West African States Call For End To Border Closures Over Ebola

EbolaWest African states should re-open their borders and end flight bans put in place to halt the spread of Ebola, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said on Thursday.

The ECOWAS countries and airlines will make their own decisions on flight bans and borders, but the view of the main regional body, expressed at a meeting of ECOWAS health ministers in Ghana’s capital, is likely to prove influential.

“We must implement containment measures but we must not implement measures that will isolate or ostracise the affected countries,” Ghana President John Mahama, who is also ECOWAS’s current chairman, told the meeting.

“Excessive restrictions of travel and border closures will adversely affect the economies of the sub-region,” he said.

West African governments have implemented a patchwork of measures in a bid to stem the spread of the recent Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 1,550 people.

Some including Ivory Coast and Gambia have stopped airlines from allowing passengers to disembark if they have first come from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the countries hardest hit by the outbreak.

Centenary Celebration: Jonathan Advises African Leaders On Conflict Management

Over 20 Heads of State have converged on the International Conference Center Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, to commemorate Nigeria’s 100 years of existence, beginning with an international conference on human security, peace and development.

President Goodluck Jonathan presented the lead paper at the security conference which focuses on how to secure the continent against terrorists.

Some of the leaders present were President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia and Prosper Bazombaza of Burundi.

Liberian President, Helen Sirleaf and the former Secretary-General of OAU, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim who led the Tanzanian delegation were also in for the celebration.

Also in Abuja was the President of Mauritania, Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, Ethiopian President, Mr Hailemarian Desalegh, and the European Union President, Mr Jose Manuel Barroso.

Presenting the lead paper, President Goodluck Jonathan, while highlighting the economic growth in the continent, told the world leaders present, that there was a need for collaboration in the fight against terrorism which is a global threat to development.

The President told his guests that world leaders must strengthen existing mechanism for national and international conflict management.

Citing the recent attack on students in Yobe State, President Jonathan said that the Federal Government would spare no funds in its resolve to bring the perpetuators to justice.

The theme of Nigeria’s centenary celebrations is designed around the key concepts of unity, indivisibility, virility, progress, and promise of the Nigerian Federation.

Jonathan To Visit Nigerian Contingent In ECOWAS Mission To Guinea-Bissau

President Goodluck Jonathan will embark on a two-day diplomatic shuttle to Guinea-Bissau and Gambia tomorrow, Friday, November 8, 2013, a statement by the presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati said on Thursday.

The statement noted that “President Jonathan will, in continuation of his duties as Chairperson of the ECOWAS Contact Group on Guinea-Bissau, first fly to the country to meet with leaders of the Armed Forces of Guinea-Bissau and visit the Nigerian contingent in the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau at Camp Bras, Bissau”.

It further stated that “The President is also scheduled to participate in a programme at the National Peoples’ Assembly and meet Nigerians resident in Guinea-Bissau before leaving the country on Friday evening for Banjul, Gambia where he will confer with President Yahya Jammeh on bilateral and multilateral issues”.

President Jonathan, who will be accompanied by the Minister of Information and Supervising Minister of Defence, Mr. Labaran Maku, the Minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed and the Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed, will return to Abuja on Saturday.

Iran Denies Training Suspected Nigerian Terrorists

The Islamic Republic of Iran has denied allegations that it had trained militants arrested in Nigeria on charges of planning attacks on U.S. and Israeli targets in Nigeria.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said such allegations were “made up as the result of the ill will of enemies of the two countries’ good relations”, Iranian state television reported on Friday.

“Iran and Nigeria have friendly and close relations and despite the vast efforts of the two countries enemies, in recent years relations and cooperation have always improved” he said.

The State Secret Service (SSS) on Thursday confirmed the arrest of Abdullahi Mustapha Berende and two other Nigerians in December after Berende, allegedly made several suspicious trips to Iran, where he interacted with Iranians in a “high-profile terrorist network”.

According to the SSS, Berende and his Iranian handlers were involved in “grievous crimes” against Nigeria’s national security.

Berende, who will now be charged in court, admitted to reporters at the SSS headquarters that he had carried out surveillance for the Iranians.

In 2004, Israeli sources said an Iranian diplomat was arrested on suspicion of spying on the Israeli Embassy in the Federal Capital Territory. Tehran denied any arrest.

In 2010, authorities at a Lagos Port found a hidden shipment of rockets, rifle rounds and other weapons from Iran, supposedly bound for Gambia.

A Nigerian and an Iranian face criminal charges over the shipment.

 

Economic Reforms Will Ensure Attainment of W/African Regional Currency by 2015-Kitcher

The Acting Director General of the West African Monetary Institute, Mister John Kitcher has called for major economic reforms amongst countries of the West African Monetary Union for the attainment of a single currency by the year 2015.

Addressing a technical committee meeting of the union in Abuja, Mister Kitcher said that the performance of the six member states on its macro-economic convergence list was not attained especially in the first half of 2012.

He said that inflation and its fiscal deficit criteria were the most challenging for its member countries which includes Nigeria, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia.

While highlighting the success made so far by member countries in tackling the effects of the global economic recession and the Eurozone debt crisis, Kitcher listed major economic indicators that are likely to serve as a setback to the realisation of this goal.

However, the Minister of State for Finance, Mister Yerima Ngama and the deputy governor in charge of Economic Policy at the Central Bank, Missus Sarah Alade expressed optimism for member countries.

Both believe there is hope of achieving the goal of a uniform currency for the region, if the revenue mobilisation is strengthened and rationalisation of expenditure is achieved.