AU urged to lead the campaign to emancipate Western Sahara

Helen Shok jok, Abuja

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African governments have been charged to take the lead in the struggle for the emancipation of Western Sahara.

The call was made in Abuja on Wednesday at a media briefing by the Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara.

The Movement championed by the organized labour in Nigeria, said it has put together a formidable team and plan to press that the right to sovereignty for the Saharawi people to manage their resources is restored.

The Coordinator of the Movement and a former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities in Nigeria, Dr  Dipo Fashina, said the organization has added an international legal team to the struggle for optimal result.

The text of his address titled, “we will stop Nigerian companies buying stolen phosphate, fertilizer and fishes from Morocco,” Fashina believes that the new strategy adopted by the movement will be worth the while.

This formidable team is part of our determination and plans to bring to book all companies in Nigeria   which are currently receiving phosphate stolen by the kingdom of Morocco from Western Sahara to produce fertilizer.

“The legal moves  we are taking is just one of the steps to ensure that our proud country does not continue to be a receiver of stolen goods and profit from such unholy theft.

“This Movement supports the development of Nigeria, but not with stolen resources. We insist that although our country needs fertilizer, but not that produced with the blood of our brothers and sisters in Western Sahara.

“ About this, we are definite. This   principle  is planted in the Nigerian culture of  non-exploitation of other peoples and defender of colonized peoples as we did in the struggle for the liberation of countries like Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe,  Namibia and South Africa”, Fashina said.

He said that the level of brotherly love for fellow sister African country was exhibited by Nigeria in 1984, when the then military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari reognised the Saharawi Democratic Republic SADR as an independent African country and called on President Buhari to repeat what he did 35 years ago and lead the struggle at the African Union to free Western Sahara .

“Nigerians are freedom-loving peoples, not accomplices  of leaders of a country like Morocco who against all known tenets of African brotherhood, religious obligations and social justice, would invade and occupy a member country of the African Union, dehumanize its people and plunder its resources which it sells to European Union (EU) countries and companies in Nigeria”.

The Movement said that after given this notice to Nigerian companies dealing in Western Sahara resources including super markets selling Sardines and Fishes from Morocco, it will start picketing them saying that 92 percent of the Fishes are stone from Western Sahara coast.

It also made specific demands which include that :

  • The  Moroccan monarchy and leadership be called to order and brought to book for gross human rights violations in Western Sahara.
  • The consent and permission of the Saharawi people through the SADR government be secured before the natural resources of the country is utilized or traded in any form.
  • The AU   defends its member SADR by giving  Morocco a timeline to vacate Western Sahara and if it fails, to expel  and impose stiff sanctions against it as we did to Apartheid in South Africa.
  • The UN  expands the   mandate of MINURSO to include human rights violations so its Mission can protect the Saharawi people.
  • Morocco vacates  the parts of Western Sahara it is occupying and allows the Saharawi like other Africans and peoples of the world to freely govern themselves and develop their country without any interference.
  • All should be done to ensure that the Moroccan-Saharawi armed conflict is not re-ignited as renewed war can  lead to an avoidable international conflagration.

Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a human rights Lawyer is now on the legal team for the emancipation of the people of Western Sahara.

He believes that the new window to use international legal means to redress the  ownership of the natural resources of the Saharawi people  will be a game changers in the movement.

“We are going to start with Nigeria because currently, tons of phosphates are being imported into the country from Western Sahara on the basis of illegal agreements entered into between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco as well as certain companies.

“We are warning such parties and we are alerting them of the decision of the people of Western Sahara to defend their rights to their resources”, Falana said.

He warned parties entering into agreements with Morocco to  respect the human rights of the people of Western Sahara to enjoy their natural resources as recognized by article 20 and 21 of the African Charter on human and peoples rights.

He also warned Nigerian companies allegedly conniving with Morocco to market products exported from the disputed territory to desist henceforth or be prepared to face legal action.

Fielding questions on the position and reluctance of the Africa Union to take a common position on Morocco’s occupation of a sister African country, Mr Falana said though the AU had asked for time to deal with the issue, Western Sahara is behind time as far as its independence is concerned.

Mr. Maitre Gilles Devers, the European Lawyer for the Saharawi Arab Republic, said that at present, Morocco’s stay in the disputed area of Western Sahara can be regarded  as that of an army of occupation saying that they will use every available legal means to get justice for the people of Western Sahara.