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Friday, 22 September 2017

PMB: THEORY AND PRACTICE OF IGBO MARGINALIZATION BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO


With mouths aghast, millions of Nigerians and friends of Nigeria from around the globe watched as President Muhammadu Buhari granted his first most important international media interview and made a frightening disclosure.
This was barely weeks after he was inaugurated on may 29th 2015 when he honored an invitation extended to him by the then United States' president Mr. Barack Obama.
Surrounded by his handpicked ‘kitchen’ cabinet members made up of largely his Fulani and Muslim ethno -religious cousins and nephews, the newly minted Nigerian president who was once a military leader hinted about what has emerged as his theory of marginalization of the Igbo speaking people of Nigeria.
When asked by a broadcast journalist how he would preside over the affairs of the Nigerian state as the elected president, the unsmiling Buhari wasted no time in stating that the South East of Nigeria will be treated with the short end of the stick in terms of redistribution of offices and possibly the sharing of the proverbial national cake. 
This statement in itself is highly unconstitutional because the redistribution of national wealth and offices have been so well arranged in the constitution for a seamless enforcement except the political leader decides to willfully violate these critical provisions.
In that interview in Washington Dc, Muhammadu Buhari revealed that the North and South West geopolitical entities which gave him 95 percent votes will get more political benefits during his presidency than the South East which only gave him 5 percent.
The president has since made good his vows which substantially violates constitutional norms but he proceeded without giving any thoughts to the agitations for fundamental redress of these stark imbalances.
We will return shortly to provide empirical evidence to back up the aforementioned claims of systematic marginalization and systematic exclusion and deliberate alienation of the Igbo speaking section of Nigeria during Buhari’s administration.
First, let us explore briefly certain key constitutional foundations which make it imperative that the Nigerian president must be fair and just to all constituencies.
Having said the above, the most coherent flow of this conversation will continue from the fountain of legal knowledge of a reputable constitutional scholar in Nigeria by name Dr. Tunji Abayomi.
Abayomi wrote a book titled “Constitutional powers and duties of the president"  and in it he expressed the unambiguous view that whosoever is elected a Nigerian president is the president for all constituencies.
“For the purpose of election to the office of the president, the entire nation is the constituency for the election under section 132(4)."
This simple provision extends the source of the authority of the president beyond regions, zones, states or local constituent areas to the entire Federation, says Abayomi.
The provision extends the executive authority of the president to total domestic affairs and domestic leadership within the geographical territory of Nigeria, including the coverage of his orders within constitutional grounds. Section 5(1) invests in the president the executive powers. But it is section 132(4) ...by emerging from the exercise of the votes of a national constitutency, whether in favour or against, he becomes chief national representative of the people within the nation or any other government of the nation, as well as against other nations within foreign affairs."
Importantly, the president upon assumption of office is taken through the ritual of oath taking to pledge allegiance to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The wordings of this presidential oath goes to show that the holder is expected to live above board and must handle the affairs of state as a nationalist and not a regionalist or a religious bigot.
The presidential oath as enshrined in the 1999 constitution can be found in the seventh schedule in which the following binding pledges are made under a sacred
It oath by the holder of the office of the president.goes thus:"...AS President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will strive to preserve the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions...."
Knowing man to be very imperfect and quick to forget, the drafters of the Nigerian constitution also inserted a binding provision to take care of the Federal character nature of the appointments to be made by the president in order to create balance and a sense of belonging.
In section 14(3) the constitution provides that : “(3) The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
The current president has clearly violated his presidential oath of office and the Federal character principle because he has completely excluded the Igbo speaking people from top Defence and political appointments with the exception of the ministerial positions which is provided for that he must assign a minister per state of the Federation in section 147(3) of the constitution.
In other words, apart from the appointments of ministers which is clearly stated, all other appointments made so far has violated the Federal character principle and has excluded the Igbo speaking people.
Take for instance, the fact that Igbo speaking people by topography are restricted to only five states, but by demography Igbo speaking people constitute a significant majority and therefore must not be excluded in such strategic positions as are found or recognised in the Constitution to govern the Defence sector. Apart from exclusion of Igbo in the appointment of military service chiefs, there is no single strategic national assets of the military located in the South East of Nigeria.
Therefore, the attempt made yesterday in London by the Kaduna state governor to deny a clear case  of marginalization of Igbo based on nomination of ministers in president Buhari’s cabinet did very little to justify this brazen illegality.
There is no justification to say that a tribal group that constitute one of the very clear demographical majorities is singled out and excluded in the formation of the key national military appointments. This is wrong and unconstitutional.
But the governor of Kaduna state tried to justify the exclusion when he delivered a lecture at Chatham House on restructuring titled ‘Next Generation Nigeria: What Is Restructuring And Does Nigeria Need It?’
As reported by Daily trust, he explained that four of the five states in the zone had senior ministers in federal cabinet despite the fact that they gave the APC government just about five per cent of votes in the 2015 presidential election.
"Some states including Kaduna, which gave the party more than 90 per cent of votes, only have junior ministers (ministers of state), "he said.
To put a clear lie to any futile attempt to justify the exclusion by Buhari of Igbo people from strategic defence and political positions, let us just look at the appointments made so far by this administration.
An online newspaper had reported on August 28th 2015 that since the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he has made 35 appointments.
Here, according to Premium Times is a list of all Buhari’s appointments till date: 1. Aide de Camp to president: Lt. Col Abubakar Lawal, [Kano State, North-West and husband to President Buhari’s foster daughter]; 2. Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the president: Femi Adesina, [Osun State, South-West]; Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity: Garba Shehu, [Kano State, North-West].
Others are; State Chief of Protocol/Special Assistant (Presidential Matters): Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure, [Jigawa State, North-West]; Accountant General of the Federation: Ahmed Idris [Kano State, North-West];National Security Adviser: Babagana Monguno [Borno State, North-East]; Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonishakin, [Ekiti State, South-West]; Chief of Army Staff: Tukur Buratai, [Borno State, North-East]; Chief of Naval Staff: Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, [Cross Rivers, South-South]; Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, [Bauchi State, North-East]; Chief of Defence Intelligence: Monday Riku Morgan [Benue State, North-Central]; Director General, State Security Services, SSS: Lawal Daura, [Katsina State, North-West].
Others are then Acting Chairperson, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Amina Zakari, [Jigawa State, North-West] who is related biologically to Buhari before he also picked the Northerner as substantive chairman in the person Professor Mahmood Yakubu.
Other appointments  as at when Premium Times reported are; Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA: Habibu Abdulahi [Kano State, North-West]; Special Adviser, Niger Delta Amnesty Office: Paul Boroh, [Bayelsa State, South-South]; Acting Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration, Safety and Security Agency, NIMASA: Baba Haruna Jauro [Yobe State, North-East] before he allowed his Transportation minister to nominate his political acolyte Dakuku Peterside as DG.
Other key appointments are Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission: Umaru Dambatta [Kano State, North-West]; Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS: Babatunde Fowler, [Lagos State, South-West]; Director General, Budget Office of the Federation: Aliyu Gusau, [Zamfara State, North-West]; Group Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Emmanuel Kachikwu, [Delta State, South-South]; Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, [ Adamawa, North East]; Chief of Staff to the President: Abba Kyari, [Borno, North-East]; Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service: Hameed Ibrahim Ali, [Kaduna State, North-Central]; Comptroller-General, Nigerian Immigration Service: Kure Martin Abeshi, [Nasarawa State, North-Central].
From that time till now, Buhari had made over 100 top level appointments and the North have taken over 80% of these slots including nearly 90% of all the top 30 appointments into the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC). The President has left out the Igbo speaking population of Nigeria in all of these major appointments. 
The exclusion of Igbo by Buhari reminds me of how the United States of America maltreated blacks when they suffered the natural disaster in New Orleans.
 "In September of 2005, a devastating “category four” hurricane hit the Gulf coast of the United States The levees that protected the city of New Orleans, which is below sea level, were breached, and massive flooding followed, leaving 80 percent of the city under water. In the days that followed, the national press featured images of masses of impoverished African Americans, residents of New Orleans, huddled and waiting, and sometimes screaming, for help".
"...But the population of the city was overwhelming black, and poor. The median income was only 70 percent of the national average... the earnings of some poor people, had been whittled away for several decades, and especially under the presidency of George W. Bush. The schools were bad, with high dropout and suspension rates, and the illiteracy rate of the city hovered at about 40 percent. Homicide rates were extraordinarily high, roughly ten times those of New York City".
"The marginalized were again ignored even as the storm approached and evacuation orders were issued."
"As events unfolded, a contest of sorts emerged over how the public should view the victims. Right-wing bloggers and some of the press tried to demonize the victims, portraying the crowds of evacuees as a riotous mob, stressing incidents of violence, theft, and rape...."
"Processes of marginalization in American society afford an extraordinarily illuminating window on American society as a whole, on its economy, its culture, and its politics..."(marginalization and American politics by Francis Fox Piven).
These narratives of systematic marginalization of black Americans are exactly the same kind of maltreatment Igbo speaking nationality face under Buhari.
 Take for instance, armed Fulani herdsmen have been on rampage killing, maiming and destroying farming communities and seizing these lands from the owners but Buhari's government has looked the other way as resisted calls from diverse opinion leaders to declare these killers as terrorists and go after them but this same government said these killers classified in World ranking as one of the most potent Global terror networks are mere criminals. But the Buhari's government hurriedly branded as terrorists the members of the unarmed self determination group known as Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
If these aren't injustices what then is the definition of justice?
* Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blogs @www.emmanuelonwubiko.comwww.huriwa@blogspot.com.



Wednesday, 20 September 2017

THE LEADERSHIP CURSE OF SOUTH EAST BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO



The coming of democracy or civil rule in Nigeria in 1999 has thrown open a can of worms and indeed exposed the varying degrees of rapid deterioration of political leadership.
The above assertion is not to invalidate the rich literature that speaks about spectacular leadership failures in all facets of Nigeria since after the colonial rulers left for their United Kingdom’s homeland.
For instance, in the second Republic, a globally acclaimed Novelist and writer Professor Chinua Achebe had authored a book “The trouble with Nigeria” in which he rightly argued that Nigeria is accursed with poor and bad leadership. 

Professor Achebe of the blessed memories stated that the Nigerian geography or climate is not the source of worry but that leadership failure presents the worst kind of problems occasioning the crippling of development of the country.

Again, long before the book aforementioned, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and a host of other excellent writers had also written lots of books on how messy Nigeria’s leadership profile had assumed even in the first Republic or soon after the political independence in 1960. 
In all of these scenarios, the military which frequently seized political power have contributed in the deterioration of leadership qualities at play in the polity.

So it can safely be argued that Nigeria’s leadership troubles predates the advent of civil rule in 1999.
This is because the processes that characterized the introduction of the extant grund norm(1999 Constitution) were shrouded in lots of conspiratorial manipulations suggesting that the military rulers handpicked the writers of that constitution to insert and import lots of provisions that completely favours a particular zone of the country which is the North from where most of the top military rulers originated in the over 30 years of military interventions in politics.
For instance the sharing formular of federally generated revenues is in such a distorted status that some states from where the crude oil resources are derived aren't adequately compensated. 
But the birth of elective government in 1999 also delivered the unforeseen issues of electoral manipulations by godfathers who have consistently imposed their surrogates in offices in the different levels both at the state and Federal level. 

The worst affected region or geopolitical zone of the Nigerian state is the South East of Nigeria whereby these rash of impositions of bad politicians as office holders, have progressively denied majority of the people living in the South East of Nigeria, of the benefits that usually comes from good governance, accountability and sustainable development.

There seems to be a peculiar kind of leadership curse in such places as Imo , Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu most especially. 
Anambra may have escaped some of these adversarial leadership curses because   evidence abounds to demonstrate that in the last 16 years, Anambra state has been lucky to have elected quality political statesmen to steer their ship of state. 

Although the good people of Anambra state still complain of certain manifestations by the Political leadership such as lack of proper accountability as a big challenge. 
For instance, Peter Obi was governor for eight years and handed over to his successor Mr Willy Obiano and left lots of cash to the credit of the state treasury. 
Soon after the transition of power, stories started trending of alleged misapplication of these huge amounts left behind by Peter Obi and the pace of infrastructural development can not justify the uses to which these massive resources saved for Anambra state by Peter Obi was put into by his successor.

The poor quality of governance in the entirety of South East of Nigeria was the fundamental reason for the growth of youth restiveness and agitations for self determination. The larger issue of marginalization of the South East of Nigeria is also very fundamental in giving rise to overwhelming agitation for self determination. But since charity begins at home, there is a general perception that the bad state of governance in the entirety of South East of Nigeria is the single largest factor that instigates youth restiveness and the clamour for independence since there is a general perception that even from the center the sharing formula of the national cake doesn't favour the South East which has fewer number of local government areas and states unlike the other two equally dominant Ethnicities of Yoruba and Hausa. The Constitution which was written by the Sani Abacha's military dictatorship made local government areas as the basis for sharing of allocations generated federally notwithstanding the level of endowments found in the states with fewer local area councils created by successive military dictators. Then again, even the allocations coming into South East of Nigeria in trillions are simply pocketed by the Political class and taken away to other countries for private safe keepings of the politicians whilst the millions of ordinary citizens of South East of Nigeria wallow in want, poverty and lack of development.  
Because the millions of young persons from the SouthEast of Nigeria who graduate from schools and can't easily find jobs in either the public or private sectors, these restive and alienated young persons then chose to demand accountability. 
Some of them also lost hope in the ability of the existing political structures and persons to be able to steer the South East of Nigeria away from failed infrastructures and lack of good governance. Mind you, the old Eastern region suffered devastations from the bombing campaign waged for 30 months by the federal forces and their allies from the West against the then Biafra Republic. The end of the war in 1970 did not lead to reconstruction and rebuilding of the destroyed privately built assets and public infrastructures.  
So they (youth) then saw an openning in the message of liberation being preached by the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu who schooled in the United Kingdom and got the inspiration to put the platform of IPOB into use as a vehicle to achieve independent self governing process for the South East of Nigeria. 
There are serious issues of total lack of openness, transparency and accountability in the South East. 

Governors of the South East have since 1999 failed to grow the local economies of their states. South East States have since 1999 failed to improve the quality of social services to the people despite the huge revenues accruing to them from the Federation accounts monthly.
 In 2004, Imo state got N55,909,252,893.81 while Abia state got N47,673,976,707.47. 

To what use then did the governors put these huge allocations? 
These States can't even pay the few persons that are working as genuine civil servants their salaries nor have they been able to offset the huge wage bills owed to pensioners. 
South East of Nigeria does not have effectively functional manufacturing sector apart from Anambra State. 

Imo state in the last 7 years has seen the closing down of many of such manufacturing firms and even state owned businesses and the state is littered with several poorly constructed state roads projects. 
The leadership failure in the South East of Nigeria steers you in the eyes and if you have conscience you will then ask where all the federal allocations to the South East of Nigeria have disappeared into given the severe infrastructures' deficits afflicting the Zone.
We will return to discuss the circumstances that gave legitimacy and popularity to the liberation messages that IPOB brought but first let's in a brief presentation demonstrate how so poor the quality of political leadership has become to an extent that we are compelled in this piece to affirm that indeed the South East of Nigeria has a leadership curse that must be exorcised by one way or the other especially now that those reactionary jackboot forces have driven underground the liberation  movement that was hitherto championed by Nnamdi Kanu and his Worlwide group known as Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB).  

The consistent failures of South East governors have compelled this writer to make inquiry into the nature and functions of man vis-a-vis the teachings of one of the earliest fathers of philosophy-Aristotle.  
Aristotle asks, “Are we then to suppose that while carpenter and cobbler have certain works and courses of action, Man as Man has none, but is left by Nature without work?” Or, if “the eye, hand, foot and in general each of the parts evidently has a function , may one lay it down that man similarly has a function apart from all these?” 
Surely, man too has a distinctive mode of activity, but what is it? Here Aristotle analyzes man’s nature in order to discover his unique activity, saying, first of all, that man’s end “is not mere life,” because that plainly is shared with him even by vegetables, and, says Aristotle, “we want what is peculiar to him.” 

Samuel Enoch Stumpf who analytically presented these Aristotelian thoughts in his scholarly book, also stated tgat next there is the life of sensation, “but this again manifestly is common to horses, oxen and every animal.” 

There remains then “an active life of the element that has a rational principle…if the function of man is an activity of soul which follows or implies a rational principle…then the human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue…”
Aristotle said human action should aim at its proper end. Everywhere men aim at pleasure, wealth, and honor. 
But none of these ends, though they have value, can occupy the place of the chief good for which man should aim. 

In his wisdom, Aristotle reasoned that in order to be an ultimate end an act must be self- sufficient and final, “That which is always desirable in it-self and never for the sake of something else” and it must be attainable by man. 
Aristotle seems certain that all men will agree that happiness is the end that alone meets all the requirements for the ultimate end of human action. 

Indeed, we choose pleasure, wealth, and honour only because we think that “through their instrumentality we shall be happy. 
“Happiness, it turns out, is another word or name for good, for like good, happiness is the fulfillment of our distinctive function; or, as Aristotle says “Happiness…is a working of the soul in the way of excellence or virtue…”

This brings us to the question of why South East of Nigeria is so cursed with bad leaders?
 Is it that the Political class of the South East of Nigeria that dominates the Political scene for now are not men enough to lead their States to economic Eldorado so as to ultimately deliver happiness to the greatest percentage of the people of the South East of Nigeria?
This writer therefore is challenging the upcoming political class especially those who aspire to lead from 2019 in the South East of Nigeria to imbibe such exemplary redemptive qualities that the United States born black Brain Surgeon Ben Carson is known for.  
As one of the few Brain Surgeons in the USA, Dr. Ben Carson is known for thriving in difficult cases. 

He has had experiences in participating and leading highly complex brain surgeries that defies common appreciation of the human mind. 
He is such an uncommon medical doctor of excellence. 
In one of his books titled 'Take the Risk-learning to identify, choose, and live with acceptable risk", Dr Carson narrated some of his many medical feats which demanded courage. 
He believes that life itself is a risky business. 

He wrote that there was a particular surgery that he handled but affirmed that the complications started almost as soon as the surgery did. The person being operated is called Miranda. 
Carson wrote thus: "Miranda’s brain was so inflamed that anywhere an instrument touched it, she began to bleed". 

"We kept calling for more and more blood from the blood bank. Gradually I eased away the left hemisphere of her brain, cutting away tissue and cauterizing blood vessels as we went. Finally we were done. We sewed her skull back into place and sutured her scalp back over the wound. We’d successfully removed the entire left half of Miranda’s brain."

"Not only was it one of the most difficult operations of my career up to that point, it was also one of the longest. We had planned on five hours at the operation table. It took ten. By the time we finished, we had replaced almost twice Miranda’s blood volume- nine pints in all."
Carson continued: "Now all we could do was wait. Would she walk or talk again? I watched for the slightest sign of movement. The anesthesiologist unhooked the ventilator, so at least she was breathing on her own. A nurse called her name. Nothing. I felt confident she would wake up soon, but I couldn’t be certain."

"I followed the gurney as we wheeled her out of the ward. When her parents heard us coming down the hall, Mrs. Francisco called out; “wait” The two of them ran to meet us. After Mrs. Francisco bent down and kissed her daughter, Miranda’s eyes flicked open for just a second. “I love you, mommy and daddy,” she said.

"Her parents wept. A nurse shouted, “She talked!” I stood in amazement. We have removed half of this little girl’s brain, the dominant half that controlled her speech. Yet she talked. She could hear. She could think. She could respond. As she lay there on that gurney in the hallway, she even began to move the right arm and her right leg.Unbelievable!" (TAKE THE RISK…Learning to identity, choose, and live with acceptable risk By Ben Carson with Gregg Lewis).
This story is just like what is at play in the South East of Nigeria. 
The political office holders have messed up the place. The South East yearns for genuine transformation of leadership. 

They (politicians) have robbed the people of their shares of the National cake and the South East of Nigeria lays desolate. 
There is little or no functional infrastructures in place which exists in other states built by their governors. South East of Nigeria suffers from systemic and deliberate marginalization from the Nigerian state which refuses to locate any strategic governmental assets in the zone such as Refineries even when the Zone is crude oil rich but a place like Kaduna without crude oil has had crude oil refinery. In the South East of Nigeria the cost of living is high due to poor state of infrastructure. The farmers hardly enjoy credit facilities. The Federal government has not built a single dam to help farmers during dry seasons.

Farmers who are left alone to work under adverse situations are attacked by armed Fulani herdsmen but the governors are timid and lack courage to protect their people. 
Abuja is headed by Muhammadu Buhari who doesn't give a damn about the South East of Nigeria. 

The federal lawmakers from the South East of Nigeria have made no impacts to bring about development to the South East of Nigeria. 
Now these non-performing political class conspired with Abuja to bring in soldiers on operation python dance 11 since last week to last for one month to chase away the group known as Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) whose leadership posed formidable challenge to the lethargic and cursed leadership of the South East. Effectively, South East of Nigeria is under military siege for one month. 

The South East governors illegally proscribed the activities of this liberation movement alleging that they constituted danger to national unity but the real millions of ordinary Citizens of the South East of Nigeria have identified with the liberation messages of this group to an extent that the action of the governors to ban IPOB has received global condemnation. 
The thievery of fund belonging to the South East of Nigeria by political office holders constitute grave challenge to national security. Sadly, section 308(1) of the military's midwifed constitution provides these thieving politicians immunity from prosecution whilst they are in office.
The South East of Nigeria is like the patient with political brain tumour that requires the resilience of a brave surgeon to correct the abnormalities. 
As the next polls draw near, let the people of South East of Nigeria obtain their voters cards and show deeper interest in the political process so as to bring in only committed statesmen that would restore confidence in the people by working to deliver services to the people. 
Let 2019 bring to an end the years of the locusts in the South East of Nigeria. 

The ball is our court.

* Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blogs@www.emmanuelonwubiko.comwww.huriwa@blogspot.com.

300 tonnes of diseased pig carcasses – the latest example of China's pollution crisis


Stomach-churning symbols of the environmental calamity facing China have never been in short supply: exploding watermelonstoxic running tracksrivers that flow the colour of blood.
Now, the world’s number one polluter brings you: porcine mass graves.
That was the foul-smelling surprise environmental inspectors unearthed in the eastern province of Zhejiang last month during an inspection linked to Beijing’s much-vaunted war on pollution.
On the rural outskirts of the city of Huzhou officials found a clandestine burial site where the carcasses of tens of thousands of diseased pigs had been illegally interred. 
The anonymous whistleblower who alerted officials to the crime said it was not clear quite how many putrefying pigs had been buried. “But there must be so many as the stink was so strong that it caused several excavation workers to throw up,” they were quoted as saying by the Chinese magazine Caixin.
China’s official news agency, Xinhua, said about 300 tonnes of diseased pig carcasses were thought to have been dumped in the area. The whistleblower told Caixin he suspected tens of thousands of dead animals lay beneath the soil. Since excavations began on 30 August, more than 220 tonnes of animal remains have reportedly been brought to the surface.
Reports in China’s state-run media suggested locals had spent years complaining about a rancid and mysterious stench that lingered around their homes. But word of the problem appears only to have reached the environment ministry’s ears last month. 
Five suspects who worked for a local medical and industrial waste disposal company were detained on suspicion of burying the diseased animals on the slopes of Zhejiang’s Dayin mountain.
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Xinhua tried to play down the risks posed by the dead animals. “No human-infecting pig diseases, such as H5 and H7 bird flu viruses and foot-and-mouth disease” were found in samples tested by the authorities, it reported. But Caixin said that authorities had yet to test local waterways and a reservoir for possible contamination. Residents of one village, Qingcaowu, had started drinking bottled water for fear that residue from the graves might have reached their source of drinking water.
“Once the carcasses decay, pollutants will certainly make their way into the soil and the reservoir,” one resident said. The villager spoke on condition of anonymity since authorities had reportedly ordered locals not to speak to journalists about the incident.
China’s smog-choked skies – which some blame for up to one million premature deaths each year – are by far the best documented aspect of its environmental crisis. But activists say water and soil pollution represent equally severe, if less immediately visible threats.
In 2012 one senior official admitted that 20% of Chinese rivers were absolutely toxic. According to the Economist, a 2014 government survey found that 250,000 sq km – an area equivalent to all of Mexico’s arable farmland – had been contaminated by pollutants including lead, cadmium and arsenic.
In Zhejiang, Caixin said drone footage seen by its reporters showed the grim clean-up operation that was now under way. Workers in protective clothing could be seen lifting black objects, thought to be decayed pig carcasses, from several large pits. The objects were then loaded into cardboard boxes that were taken away for cremation. A photograph showed one official surveying the putrid scene: his right hand held a camera with which he was documenting the mass grave, his left was clasped over his nose to protect it from the stench. 
FROM THE DESK OF ANIMAL RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA

More than 4,000 livestock die in export trade over six months, report says



 Australia’s live export trade has seen 4,000 sheep and over 500 cattle die in the first half of 2017. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters
Nearly 4,000 sheep and more than 500 cattle died while being shipped overseas in the first half of 2017, a report tabled to federal parliament has said.
One particularly deadly voyage, where almost 100 cattle died on an eight-day trip, is under investigation by the Department of Agriculture and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
According to the report, tabled on Thursday, almost 777,000 sheep were loaded in Australia for export between last December and June this year, and almost 445,000 cattle.

About 0.5% of the sheep (3,839) were lost, and 0.12% (522) of cattle.
In April, almost 100 out of 1,236 cattle died on an eight-day trip from Darwin to Malaysia and Brunei. 90 were euthanised as a result of slipping.
It was the first voyage of a new livestock vessel, which has now had its Australian certificate revoked. The ship cannot be used for export again until it obtains a valid certificate.
“The mortality rate for this consignment was 7.79%, exceeding the reportable level of 0.5% for voyages less than 10 days,” the report said.
FROM THE DESK OF ANIMAL RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA