Nigeria deploys 140 police officers to Guinea Bissau

The Nigeria Police Force has deployed a formed police unit made up of 140 strong personnel, equipped with modern crime fighting and peacekeeping equipment to Guinea Bissau.

A statement signed by the Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Frank Mba, stated that the police contingent which is designed to be self-sustaining was deployed with full complement of Contingent Owned Equipment (COE).

According to the statement, some of the equipment include five armoured personnel carriers, 12 patrol vehicles, arms and ammunition as well as crowd and riot control equipment.

The contingent will also embark on the peace-keeping mission with food rations, an ambulance, drugs, first aid kits, medical equipment and a team of medical personnel comprising of two doctors and six nurses.

While addressing the contingent before their departure, the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, urged the officers to exhibit true commitment and dedication in the discharge of their assigned roles at all times.

He also advised them to respect the laws/customs of their host country and strive to bring honours to themselves and Nigeria, through exemplary service to humanity.

The Nigeria police officers are expected to assist the government and people of the West African country, in restoring peace and stability in the country.

The deployment is in fulfillment of Nigeria’s pledge and commitment to assist the regional bloc; ECOWAS in restoring rule of law in Guinea Bissau and the entire sub region.

Contrary to the usual practice of paying allowances on return of the unit after completion of its assignment, the IGP approved the payment of three months allowances to the officers in advance of their deployment.

This gesture was to boost the morale and to allow the officers take care of the welfare of their family before departure.

This current deployment to Guinea Bissau brings to nine the total number of countries where Nigeria police officers are presently serving on international peace keeping operations.

The other countries are Liberia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Cote D’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Outside the African continent, Nigerian police officers are also involved in similar missions in Haiti and East Timor.

AU to take Mali to UN Security Council

The African Union plans to refer the situation in Mali to the United Nations Security Council so that it can create a framework for tackling the worsening crisis there, a diplomatic source close to the AU president said on Wednesday.

Mali, once regarded as a fine example of African democracy, collapsed into chaos after soldiers toppled the president in March, leaving a power vacuum in the north that enabled rebels to take control of nearly two-thirds of the country.

A regionally backed transitional government has been set up in Bamako to organise new presidential elections within a year, though supporters of the ruling military junta oppose the plan.

“The African Union will go to the Security Council and then it will be up to it to find the right format for a resolution and if it deems military support necessary,” said the source close to Thomas Boni Yayi, the Benin president and head of the African Union.

He said it was not clear when the issue would be taken to the United Nations.

An agreement between northern Mali’s MNLA Tuareg rebels and the al Qaeda-linked Islamist group Ansar Dine to create an Islamic state in northern Mali’s Azawad desert has hit trouble over how strictly to impose sharia, Islamic law.

The separatist MNLA wants a moderate form of sharia, while Ansar Dine would like to impose a more hardline version, using punishments such as the amputation of hands and heads for certain crimes.

The West African group ECOWAS said it rejected the idea of a separate Islamic state in northern Mali, and new French President Francois Hollande urged African leaders on Tuesday to ask the U.N. Security Council to help restore stability in the region.

REUTERS

Nigeria to deploy troops to Guinea Bissau

Nigeria has announced plans to deploy troops to Guinea Bissau by the end of this week to provide security in the country as part of its commitment to the sustenance of peace and stability in West Africa sub-region.

The Minister of Defence, Dr Mohammed Bello Haliru announced the plan at the opening of the 30th ordinary session of the committee of ECOWAS chiefs of defence meeting in Abuja.

He announced that the Nigerian troops will be deployed to Guinea Bissau by weekend while troops to be deployed to Mali are on standby.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for political affairs, peace and stability, Salamatu Suleiman, in her presentation, had reminded member states on the urgent need for the deployment of troops to help the transition in Guinea Bissau and Mali. The two countries recently experienced military coup d’états.

Ms Sulieman, informed the committee that funds have been released for the intervention.

The military chiefs of ECOWAS sub-region have pledged commitment to the sustenance of constitutional and democratic governance in West Africa

According to Dr Haliru, the instability caused by internal conflicts in ECOWAS member states is a severe impediment to achieving the desired political and economic development of the sub-region.

The Minister noted that developments in Guinea Bissau and Mali gives cause for concern, as he urged the military chiefs of various countries in the region not to relent in their efforts to ensure that democratic governance are restored in the two countries.

The recent coup in Mali and Guinea Bissau was the crux of discussions at the meeting of the chiefs of defence staff of ECOWAS countries.

The chairman of the committee of chiefs of defence staff, General Soumaila Bakayoko, who spoke in French restated the sub-region’s zero tolerance for coup d’états in the region,

He said that negotiations are in top gear for the deployment of troops to the two countries to maintain law and order and help smooth transition to constitutional rule. A position supported by the Nigerian chief of defence staff, Air Chief Marshal, Oluseyi Petirin.

 

Experts call for regulation of small arms trade

Government officials from ECOWAS member states and a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have demanded an urgent attention to the proliferation of small arms in the sub-region.

This was the focus of the talks on addressing the challenge during the meeting on small arms trade in Abuja on Wednesday, as top government officials from the 15 member states of ECOWAS converged in Abuja to prepare for the United Nations arms trade treaty negotiations scheduled for July this year..

The head of delegation of the ICRC, Zoran Jovanovic warned that the unregulated trade in arms is causing immense human suffering to countries and communities therefore it is now imperative that arms transfers be strictly regulated on a global level.

The meeting noted that influx of small arms into the West African sub-region is not about to decline anytime soon unless the trade is speedily regulated through the United Nations small arms trade treaty.

They also warned that the unregulated trade in arms will continue to spur conflicts and violence giving rise to human suffering and economic stagnation in the sub-region.

The meeting is crucial in ensuring that ECOWAS interests are adequately reflected in the arms trade treaty even as the sub region is grappling with spill over of arms from countries such as Libya and the recent coup d’état in Mali.

Going forward in identifying the challenges standing in the way of reducing the large number of small arms flooding the region, lack of political will by governments and financial gains from small arms trade were some of the identified hindrances among others.

While the speedy endorsement of the United Nations small arms trade treaty has been identified as a key element in fighting the proliferation of small arms, adopting the treaty is just a minor step, the meeting noted and called for more action.

Nigeria is trying to make Agriculture attractive – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has stated that the federal government is working hard to make agriculture attractive and profitable to encourage young educated Nigerians to the sector.

President Jonathan made this known while receiving the Special Envoy of the Australian Prime Minister, Ms. Joanna Hewitt at state house on Monday.

‘We need to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, and one sure way is to make it attractive and profitable for young graduates to want to participate in farming’, he said.

The president added that Nigeria has the land and favourable climate to be able to produce food for export.

The President welcomed the interest of Australian mining companies in the nation’s solid minerals sector, as well as the promise of assistance in the development of agriculture by the Special Envoy.

He expressed appreciation to the Australian government for the warm reception accorded the Nigerian delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia, last October.

Earlier, Ms. Joanna Hewitt, Special Envoy of the Australian Prime Minister, said her country was interested in current opportunities to contribute to the development of Nigeria through investments in the mining and agricultural sectors.

She commended President Jonathan for Nigeria’s firm leadership and commitment to the sustenance of constitutional leadership and democracy in West Africa, and assured him of her country’s continued support.

At a different audience, President Jonathan received a delegation from ECOWAS Chairman, President Allasane Outtara of Cote d’Ivoire, with a briefing on the crisis in Mali.

The delegation was led by Mr. Adama Bictogo.

 

Jonathan condemns coup in Guinea-Bissau

The Nigeria President, Goodluck Jonathan on Friday condemned the on-going attempt by a segment of the military in Guinea- Bissau to subvert the country’s constitutional order and truncate the democratic process which has already been initiated for the election of a legal successor to late President Malam Bacai Sanha.

The Nigeria President, Goodluck Jonathan condemns the on-going attempt by a segment of the military in Guinea- Bissau

In a press statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Jonathan urged “the Military High Command of Guinea-Bissau to refrain from any further action that threatens the lives of the elected leaders of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau and the established democratic order.”

The Nigerian President also demanded “the immediate release of all those being detained and the restoration of civil democratic rule and constitutional order” in Guinea-Bissau.
He welcomed the Military’s declaration that it is not interested in political power, and urges them to take urgent action in confirmation of that declaration.

Mr Jonathan further said that “Nigeria is ready and prepared to act in concert with other members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to ensure that the collective effort being made by the people of Guinea-Bissau and friends of the country to entrench democracy, good governance and political stability in the country is not thwarted by an unwelcome military intervention in whatever guise.”

He said that whatever grievances the military may have had that prompted them to take these actions can be redressed through dialogue and noted that some of the grievances were already being addressed by the ECOWAS at its Meeting held in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire on Thursday.

Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau have arrested the outgoing Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes Junior, in a suspected coup bid.

A military press attaché and his wife confirmed his detention, after gunfire was heard close to his home in the capital overnight.

The military seized government offices and controlled main roads in the capital on Friday after attacking the former prime minister’s home in an apparent coup to derail his election to the presidency, diplomats and residents said.

Mali’s military junta meets with FG in Abuja

A delegation of the military junta in Mali on Tuesday visited Nigeria to solicit the support of the federal government, but the government affirmed its resolution, opposing the military take-over.

The spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ode Ogbole Amedu told journalists that constructive negotiations are on for the exit of the military junta based on the doctrine of necessity which involves the bypass of certain constitutional procedures due to the current trend and the need for quick action.

According to the spokesperson, the Minister of Foreign affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru has made it very clear that Nigeria is opposed to the military takeover and has no intention of granting recognition to the military junta in Mali.

He also noted that President Goodluck Jonathan has initiated further consultations with ECOWAS leadership especially the current chair, President Alassane Dramane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire including some of the principal actors in Mali.

Mr. Ode said from the meeting there are indications that constitutional order would soon be restored in Mali.

A delegation from Mali’s military junta held a closed-door meeting with the Minister of foreign affairs in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital

The head of the delegation, Colonel Blonkoro Samake, said they were in the country to give a brief on the current situation in Mali.

He confirmed that the Tuareg rebels have indeed taken over the northern part of Mali and spoke of the need for heightened security in the region

Mali coup leader seeks help as rebels take town

Mali’s junta leader appealed on Friday for outside help to secure the West African country after separatist Tuareg rebels took the strategic northern town of Kidal.

Captain Amadou Sanogo, leader of Mali's military junta, speaks during a news conference at his headquarters in Kati, outside Bamako

Arms spilling out of Libya from last year’s conflict have bolstered a northern rebellion in Mali. President Amadou Toumani Toure was facing rising unpopularity over his failure to halt the rebellion before he was toppled in last week’s coup.

But the putsch has if anything emboldened the rebels, while the coup leaders have been internationally condemned – including by neighbours which on Thursday gave them 72 hours to surrender power or see Mali’s borders and bank funding shut off.

“Our army needs the help of Mali’s friends to save the civilian population and Mali’s territorial integrity,” coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo told reporters at the barracks outside the capital Bamako serving as the country’s presidency.

The rebels, who began fighting for an independent north in January, have seized on the confusion to prepare offensives on the three regional centres in Mali’s remote north. Among their number are Ansar Edine, an Islamist group with loose personal ties to local al Qaeda militants and which promotes sharia law.

Claiming its most significant victory so far, the rebel MNLA group said on its website it had taken Kidal, a town of 25,000, after 48 hours of fighting.

“The MNLA will continue its advance on the two other regional capitals of Azawad,” it said of the northern desert territory it sees as its rightful homeland.

CRIES OF JOY

A junta statement confirmed the fall of Kidal.

“To preserve the life of the people of Kidal, the military command decided not to prolong the battle,” it said, adding that the rebels included MNLA, Ansar Edine and local al Qaeda men.

A military source in Kidal told Reuters soldiers abandoned positions in one camp so as to coordinate a counter-offensive.

“The rebels are going around town, telling people to go about their business as usual. They are all armed, in four-wheel drive vehicles. Women uttered cries of joy to greet them at the airport,” said Kidal resident Moussa Maiga by phone.

Mali’s neighbours on Thursday demanded the leaders begin handing back power to civilians by Monday or face a crippling closure of trade borders, diplomatic isolation and a freeze in funding from the regional central bank.

Such measures could further damage the interests of foreign miners in Africa’s third biggest gold producer. Uncertainty has already pushed their shares lower on Western stock exchanges.

While not responding directly to the ultimatum, Sanogo said the junta “understood the situation” of the 15-member West African ECOWAS bloc, but pleaded for them to look again at land-locked Mali’s plight and possible solutions.

“We are inviting ECOWAS to deepen its analysis of the situation in Mali and how Mali got here,” said Sanogo, who has previously described the entire political class around ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure as corrupt and incompetent.

Fragile neighbours such as Niger and Ivory Coast are concerned that a successful coup in Mali could encourage copy-cat moves on their soil. ECOWAS has threatened to use military force as a last resort to reverse the coup.

“By April 2, if the junta does not hand over power, ECOWAS will strictly apply the envisaged sanctions,” ECOWAS-member Benin’s Foreign Minister Nassirou Bako told Reuters.

ECOWAS says new Mali trip depends on security

Heads of state from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) may try again to meet with Mali’s junta leaders on Friday if security permits, after protests scotched a planned visit on Thursday, an official told Reuters.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) and President of Benin Republic Boni Yayi.

“(The heads of state) are now likely to meet in Abidjan later today with the possibility they might return (to Mali) tomorrow if the conditions are auspicious,” the official said, asking not to be named.

He said Thursday’s visit to Mali by the presidents of Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger was canceled after pro-junta protests briefly spilled onto the airport runway.

Ivorian leader Alassane Ouattara “was in the Malian airspace, he turned back”, said a source at the Bamako airport. Burkinabe president Blaise Compaore was also no longer coming, said a security source.

The meeting between the junta leaders and the ECOWAS leaders was scheduled to hold in Bamako airport around noon on Thursday. The ECOWAS team was to also include the presidents of Benin, Liberia, Niger and Nigeria.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, Mali’s ousted leader Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown on March 22 by renegade soldiers unhappy with his handling of a Tuareg rebellion on Thursday said that he was safe in Bamako and not being held by the junta.

West African leaders have already warned that the region’s troops are on standby if the junta fails to engage in dialogue.

Jonathan and Ekweremadu congratulate Senegal’s President-elect

Senegal President -Elect, Maky Sall

The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has commended the people of Senegal over the successful conclusion of the Sunday run-off presidential polls.

Ekweremadu who congratulated President-elect, Mark Sall for winning in a free, fair, and credible manner also commended the incumbent President, Abdoulaye Wade for conceding defeat, describing his action as an invaluable asset to Senegal’s democracy and unity.

“Coming on the heels of the temporary setback to democracy in Mali, this is not only good news for the people of Senegal, but for the entire West African sub-region as it reaffirms our resolve as a people to live under constitutional, democratic and stable order”, Ekweremadu stated.

Describing the election as an added momentum to democracy in West Africa, the Speaker who also doubles as Nigeria Deputy President of Senate, urged the President-elect to be magnanimous in victory, ensuring that all traces of genuine political grievances were assuaged and the nation welded even more closely by the democratic feat that the presidential election represents.

While commending the ECOWAS and members of the international community for ensuring that what appeared a logjam in Senegal was resolved amicably through the ballot box, Ekweremadu reiterated the commitment of the ECOWAS Parliament to working with all institutions and organs of ECOWAS to ensure the sub-region “consolidates the path of zero tolerance to unconstitutional seizure of power, bad governance, injustice, impunity, corruption, coup d’états, and blemished electoral processes which are in themselves the roots of conflicts, instability, and underdevelopment.”

Meanwhile President Goodluck Jonathan has congratulated the opposition candidate in last Sunday’s presidential election run-off in Senegal, Mr. Macky Sall, on his election as President-Elect of Senegal.

Describing his election as “victory for democracy and just reward for all Senegalese people who kept faith in the democratic process and voted responsibly in what has proved to be a watershed election,” the President noted that “the Senegalese people have confirmed that theirs is a mature democracy built on freedom and respect for rules and laws.”

“If there was ever any doubt, this election has proved that the foundation of Senegalese democracy is rock solid. This is good for the Senegalese people and also for our sub-region, especially at a time one of our brother countries is facing grave challenges to constitutional order,” he said.

President Jonathan further observed that Sall’s “commitment to democracy and remarkable leadership and doggedness in the face of great odds are proof that he is the right person to heal wounds, unite the country and lead Senegal along the path of peace, equity and prosperity.”

The President while also commending incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade, “for graciously accepting defeat, showing great maturity and statesmanship and organising an election that was adjudged free and fair, whose outcome he has accepted”, recommended Wade’s example to all other leaders on the African continent.

“The outcome of the election in Senegal is good for West Africa and the African continent,” he stressed, adding that “he looks forward to working with President-elect Sall and the people of Senegal for the mutual benefit of our two countries and for the peace, stability and prosperity of our sub-region.”

 

 

Edo State police parades 10 robbery suspects

Edo State Police commissioner yesterday paraded 10 individuals suspected of armed robbery at the command’s headquarters in capital city Benin, reiterating the state’s determination to rid the regiono f criminals.

Edo State police parades 10 robbery suspects

Commissioner Umar Manko said: “Let me assure you that in line with the police new leadership’s agenda to confront crime and criminality headlong, the command will not relent in the task of riding Edo State of criminals. I call on the entire people of the state to cooperate with the police by availing us with useful information that will lead to the arrest of criminals.”

The suspects include Ohiorenuanb Ogedegbe, Akhaome Agbedokhai, Osakpolo Iredia, Osazee Sunday, Goodluck Iboho, Okungbowa Unuoma, Monday Osabohen, Abayomi Friday, Ayewa Kehinde and Ogbewe Airende.

According to the state police commissioner the suspects were arrested at different locations and the items they had allegedly stolen had been recovered from them and some weapons ceased.

Manko also disclosed that one of the suspects, Okungbowa Unuoma, is a member of a 5-man robbery/kidnapping gang, who had been terrorizing Ugbor area of the state capital.

ECOWAS court adjourns case against FG and Rivers state

The ECOWAS community Court of Justice in Abuja on Wednesday adjourned the case against the Federal and Rivers state governments over the shooting of peaceful demonstrators in Bundu water front, Port Harcourt in October 2009.

ECOWAS court adjourns case against FG and Rivers state

The case was adjourned to March 26th for further hearing.

The presiding Judge; Justice Benfeito Ramos, adjourned the court proceedings due to the prayer of the new counsel for the Rivers state government and Solicitor-general of the state, Rufus Godwins, who asked the court for more time to allow him study the matter because he “just took over the case from the previous counsel.”

The plaintiffs in the case which included the residents of Bundu waterfront were expected to give evidence on the matter on Wednesday, but they were denied due to the prayer of the Solicitor-general.

This was contested by the counsel to the slum dwellers; Adetokunbo Mumuni, who accused the government of “unnecessarily delaying the matter with incessant request for adjournment.”

However counsel to the Rivers state government pointed out to the court that the prosecution counsel has not complied fully with the provisions of the court to make a formal application on the witnesses he intends to present as such the court cannot allow the matter to go on.

After listening to their argument Justice Ramos stated that “before any counsel calls a witness to testify in the court such counsel must comply with Article 43 of the ECOWAS community court of justice which requires counsel to file an application identifying its witnesses, state what facts the witnesses will be testifying on and the reason why they want to give the testimony.” The judge then pronounced the adjournment till the 26th of March.

At least one person died and 12 were injured when armed security forces allegedly opened fire on people protesting the proposed demolition of their homes in Bundu community in October 2009.

The case was filled by 10 residents of the Bundu waterfront and surrounding communities with the support of civil organization; the Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).