IRIN-West Africa Update 332 for 1998.11.5

IRIN-West Africa Update 332 for 1998.11.5


Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa tel: +225 21 73 54 fax: +225 21 63 35 e-mail: irin-wa

IRIN-WA Update 332 of Events in West Africa (Thursday 5 November 1998)

SIERRA LEONE: Ex-president escapes death penalty

Former Sierra Leone President Joseph Momoh and two others were convicted of conspiracy yesterday (Wednesday) but the Freetown High Court dismissed a treason charge that can carry the death penalty, media reports said.

Legal sources said Judge Sydney Warne had ruled that Momoh answer a conspiracy charge and not one of aiding and abetting treason, Reuters reported today (Thursday). Momoh, who was president from 1985 to 1992, could face up to 10 years in prison, AFP said.

However, 13 others on trial with Momoh were judged guilty of treason, Reuters reported. Five of the 21 people in the dock were acquitted, it said. Those convicted will be sentenced by the court today.

Among those convicted of treason are the former health minister of the ousted military government, Baila Lee, and her former deputy, Mathilda King. Those acquitted included the former Revolutionary United Front spokesman (RUF), Jibril Massaquoi.

President warns against corruption

President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah has warned civil servants against insisting on bribes before serving local and foreign businessmen, Reuters reported today.

In a nationwide broadcast late on Tuesday, Kabbah also urged the public to wage a "decisive war" against corruption. He said corruption was one of the major hindrances to development, an AFP report said.

Kabbah also said audits of salaries in the south and east of the country revealed that tens of thousands of dollars had been misappropriated by ghost workers.

Sierra Leone is rich in diamonds, bauxite and other minerals yet ranks among the world's poorest nations.

Ex-combatants get reintegration training

Some 2,142 former soldiers have just finished orientation courses to reintegrate them in civil society. The three-week course was conducted by the National Committee on Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR) at the Lungi Demobilisation Centre, near Freetown, the NCDDR bulletin 'Post-war Recovery News' said. The workshop, facilitated by the Christian Children's Fund (CCF), focused on attitudinal change, re-insertion and information.

Prior to this workshop, a preliminary pre-discharge workshop was held to sensitise the Lungi community. It was also attended by representatives from the police, army, ECOMOG peacekeeping force and the UN Observer Mission in Sierra Leone, UNOMSIL.

Meanwhile, Kabbah announced that Britain and the World Bank had pledged more than US $40,000 to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes, AFP reported yesterday.

Civil Defence Force seals off border with Liberia

Sierra Leone's Civil Defence Force (CDF), including Kamajor hunters, has sealed off the eastern border with Liberia after a battle with insurgents in which 150 people were killed, media reports said quoting an official.

Colonel Eddie Massallay, the CDF district coordinator, quoted by AFP, said a combined force of his men and the Nigerian-led ECOMOG force killed 150 rebels and 50 Liberian "intruders". The battle took place three weeks ago along the River Mano near Sulima in Sierra Leone's southeast.

Massallay said the Kamajor had created a buffer zone along the eastern Pujehun and Kailahun districts, adjacent to the border with Liberia.

"To avoid a similar encounter or any form of Liberian infiltration, we have occupied over fifty villages along the border from Sulima to Jegbema in Pujehun District," he said. "Many more border villages will be occupied in the days to come."

ECOMOG has maintained that Liberian fighters are assisting the rebels. Liberia's President Charles Taylor has denied the allegations, saying any Liberians assisting rebel troops were mercenaries.

NIGERIA: Former finance minister on missing US $1.3 billion

A former Nigerian finance minister alleged that US $1.3 billion was irregularly withdrawn from government funds under the rule of the late military leader, General Sani Abacha, news organisations reported yesterday.

The Nigerian daily, 'The Guardian', quoted Anthony Ani as saying that the missing money was discovered while reconciling state accounts for the handover to the new military ruler, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, in June. Ani said withdrawals were made by Abacha's security adviser, Ismaila Gwarzo. Ani said he had managed to recover US $700 million and had traced some of the money to Lebanon.

The BBC said it appeared that the government was treading softly in tracing funds that went missing under Abacha's rule, probably because many of the members of the current government were also senior members of the previous one.

Shell flow stations still under Ijaw control

A spokesman for Shell in London told IRIN today that all flow stations in the West Division of Shell Operations in Nigeria, around the oil-city of Warri, continued to remain under the control of Ijaw youths. He said no exports were leaving the Forcados terminal near Warri. He added that Ijaw representatives had met the Nigerian leader, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, yesterday for talks in Abuja on how to resolve the standoff between Ijaw militant youths and the government.

The source said that Shell's East Division continued to export oil normally from the eastern city of Port Harcourt. Media reports said that Shell was losing 400,000 to 600,000 barrels per day of its production.

Ijaw militant groups have defied directives by their elders to quit the oil flow stations. "What I see is that there are several different factions involved in the seizures and often they don't take directives from one another or any group," Reuters reported, quoting an employee of an oil service company.

The Ijaw militant groups are demanding the establishment of a local council government in their area to allow for a better allocation of resources.

Government hails easing of sanctions

A Nigerian Foreign Affairs Ministry statement commended the European Union (EU) and the United States for lifting some of the sanctions they imposed on the country over human rights violations in 1995, the Nigerian 'The Guardian' reported yesterday. "The move will open a window of opportunity for Nigeria, the US and the EU, to pursue fruitful cooperation and meaningful development to the advantage of our respective governments and people," the statement said.

The US government and the EU eased sanctions last week in light of the beginning of a "genuine" transition to democratic government. The US government said the easing of travel restrictions to the United States on Nigerian government officials was "intended to foster a closer relationship with American institutions and encourage further political and economic reforms".

EU and US sanctions adopted in 1995 included an arms sales ban, visa restrictions on army officials, suspension of EU development assistance, and a moratorium on high-level visits.

In a related development, a senior official of the United States army, Admiral Charles Abbot, arrived in Abuja on Tuesday to discuss Nigeria's role in regional security mechanisms and its military training and logistics programmes, 'The Guardian' reported.

Government allocates funds to curb AIDS

The Nigerian government has allocated US $10 million to curb the spread of AIDS in the country since there is a steady rise in HIV/AIDS cases, PANA reported yesterday. Speaking at the inauguration of an HIV/AIDS prevention and management committee in Lagos, Izeduwa Derex-Briggs, the liason officer of the National AIDS/STD Control Programme, said the funds would be used to strengthen the monitoring of the disease.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian minister of health, Debo Adeyemi, said more than 200,000 Nigerians were expected to die of the disease in 1998, according to the Nigerian newspaper, 'The Abuja Mirror'. He said that though knowledge about the disease was high, this was not reflected to the same degree in attitude and sexual behaviour.

The UNAIDS office in Abidjan told IRIN today that there were an estimated 590,000 adults and children with AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic in Nigeria. It said the government had opened up and was providing information and figures on the number of AIDS cases.

MALI: Eight killed in clashes

Eight people were killed in clashes between two neighbouring Malian villages over the construction of a fishing dam, news organisations reported yesterday. The fighting broke out after people from one of the villages near the town of Segou, 225 km west of Bamako, tried to set up fishing nets on the River Niger. Residents of the second village thought the nets would deprive them of much of their traditional catch. The area is reportedly tense. Reuters said 27 people were wounded during the clashes.

GUINEA BISSAU: Vieira ready to form unity government

Guinea Bissau President Joao Bernardo Vieira has called on his former rivals to work with him to form a government of national unity after their recent peace deal ending five months of civil war, the Portuguese news agency, Lusa, reported today.

"I reach out to all men and women who placed themselves in the hands of the self-proclaimed military junta, and I ask them to join in a veritable and profound national reconciliation," Lusa quoted him as saying on Tuesday on state radio.

He congratulated former rival Ansumane Mane "for his participation in dialogue which allowed the signing of the accord" in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. Vieira said the deal formed "the basis for a definitive solution to the fratricidal war".

ICRC to deliver relief items

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told IRIN today that it had received 150 mt of non-food items from the UNHCR for delivery to internally displaced people.

An official from the ICRC Dakar office said part of the consignment had been sent to the towns of Prabis and Cumura, about 20 km west of Bissau, the capital.

Mosquito nets, buckets, pots and pans, blankets, soap jerry cans and tarpaulins will be distributed by the end of the week and serve 20,000 people. ICRC said about 65 percent of the displaced people in the area were without shelter.

Bafata, some 120 km east of Bissau, will receive food next week, the official said.

LIBERIA: ICRC renovates Monrovia police cells

An ICRC statement received by IRIN today announced that it had assisted in renovating the holding cells at Monrovia's police headquarters by rehabilitating sewage and electrical systems. Prisoners had also received plywood, mattresses, blankets and buckets. The refurbished cells each have a capacity of 30 inmates.

The head of the ICRC delegation in Monrovia, Simon Antoulas, said when the ICRC team visited the cells for the first time "the inmates were standing ankle-deep in a morass of water, dirt and excrement".

Since 1997, the ICRC has been providing the Liberian authorities with supplies and expertise to restore basic hygiene conditions in major detention centres in the capital and up-country. The ICRC and other aid organisations have also been supplying daily food rations for approximately 400 inmates in Liberia's five main prisons.

Star Radio back on the Internet

Star Radio announced it had resumed posting its material on the Internet on 3 November after the Liberian Ministry of Information had lifted an earlier ban. Though the ban appeared to have been intended for all media in Liberia, only Star Radio was actually affected, the radio reported. The ban was lifted after Star Radio complied with regulations to obtain a permit.

Abidjan, 5 November 1998, 18:30 gmt


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Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 19:02:30 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 332 for 1998.11.5 Message-Id: <>

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