Video of fatal attack on African immigrant shocks Italy, World; Fairfield-based Environmental Journalist, UN Envoy and former CalEPA-DTSC Information Officer whose investigation was the spur for the UN Basel Convention Recalls A Trend Which In 1988 He Foresaw as a Global Threat

Video of fatal attack on African immigrant shocks Italy, World; Fairfield-based Environmental Journalist, UN Envoy and former CalEPA-DTSC Information Officer whose investigation was the spur for the UN Basel Convention Recalls A Trend Which In 1988 He Foresaw as a Global Threat


MILAN: Police in Italy arrested an Italian man in the slaying of a Nigerian vendor whose brutal beating death on a busy beach town thoroughfare was filmed by onlookers without any apparent attempt to intervene physically.

Video footage of the attack has circulated widely on Italian news websites and social media platforms, eliciting outrage as Italy enters a parliamentary election campaign in which the right-wing coalition has already made immigration an issue.

“The murder of Alika Ogorchukwu is dismaying,’’ Enrico Letta, the head of the left-wing Democratic Party, wrote on Twitter, naming the vendor who died Friday. “Unheard of ferocity. Widespread indifference. There can be no justification.”

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My Report for the World.

Original Title in Pitch for The Guardian and Financial Times in 2019 -

How My Expose on The 1988 Koko Tragedy Changed the Dynamics on Environmental Protection in Africa and Hazardous Wastes From The West Still A Clear And Present Danger for Africa

Subtitle — CalSafer

Toxic waste is toxic waste no matter how well it is sugar coated. From old computer frames shipped as e-waste, PCB-laden drums from Chemical plants in Europe and those unregulated female sex toys from Taiwan and Asia, the concern on the deadly impact of these environmental hazards on the environment, children and vulnerable population is real. Even people who clandestinely mix their soiled laundry with that of a clean black man must be labeled environmental scofflaws. And I know that happened with landlords at 472 Woodcrest in Vacaville and 1412 65th Avenue in Sacramento. Could it have happened anywhere else? Time will tell! The important notice is I am clean, straight, unblemished and unscathed! And now the serious concern is that this problem has taken a turn for the worse with environmental hazards flowing from the west toward Africa. Imagine, for instance, a female sexual toy or Medical Device that should have been waste, that ends up in Africa as a weaponized tool for propaganda. And then to hide the evidence they burn them. I only burn paper and old clothes. I have never burnt any hazard like plastic or imported/exported hazards, which could have happened in Delta State between 2016 and 2019.

As the pioneer Public Information Officer, between 2015 and 2018, for the state of California’s Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program, my decades-long environmental advocacy, that started in 1986 with a trip to investigate the deadly Lake Nyos noxious fumes, was put to good use by California, as I became more conscious, up close, of the urgency and importance of environmental protection programs, such as the SCP program, whose main priority is to protect the children and vulnerable population (that includes the deaf and dumb) in the state of California from indoor and outdoor hazardous substances.

But in Africa, where these stringent regulations do not exist there is a clear and present danger, especially for the transboundary shipment of hazardous wastes.

Two years after Lake Nyos in Cameroon I traveled to Pisa, Italy to exclusively investigate the shipment of toxic wastes to African countries, an endeavor which triggered the UN Basel Convention, a law that includes the United States of America!

One of the incidents which led to the creation of the Basel Convention was the Khian Sea waste disposal incident, in which a ship carrying incinerator ash from the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States, dumped half of its load on a beach in Haiti before being forced away.

That vessel sailed for many months, changing its name several times.

Unable to unload the cargo in any port, the crew was believed to have dumped much of their waste at sea.

Of course the one that is of concern to Africa and black people in the diaspora is the 1988 Koko case in which five ships transported 8,000 barrels of hazardous waste from Italy to Koko in Nigeria in exchange for $100 monthly rent which was paid to an illiterate Nigerian for the use of his farmland.

More about Koko, the UN Environment Program and the UN Basel Convention later.

In hindsight now I think it was fortuitous to be the pioneer Information Officer for SCP program which has a special focus on indoor and outdoor pollutants that could be especially hazardous to our children.

I have seen up close in America how environmental hazards, that includes unregulated female sex toys, can be terminally hazardous to minors.

At DTSC I was fortunate to work with lead international environmental experts like Doctor Meredith Williams, who is now the acting director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, Karl Palmer, Deputy Director of the SCP Program and Senior Environmental Scientists at DTSC, Andre Algazi and Daphne Molin. DTSC is one of six sub agencies of CalEPA.

The others are the Department of Pesticide Regulation, CalRecycle, Air Resources Board, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the State Water Resources Control Board.

I collaborated on excellent initiatives to environmentally protect the state of California with other Information Officers from the other five agencies.

And I still provide tips on the environmental protection of California. For instance, I developed a script for the implementation of the GIS ( Geographical Information System ) app which streamlines essential tasks during DTSC disaster response.

An app that is more accurate than Satellite systems.

My high profile work at DTSC ranged from the development and deployment of marketing strategies to ensure the interested and affected public, including industry and consumer groups are aware of DTSC’s pioneering Safer Consumer Products program; the implementation of strategies to identify audiences, communication tools, timing or information releases and the roles and responsibilities of the department’s staff to address audiences within and outside California, the production, and editing of written materials for public distribution.

In addition I also developed talking points and presentation materials and serve as a consultant to program staff on the development of key written materials, Responded to news media inquiries; develop newsworthy ideas about the Safer Consumer Product programs key initiatives, Developed news releases, opinion/editorials (op-ed) pieces, news articles, speeches, presentation and other forms of communication for distribution to news organizations as well as facilitate media awareness of foreign delegations that visited California to understudy the Pioneer SCP program. Tha included delegations from China, Abu Dhabi and New Zealand.

Subtitle — Green Chemistry Law

I was also opportuned to promote the work of the top scientists and business executives, from across the nation, in the state’s innovative Green Ribbon Science panel, after former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger introduced a Green Chemistry Law in 2008.

The Green Ribbon Science Panel acts as a resource and provides advice to the Department of Toxic Substances Control on a variety of scientific and technical matters related to developing green chemistry and chemicals policy recommendations & implementation strategies.

So, after my fortuitous and pioneer work with DTSC what is the takeaway?

That the lack of urgency on environmental protection initiatives is still an extremely serious problem for the developing world and minority population in America.

Think Flint, Michigan!

And then flashback to Koko in 2017 when there was some hazardous dumping in Koko, this time from a local source, and Cote d’ Ivoire in 2006, when the cargo Ship Probo Koala discharged tons of toxic in Abidjan killing 17 people and poisoning thousands more, and you would understand why this issue is a clear and present danger for black people worldwide.

There is no better way to describe how serious this problem is than this assessment from the UN Environment program.

“African nations have long been at the center of incidents involving hazardous waste dumping. From the leaking barrels of toxic waste (PCBs) in Koko , Nigeria in 1988 and the Probo Koala scandal in Côte d’Ivoire in 2006, to the current piles of e-waste threatening the health of West African communities; the continent continues to be disproportionately affected by the dumping of harmful chemical materials,” stated the UN Environment program in a statement issued before the January 30 to 01 February 2018 conference of African States for the second conference of the parties (COP2) to the Bamako Convention, established in 1991 to complement the Basel Convention of 1989.

“We have a collective responsibility to safeguard communities from the environmental and health consequences of hazardous dumping,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive director of UN Environment in a statement before the 2018 Conference. He added, “The creation of regional Public-Private Partnerships could lead to the creation of adequate facilities to manage hazardous waste internally generated in Africa. Previous experiences have led us to establish these international treaties around chemical waste, and together we must ensure they continue to be adhered to.”

In 1988, after Newswatch was exclusively informed of this clandestine trans-Atlantic trade from European nations to the African Continent I was dispatched to Pisa, Italy by my editors for some detective work.

For those who have forgotten, here is what happened in 1988 in Koko, Delta State.

A local farmer Pa Nana was paid by an Italian businessman to dump more than 2,000 drums and containers of hazardous waste on his farmland in the fishing port town of Koko, Delta State.

The waste was claimed by the dealer to be fertilizers that would help local farmers with their crop yield. Instead the venture became a health and environmental nightmare. Few months after the dump, the containers started leaking into the ecosystem, causing stomach upset, headaches, failing sight and deaths in the local community.

And that is when The Guardian newspaper and Newswatch Magazine got tips from an association of Nigerian Students in Pisa, Italy. Udo Enwereuzor, a member of the editorial collective of the Global African Worker, was the President of the Nigerian Students Association in 1988.

I thank God for the reconnection with Udo as a member of the editorial collective of the Global African Worker. And after thirty years we are both still actively and intelligently diligent in our advocacy work to spotlight toxic colonialism.

And at no time were we exposed to any toxic substances in Italy, Nigeria or at Lake Nyos which I investigated with former VOA correspondent Sonja Pace and the deputy Managing Editor and former West Africa Correspondent of the Los Angeles Times Scott Kraft.

I investigated the Lake Nyos disaster that killed nearly 2,000 people in the company of Pace, Kraft, a French TV crew and Newswatch photographer Conrad Akwu.

Subtitle — How I Exposed the Illegal Shipment of Toxic Wastes to Africa in 1988

After a tip from Nigerian students in Pisa I was given an assignment to investigate the trafficking and clandestine shipment of toxic wastes from Europe to Africa.

My investigation exposed me to mafia-type elements, and there were some unbelievable situations while I was in Italy.

In the end, and despite fear for my life, I got an exclusive story that helped put a spotlight on this illicit trade and propelled the United Nations to impose more stringent rules on the disposal of toxic wastes.

While in Italy, I was also able to investigate the trafficking of Nigerian women to Italy, a trade which resulted in the death of some.

Both stories would not have been possible without the help of some people like journalist Racaella Gonalli, Italian Parliamentarian and GreenPeace activist Enrico Falqui, La Gazzetta Dello Sports Inter Milan Correspondent Nicola Cecere, a group of Nigerian students in the Pisa area including Udo Enwereuzor and Peter Ogordi, then president of the Nigerian Students Union in Pisa, who was one of two Nigerian students who accompanied me in my undercover investigation of the trafficking of Nigerian women to Italy.

Ogordi told me at that time that some members of the Nigerian Students union in Pisa shed tears when they first learnt of these ugly developments. “In matters as this, it will be criminal to fail to act for fears of personal safety,” he told me in 1988, of the clandestine trade in Nigerian women in Europe which resulted in at least two murders between 1987 and 1988.

” Here is the story behind my trip to Italy in 1988 for the toxic waste story titled: Koko- How Toxic Wastes Affect You, July 4, 1988 and the Quality Magazine story titled: With Love from Italy — Where Nigerian Girls Prostitute, which ran July 21, 1988.

This excerpt is reproduced from Newswatch’s Editorial Preface written by editor-in-chief Ray Ekpu. Which is unavailable online.

Sub-title — From the Newswatch Editorial Suite.

Newswatch has followed very closely the Koko calamity since that little-known port in Bendel State became the unlucky receptacle for Italy’s deadly toxic waste. Bala Dan Abu, our assistant editor on that beat and Austin Oghuma have shared their time in the past several weeks between Koko and Lagos, trying to unravel the mystery behind the dumping of death on our shores. But we realized not much could be discovered in Nigeria beyond what had already been discovered and to get more clues to the matter we promptly dispatched Ben Edokpayi, one of our senior staff writers, to Italy, for a detailed investigation of the deal, Edokpayi was in luck. He spoke with the young female reporter who first broke the story of the wastes Racaella Gonelli, as well as with Enrico Falqui, the Green Peace counselor in the Tuscany Regional Parliament (and a retired EU Parliamentarian) who has been the most vocal crusader against the ferrying of death across the oceans. Edokpayi also came back with important documents.

Now the story of his Italian experience:

“I arrived in Milan through London on June 17, but finding a place to lay my head for the night turned out to be an ordeal in an especially expensive city like Milan. After a four-hour long search, my friend Nicola Cecere, a reporter in La Gazzetta Dello Sports, Italy’s largest circulating sports daily, helped me to locate the cheapest hotel I could get at $67 per night. (Nicola, who I met at the Junior World Cup in Chile a year earlier was gracious enough to make sure I checked in before he left).

Early the next day, I joined the inter-city express train from Milan to Florence. (I interviewed Valqua in Florence). At Florence I boarded another train for Pisa.

“All along I was wondering how I could get in touch with Nigerian students in Pisa, since the University was non-residential. At a stop in Pistoa, I saw two blacks (the first blacks I would see since my arrival) board the train. I later traced them to their cabin only to discover that they were Senegalese traders in Pisa. However, one of them provided the name of a bar where black students usually converged for drinks, so there I headed when I arrived in Pisa. At the bar, I met a Cameroonian student who gave me the phone number of Udo Enwereuzor, one of the students who raised the alarm over the toxic wastes dumping. On the phone, Enwereuzor promised to be with me in a short time but before his arrival three other Nigerian students had joined me. Introductions were made and we all moved to one of the students’ apartments. There they told me that they could not help with any information until after their emergency meeting on June 19.

“The result of the meeting dampened my spirits because the students only emerged to tell me that there was no way they could help since they had posted all documents in their possession to Nigerian media houses. Later in the evening I had some run of good fortune when I met Racaella Gonelli, the young female journalist who did the first article on the toxic wastes while they were being loaded in Pisa. Gonelli provided me with some contacts and I was able to get an interview fixed (for later in Florence) with Enrico Falqui, the Green Peace counselor in the Tuscany Regional parliament. My meeting with the very vocal Falqui in the morning of June 20th turned out to be very revealing. I headed back to Pisa in the afternoon, hoping to catch officials at the port. I was unlucky this time, but not with the pictures. The next day turned out even luckier for me as I was able to lay hands on some more revealing documents, but I was in a jam with translations since Nigerian students in Pisa couldn’t help because of their exams. Back home K.K. Yope, assistant editor of Quality, our sister magazine, who studied Italian, German, Hebrew and French at the major seminary in Cape Coast, Ghana later translated the documents for me. When my flight touched down in the evening of June 23, I breathed a sigh of relief because I realized throughout my sojourn in Italy, I was up against a chain of dubious businessmen who would go to any length to make money (imagine the fright in mafia-country when the informant tells you ‘I have never met you before’).

Subtitle — European Union

Here is what European parliamentarian Enrico Falqui told Ben in their interview in his Florence Office in 1988.

“The main goal of these factories is just to send these wastes to an agent who would ship them abroad without having any more legal control or responsibility for these toxic wastes. For every new change of ownership of these wastes, there is always a huge profit because at every stage a new contract for its disposal is always signed…We started stealing materials and natural resources from your countries for our benefits. Now we are sending back these wastes from our benefits, and that’s most disgusting.”

Thirty years later I reconnected with the EU Parliamentarian and here are some inspirational words about the environment from Professor Falqui. “Dear Benjamin, It was a delightful surprise for me to be reconnected with you and good memories of my past. After the important experience in the European Parliament, I was elected in the Senate of Italian Republic and I have been working there until 1999…Actually, I’m very close to be retired (one more year) and I am very concerned about a new struggle for my Country, the challenge of Landscape that has been injured and irreversibly damaged in many regions of my country from urban growth and illegal settlements. Natural and Space, in Italy, became very fastly a declining resource and in urban and metropolitan systems, Public Space became a ghost. Actually, I am a vice-Director of DIDA LAB in the matter of Open Urban Spaces Design and I lead an international Network of 16 Landscape Architecture’s Departments located in 12 European Countries. Urban Space in many Italian cities became “toxic” or “rare”; therefore, I could say that I am still working on “wastes”, not material products, but natural and fragmented spaces coming from the anarchy of urban growth…”

The entire Newswatch package reveals in more definite detail the Pisa-Koko affair and some experts explain how the dumping of toxic wastes will affect you.

I thank God that my exclusive investigation helped to save many lives in Nigeria.

But have African Governments learnt any lessons from Koko?

I don’t think so! An inexplicable puzzle from the West, that will certainly have a long-term negative effect on some local people and their families from the Koko area. A serious Delta matter or should we say environmental racism from the West!

Ben Edokpayi is a well-traveled journalist who has worked in senior editorial positions for Newswatch and Tell, Nigeria; the British Broadcasting Corporation and Voice of America, as well as several newspapers in the USA including The Africa Times, Fairfield Daily Republic, The Vacaville Reporter and The Dixon Tribune, where he was the Editor between 2002 and 2006. He has also parlayed his undiluted environmental advocacy with work in the past twelve years, as an Information Officer for the state of California at the Department of Transportation District 4, the State Compensation Insurance Fund and the Department of Toxic Substances Control, a subsidiary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

When he is not working as a freelance journalist, Ben seeks challenges to promote causes close to his heart

The good foundation for his environmental advocacy was established in 1986 when an SOS from Nigerian students in Pisa, Italy alerted the Nigerian government of danger from the shipment of toxic wastes from Europe, clandestinely dumped in Koko, Delta State.

Ben exclusively traveled to Italy for an investigation and a collaboration to protect the environment with Udo C. Enwereuzor, who is an independent Senior Consultant on Migration, Minorities and Rights of Citizenship based in Italy.

Ben’s pioneer work on the environment, that started with the shipment of toxic wastes to Koko, was a spur for the 1988 UN Basel Convention which seeks to control and make illegal the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes between International borders. Basel.

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Words on Marble after I showed a black tenant this article and told him of my work for Newswatch and California A Nigerian Street Vendor Is Beaten to Death in Italy as Witnesses Stand By “Undercover Advocacy Is The Best Way To Get Positive Results. We have been exposing Pimps and Prostitutes since 1988.”

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