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Border Closure: Obasanjo Issues Serious Warning To Benin

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Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged Nigeria’s west coast neighbour, Benin Republic, to change its ways for a harmonious bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Obasanjo made the remark during a news briefing on Tuesday in Addis Ababa on the margins of Policy Dialogue of African Business Associations on Implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreements.

The two-day policy dialogue was co-organized by the African Union (AU), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Export – Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK).

Other co-organisers are The AfroChampion Initiative and the Coalition of Dialogue Africa (CoDA).

Obasanjo, who is the Chair of the CoDA Board of Directors, explained that Benin’s notoriety was not new, as Nigeria had for long been enduring the practice which undermined its economic well being.

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“It happened when I was President of Nigeria. I called the then Benin President, Nicephore Dieudonne Soglo, to let us meet at any of our border posts over the issue.

“We eventually met at Badagry (in Nigeria), where we agreed that Nigerian Customs would be stationed in Benin.

“They (the Nigerian Customs) are still there. We don’t have issues with goods manufactured in Benin — they are welcome.

“But as long as Benin allow dumping of goods, there will always be problem with Nigeria,” Obasanjo said.

He noted that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was not created to allow one country to turn itself to a dumping ground.

On AfCFTA, Obasanjo said that the execution of the agreements was crucial to its success and sustainability.

“The intense support AfCFTA has received from various member states is a clear indication of its importance.

“CoDA is highly engaged to seeking success of AfCFTA and other multilateral agreements. CoDA work is informed and guided by the notion that no one has monopoly of ideas,” he said.

He urged for more actions, beyond words, adding that with fragmented 55 markets, Africa would remain small player in global market place.

In his welcome address, AU Commissioner, Department of Trade and Industry, Mr Albert Muranga, called for a change of attitude on the continent if the goals of AfCFTA was to be attained.

“A new mindset is necessary. One country should not be going west and the other going east. All of us should be going in one direction.

“For AfCFTA and our dreams of African integration to meet with success, it requires cooperation from all stakeholders,” he said.

Muranga also restated the fears as espoused by members of the organised private sector on the dangers ahead of AfCFTA, assuring that such fears also enjoy the attention of the framers of the AfCFTA initiaive.

According to him, such fears include stability, predictability, fairness, corruption and enabling environment.

Other participants included the Co-chair of the Executive Committee, AfroChampion Initiative, Dr Edem Adzogenu, and Chief Economist/Director, Research and International Cooperation, AFREXIMBANK, Dr Hippolyte Fofack.

Also present were the Director General of Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Amb. Ayo Olukanni, and AfDB Country Manager, Ethiopia, Dr Abdul Kamara, among others.

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Inside Nigeria

Buhari Signs Prisoner Swap Deal With Macao

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday assented to an agreement for the exchange of prisoners between the Nigerian government and the Macao government in China.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Instrument of Ratification of the Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons between the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China,” presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement.

Adesina disclosed that Buhari signing the bill was an aftermath of deliberations from the Federal Executive Council conclusion on August 1, 2018.

The presidential spokesman said the government had directed Nigeria’s attorney-general justice minister Abubakar Malami to prepare the instrument of ratification of the agreement for the President Buhari’s signature.

“President Buhari’s assent formally executes the Agreement,” Adesina said.

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Inside Nigeria

Nigeria Will End North-East Insurgency Just Like Civil War — Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that Nigeria will soon see the end of the insurgence that has bedeviled the North-Eastern part of the country in the last few years.

He gave the assurance on Friday at the State House in Abuja while receiving the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, saying that Nigeria had seen similar occasions in the past, but managed to overcome and forged on.

The President also assured that the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will effectively manage all attendant crises from the insurgency.

Recalling his experience of the Nigerian Civil War, the President noted that the current security challenge in the North-East, though might take some time, will also be subdued, saying “If we were capable to fight a 30-month civil war and reorganised our country, I wonder why people are thinking that Nigeria cannot do it”.

According to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, President Buhari emphasised the devastating effect of the Libyan crisis on the whole of the Sahel region of the continent, citing the activities of terror groups in Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso in recent times.

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He, however, assured the European Union envoy of Nigeria’s continued cooperation with the EU, saying “I assure you of Nigeria’s commitment to enhance and deepen cooperation with the EU in all areas.

“Our priorities in the next level is to ensure that Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, are rehabilitated so that livelihood should be established and the children should not lose the opportunity to go back to school, which is very important for the future of that area and Nigeria generally.

“We have the experience of the civil war. I could recall the role of the military, the army, each commander had in his pocket how to behave himself and how to allow international bodies like yourself to go round and see for themselves that people are treated in the most humane way. We have this experience and I assure you that we also have this confidence in your organisation. That is why I feel that Nigeria is capable of handling this crisis, it may take long but we are capable of handling it.

“The important thing really is weapons reaching the Sahel; the instability it is causing. Look at the casualties in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali; Libya has a direct impact on the stability of the Sahel. As for Boko Haram, we try to disabuse the mind of the people and I think our people now understand the basic dishonesty in it. With my experience personally in the civil war, I am sure we will get over it.

“I assure you that we are aware of these problems and we will continue to do our best. The newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs is coordinating NEMA and others, to make sure that whatever resources we get are well utilised. The ministry will be accountable to the government instead of having too many bodies doing the same thing. We are also reaching out to foreign countries explaining to them our position, and we are confident we will get over it”, the President said.

The EU Commissioner emphasized that Nigeria plays a big role in the African continent and globally in economic, social and other spheres and asked for the development of a plan between the EU and Nigeria concerning the issues in the Northeast. He said he had visited Borno State and appreciates government’s efforts to end the conflict there.

“We would like to support your efforts. We believe all relevant actors; military, civilian as well as humanitarian should come together. The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs is suggesting such high level dialogue.

“In situations such as what we have in the northeast, international law and international humanitarian law should apply. We believe in your efforts to end the conflict; military effort alone probably will not be sufficient without identifying and addressing the socio-economic factors causing it,“ he stated.

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Inside Nigeria

I Never Said Amotekun Is Illegal — Malami

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Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has denied declaring the South-West regional security outfit codenamed ‘Operation Amotekun’ illegal.

He stated he was misquoted on his interpretation of the outfit established by the six South West Governors.

Responding to chat on Radio Nigeria Abuja on Thursday morning, Malami said: “I was misinterpreted on Operation Amotekun. I did not say it’s illegal.

“I said the Operation Amotekun should be properly backed by law, so if at the end of this government, if the operation has been backed by law, any government that eventually succeeded this government would not rubbish the operation.

“I said if they failed to enact a law in support of Amotekun in the South-West Region of Nigeria, another government can come and say it’s illegal and this is because it is not backed up by any law.

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“So, it is just a piece of advice to the state governors to use their power and the State Houses of Assembly in their various states to enact a law that will make the operation more effective.”

However his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, maintained that the constitution did not recognise regional security outfit.

Gwandu quoted Malami as insisting that regional security architectural arrangement by states was not tolerated by the constitution.

The minister said: “The planning, execution, consummation of whatever security arrangement must be naturally grounded in law, rooted in the constitution and tolerated by the law.

“For any arrangement to stand within the law, the bottom line is that constitutionality and legality must be factored.

Read Also: Ondo Obas to SW Governors: Begin Operation Amotekun now
“Provided that there is an aberration relating to constitutional compliance, I think the right thing to do is to ensure constitutionality and legality both in spirit, planning, concept, and consummation.

“If you are talking of regional arrangement, for example, at what point did the state assemblies come together as a region for the purpose of coming up with a statue or a law that can operate within the context of the constitution, taking into consideration the federating arrangement that does not allow or tolerate a regional state House of Assembly arrangement.

“You cannot independently, unilaterally operate in the provision of the constitution without recourse to the constitutional authority that is the bottom line.

“Working together, helping the Federal Government in the provision of security is indeed a welcome development but it has to be rooted in the law and within the context of working arrangement with institutions constitutionally established and not a unilateral exclusive arrangement by a regional body.

“In the circumstances of Amotekun, it is the idea of unilateral control that it is the problem without recourse to the institutional and constitutional arrangement that is put in place by our constitution.

“You can indeed provide whatever support and consideration but definitely it must be rooted in the constitutional arrangement and so self-help by way of unilateral arrangement cannot be tolerated with particular reference to a regional arrangement which is not rooted in the constitution within the context of security.”

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