Western Sahara: Nigeria to halt sardine, fertilizer importation from Morocco
By Tosin Kolade
The Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara disclosed on Wednesday that it has began processes to halt the importation of sardines and other goods as part of sanctions on Morocco to end continued exploitation of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Its Coordinator, Dr Dipo Fashina, at a news conference in Abuja, said this was necessary to end all forms of new colonialism in the country, calling on the African Union to sanction Morocco for crimes against the people of Western Sahara.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic is a partially recognised state that claims the non-self governing territory of Western Sahara but controls only the easternmost one-fifth of the territory.
Morocco controls and administers the rest of the disputed territory and calls these lands its Southern Provinces.
According to him, it is important for the AU to force Moroccan government to leave the region, as a people have the right to self determination without interference.
“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 colonised peoples as we did in the struggle for the liberation of countries like Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.”
Fashina said under an elected President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria would not tolerate the occupation of the same country by a sister African country and be receiving the natural resources of Western Sahara plundered by Morocco.
He added that plans were under way bring to book all companies in Nigeria currently receiving phosphate stolen by the Kingdom of Morocco from Western Sahara to produce fertilizer, noting that resistance was already seen with powerful cabals.
This, he said, was evident with ownership of investment where big merchants and some in the political class, and as such may hinder actions, pledging to strengthen advocacy to halt the issue.
“After giving this notice to the Nigerian companies dealing in stolen Western Sahara resources, we will picket them across the country and bring them before our courts.
“This also includes super markets selling sardines and fishes from Morocco because 92 per cent of these fishes are stolen from the Western Sahara coast.
“It is in furtherance of this, we have invited these lawyers to meet, exchanges ideas and plot our legal strategies and commence legal actions.”
Legal luminary, Femi Falana, said in collaboration with the people of western Sahara, the movement has decided to take the legal battle to the door steps of African countries and companies that have entered into illegal agreement with Morocco for the exploitation of the people of Western Sahara people.
He urged such parties and companies to cancel such agreements and respect the human right of the people of Western Sahara, as recognized by article 20 and 21 of the African Charter of Human and people’s right.
“In Nigeria, tonnes of phosphates are being imported to the country from Western Sahara on the basis of illegal agreements entered into between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco,
” There are also certain companies, we are warning such parties and alerting them of the decision of the people of western Sahara to defend their human rights to their resources.”
Falana worried about Government’s delay in enforcing into law all agreements entered into with Morocco, saying the National Assembly should be aware and enforce it.
“By virtue of section 12 of the Nigerian constitution, no treaty or agreement between another country and Nigeria can be enforced, without same being adopted and enacted into law by the National Assembly.
” We are warning the Government of Nigeria that is still battling with the award of $9.6 billion by an arbitration tribunal in the UK.
“We are drawing the attention of Nigerians to the illegal agreements worth billions of dollars that may also be challenged and set aside.”
An international Lawyer for the Western Sahara, Mr Gilles Devers, said since the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), companies operating in the territory of Western Sahara, must either negotiate with the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, or cease their activities and leave.
He noted that the international law had ruled that Morocco and Western Sahara are two separate territories, and should not enjoy any sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara.
“The presence of Morocco in Western Sahara is a military occupation, thus a war zone and the Sahrawi people is the only one to benefit from its natural resources.
“Nothing can be done in this territory without the consent of the Saharawi people, through its legitimate representative.”