2:33 am - Saturday June 23, 2018

DAMNING VERDICT ON AFRICA’S MOST POPULOUS NATION: ‘NIGERIA is the Most Unequal Country in the World, 80% of the People living on less than TWO Dollars Daily, 62 percent in extreme Poverty’-EUROPEAN Parliament …10% of the country’s population controlling more than 90% of its wealth and resources *Poverty contributes directly to Social, Religious and Regional division * Boko Haram carries out deadly attacks on mosques, schools, markets and churches in Northern Nigeria * Since Chibok abduction on 14 April 2014, 115 Girls still missing *Cameroon Rejects 100,000 Nigerians seeking Asylum * Nigerians held in Libyan detention centres are been beaten, sexually abused, denied food and medicine * $400bn in oil revenues has gone missing from Nigerian state coffers *Nigerian Armed Forces commit war crimes and crimes against humanity *FAULTS Arrest, dissapearance of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF, UNITED STATES & LEONE HUGO/SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, AUSTRIA

DAMNING VERDICT ON AFRICA’S MOST POPULOUS NATION:

‘NIGERIA is the Most Unequal Country in the World, 80% of the People living on less than TWO Dollars Daily, 62 percent in extreme Poverty’-EUROPEAN Parliament

…10% of the country’s population controlling more than 90% of its wealth and resources
*Poverty contributes directly to Social, Religious and Regional division
* Boko Haram carries out deadly attacks on mosques, schools, markets and churches in Northern Nigeria
* Since Chibok abduction on 14 April 2014, 115 Girls still missing
*Cameroon Rejects 100,000 Nigerians seeking Asylum
* Nigerians held in Libyan detention centres are been beaten, sexually abused, denied food and medicine
* $400bn in oil revenues has gone missing from Nigerian state coffers
*Nigerian Armed Forces commit war crimes and crimes against humanity
*FAULTS Arrest, disappearance of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra

BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF, UNITED STATES & LEONE HUGO/SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, AUSTRIA

IN A UNANIMOUS DECISION BY EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT on Nigeria with Reference Number 2018/2513(RSP), exercising the legislative function of the European Union, EU, in conjunction with the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, it released a caustic report on Nigeria, revealing that “Nigeria is the largest economy in the African continent, but despite its vast resources, Nigeria is among the most unequal countries in the world with 80% of its population living on less than USD 2, 62% living in extreme poverty and 10% of the country’s population controlling more than 90% of its wealth and resources; whereas according to Oxfam, the number of people living in poverty increased from 69 million in 2004 to 112 million in 2010 despite the fact that the country grew by more than 7%; whereas the extreme poverty is even more acute in the northern states; whereas this poverty contributes directly to a social, religious and regional division.”

The European Parliament, EP, resolution agreed that Nigeria being the most populous, cultural diverse country in Africa is inhabited by over 500 ethnic groups and marked by a North-South division with severe economic and social disparities, since Nigeria is the largest economy in the African continent.

EP faults wealth distribution in Nigeria, especially how 10 percent elites corner the nation’s 90% resources compelling the masses to live in abject poverty, revealing why Boko Haram has refused to subside in Nigeria, but holding Northern Nigeria into deadly attacks regularly, “whereas in the past eight years, northern Nigeria has suffered hundreds of deadly attacks on mosques, schools, markets and churches, carried out by the Boko Haram group, killing indiscriminately Christians, Muslims and anyone who does not adhere to its beliefs; whereas Boko Haram has recruited civilians to its ranks, including many women and children; whereas at least 110 Children and 83 women were used by Boko Haram for suicide bombings in 2017; whereas according to Amnesty International there has been a strong increase in Boko Haram criminal operations since April 2017 compared to 2016; whereas since the abduction of 276 school girls by Boko Haram militants from a school in Chibok on 14 April 2014, 115 of these girls remain missing.”

Other resolutions by the body states (unedited) “whereas according to Amnesty International the violence caused by the conflict between armed forces and Boko Haram group has affected more than 14 million of people, at least 20,000 have been killed and more than 2.6 million people have been displaced.

“Whereas according to Human Rights Watch most internally displaced people lack the basic rights to food, housing, education, health, protection from harm, as well as the right to freedom of movement; whereas displaced women and girls suffer rape and sexual exploitation perpetrated not only by Boko Haram but also by other internally displaced persons, members of security groups, police and soldiers; whereas at least 100,000 Nigerian asylum seekers have suffered forced repatriation by the army of Cameroon.”

Sharply looking at the desperate illegal migration efforts of Nigerians to seek better life in Europe, EP tells about the risk by saying “Whereas thousands of Nigerians are risking their lives on the migration routes to the EU in hope of living in better economic, social and security conditions; whereas Nigerian people held in official Libyan detention centres report having been beaten, sexually abused and denied food and medicine by guards; whereas thousands of Nigerian women are victims of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation both on the way to Europe and inside our borders.

“Whereas as part of the policies of externalization of its borders, since 2012 the EU has delivered to Nigeria about 80 million euros destined to migratory issues; whereas Nigeria has committed to repatriate 15,000 people by February 2018.

“Whereas in Benue and Taraba regions the conflict between farmers and pastoralists intensified, causing 80,000 displaced persons and at least 80 deaths in 2018 and have led to destruction of properties, shortages of food supply in affected communities; whereas the progressive desertification of the Sahelian savanna is pushing the shepherds towards the more fertile lands of the south; whereas problems between pastoralists and farmers worsened with the entry into force of a new law prohibiting nomadic cattle herders from moving through the state: whereas violence has spread to other central Nigerian states, dividing their inhabitants by religions and ethnic groups.”

EP faults the arrest and disappearance of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, claiming government ordered the dissolution and punishment of IPOB as a terrorist organization, “Whereas the conflict with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been increasing since the arrest and posterior disappearance of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu; whereas the government ordered the dissolution and punishment of IPOB as a terrorist organization.

“Whereas the armed forces were accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity such as arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, imprisonment, torture and ill-treatment to obtain information and extrajudicial executions against civil who were accused of terrorism; whereas the security forces have also been accused of interrupting peaceful protests and meetings, in some cases with violence and excessive use of force.”

On Amnesty International stance, the report said “Whereas, according to Amnesty International since August 2015, Nigerian security forces have killed at least 150 IPOB activists and arrested and wounded hundreds of others during peaceful gatherings; whereas according to Amnesty International the security forces arrested hundreds of member of Islamic Movement of Nigeria forces during peaceful protests; whereas between November 2016 and April 2017, the authorities forcibly and violently evicted more than 30,000 inhabitants of the community of Otodo-Gbame on the outskirts of the city of Lagos, 11 people have been victims of unlawful killings and fewer than 17 are missing after these violent evictions.

“Whereas impartial and independent investigations were not carried out of crimes perpetrated by the armed forces; whereas the lack of significant progress in the investigation because of the alleged rape of women and girls by security forces and officials in the IDP camps in 2016; whereas the release of nine senior military commanders responsible, according to Amnesty International, for the deaths of more than 7,000 men and children and more than 1,200 extrajudicial executions since 2011.

“Whereas the death penalty is legal in Nigeria; whereas In 2016, Nigeria condemned 527 people to death, triple the number in 2015; whereas there is a de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 2006, though this moratorium was broken in 2013 and 2016.

“Whereas in November 2017 Nigeria refused to sign an EPA between European Union (EU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); whereas Nigeria highlight the negative impact this agreement will have for the economy and the development of the population.

“Whereas until the discovery of oil in the 1960s, Nigeria was among the world’s leading producers of agricultural products such as cocoa, peanuts, rubber, cotton, hides and skins; whereas today Nigeria is a net importer of raw materials and food and currently faces the risk of a food crisis with more than 4.7 million people suffering from food insecurity.”

Regarding how EU imports 41 percent of Nigeria’s oil, “Whereas Nigeria is the sixth largest oil producer in OPEC and it is the fourth largest exporter of natural gas; whereas the EU imports 41% of Nigeria’s oil production and 23% of its natural gas; whereas the extraction of oil in the country is mostly in the hands of foreign companies.

“Whereas according to Global Witness an estimated $400bn in oil revenues has gone missing from Nigerian state coffers and western corporations are often accomplices in facilitating corruption in Nigeria; whereas Shell and Eni have been ordered to stand trial in Milan on charges of aggravated international corruption for their role in a 2011 $1.1bn deal for Nigerian oil block OPL 245.

“Whereas there are also complaints against European companies for complicity in human rights violations; whereas Shell was denounced because its complicity in human rights violations committed by the Nigerian armed forces against the Ogoni people in the 1990s.”

On Niger Delta environmental pollution, the press statement reads that “Whereas the Niger Delta is one of the most polluted regions on the planet with more than 6,800 registered oil spills (between nine and 13 million barrels); whereas that pollution in this area could produce a 60% of reduction on food security and increase the prevalence of child malnutrition to 24%.

“Whereas the reckless extraction of oil has damaged the region’s environment and the livelihoods of local communities; whereas there are complaints against European companies such as the Italian company Eni, accused by the Ikebiri community of the damages caused by the explosion of an oil pipeline in 2010.

“Whereas the Nigerian government launched a large-scale clean-up project for the Niger Delta region in June 2016 to implement the recommendations made by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), but according to the allegations there is no improvements; whereas, according to local activists, the Nigerian armed forces are in collusion with oil companies to attack local communities and harass the Ogoniland population who oppose such projects.

“Whereas in 2016 Nigeria was ranked 118 in the ranking of 144 countries that make up the World Report on the Gender Gap; whereas in the poorest stratum of society, 75% of women do not go to school and in urban areas 51% do not receive education, a figure that doubles the men statistic; whereas 17% of girls are married before their 15th birthday, and that child marriage reaches 76% in the Northwest region; whereas at least 26% of women and girls have been victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) despite being prohibited by law since 2015.

“Whereas the law prohibiting marriage between persons of the same sex continues to be in force; whereas the police detained LGTBI people; whereas social equality, education, literacy, women’s rights, social justice and a fair distribution of state revenues in society, reducing inequality and the fight against corruption are key for good governance and to fighting fundamentalism, violence and intolerance.

EP condemns increase violence in Nigeria “Strongly condemns the ongoing and increasing violence in Nigeria which has led to thousands of deaths and injuries and displaced more than 2.6 million of persons.

“Deplores the massacre of women, men and children, the rapes, the use of torture, the recruitment of child soldiers, and stands with the people of Nigeria in their determination to fight all forms of violence in their country.

“Insists on the fact that the fight against sectarians and terrorists groups could be efficient only if we address the causes and specifically problems related to inequality, the control of fertile farmland, unemployment and poverty; highlights the fact that the current situation shouldn’t be a pretext to restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms or to commit crimes.

“Condemns the Nigerian military for using disproportionate force in its pursuit of Boko Haram; calls for an independent and transparent investigation for any human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, torture, rapes, children abuses, arbitrary arrests, and extortion-related abuses; considers that actions of this kind cannot be justified as a means to combat the threat posed by Boko Haram or other terrorist organizations.

“Denounces the role played by AFRICOM and the increasing of its presence in the destabilization of the African Continent; affirms that today it’s even more clear that the presence of more troops, more military bases leads to more wars and conflicts in the African continent; from Somalia to Nigeria, from Mali to Niger, from the Central African Republic to the Democratic Republic of Congo on the pretext of combating terrorist groups, the US and their allies justify their military interference in Africa; the African continent faces today the spread of wars and fratricidal divisions which provokes instability and chaos and favour the control and plundering of the continent’s natural resources by the imperialist powers.

“Considers that the peaceful resolution of conflicts can only take place through respect for human rights, especially the inalienable right of the people to dispose of themselves and their resources; encourage Nigerian’s authorities to support and work with civil society organizations and community based groups to introduce platforms for peace-building initiatives that encourage peaceful engagement, dialogue, reconciliation and co-existence amongst all the stakeholders.

“Emphasises the importance of an independent, impartial, accessible judiciary system for all citizens, to put an end to impunity, to enhance respect for rule of law and fundamental rights of the population. Urges Nigerian’s Authorities to implement the moratorium on death penalty in view of its abolition.

“Calls the EU and it´s Member States to facilitate their access to European asylum and ensure human rights to all migrants; strongly condemns all readmission policies, especially those relating to countries such as Nigeria, where these people risk their lives and face ill-treatment contrary to the Geneva Convention; criticise the financial support of the EU for policies whose aim it is to externalise border controls without changing the current situation of the people in need in those countries; Calls for ensuring rights and a save passage to both migrants and displaced; stresses further that development aid must not be made conditional on cooperation in migration matters such as border management or readmission agreements; recalls its concerns about the increasing use of trust funds, such as limited transparency, lack of consultation and regional ownership. Condemns the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law, criminalizing LGTBI people; calls for the abolition of this law.

“Calls the Nigerian’s authorities to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment through boosting women and women rights organisations participation in public and political life; calls for a comprehensive EU approach on violence against women and girls with increased efforts and resources to prevent and eliminate all discriminatory practices against women as well as to combat and prosecute all forms of violence including trafficking in human beings, female genital mutilation, forced sterilisation, forced pregnancy, gendercide, domestic violence and marital rape, child, early and forced marriage and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict situations; calls for the development of specific EU actions to strengthen the rights of different groups of women, with a special attention to youth, migrants, women living with HIV, LGBTI persons and persons with disabilities.

“Welcomes the refusal of Nigeria to sign and ratified an EPA with EU due to the dramatic consequences it could have for the economy and the Nigerian people; urges the EU to stop unbalanced and unfair trade agreements with third countries, including EPAs, and to build an new cooperation based on mutual development for the benefit of people instead of the interested of the multinationals companies; recalls the European Union and its Member States when negotiating tax treaties, shall comply with the principle of policy coherence for development established in Article 208 TFEU; The European Union shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries such Nigeria.

“Urges transnational companies to respect human rights and the principle of due diligence as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and to take all the necessary measures to respect and protect the environment and to not use corruption as a mean to achieve public contract; Calls on the institutions of the Union to work towards the conclusion of binding international agreements that reinforce respect for human rights, especially in the case of companies based in the Union operating in third countries; and specifically, demands the support for the binding treaty that is being built within the United Nations; calls on the European Commission and the Member States to take the necessary measures against European companies that do not respect these standards or that do not satisfactorily compensate victims of human rights violations directly or indirectly their responsibility.

“Calls on the European Union and its Member States to take concrete measures to efficiently curve illicit financial flows, tax evasion and avoidance, and boost democratic international cooperation in tax matters notably regarding the European companies present in Nigeria in order to enhance wealth redistribution.

“Calls on the Nigerian authorities to take emergency measures in the Niger Delta, and to help those exposed to pollution; calls on the EU and its Member States to provide the resources and expertise necessary to rehabilitate the area; asks all companies operating in the region to respect international standards at the highest level and to refrain from taking actions that could harm the environment and local communities.

” Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the national parliaments of the 28 Member States, the President, Government and Parliament of Nigeria, the Representatives of ECOWAS and the African Union, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.”

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