President Buhari’s Visit to Morocco: the Concerns, By Nig. Mov. for Liberation of Western Sahara
…recent developments have begun to give the distinct evidence that Nigeria is losing its political integrity and credibility on the issue of Western Sahara. The Nigerian government should be prevailed upon to reverse the on-going betrayal of African independence.
The Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara (NMLWS) has received the report of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s recent visit to the Kingdom of Morocco.
The NMLWS hereby draws the attention of people of Nigeria to certain issues surrounding the visit.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit raised some important issues about the status of Nigeria in Africa. Does Nigeria still stand credible and admirable, principled and just, as it used to be, through the principled and just role that our country played in the anti-colonial struggles in Africa? Does Nigeria still value the respect our country won all over the world during the African anti-colonial struggles? Has Nigeria’s principled and decisive role in the decolonisation of Africa been jettisoned in the present? In the case of the struggle of the people of Western Sahara for independence, has the Nigerian government reversed, or is the Nigerian government about to reverse history and accept the Moroccan colonisation of Western Sahara? Is the Nigerian government going to resist the profits from Morocco’s illegal colonial rule of Western Sahara?
Mr. President’s visit to Morocco raised certain questions, the answers to which have far-reaching implications for the moral and political integrity of the Nigerian state and its leaders, who are supposed to represent the Nigerian people rightly. The first pertained to the report that the president of Nigeria was in Morocco to conclude trade deals with Morocco’s rulers, a major one of which is trade in phosphate.
Following the December 2016 visit to Nigeria by the King of Morocco, several agreements were signed between Nigeria, represented by President Muhammadu Buhari, and King Mohammed VI of Morocco. One of them is the partnership between the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSON) and OCP Phosphate company owned by the Moroccan state. According to the report, among other things, the OCP would “supply discounted phosphate to Nigeria”, to help support the blending of NPK fertiliser in 2017.
One of the constituents of Nigeria’s trade in phosphate is the importation of Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) from Morocco. Phosphate constitutes 21 per cent of blended nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (the NPK fertiliser).
As for the private sector, the Fertiliser Producers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) also signed a fertiliser deal with the Moroccan OCP.
The Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI): Altering the Status Quo
In December 2, 2016, Morocco signed a Phosphate Agreement between FEPSON and OCP, on behalf of the Nigerian and Moroccan governments respectively.
In February 12, 2017, a little more than a year ago, Nigeria began to receive (import) Moroccan phosphate berths at the Port of Lagos. A second ship was due to arrive at the beginning of April.
The Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSON) and OCP specialise in ‘stealing’ phosphate from Western Sahara.
The Presidential Committee on the Fertiliser Initiative (PCFI) was also a key player, along with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, agro-dealers, state governments, etc, in this process.
Now, we draw your attention to the judgment of the European Court of Justice:
The Court of Justice of the European Union, ruled, in its judgment Case C-104/161 (Luxemburg, February 27, 2018), and in case C-266/16, that “the Fisheries Agreement concluded between the EU and Morocco is valid in so far as it is not applicable to Western Sahara and to its Adjacent Waters.”
Put simply, any agreement made by any party with Morocco on the sale of fish taken from the waters of Western Sahara is illegal, unless the consent of the people of Western Sahara is obtained prior to the agreement. The basis of this judgment was that the territory of Western Sahara does not form part of the territory of Morocco, and Morocco has no legitimate legal claim to any fish found in Saharawi waters.
In violation of the judgment EU court of Justice, Nigerian governments have allowed the import of fish stolen from Western Sahara, with ‘Titus’ being the most famous.
The High Court of South Africa, Eastern Cape Local Division, Port Elizabeth, on February 23, 2018 ruled that:
“The Plaintiff (SADR) is the owner of the whole of the cargo of phosphate and ownership of the phosphate has never lawfully been vested in the fifth and sixth defendant i.e OCP SA and Phosphate De Boucraa SA, and they were, and are not entitled to sell the phosphate to Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited (4th Defendant).”
The UN’s Position On Western Sahara’s Mineral Resources
According to Hans Corell, former legal counsel of the United Nations, the UN concluded, concerning the conditions under which the extraction of natural resources of Western Sahara should take place:
“If further exploration and exploitation activities were to proceed in disregard of the interest and wishes of the people of Western Sahara, they would be in violation of the International law principles applicable to mineral resource activities in Non-Self Governing Territories.”
“Only the people of Western Sahara, as a Non-Self-Governing territory, have the right to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources. To be legal, economic activities for exploration and exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara must benefit the people of Western Sahara and respect their wishes. The people of Western Sahara and their legitimate representatives (POLISARIO Front) and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic Government should not only be consulted but must be directly involved in any arrangements or agreements regarding the exploitation and exploration of natural resources in their territory. This is the position of the United Nations.”
The Position of the African Union
The African Union adopted the opinion of the Legal Counsel to the United Nations that:
“If further exploration and exploitation activities were to proceed in disregard of the interest and wishes of the people of Western Sahara, they would be in violation of the International Law principles applicable to mineral resources activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories”.
On this basis, the AU concluded and recommended that:
“68. Morocco has no right to explore and exploit any natural resources, renewable or non-renewable located in the occupied territories of Western Sahara or to enter into agreements/contracts with third parties concerning these resources.
69. Thus, AU through the African Union Commission and other relevant organs must appeal to the UN Security Council to ensure that exploration and exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara is undertaken under the following framework:
a. Morocco should not enter into any agreements with any other State, group of States or foreign companies for exploration or exploitation of renewable or non-renewable natural resources over the Territory of Western Sahara. In this regard, Agreements entered into by Morocco should be limited exclusively to its territory internationally recognised under its sovereignty (which does not include Western Sahara);
b. Any exploration or exploitation of natural resources in Western Sahara must be for the benefit of the people of Western Sahara and in accordance with their wishes;
c. Accordingly, the people of Western Sahara and their legitimate representatives must not only be consulted but they must consent and effectively participate in reaching any agreement that involves the exploitation of natural resources in the Territory of Western Sahara.”
Implication: All companies and all governments that deal in the trade of the fish and phosphate and other minerals of Western Sahara are trading in stolen goods. This is the import of the Judgment of the High Court in South Africa (Eastern Cape Local Division, Port Elizabeth, Friday February 23, 2018). In this suit, the High Court ruled that the owner of the cargo of phosphate laden (and seized) on the motor vessel “NM Cherry Blossom” is the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR); the OCP/SA, and Phosphates De Boucraa SA 5th and 6th defendants respectively are not entitled to sell the phosphate to Balance Agri-Nurients Limited (the 4th Defendant). The “Moroccan Fishing Zone”, the EU Court ruled, does not include the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara”. So, Morocco is in reality selling phosphate and fish stolen from Western Sahara to Nigerian business magnates, including some close to the corridors of power.
The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has recently been on a visit to Morocco. The president should review his dealings with Morocco on behalf of Nigeria on the basis of the EU Court judgments and the African Union Legal Opinion referred to here.
We wish to remind Nigerians that the Nigerian president as a military head of state in 1984 led the defunct Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to, in accordance with the UN Declaration on Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People, adopted by the General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, recognise Western Sahara as an independent country. The recent developments have begun to give the distinct evidence that Nigeria is losing its political integrity and credibility on the issue of Western Sahara. The Nigerian government should be prevailed upon to reverse the on-going betrayal of African independence.
Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara (NMLWS); Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.