron, more conscious people now wear mask because of the soot rather than the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bauchi emir strips ex-speaker Dogara of ‘Jakadan Bauchi’ traditional title
A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has been suspended by the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Adamu, as Jakadan Bauchi.
The suspension was in connection with attacks on the convoys of the Emirs of Bauchi and Dass Alhaji Rilwanu Sulaimanu Adamu and Alhaji Biliyaminu Othman respectively on December 31, 2021, by hoodlums on their way to Mwari for the 21st anniversary of a late leader and crusader, Peter Gonto.
The event caused a sharp division among the Sayawa people with several groups coming out to support the event while others on the other hand, including Dogara, kicked against the event – citing security concerns.
Dogara, then, wrote a letter to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, informing him of security threats if the event is allowed to hold.
But despite the warning, the Bauchi State Commissioner of Police, Umar Sanda, gave approval for the event to hold just as he ordered the full deployment of Police tactical teams to provide security for lives and properties before, during and after the memorial anniversary and book launch of the grandfather of Dogara’s wife.
The attacks on the first-class monarchs was widely condemned in the state with many accusing Dogara of allegedly having a hand in it.
The Bauchi State Government also instituted a case against Dogara and 28 others on January 4, 2022, slamming 11 charges against them.
The Emir of Bauchi while speaking to journalists at a press conference in his palace in Bauchi on Monday, said the suspension is with immediate effect, pending the determination of a case on the matter which indicted Dogara on the attack by court.
He explained that Dogara, who hails from Bogoro and a traditional title holder is suspected to be one of those behind the attacks on the Emirs of Bauchi and Dass.
Adamu who was represented by the Galadiman Bauchi, Sa’idu Jahun, said, “At the recent Council meeting, we reviewed the case again and expressed our dismay one of the sons of the area, a stakeholder and our traditional title holder who was mentioned as one misleading the people and perpetrating the incident.
“More surprisingly, he did not sympathise nor showed any sign of remorse towards what happened to their Royal Highnesses, the Emirs of Bauchi and Dass.
“The Emirate Council therefore decided to suspend his title of Jakadan Bauchi until the determination of the case by the court.”
Gunmen blow up Catholic church in Taraba
Less than 24 hours after terrorists killed three relatives of the village head of Wuro Bokki, in Gassol Local Government Area of Taraba State, an explosive suspected to have been planted by terrorists blew up at the Catholic Chapel of St. John’s College, Mutum-Biyu, the headquarters of Gassol LGA.
The Principal of the College, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Vershima Ikyaan, told that the explosion went up at about 7:20 pm.
He said, “We thank God no life was lost, but the Church has been destroyed. About 10 minutes after the explosion in the school, we started hearing gunshots in the town.
“The youths and some students were holding a programme in the Chapel which doubled as the school hall and had left the premises shortly before the explosion.
“This is a religious premises and if attacks like these are happening to the Church, where will people run to?
“I want to call for a thorough investigation to unravel those behind the attack and the perpetrators brought to book.”
The Taraba State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Abdullahi Usman, confirmed the attack in a telephone interview with our correspondent.
“What happened was that some kidnappers came to kidnap the owner of one filling station in the town, unfortunately for them, they could not achieve their mission.
“In the process of running to escape begin trapped, they started shooting sporadically to escape.
“It was in the process that they threw an explosive into the church to cause fear to enable them to escape. The explosion blew up and caused some damages to the building,” Usman said.