Toxic-terrorism on Africa by Americans and Europeans

All through 14th to 19th of April 2010, virtually all the Nigerian

newspapers were awash with the news emanating from the Nigeria Ports

Authority, NPA, and the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, that they have

arrested and detained a Maersk Line vessel, 'MV Nashiville,' filled

with toxic waste; the crew and the agents were also arrested and

detained, pending investigation. The vessel, according to the reports,

actually arrived in the country on 9th April, 2010 and discharged some

of its contents at the Federal Ocean Terminal at Onne in Rivers State.

It was also learnt that the vessel left Onne and arrived Lagos on 11

April, 2010, and that the NPA allowed it to berth at Berth 7B. But the

vessel reportedly met its waterloo following a memo from the National

Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, to

the NPA, which in turn alerted security agencies at the port.

In the vessel from hell, it was noted that among other things, 70

storage (lead) batteries classified as Basel codeA1180 and broken

televisions were havened in it. The vessel was reportedly operated by

American President Lines, APL, a wholly owned subsidiary of a

Singapore based Neptune Orient Lines. Nigerians were told that the

arrested were at the intelligence unit of the Tin-Can Island Command

of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS.
However, this was the same manner in 1988 that over 3,500 tonnes of

toxic waste were dumped at Koko in Delta State, by the Calbert

brothers in the United States who were reported to be very good and

had a knack in dumping waste anywhere they deemed of interest,

especially Africa. That toxic waste dumped at Koko caused sicknesses

and deaths among Nigerians.
There was a report in the Nigerian newspapers credited to the Calbert

brothers, from their office in New Jersey, that "they falsified

documents to beat the American government by labelling drums of

hazardous waste as AID products from the government's USAID, with the

logo of handshakes signifying friendship, they sent toxic waste to

Zimbabwe. When they were nabbed and tried, they told a stunned court

that they saw nothing in shipping waste out of their backyard

(industries) in America into Africa."
Notwithstanding, it was a devil-incarnate businessman called

Gianfranco Rafaelli who dumped the toxic waste at Koko after

approaching a 67-year-old Sunday Nana to acquire a "piece of land to

dump what he claimed was raw materials for his industry". It was later

discovered that Rafaelli was havening, at Koko, 8,000 drums of

polychlorinated biphenyl sulphate (PCBS), methyl melamine, dimethyl

ethyl-acetate formaldehyde etc., which were the world's most hazardous

wastes. This caused Nigerian government then under the leadership of

General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) and the Italian government

diplomatic mishap because before Nigeria could say Jack Robinson,

Rafaelli was nowhere to be found in Nigeria. Nigeria was so angry: the

toxic wastes were shipped back to Italy.

''We were paid 10 naira a day to work unloading the barrels,'' said

Nana's neighbour named Daniel, who was found around Mr. Nana's

compound in rubber thongs.
In the same manner the runaway Rafaelli's toxic wastes were shipped

back to Italy without the government then doing anything to nail the

culprit, which perhaps signifies that there was something fishy

between the government and the “mad man” that didn't meet the eyes;

the government of Nigeria under the leadership of Ag President

Goodluck Jonathan is asking that the controversial Maersk Line vessel

be shipped back to Netherlands.
By 21st of April, 2010, Nigerian Newspapers reported that: The

controversial Maersk Line vessel, M. V Nashville, alleged to have

brought in toxic waste into Nigeria has been given clearance to sail

back to the Netherlands, her country of loading, with the particular

container believed to contain the waste.
Vanguard newspapers disclosing this said, Wednesday, Customs Area

Comptroller, CAC, of the Tin-Can Island Port Customs Command said the

Federal Government had ordered the vessel to leave the shores of

Nigeria after the content of a container in the vessel was ascertained

and found not to be industrial waste but used fridges, air

conditioners, heavy duty industrial batteries, tyres and sundry items.

Continuing, Vanguard opined that the container whose number was quoted

as UESU-463595-0 was placed at the bottom part of the vessel, making

it difficult for officials of National Environmental Standards and

Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, to fish it out from the

vessel. Officers and men of the Tin-Can Island Port Command of the

Customs arrested and detained the vessel after the Nigerian Ports

Authority raised an alarm days ahead of the arrival of the vessel.

But no matter what the authorities want Nigerians to believe that the

ship was carrying, why must it come to Nigeria in the first place?

This writer recalls the statement by James Brooke, Special to the New

York Times published July 17, 1988 when unprintable amount of toxic

wastes were dumped at Koko. Brooke said the ship that came to the

delta region of Nigeria meant disruption capable of killing the

natives whose occupation was to sail canoes for fishery.

He wrote: “In this African delta port, where children run barefoot

through oil palm plantations and men pilot dugout canoes through

mangrove swamps, the arrival of a ship from Europe has often meant

disruption.... Escravos and Forcados are the Portuguese words for

slaves and indentured. Today, a collection of steel drums stacked

behind a villager's family compound here speak of the latest trade

with Europe - 10,000 barrels of toxic waste.... As safety laws in

Europe and the United States push toxic disposal costs up to $2,500 a

tonne, waste brokers are turning their attention to the closest,

poorest and most unprotected shores – West Africa. From Morocco to the

Congo, virtually every country on West Africa's coast reports

receiving offers this year from American or European companies seeking

cheap sites to dispose of hazardous waste. Fees offered African

recipients have gone as low as $3 a tonne”.
Brooke quoted a foremost Nigerian journalist condemning the wicked and

callous dump, saying, in a Nigerian magazine, African Concord, Sam

Omatseye wrote: ''That Italy did not contemplate Australia or South

Africa or some other place for industrial waste re-echoes what Europe

has always thought of Africa: A wasteland. And the people who live

there, waste beings''.
Firing squad outlined as the way forward to stop these American and

European waste merchants to Africa, Brooke said: “Outrage is

particularly strong in Nigeria, where officials now warn that people

caught importing toxic waste will face the firing squad”.

He further quoted Duro Onabule who was the government spokesperson in

1988: ''We are prescribing the death penalty for any Nigerian, any

foreigner, caught in the act of bringing in toxic waste. There will be

no concession to appeals from foreign governments”.

''It's terrible because Africans are not very aware of the dangers of

toxic wastes. Many of our people are not literate and could easily

become contaminated by the waste,'' in Lagos, Nigeria's Health

Minister, Ransome Olikoye Kuti, said in an interview.

But when a furore erupted over what African newspapers now call

''toxic terrorism,'' both African governments quickly repudiated the

contracts, said Brooke.
''Dozens of letters from angry readers have been inclined to regard

the dumping of toxic wastes as the latest in a series of historical

traumas for the continent,'' read an editorial last month in West

Africa, an English-language weekly. The traumas cited were slavery,

colonialism and unpayable foreign debts.
Similar outrage surfaced in the pages of Jeune Afrique, the region's

largest-circulation French-language magazine: ''It is no longer a

secret for anyone that some African leaders, eager to see their Swiss

bank accounts grow, would not hesitate to transform the African

continent into a garbage dump for industrial wastes from

industrialized countries,'' wrote one reader, Basi Nanchi Ya Rwin-Cin,

a Zaire student.
From Niger, which received offers in May from a Dutch company to store

chemical waste, Adamou Seybou wrote: ''Evidently, the Westerners

explain that these wastes, once buried, will no longer be dangerous.

If that's true, why aren't they happy to bury the wastes in their own

This writer maintained in his article entitled “Toxic Waste Dumping:

Africa At The Mercy Of God” published in February 14th 2007, in print

and electronic media, amongst other things, we cannot forget in a

hurry that a ship called Kian Sea carried 2,000,000 tonnes of

Philadelphia Ash from Panama to Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. Benin

Republic was reported to have “had a contract on January 12, 1988,

with a British company affiliated to South Africa to dump about five

million tonnes of waste yearly. Benin Republic was expected to receive

a ridiculous fee of $2.50 per tonne from Sesio Gibraltar, the company

behind the deal, despite the fact that in the developed world, more

than $5,000 would have been charged per tonne of waste". This writer

is not in any way subscribing to such negotiation, of any amount.

“Rather, the West should stop taking advantage of the ceaseless wars

in African countries to ship waste to us sometimes tagged

'aid-relief'. If not that African leaders are like the sleeping dog,

one wonders why the West would always be on the escape side when

nabbed on this act. There is no amount of money paid to a nation as

'ransom' that would bring back a dead man.
“The United Nations and African leaders should help Africa by enacting

'strict' laws, preferably the death penalty, which would prevent these

waste merchants from shipping these unwanted wastes into Africa.

Africa, from the beginning, has suffered untold terrorism from the

West,” this writer also posited in the said article.

While the Maersk Line vessel was allowed to sail back from Nigeria to

the Netherlands with the toxic content, it's imperative to say that

Americans and Europeans should henceforth stop shipping toxic wastes

to Africa. If it were Africans that are into this devilish trade,

Americans and Europeans would have been crying loud. White men should

allow Africans a breathing space. They have all through history been

humiliating and causing untold hardship on the Black race. Americans

and Europeans can't because some African countries are very poor and

continue to tempt Africans with their “blood” money for dumping of

suicidal wastes in the continent. This is terrorism.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Media Consultant based in Rivers State,

Nigeria; and the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA). Mobile:

+2348032552855. Email: [email protected]com

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Articles by Odimegwu Onwumere