The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha, Tanzania has in a landmark judgment held that “the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara is a serious violation of the right to self-determination.”
The court held that “all states have legal obligations to assist the Sahrawi people in the full realisation of their right to self-determination and independence.”
The judgment delivered last week followed a suit filed by human rights lawyer Femi Falana SAN against eight African Union member states before the court over “the failure of the countries to discharge their legal duty to defend the sovereignty, territorial, integrity and independence of Western Sahara.”
The case brought on behalf of Bernard Anbataayela Mornah, a Ghanaian citizen and the National Chairman of the Convention of People’s Party, a political party in Ghana against Burkina Faso; Cote D’ivore; Ghana; Mali; Malawi; and Tanzania relates “to the legal duty on the defendants to defend the sovereignty, territorial, integrity and independence of Western Sahara.”
In the judgment, the African court held that “the presence of Moroccan forces in Western Sahara is a military occupation, which violates international law.”
The judgment, read in part: “The continued occupation of the SADR by Morocco is incompatible with the right to self-determination of the people of SADR as enshrined in Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”
“The Court notes that at the core of the instant Application lies the Applicant’s allegation that the admission of Morocco to the AU was not opposed by Respondent States in spite of their individual and collective obligation to defend the sovereignty of Western Sahara.”
“Considering the facts of the case and the submissions of the parties, the Court is of the view that the present Application is essentially and firmly linked to the right to self-determination, particularly, the right of the Sahrawi people to obtain assistance in their struggle for freedom from foreign occupation.”
“Although the other rights are autonomous by their nature, their violation in the instant case basically flows from the alleged denial of the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.”
“It is the occupation of the SADR and the deprivation of its people of their right to self-determination that have occasioned and facilitated the alleged violations of their other rights, including their right to development, right to disposal of their natural resources, their right to peace and to non-discrimination.”
“The Court observes that the notion of self-determination has strong resonance with Africa and carries a special and deep meaning to its people. Colonisation, apartheid, military occupation and various forms of foreign oppressions that the continent experienced has defined the African identity and history as inherently and inextricably intertwined with the struggle for self-determination.”
“The African States have also consistently exhibited unwavering commitment to the right to self-determination by supporting or sponsoring resolutions adopted in the United Nations and other regional and international fora.”
“Despite the fact that the Constitutive Act of the AU, did not explicitly mention the right to self-determination, the defence of ‘the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States’ is specified as one of the objectives of the Union.”
“The Constitutive Act also makes the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and other relevant human rights instruments’ its additional objective.”
“The Charter guarantees the right to self-determination under its Article 20 as follows: All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.”
“States are required to take actions individually and jointly to facilitate the realization of the right to self-determination, including by offering assistance to people struggling for independence and freedom from domination.”
“On the other hand, negative obligations involve the duty to respect the right, that is, abstaining from engaging in acts or taking measures that adversely affect people from fully enjoying their right to self-determination.”
“The Court also observes that in international law, the right to self-determination has achieved the status of jus cogens or a peremptory norm; thereby, generating the corollary obligation erga omnes on all States. As such, no derogation is permitted from the right and ‘all States have a legal interest in protecting that right’.”
“Where a peremptory norm is breached, States are also under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from such breach and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation.”
“Furthermore, the Court recalls that the obligations resulting from the right to self-determination are owed by States not only towards those who are under their jurisdiction but also to all other peoples who are not able to exercise or have been deprived of their right to self-determination.”
“In line with this, Article 20 of the Charter confers the right to get assistance on ‘all peoples’ without geographical or temporal limitations.”
“The Court observes that the right to self-determination is essentially related to peoples’ right to ownership over a particular territory and their political status over that territory. It is inconceivable to materialise the free enjoyment of the right to self-determination in the absence of any territory that peoples could call their homeland.”
“The Court recalls that although Morocco has always laid claim on the territory it occupies, its assertion has never been accepted by the international community.”
“The Court recalls that in international law, a State incurs international responsibility where three cumulative conditions are proven to have existed: an act or omission violating international law, that is, an internationally wrongful act; the act must be attributed to a State (attribution); and the ac must cause a damage or loss (causal link).”
“In addition, there should not be circumstances precluding responsibility. These conditions are spelt out in the International Law Commission’s Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts and have been generally considered as reflecting customary international law.”
“The Court also reiterates that the right to self-determination under Article 20 of the Charter imposes an international obligation on all State Parties to take positive measures to ensure the realisation of the right, including by giving assistance to oppressed peoples in their struggle for freedom and refraining from engaging in actions that are incompatible with the nature or full enjoyment of the right.”
“The Court notes that, in view of the fact that part of the SADR’s territory is still under occupation by Morocco, there is no question that State Parties to the Charter have an obligation, individually and collectively, towards the people of SADR to protect their right to self-determination, particularly, by providing assistance in their struggle for might have resulted from such occupation.”
“All State parties to the Charter and the Protocol, as well as all Member States of the AU, have the responsibility under international law, to find a permanent solution to the occupation and to ensure the enjoyment of the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people and not to do anything that would give recognition to such occupation as lawful or impede their enjoyment of this right.”
“The Moroccan occupation of part of the territory of the SADR seriously violates the right to self-determination and independence of the Sahrawi people.”
“Consequently, the Court finds, AU Member States have an obligation to assist the Saharawi people in the realisation of their right to self-determination and not to recognise the situation and violations resulting from this illegal occupation.”
“Indeed, the right to self-determination and independence “imposes an international obligation on all States Parties to take positive steps to realise this right, including assisting oppressed peoples in their struggle for freedom and refraining from actions incompatible with the nature or the full enjoyment of this right.”
The suit with application number 028/2018, read in part: “The territory known as Western Sahara in North Africa was forcefully and illegally colonized by Spain for several years until it pulled out and relinquished its claim as a colonial power over the territory in February 1976 as a result of the violent resistance of the Saharawi people.
“The defendants are members of the African Union which have accepted the competence of the Protocol of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”
“Despite the illegal occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco not less than 84 countries have accorded diplomatic recognition to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, a member state of the African Union. In Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened militarily to restore democratic governments with the support of the African Union.”
“In line with the provisions of its Constitutive Act, the African Union suspended Niger, Burkina Faso and other member states of the African following unconstitutional change of governments.”
“From the facts in support of this application it is indisputable that the defendants are members of the African Union which are bound to comply with its Constitutive Act as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (African Charter) the Protocol on Democracy, Good Governance and Elections of the African Union as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”
“The gravamen of the complaint of the Applicant is that the Defendants took part in the decision of African Union to admit Morocco to the African Union when it has not ceased to occupy parts of the territory of Western Sahara, a member state of the African Union.”
“It is the submission of the Applicant that by supporting the admission of Morocco to the African Union the defendants deliberately violated articles 3(b), (g), (f) and (g) of the African Union which require them to defend the sovereignty, territory, integrity and independence of the members states of the African Union including Western Sahara.”
“The defendants have colluded with Morocco in the subversion of the basic principles of the African Union to respect the borders existing on achievement of independence.”
“The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which provides that: ‘’Nothing shall justify the domination of a people by another. All peoples shall have the unquestionable and inalienable rights to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status.”
JUST IN: Adeleke Dethrones Three Osun Monarchs, Suspends OSIEC Chair, Members
Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke has dethroned three monarchs appointed by his predecessor, Adegboyega Oyetola.
Former Governor Oyetola had appointed several monarch few weeks before handing over government to Adeleke.
These, including Akirun of Ikirun, Oba Yinusa Akadiri, Aree of Iree, Oba Ademola Oluponle and Oba Adegboyega Famodun.
The former governor also approved the appointment of 30 permanent secretaries into the various ministries.
However, Adeleke in statement signed by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed about 24 hours after inauguration, announced that the thrones of Akirun of Akirun, Aree of Iree and Owa of Igbajo remain unoccupied pending the outcome of a Committee of Inquiry to review their appointments and subsequent installations.
According to the statement, the six Executive Orders issued by the governor which borders on reversal of monarchs appointments, appointment and placement of civil servants, employment and freezing of government accounts have been signed this morning and take immediate effect.
“All appointments of traditional rulers made by Osun State Government after 17th July, 2022, are hereby ordered to be reviewed to ensure there was strict compliance with due process of chieftaincy declarations and native law, custom and tradition relating to such chieftaincies. In the case of Ikirun, Iree and Igbajo, to avoid further breakdown of law and order, the appointments of Akinrun of Ikinrun, Aree of Ire and Owa of Igbajo are hereby put on hold pending review. Subsequently, the palaces of Akinrun of Ikirun, Aree of Iree and Owa of Igbajo should remain unoccupied, while security agencies are hereby ordered to take charge.
“All employments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in all the Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions , Boards and Parastatals after July 17th, 2022 be and are hereby nullified”, he said.
The Governor, according to the statement, also ordered the reversal of appointments into civil service and directed head of government agencies to embark on staff audit immediately.
“All Heads of Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions, Boards and Parastatals of Osun State Government are hereby directed to carry out an immediate staff audit of the actual number of government workers in their various Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions, Boards and Parastatals, as at 17th July, 2022, and should file a report to the Office of the Chief of Staff to the Governor stating the full details and position/designation of each of the staff on the forwarded list , within 7 working days from the date of this Executive order using the attached Oath of Fidelity Template.
“All appointments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in all the Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions, Boards and Parastatals after 17th July, 2022 be and are hereby reversed”, the statement reads.
Similarly, a statement issued by the Secretary to the State Government, Teslim Igbalaye ordered the immediate suspension of Osun State Independent Electoral Commission, OSIEC.
It reads, “The Executive Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke has directed the immediate suspension of the Chairman of the Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC), Mr. Segun Oladitan and the following members of the Commission; Mr. Yusuf Oyeniran, Alhaja Suibat Adubi, Prince Yinka Ajiboye, Mrs. Abosede Omibeku, Mr. Dosu Gidigbi and Mr. Wahab Adewoyin
“This suspension is sequel to several petitions bothering on financial impropriety, dereliction of duty, absenteeism and abuse of office against the said Chairman and members of the Commission.
“Pending the outcome of investigation into the allegations against the suspended Chairman and members of the Commission, the Secretary to the Commission shall hold forth in running the affairs of the Commission”.
Foreign Creditors May Seize Presidential Jets Over Accumulated Debts
…Aviation Experts React
Aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet are at the risk of being impounded by foreign creditors, according to The PUNCH.
Findings indicated that the PAF was indebted to several service providers for various upgrades carried out on the 10 aircraft in the fleet to meet the required airworthiness.
The PAF provides secure airlift to the President, the Vice-President, their immediate families and other top government officials.
However, due to inadequate funding, it was gathered that some installations on the aircraft had again been postponed to 2023.
The PAF Commander, Air Vice Marshal Abubakar Abdullahi, who stated these in his budget defence presentation at the National Assembly, also complained that only N1.5bn was allocated for the maintenance of the aircraft out of the proposed N4.5bn.
According to report, the budgetary allocation to the PAF had risen by 121 per cent in eight years.
Findings indicate that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had since 2016 allocated N81.80bn for the PAF maintenance and foreign trips.
The amount includes N62.47bn for the operation and maintenance of the PAF, N17.29bn for foreign and local trips, and N2.04bn earmarked for other related expenses.
The Presidency has maintained 10 aircraft since the inception of the Buhari regime in May 2015.
They are Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800 or NAF 001), one Gulfstream G550, one Gulfstream V (Gulfstream 500), two Falcons 7X, one Hawker Siddeley 4000, two AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters.
Though Buhari promised to reduce the size of the fleet as part of his pledge to cut the cost of governance, checks revealed that his regime had failed to live up to this promise.
However, the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), delivered the two AgustaWestland AW101 VIP helicopters in the presidential fleet to the Air Force.
But addressing the House Committee on National Security and Intelligence during the budget defence session, the fleet commander explained that the average age of the PAF aircraft was 11 years and in aviation, the cost of maintenance increases proportionally with the age of the aircraft.
Based on the fleet’s experience, Abdullahi explained that the cost of maintaining each aircraft was between $1.5m and $4.5m, depending on the level of maintenance due.
Additionally, the commander revealed that 2023, being an election year, would translate to more missions and spares’ requests for the aircraft due to increased usage.
He also told the lawmakers that the N250m approved for aviation fuel out of the requested N4bn was grossly inadequate; reminding them that aviation fuel, which sold at an average cost of N390 per litre in January, was now being dispensed at N915 per litre.
The fleet commander argued that the N8.072bn allocated for the fleet in the 2023 budget out of the proposed N15.5bn was inadequate to cater for the needs of the fleet.
He, therefore, pleaded for an upward review of the budget.
In the 2022 budget, the PAF proposed N19.4bn, but only N12.4bn was appropriated out of which N11.13bn (98.07 per cent of the total approval) had been released as of October.
Abdullahi stated, “It is pertinent for this honourable committee to note that for successive years, the fleet has been grossly underfunded, which has made it difficult to operate. From the fleet’s records, debts from preceding years are usually carried over into the following budget year and it is becoming a tradition.
“Permit me to also state that most of these debts are owed to service providers overseas. Considering that over 85 per cent of the fleet’s expenditure is forex transactions, the actual budget figure in dollar terms is further diminished.
“The fleet is currently indebted to some of its service providers due to insufficient funding from budgetary allocations and the situation makes it bad for planning. As stated earlier, we currently have to have some mandatory upgrades done on our aircraft so as to meet airworthiness requirements.”
Highlighting the aircraft upgrades that had been paused due to paucity of funds, the air vice marshal disclosed that two of the fleet’s Falcon 7X aircraft with registration number 5N-FGU and 5N-FGV were due for upholstery refurbishment to give the 11-year-old planes a new look.
Abdullahi added, “They are projected for refurbishment in their next maintenance due in December 2022 and July 2023, respectively, which will cost $2.5m each. Furthermore, the fleet’s personnel and aviation insurance premium for the year 2022 amounting to $5.1m is also due for renewal in February 2023. The fleet may not be able to fund these due to a shortfall in the budget.
“The consequences of underfunding the fleet could have adverse effects on safety operations. It may also lead to our nation being embarrassed in the international community either through seizure of the PAF aircraft at foreign airports or maintenance facilities. Moreover, other states may deny the PAF aircraft necessary over-flight permits for foreign missions.”
The senior air force officer noted that aircraft maintenance accounted for 46 per cent of the overall budget proposal and was integral to the overhead cost, adding that the shortfall in the overhead greatly affected aircraft maintenance activities in the fleet.
From the releases made so far, 14 capital projects out of 22 line items were said to have been completed 100 per cent, while the remaining eight are ongoing.
In its 2023 overhead estimates, the fleet plans to spend N1.5bn on aircraft maintenance; N256m on international travels; N200m on international transport and training; N96m on electricity; N160m on refreshment; N100m on maintenance of office and residential buildings; N28m on local travels; and N25m on local training, among others.
The fleet commander disclosed that some mandatory upgrades were carried out on credit based on the fleet’s longstanding relationships with the maintenance companies, while others have been moved to the 2023 budget.
He stated, “This committee may wish to note that the quality of aircraft maintenance conducted is directly proportional to flight safety and its critical importance cannot be emphasized.
“The fleet is mindful of the meagre financial resources in the face of competing national demands. Thus, be assured that this budget is on a need-only basis. Nonetheless, if the fleet is to meet up with its statutory obligation, there will be a need for the budget appropriation to be reviewed upward to meet PAF’s requirements.”
Aviation experts react
Commenting on the PAF’s indebtedness to foreign service providers, the Chief Executive Officer, Top Brass Aviation, Captain Roland Iyayi, said the presidential jets were seen as sovereign entities of Nigeria, noting that it would be difficult to seize them.
“I don’t know if that will be easy enough; if it was another asset of Nigeria, it is different, but a presidential jet; it’s like saying a country wants to seize the United States President’s aircraft over debt. It is considered an extension of the sovereignty of the state; so, that may not be as easy as it sounds,” he stated
Similarly, the Secretary-General Aviation Round Table, Olumide Ohunayo, said it would be difficult to seize the presidential jets because they were seen as diplomatic property.
He, however, noted that those who maintained the aircraft could refuse to release them if they were not paid for services rendered.
The aviation expert stated, “Aside that, you will need a top government official or the approval of the court where the aircraft has landed to remove the diplomatic immunity.
“In such a case, the government of the country where the aircraft has landed will be involved before a judgment can be taken. For a company to do that against Nigeria, it will also need the judgment of that country where the aircraft is. This cannot happen when the President or any government official is on a visit to another country. It can only happen when the aircraft is going for maintenance.”
Police React To Viral Video Of Alleged Terrorists In Lagos
The Lagos State police command has called on the man in a viral video alleging that he was attacked by armed terrorists in Lekki Lagos State to show up and assist in investigation into the matter.
A video of a young man who alleged that he was picked from Ikoyi roundabout in Lekki by terrorists in army camouflage had gone viral on social media.
But the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin said the command’s preliminary investigation revealed that the claims were false, urging the alleged victim to show up at the station.
In a series of tweets on his official handle, the PPRO said the command would leave no stone unturned while ensuring the safety of Lagos residents and visitors.
He wrote, “Preliminary investigations so far reveal that every claim in the video is false. While the investigation is ongoing, we encourage the man to show up to assist the Police with the investigation.
“In-depth investigation has commenced. The Command will leave no stone unturned towards ensuring the safety and security of all residents and visitors to Lagos State”.
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