Bimbola Oyesola, Geneva, Switzerland
The Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara (NMLWS) has warned that it will no longer be business as usual for Nigerian companies buying products from Morocco, alleging that the items were stolen from Sahara Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
The NMLWS, whose members include the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) the Trade Union Congress (TUC) the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and 17 civil society organisations, said its determination and plans are to bring to book all companies in Nigeria receiving phosphate stolen by the kingdom of Morocco from Western Sahara to produce fertilizer.
“The legal moves we are taking is just one of the steps to ensure that our proud country does not continue to be a receiver of stolen goods and profit from such unholy theft,” the group said.
Headed by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, NMLWS noted that it supports the development of Nigeria, but not with stolen resources.
It said, “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 colonized peoples as we did in the struggle for the liberation of countries like Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.
“Nigerians are freedom-loving peoples, not accomplices of leaders of a country like Morocco who, against all known tenets of African brotherhood, religious obligations and social justice, would invade and occupy a member country of the African Union, dehumanise its people and plunder its resources, which it sells to European Union countries and companies in Nigeria.”
It recalled that Nigeria, in December 1984, then led by General Muhammadu Buhari, based on the anti-colonial principles of the country, love for freedom, fairness, equity and justice, recognised the SADR as an independent African country.
According to the group, this was after the Saharawi had thrown off the colonial yoke of Spain.
“It is, therefore, inconceivable that 35 years later, under an elected President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria would tolerate the occupation of the same country by a sister African country and be receiving the natural resources of Western Sahara plundered by Morocco,” NMLWS said.
As part of the efforts to save SADR, the movement declared it was putting Nigerian companies dealing in stolen Western Sahara resources on notice it has concluded plans to picket them across the country and bring them before the courts.
“This also includes supermarkets selling sardines and fishes from Morocco, because 92 per cent of these fishes are stolen from the Western Sahara coast,” it said.
Among other things, the group called on the Federal Government to call the Moroccan monarchy and leadership to order and bring it to book for gross human rights violations in Western Sahara.
It also called on the African Union (AU) to defend its member SADR by giving Morocco a timeline to vacate Western Sahara and if it fails, to expel and impose stiff sanctions against it, as the AU did against apartheid in South Africa.
It added that Morocco must vacate the parts of Western Sahara it is occupying and allow the Saharawi like other Africans and peoples of the world to freely govern themselves and develop their country without any interference.