Category Archives: West Africa

Chad sentences 10 Boko Haram fighters to death

BBC

members of Nigeria-based Islamist group Boko Haram sitting in court in N"Djamena, during the opening of the trial of ten suspected Boko Haram members
Image captionThe three-day trial was held behind closed doors

Chad has sentenced 10 members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram to death on terror charges, after a three-day trial in the capital N’djamena.

The 10 were convicted over their roles in attacks on the capital in June and July, which killed at least 53.

The attacks were the first by the Nigerian-based group in Chad, which hosts the headquarters of a regional force set up to fight the militants.

In July, Chad reintroduced the death penalty for acts of terror.

Nigeria – China sign factory construction deal with Dangote

BBC

  
Aliko Dangote

A Chinese state-owned engineering company has signed a deal worth $4.3bn (£2.8bn) to build factories for a Nigerian cement company run by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.

China’s Sinoma will build seven plants across the continent and one in Nepal.

The new factories will add around 25 million tonnes to the firm’s existing cement capacity of 45 million tonnes.

Mr Dangote’s company also produces food, fertiliser and is investing in oil refineries.

He is keeping a close eye on China’s economic problems and the ensuing lower oil price.

“Of course we are affected,” he said, “but we are not badly affected because we are not 100% in oil.

“We are a fully diversified company. So today if oil is doing [badly] it doesn’t mean we are doing [badly] and that’s the good thing about diversification.”

Africa’s economies have been hit hard by the fall in commodity prices but many are seeing a boom in infrastructure, for which cement is vital.

Nigeria – anti-graft boss denies corruption

BBC

EFCC boss Ibrahim Lamorde
Image captionEFCC boss Ibrahim Lamorde said he was planning to publish an audit of EFCC seizures

Nigeria’s anti-corruption boss Ibrahim Lamorde has denied allegations that $5bn (£3.2bn) has gone missing at the commission he heads.

A Senate committee is investigating charges that assets and cash recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were diverted.

Mr Lamorde told the BBC it was a smear campaign, as the EFCC was prosecuting the man making the allegations.

This showed that the case “should not be taken seriously”.

Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, who is championing the investigation, was passed the petition by George Uboh, a security consultant.

Mr Uboh is currently fighting charges of stealing government property, which he denies.

Mr Lamorde said that even if all the money recovered by the EFCC was added up, together with its funding from government, it would not total $5bn.

“How can we divert an amount we don’t have?” he asked.

The exact figures of seized assets was in the process of being audited by a reputable firm, the EFCC chief told the BBC.

“We want to have a comprehensive report that could stand the test of time… from the day the commission was created in April 2003 to date… so that we can put it in [a] public space and any person who has issues with that can challenge it.”

Nigeria – arms deal investigation commission to start work

Punch

Arms and ammunitions

The 13-man investigative committee set up to probe the procurement of hardware and ammunition in the Armed Forces has started its sitting, albeit in camera, The PUNCH has learnt.

The committee has been meeting in the office of the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), a source in the Presidency confided in The PUNCH on Wednesday.

The source said, “I can confirm to you that the committee members have started meeting. They even started meeting before their appointments were announced. This is because they do not need any confirmation or any formal inauguration.

“Available information showed that members are getting the needed assistance and support from interested parties.

“It is the government’s belief that a lot of ground would be covered by the committee in its desire to ascertain what went wrong in the past as far as the procurement of arms is concerned.”

Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, had on Monday announced the composition of the committee, which is saddled with the responsibility of probing arms purchase from 2007 till now.

Adesina had said the President directed the NSA to set up the committee with the mandate of identifying irregularities and making recommendations for streamlining the procurement process in the Armed Forces.

Members of the committee include AVM J.O.N. Ode (retd.) –chairman; R/Adm. J. A. Aikhomu (retd.); R/Adm. E. Ogbor (retd.); Brig. Gen L. Adekagun (retd.); Brig. Gen. M. Aminu-Kano (retd.); Brig. Gen. N. Rimtip (retd.); Cdre. T.D. Ikoli; Air Cdre U. Mohammed (retd.); Air Cdre I. Shafi’i; Col. A.A. Ariyibi; Group Capt. C.A. Oriaku (retd.); Mr. I. Magu (EFCC); and Brig. Gen Y.I. Shalangwa – Secretary.

Adesina explained that the establishment of the committee was in keeping with Buhari’s determination to stamp out corruption and irregularities in Nigeria’s public service.

He added, “It (the committee) comes against the background of the myriad of challenges that the Nigerian Armed Forces have faced in the course of ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the North-East, including the apparent deficit in military platforms with its attendant negative effects of troops’ morale.

“The committee will specifically investigate allegations of non-adherence to correct equipment procurement procedures and the exclusion of relevant logistics branches from arms procurement under past administrations, which, very often resulted in the acquisition of sub-standard and unserviceable equipment.”

No timeline was given for the committee to carry out its assignment.

Meanwhile, South Africa has said that it is not involved in the investigation into the purchase of arms by the administrations of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan.

It described the arms probe panel as a Nigerian affair, saying it did not involve in the aborted botched $15m arms deal by the administration of Jonathan in 2014.

The South Africa’s High Commissioner in Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, stated this in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Wednesday.

Mnguni was asked to react to a report that South Africa might be invited by the Buhari’s arms deal probe panel.

Also asked if his commission would appear before the panel if summoned, the envoy said his mission had nothing to do with the failed arms deals, stressing that it was purely a Nigerian issue.

He added that the South African mission would be guided by directives from the home government, noting that the embassy was a member of the diplomatic community which only follows official instructions.

“We don’t know anything about the arms issue; that is a Nigerian matter. We are not involved. You know what, we are guided by our government and you must also know that we are in the diplomatic community,” he said.

Copyright PUNCH.

Has Liberia found the way to share its forest plenty with the poor?

Guardian

Max Bankole Jarrett
Liberia’s forests were plundered to fund war and profit a few, but deforestation deal with Norway offers a way for natural resources to transform lives
Logged timber in Liberia, where a new deal with Norway aims to shift focus from extraction to protection.
Logged timber in Liberia, where a new deal with Norway aims to shift focus from extraction to protection.

Logged timber in Liberia, where a new deal with Norway aims to shift focus from extraction to protection.

Photograph: Courtesy Global Witness

The “paradox of plenty” debate tends to focus on fossil fuels and minerals. Countries that are rich in these resources are often – paradoxically – kept financially poor, with the proceeds of natural wealth largely profiting political elites, foreign companies and commodities traders, rather than being used strategically to bring whole populations out of poverty.

What is often overlooked is that forests too can be a curse not a blessing for countries that are rich in them. Across the Amazon, the Congo basin and many parts of south-east Asia, rainforests have been stripped out at a dizzying rate to line the pockets of foreign logging companies and their supporters in government. Forest communities – often among the country’s poorest – are robbed persistently of the resources they rely on for life and livelihood.
Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel has long advocated for Africa’s natural wealth to be better managed so that it drives dynamic and inclusive growth. While its 2013 report looked at the issue of Equity in the Extractives, in 2014 Grain, Fish, Money highlighted the paradox of poverty amid plenty within the forestry sector, focusing on one example that is close to my heart – the forests of Liberia.

It’s time to reopen that report. A recent $150m (£96m) forest protection deal between Liberia and Norway signalled a bold new direction in forest management – to shift Liberia’s forest economy from a model of extraction to one of protection, and to make forest communities the beneficiaries. The first payment from Norway is now due. As Grain, Fish, Money showed, the history of the forest sector warns us to be vigilant.

Liberia has an area of forest the size of Denmark, which for years was a cash cow for a handful of people. As the UN security council has highlighted, during the country’s 14 years of civil war the illicit sale of Liberian timber on international markets was a major source of funding for the warring factions, including that of former president Charles Taylor.

When President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took office in 2006, she promised a new era in forest management. She pledged to tackle corruption in the forestry sector, cancelled all logging concessions and started with a clean slate.

But what played out in Liberia was typical of the sector worldwide. The country’s forests remained at the behest of industrial-scale, export-based logging, and profit through elite capture and extraction remained the norm. Permits intended to benefit small-scale landholders were abused by large logging companies that ignored laws and dodged taxes. Income from the sector fell dramatically short of expectations, delivering just about 6% of an official estimate between 2012 and 2013.

Liberia has huge economic challenges that make large-scale logging tempting but it has chosen a sustainable approach
Tine Sundtoft, Norway’s minister of climate and environment
The Liberia-Norway deal is an opportunity for a fresh start. The Norwegian government has pledged $150m up to the year 2020 if Liberia keeps its forests standing – putting communities in charge of conserving their forests, and keeping industry out.

Norway’s minister of climate and environment, Tine Sundtoft, called this commitment “brave and farsighted”, with Liberia choosing “a sustainable approach to development”.

With Liberia still reeling from the impact of the Ebola crisis, avoided deforestation payments can help the nation to rebuild along a new development course, bolstering local capacity to protect forests, concentrating income gains among the poor, and averting the huge social and environmental fallout of large-scale logging.

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As Saah David of Liberia’s forest authority says: “The deal with Norway creates the economic space in which we can support government revenue while exploring new, community-based approaches to forest management which generate livelihoods but represent a shift away from traditional industrial-scale logging.”

The payoffs will be felt internationally too. At this year’s Paris climate conference, the world is set to agree a deal to stay on the right side of the danger line on climate change. Forests will be integral – as a resource not to extract but to be kept alive and nurtured as a key sink for carbon emissions.

In October, Liberia’s forest authority is sponsoring an international conference in Monrovia on rethinking Liberia’s forests, where several issues will be explored. These include looking at how a proper economic assessment can be made, for example, of the non-cash bounty of the forest, including the food, medicine, shelter and spiritual sustenance it provides.

Such questions go to the heart of the paradox of plenty – that the natural wealth of many emerging economies is being chopped down, mined or pumped, and is lining the pockets of a privileged few at the expense of the global poor.

Thankfully, Liberia is now wising up to the short-termism and devastation of the old “development” path. If the country gets its forestry transformation right this time, it could inform and enable locally controlled forest management on a global scale.

• Max Bankole Jarrett is the deputy director of the Africa Progress Panel

Burkina Faso – attack on police post leads to fear of sprtead of violence from Mali

Reuters

Burkina Faso says unidentified gunmen attack police post

Unidentified gunmen attacked a police post in northern Burkina Faso, a police statement said on Monday, underscoring the dangers of growing violence in Mali for neighbouring countries.

The statement said that two police officers were injured in the attack, one of them seriously. The incident took place late on Sunday in the province of Oudalan close to the Malian border.

Islamist militants, which seized Mali’s desert north in 2012, were scattered but not defeated by a French military operation a year later.

The militants continue to launch attacks in Mali’s north and are thought to be linked to attacks further south in recent months, including near the Mauritanian and Ivorian borders.

Nigeria: former security adviser Dasuki charged with undermining national security

Premium Times

Former National Security Adviser - Sambo Dasuki

Former National Security Adviser – Sambo Dasuki

The State Security Service on Monday announced that it has charged the immediate past National Security Service, Sambo Dasuki, over alleged “acts capable of undermining national security.”

A statement Monday by an official of the Service, Tony Opuiyo, said Mr. Dasuki was charged for “possession of fire arms without license punishable under section 27(i)(a)(i) of the Firearms Act Cap F28 LFN 2004″.

The statement said, “You may recall that on 16th July, 2015, the Department of State Services (DSS), carried out a search operation on properties belonging to the immediate past National Security Adviser, Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (Col/rtd), in Abuja and Sokoto.

“This action was necessitated by credible intelligence which linked him to acts capable of undermining national security. The search operation led to the recovery of large cache of arms and ammunition among other things and for which further investigation was conducted.

“Consequently, on Monday 24th August, 2015, he was charged to court based on evidence so far obtained, but which relates to possession of fire arms without license punishable under section 27(i)(a)(i) of the Firearms Act Cap F28 LFN 2004. This is in line with democratic practice and our avowed commitment to the rule of law, in which nobody is deemed to be above the law no matter how highly placed in the society. Accordingly, the general public will be duly informed as the matter progresses.

“Meanwhile, the Service recommits itself to the fundamental role of providing adequate security for all Nigerians to enable them pursue their legitimate aspirations and businesses.”

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