ECOWAS, ICRC Present Report On International Humanitarian Law

ECOWAS Member States Meet Over Implementation Of IHLEleven out of 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are at different levels of domestication and implementation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

The implementation of the law is aimed at reducing the effects of armed conflicts on persons not directly involved in such conflicts.

The resolve was made at a meeting on Friday in Abuja, where ECOWAS member states examined a report by the ECOWAS Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on the implementation of the International Humanitarian Law in West Africa.

The head of the delegation of the ICRC, Mr Eloi Fillion, said efforts were ongoing to help national authorities domesticate the International Humanitarian Law treaties.

Statistics reveal that armed conflicts across the West African sub region have left millions of persons in need of humanitarian aid.

Also, according to the ICRC, at least nine million people are in need of different humanitarian assistance in the Lake Chad Basin alone.

The ICRC and ECOWAS also noted that they have been working for over 15 years to see to the ratification, domestication and implementation of the International Humanitarian Law in the sub region.

The International Humanitarian Law is made up of a body of laws, including the Arms Trade Treaty and the African Union Convention on the protection of Internally Displaced Persons among others.

The ECOWAS Commission has stated its preparedness to adopt a new plan of action that will ensure full implementation and domestication of the International Humanitarian Law in the sub region.

President Buhari Speaks With Moroccan King

President Buhari Speaks With Moroccan King Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari and his Moroccan counterpart, King Mohammed (VI), have resolved to work towards deepening relations between both countries.

In a telephone conversation initiated by King Mohammed (VI), the Moroccan King asked after the president’s health and expressed satisfaction at his rate of improvement.

In a statement, the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, explained that both leaders also discussed the current stage of the Morocco-Nigeria Atlantic Crude Oil Pipeline project.

The statement added that King Mohammed (VI) thanked President Buhari for Nigeria’s support in returning Morocco to the African Union, while notifying the President of his country’s request to also join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Furthermore, the Moroccan king was said to have expressed his intention to make the Rabat-Abuja strategic partnership a framework for regular consultation and cooperation on African issues of mutual interest to both countries.

Committee Commends ECOWAS For Restoring Democracy In Gambia

Committee Commends ECOWAS For Restoring Democracy In GambiaThe Committee For The Protection Of Peoples Mandate (CPPM), has commended the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) for what they say is a restoration of Democracy in The Gambia.

The committee revealed this in a statement signed by the Executive Chairman, Nelson Ekujumi, titled: “Kudos To Ecowas For The Restoration Of Democracy In Gambia”.

It reads:

“The Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM) whole heartedly congratulates and commends the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for its steadfastness and faithfulness to the sanctity of the democratic mandate of the people of Gambia as entrusted in President Adama Barrow by ensuring that ex-President Yahya Jammeh quits office involuntarily.

“We equally commend the good people of Gambia for their perseverance despite the provocative comments and actions of ex dictator Yahya Jammeh and his cronies to hang on to power by assaulting the constitution and the democratic rights of Gambians as freely expressed at the polls on December 1, 2016.

“As we rejoice with the people of Gambia over the restoration of democracy and the aversion of a needless crisis that would have been generated by the crudity of ex dictator Yahya Jammeh to cling on to power unconstitutionally and against decency and civilized conduct, may we admonish Gambians to remain faithful to democracy as the only legitimate means of determining who rules them.

“We congratulate President Adama Barrow for his tenacity in keeping faith with the mandate of the Gambian people and urge him to repay all the sacrifices put in place and endured to reclaim his mandate, both locally and internationally by ensuring the delivery of dividends of democracy to the populace.

“We view this action of ECOWAS in restoring democracy to Gambia by chasing out expired despot Yahya Jammeh as highly commendable, a victory for democracy and an unambiguous message to other despots on the African continent that the time of reckoning for assaulting the people’s right to freely choose their leader, is over.

“We are very hopeful that the laudable action of ECOWAS in Gambia would be a wake-up call to the electorates in Africa to boldly take their destiny in their thumbs to vote out despots who have underdeveloped, mismanaged and caused strife and crisis on the African continent.

“Once again, we wish President Adama Barrow and the good people of Gambia, a successful and fruitful tenure to the glory of God and the benefit of mankind.” the statement said.

ECOWAS, AU, UN Congratulate Gambian President, Adama Barrow

ECOWAS, AU, UN Congratulate Gambian President, Adama BarrowThe ECOWAS Commission, African Union and United Nations have congratulated the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Mr Adama Barrow, on the occasion of his swearing-in and assumption of office.

This is following his victory at the presidential election of December 1, 2016 and in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia.

The joint statement was released on Thursday evening after Adama Barrow took the oath of office in neighbouring Senegal as incumbent Yahya Jammeh refused to leave office.

“The ECOWAS Commission, African Union and United Nations equally congratulate the people of The Gambia who have demonstrated patience, discipline, maturity and resolve to defend their popular will, as expressed in the 1st December, 2016 presidential election and during the post-electoral crisis.

“The ECOWAS Commission, African Union and United Nations once again commend the independence, professionalism and commitment of members of the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia and all political parties for exercising the needed restraint that paved way for the peaceful conduct of the 1st December, 2016 presidential election.

“The ECOWAS Commission, African Union and United Nations commend the leadership and commitment demonstrated by Her Excellency (Mrs) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, as well as His Excellency  Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ECOWAS Mediator, and H.E. John Dramani Mahama, former President of the Republic of Ghana and Co-Mediator, for the efforts undertaken for the resolution of the post-electoral impasse in The Gambia in full compliance with constitutional legality to ensure peaceful transfer of power.

“The ECOWAS Commission, African Union and United Nations urge His Excellency Adama Barrow to take all necessary steps to strengthen national unity, social harmony and peace in the Gambia with a view to addressing the socio-political and economic challenges that have hampered poverty reduction in the country.

“The ECOWAS Commission, African Union and United Nations once again urge the Security Forces to observe neutrality and conduct themselves in a civil manner, and to strongly support President Barrow by maintaining public order and security which are essential to the stability and development of the country.

“The ECOWAS Commission, African Union and United Nations reaffirm their commitment to continue accompanying The Gambia in consolidating democracy and rule of law in the country,” the statement reads.

ECOWAS Mandates Deployment Of Forces To The Gambia

ECOWAS Mandates Deployment Of Forces To The GambiaThe Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has formally approved the deployment of troops to The Gambia.

In a statement signed by Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, Mr Mohammed Dan-Ali, the federal government explained that ECOWAS decided in a meeting to use its standby force in upholding the result of the presidential election held in The Gambia in December 2016, which produced Mr Adama Barrow as winner.

The Minister added that in line with the ECOWAS directive, the Nigerian military would deploy its assets to protect the people of The Gambia and maintain regional peace and security.

 

Adama Barrow Sworn-In As Gambian President

Adama Barrow Sworn-In As Gambian PresidentAdama Barrow has been sworn in as Gambian President in neighbouring Senegal as incumbent Yahya Jammeh refuses to leave office.

The man who won The Gambia’s disputed election, took the oath at the Gambian embassy in Senegal.

“This is a day no Gambian will ever forget in a lifetime,” Barrow said in a speech immediately after taking the oath of office.

Adama Barrow, born 16 February 1965, is a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP).

Prior to his presidential campaign, he was the treasurer of the UDP and operated a real estate agency.

He established the agency, Majum Real Estate, in 2006 after returning from studies in London, England.

He has been exiled in Senegal having had his victory at the presidential election of 2016 rejected by the former president, Yahya Jammeh.

He arrived Senegal at the weekend following an invitation to attend a summit of African leaders who back his victory.

He missed the Monday funeral of his eight-year-old son who died after being mauled by a dog, as he was advised to remain in Senegal for his safety.

Jammeh, who has been in power since a 1994 coup, initially conceded to Barrow before he then back-tracked, saying the vote was flawed and there had to be a re-run.

Overnight talks with African leaders to convince him to stand down failed.

Gambia’s Parliament Extends President Jammeh’s Tenure

Yahya Jammeh, Gambia, ParliamentThe Gambia’s parliament has extended President Yahya Jammeh’s term by 90 days.

The President’s tenure is due to end on Thursday, after he lost to Mr Adama Barrow in the December 2016 elections.

The parliament also approved his decision to declare a 90-day state of emergency in the small West African state.

This is coming days after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) promised to explore all options including the use of military to ensure President Jammeh stepped down.

Ousman Badjie, head of the country’s army, said to be no match for regional powers, has pledged his support for President Jammeh.

Mr Jammeh has been promoting his loyalists in recent years including Badjie, to ranks beyond their competence.

Nigeria’s military set sail to Gambia on Tuesday amid tension that is beginning to rise, as the inauguration day of January 19 is just a day away.

Meanwhile, thousands of UK and Dutch tourists are being evacuated from the Gambia.

The country is popular with European holidaymakers because of its beaches.

Nigerian Warship, Troops Head To Gambia Amid Rising Tension

NNS-DeltaNigeria’s military says its newest warship, the NNS Unity, is sailing to Gambia for peacekeeping, as tension has continued to mount due to President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to accept the result of December 1 election which he lost.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had promised to explore all options including the use of military to ensure that President Jammeh stepped down.

The country’s army is said to be no match for regional powers.

The president has been promoting his loyalists in recent years including Army Chief Ousman Badjie, to ranks beyond their competence.

Senegal, on the other hand, is preparing ground troops ahead of Thursday’s deadline.

Meanwhile, barely 48 hours to supposed presidential inauguration, President Jammeh, has declared a 90-day state of emergency.

The president made the announcement on national television, where he said any acts of disobedience to the laws of Gambia, incitement of violence and acts intended to disturb public order and peace, have been banned under the state of emergency.

Adama Barrow, a property developer, won the December 1 presidential election, but President Jammeh has refused to accept election results.

He had initially declared his willingness to hand over power if he lost, but later changed his mind after Mr Barrow was declared winner.

The state of emergency banned “acts of disobedience” and “acts intended to disturb public order”.

Jammeh took power in a coup in 1994 as only the second president since Gambia’s independence in 1965 and his government gained a reputation for torturing and killing perceived opponents, rights groups say. In 2015, he declared that the country was an Islamic Republic.

Pro-democracy activists across Africa welcomed his defeat and his refusal to step down has provoked an internal crisis as well as a test of courage for regional leaders.

Gambia’s top judge on Monday declined to rule on Jammeh’s election petition and in a political blow to the president, the ministers of finance, foreign affairs, trade and the environment have resigned, according to ministry sources.

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and some other West African nation’s leaders had made attempts to convince Mr Jammeh to hand over power to the president-elect, but no headway was made.

Nigeria Slashes Import Duties On 115 Items

Nigeria, Import Duties, Kemi AdeosunThe Federal Government has approved a reduction in the import duties of 115 items in different sectors of Nigeria’s economy.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said that the reduction was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari as part of dovish fiscal policy measures.

Mrs Adeosun revealed in a statement on Wednesday that the move was in line with the provisions of the Economic Community of West African States’ Common External Tariff (ECOWAS CET).

“This is to confirm that His Excellency, Mr President, has approved the 2016 fiscal policy measures made up of the supplementary protection measures for implementation together with the ECOWAS CET 2015-2019, with effect from 17th of October, 2016.

“Consequently, all transactions prior to the effective date of this circular shall be subjected to the tariff rates applicable before the coming into effect of this 2016 fiscal policy measures,” she said.

A breakdown of the import adjustment list of 173 items showed that the government approved the reduction of 26 items from 10% to 5%.

Similarly, the import duties of 89 items were reviewed downwards to 5% from a national list of 91 products.

The government, however, reinforced the ban placed on the importation of some items including refined vegetable oil, cocoa butter, and fruit juice in retail packs among others.

ECOWAS Leaders Discuss Security Challenges In Sub-Region

ECOWAS Leaders Discuss Security Challenges In Sub-RegionLeaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have expressed concern over the security situation in the sub-region, following terrorist attacks on civilian and military targets in Burkina Faso and Mali.

The leaders expressed their worries at the ongoing 50th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Summit of Heads of State and Government in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Setting the tone, the Chairperson of ECOWAS and President of Liberia, Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, stressed the need for a holistic approach to the security challenges, in order to prevent unnecessary loss of lives and regional food shortage.

She stated her optimism that the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States would resolve the political crisis in Gambia before January 19, when the tenure of President Yahaya Jammeh is expected to expire.

Nigeria’s President and chief host, Muhammadu Buhari, advocated the need for the leaders to manage conflicts more effectively by paying greater attention to conflict prevention mechanisms in the sub-region.

Also, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for West Africa, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, condemned the terrorist attacks in the sub-region.

He also pledged the commitment of the United Nations to supporting a peaceful transfer of power in Gambia.

The meeting subsequently continued behind closed doors, to extensively discuss the political situation in Gambia and Guinea Bissau, in addition to addressing the security challenges bedeviling the sub-region.

Some of the ECOWAS leaders had on Tuesday, December 13 visited the Gambia to meet President Jammeh who lost the presidential election in the country, but rejected the results.

During the visit, they discussed the ensuing impasse in the country with President Jammeh, and insisted on the sanctity of the electoral process as well as respect for the wishes of the people.

The leaders also met with the President-elect, Adama Barrow.

ECOWAS Court Adjourns MAFO N500bn Suit Against FG

Benue, Police, HerdsmenThe ECOWAS Court of Justice sitting in Abuja, has adjourned hearing to November 9, 2016 for the 500 billion naira compensation suit filed against the Federal Government by the Movement Against Fulani Occupation, (MAFO).

This follows a motion on a notice filed by the federal government seeking an extension of time to allow it file all processes and a preliminary objection challenging the suit.

The MAFO group had accused Fulani herdsmen of  attacks in which many lives and property have been destroyed.

11 indigenes of Benue State, co-ordinated by the group, represented the victims in a protest against the Fulani herdsmen attacks in the state.

 

The alleged failure of the federal government to protect them from the said attacks have prompted their legal actions.

The group is therefore seeking for the fundamental human rights enforcement from the federal government, in addition to the 500 billion naira compensation to guarantee safety of human lives and properties.

“Within the last three years, Fulani Herdsmen have carried out over 50 major attacks on Benue communities, the most prominent of them taking place in 15 out of 23 Local Government Areas” the group said.

They emphasized that the locations of the Fulani herdsmen who carry out the attacks are well known to the security agencies.

However, they have accused the federal government of refusing to accost the herdsmen which according to them will prevent further attacks on their communities.

UNHCR, ECOWAS Sign MoU To Tackle Issues Of IDPs, Others

Angele Dikongue-AtanganaThe United Nations High Commission for Refugees, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Economic Community of West African States, to jointly improve the situation of displaced people in the West African sub-region.

The UNHCR  has also predicted that people living in the Bakassi area may not be able to prove a link with either Nigeria or Cameroon in the nearest future.

The commission’s representative to Nigeria, Mrs Angele Dikongue-Atangana, made this known at a meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.

She noted that the partnership framework between UNHCR and the ECOWAS parliament “comes at a critical time in the sub-region, where additional efforts are needed to improve the protection of the environment for persons of concern, and ensure the full respect of their rights”.

Mrs Angele explained that through the MoU signed on Wednesday, UNHCR and the ECOWAS parliament have formalized their cooperation into a framework.

UNHCR, ECOWAS, IDP'sAccording to her, “this would allow both organizations to better protect the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees, returnees, IDPs, stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness.

“It would also ensure proper interpretation and application of relevant international, regional and national laws” she explained.

For the sake of clarity, she went further to describe the stateless person, saying that there were many of them currently found in one state or the other within the sub-region.

“They are not citizens of those states, but cannot point to any other country of their origin because they found themselves there as displaced persons due to violence, hunger, disaster among others,” she added.

She admitted that the issue of statelessness was very old, and recalled that in 2014, a decade of combatting the issue was declared.

She, however, expressed hope that the partnerships that the UNHCR is entering into across the world, would bring the issue to an end eventually by the year 2024.