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Chadian President Idriss Deby dies on frontline, rebels vow to keep fighting

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Deby came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno has died on the battlefield after three decades in power, the army announced on state television on Tuesday. The rebels that launched the offensive against the regime rejected the transition government led by one of Deby’s sons, and vowed to pursue the offensive.

“We categorically reject the transition,” said Kingabe Ogouzeimi de Tapol, spokesman for the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) on Tuesday. “We intend to pursue the offensive.”

The stunning announcement about the president’s death came just hours after electoral officials had declared Deby, 68, the winner of the April 11 presidential election, paving the way for him to stay in power for six more years.

Deby “has just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield” over the weekend, army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on state television.

The army said a military council led by the late president’s 37-year-old son Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, a four-star general, would replace him.

Deby’s campaign said on Monday that he was headed to the frontlines to join troops battling “terrorists“.

Four Star General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, 37, son of the slain Chadian President Idriss Déby, seen here in N'djamena on April 11, 2021, will will replace his father as head of a military council, the army announced on April 20, 2021.

Four Star General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, 37, son of the slain Chadian President Idriss Déby, seen here in N’djamena on April 11, 2021, will will replace his father as head of a military council, the army announced on April 20, 2021. © Marco Longari, AFP

The circumstances of Deby’s death could not immediately be independently confirmed due to the remote location. It was not known why the president would have visited the area or participated in ongoing clashes with the rebels who opposed his rule.

Rebels based across the northern frontier in Libya attacked a border post on election day and then advanced hundreds of kilometres south across the desert.

‘A courageous friend’, says France

France on Tuesday paid tribute to Deby as a “courageous friend” and “great soldier”, while urging stability and a peaceful transition in the African country after his shock death.

“Chad is losing a great soldier and a president who has worked tirelessly for the security of the country and the stability of the region for three decades,” the office of President Emmanuel Macron said in statement, hailing Deby as a “courageous friend” of France.

The statement also emphasised France’s insistence on the “stability and territorial integrity” of Chad as it faces a push by rebel forces towards its capital, N’Djamena.

Defence Minister Florence Parly praised Deby as an “essential ally in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel” while emphasising that the fight against jihadist insurgents “will not stop”.

One of Africa’s longest-serving leaders

Deby came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

Although ruling Chad with an iron fist, he was a key ally in the West’s anti-jihadist campaign in the troubled Sahel region.

On Monday, the army had claimed a “great victory” in its battle against the rebels from neighbouring Libya, saying it had killed 300 fighters, with the loss of five soldiers in its own ranks during eight days of combat.

Deby was a herder’s son from the Zaghawa ethnic group who took the classic path to power through the army, and relished the military culture.

His latest election victory – with almost 80 percent of the vote – had never been in doubt, with a divided opposition, boycott calls, and a campaign in which demonstrations were banned or dispersed.

Deby had campaigned on a promise of bringing peace and security to the region, but his pledges were undermined by the rebel incursion.

The government had sought Monday to assure concerned residents that the offensive was over.

There had been panic in some areas of N’Djamena on Monday after tanks were deployed along the city’s main roads, an AFP journalist reported.

The tanks were later withdrawn apart from a perimeter around the president’s office, which is under heavy security during normal times.

“The establishment of a security deployment in certain areas of the capital seems to have been misunderstood,” government spokesman Cherif Mahamat Zene had said on Twitter on Monday.

“There is no particular threat to fear.”

However, the US embassy in N’Djamena had on Saturday ordered non-essential personnel to leave the country, warning of possible violence in the capital. Britain also urged its nationals to leave.

France’s embassy said in an advisory to its nationals in Chad that the deployment was a precaution and there was no specific threat to the capital.

‘Expect things to get messy’

Douglas Yates, a professor in African Studies at the American Graduate School in Paris, told FRANCE 24 that Deby’s death had come as a total surprise.

“Two days ago news had come out from the US embassy that they were evacuating personnel because there were rebels marching on the capital, and frankly the thought was ‘(Deby) will defeat them’, because he has systematically defeated every attempted coup before now.”

Yates said that although Deby was hardly known to be a great democrat, “he was a real soldier and in some ways, this was a worthy death for him. To die involved in the battle was better for him I think than to die in his bed from Covid.”

The professor said much of Chad’s unrest stems from Deby’s own people in the east with discontent rising over Deby not distributing enough oil wealth to them.

“Frankly, there’s probably not enough oil wealth to go around to everyone, but basically there were people who were unhappy, who felt like they were not getting their share and that’s been a repeated pattern in attempted coups.”

On the issue of Deby’s replacement, Yates said: “Expect things to get messy during the transition.”

“He had been in power so long, and eliminating any rivals and imprisoning his democratic opposition. What you have [now] is a large number of people who would like to be the president of Chad rather than one unified opposition leader.”

“Like Napoleon had said: ‘After me, the flood.’ And certainly after Idriss Deby, the flood.”

Culled from France24

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Kanu drags Nigeria, Kenya to African rights commission, seeks return to UK

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Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, has dragged the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Kenyan Government to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, over the alleged violation of his fundamental human rights by the two governments.

Kanu, through one of his lawyers, Aloy Ejimakor, also demanded to be returned to the United Kingdom.

Ejimakor, in a statement on Monday titled, ‘Re: Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’, said the IPOB leader demanded accountability over his extradition to Nigeria from Kenya.

The statement partly read, “Jurisdiction lies with the Commission because Nigeria and Kenya are State Parties to the African Charter; and Nigeria even took a step further to domesticate the Charter, thus making it part of her municipal laws.

“Both countries also have extradition laws that prohibit this sort of reprehensible conduct that saw Kanu to Nigeria.

“More particularly, extraordinary rendition is expressly prohibited under the African Charter, where It provides in pertinent part that “A State may not transfer (e.g. deport, expel, remove, extradite) an individual to the custody of another State unless it is prescribed by law and in accordance with due process and other international human rights obligations. Extraordinary rendition, or any other transfer, without due process, is prohibited”.

“A victim of extraordinary rendition is entitled to remedies mandated by the Charter.

“Therefore, among many other reliefs, I requested that Kanu be restored to his state of being before the rendition, which state of being was that he travelled to Kenya on his British passport and was duly admitted as such and as a free man.

“Further, that no valid territorial jurisdiction can issue from an act of extraordinary rendition because Kanu is, technically speaking, still in Kenya.

“And that the Nigerian bench warrant standing against Kanu is, in the absence of any successful extradition proceedings in Kenya, invalid to arrest in Kenya.

“I also requested the Commission to adopt other urgent measures as the Commission sees fit in the circumstances to protect Nnamdi Kanu in the interim. A fact-finding visitation to Nigeria is also in reckoning.”

Recall that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), at a press briefing in Abuja on June 29, 2021, announced that the IPOB leader was arrested in a foreign country and extradited to Nigeria.

Kanu, who was born on September 25, 1967, is a holder of Nigerian and British passports. He had earlier jumped bail in June 2018 before leaving for the United Kingdom though he said that he fled because his life was no longer safe in Nigeria.

Upon his re-arrest and extradition in June 2021, he was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako for terrorism-related charges and has since been remanded in the custody of the Department of State Services in Abuja.

The media had earlier reported that Kanu was absent from court when his trial resumed at the Federal High Court Abuja on Monday.

Justice Nyako, therefore, stated that the trial could not continue in the absence of Kanu since he was not available to stand his trial.

The judge also did not attend to the prayer of Kanu’s lawyers that the court should grant a pending application before it to transfer Kanu from the custody of the DSS to a correctional centre in Abuja.

Justice Nyako subsequently adjourned the trial of Kanu to October 21, 2021, for continuation of hearing.

Culled from the Punch News Nigeria

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Nigerian Government Must Explain How Nnamdi Kanu Was Arrested From Kenya – UK Parliament

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The UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad, demanded that the Nigerian government should explain to the British government how it repatriated the IPOB leader.

The United Kingdom Parliament has stated that the Nigerian government has to explain the roles it played and the manner of the arrest of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, from Kenya.

The UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad, demanded that the Nigerian government should explain to the British government how it repatriated the IPOB leader.

This followed a debate by the UK Parliament on July 7, during which British lawmakers discussed the UK government’s assessment of Kenya’s role in Kanu’s arrest.

Lord Alton of Liverpool raised the issue at the House of Lords, seeking to address the controversies surrounding the transfer of Kanu from Kenya to Nigeria against his will.

He also sought to know if there was any assistance provided to the embattled IPOB leader by the High Commission in Abuja.

A parliamentary schedule stated, “Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the alleged role of the government of Kenya in the detention and alleged mistreatment of Nigerian activist Nnamdi Kanu, (2) the circumstances surrounding the transfer of Kanu to Nigeria against his will, and (3) of any assistance being provided to him by the High Commission in Abuja. HL1665.”

In response to the parliament’s debate, Ahmad said, “We are seeking clarification from the Nigerian Government about the circumstances of the arrest and detention of Nnamdi Kanu.”

Ahmad also confirmed claims by the British High Commission in Abuja that the UK government was providing consular assistance for the IPOB leader.

“The UK has requested consular access to Kanu from the Nigerian government, and we stand ready to provide consular assistance,” he maintained.

While the Buhari regime has refused to disclose how it repatriated the IPOB leader from Kenya, the UK government had clarified that Kanu travelling with a British passport was not arrested within its shores.

IPOB had also accused Kenya’s special police force of arresting, detaining, and torturing Kanu before the authorities handed him over to the Nigerian government.

But Kenya, through its high commissioner to Nigeria, Wilfred Machage, refuted the claim, stating that the East African Country was not involved in the whole process.

But findings by The Guardian, a UK newspaper, indicated that he was arrested in Kenya, as Kanu’s UK passport remains in Kenya.

He was said to have entered Kenya this year with his British passport on a visa expiring in June, the newspaper reported.

Also, Kingsley Kanu, a brother to the British-Nigerian citizen, insisted that the Kenyan government was involved in the arrest.

Culled from the Sahara Reporters

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Dangote Refinery: A Grounded Disaster and Nigeria’s Disgrace

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It was hailed as the best thing to happen in the oil and gas sector especially in Nigeria – a serial importer of crude products. The year was 2013 and in September of that year, Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, announced yet another of his gargantuan projects – the construction of the biggest single train refinery in the world with production expected to begin in 2016. Many delays and postponements later, the project has been bogged down by barely serviceable debts, poor planning, lack of centralized project management, mismanagement and has now become a huge albatross on Nigeria’s neck costing the country lots of FX and creating huge problems in return.

VALUATION

A project that started as a 9billion dollars project is now being valued at over 16 billion dollars, albeit incorrectly. Sampling expert opinion from leading players in the oil & Gas industry, it is estimated that a refinery of that size should ideally cost within the range of 11 to 12 billion dollars to build in Nigeria. Notwithstanding the conflicting figures, it was recently announced that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, will be taking a 20% stake in the uncompleted, non-functional Dangote Refinery at the cost of 3.8billion dollars. Whilst this baffled many, NNPC’s actions effectively over-valued the yet to be completed refinery to 19billion dollars.

PROJECT DELAYS OR PROJECT DELAY-ED

As at last count, the completion of the refinery had been moved eight times. Whilst some might say this is in character for Dangote Industries and their numerous projects across different sectors, the problem is deeper rooted. A contractor at the delayed refinery project, speaking under the condition of anonymity said that poor planning, underpayment of contractors, and a lack of proper project management with over 40 contractors on site has led to most of the delays. He also added that of the 40, none is willing to commission as there is no clear delegation of duty and over-decentralization leading to absolute chaos.

With these incessant delays, Banks are already calling in their loans. At the announcement of the project in 2013, Mr. Dangote said he had secured financing of 3.3billion dollars. This debt burden has now risen to 7billion dollars with debt servicing of almost 700million dollars per annum. Whilst Mr. Dangote has been able to restructure the facilities from various local and international banks twice so far, most banks have totally refused to restructure for the third time with principal repayment also falling due – as well as the annual interest payments.

Things have gotten so bad for the billionaire that even income from his other businesses are barely enough to cover the interest rates talk less of the principal. This has led Mr. Dangote to seek innovative ways, including state capture, to prop up his business now that the refinery project has been consistently delayed and he has run out of money to repay. Enter the NNPC Connection, Nigeria’s controversial PIB Amendment and the Crude Swap Saga.

THE NNPC CONNECTION – BAILING OUT THE UNBAILABLE

After taking FX at concessionary rates from the CBN, Nigeria is inexplicably tied at the apron strings to Mr. Dangote’s now-threatened refinery. Estimates by professional industry analysts and those close to the project put its completion date in 2024 or 2025.

Recently, the NNPC announced, under some obscure arrangement, that it was taking a 20% equity in the Dangote refinery at 3.8billion dollars. The NNPC was later to explain that it was giving only 1 billion in cash and the balance in crude.

Whilst this is a welcome development, Mr. Dangote will have a hard time doing anything tangible with the 1billion dollars cash which is barely enough to cover one years’ interest. With some principal payments falling due and the banks’ unwillingness to restructure in the face of an estimated completion timeline of 2024 at the earliest, Messrs. Dangote will need at least 3 to 4 billion to complete the project over the next few years even with this bailout. Both the way the refinery project has been carried out, and this subsequent NNPC bailout for Dangote refinery has turned Nigeria into a laughingstock on the global stage.

As for the controversial PIB bill currently before the Nigerian National Assembly, it is now clear to keen watchers that the reason the government wants to give a monopoly of importation for petroleum products into the country to Messrs. Dangote is so he can make the excessive and extra profits he needs to manage his rising debt profile for the refinery (under the guise of ongoing refinery projects). Guess who will bear the brunt of the higher costs in petroleum products at a time when subsidies are being reduced? The Nigerian people.

With his refinery project costs way overboard, banks breathing down his neck and NNPC’s strange bailout seemingly meagre to take care of the principal and interest payments for his debts, is the Dangote Refinery a dead project even before it is completed, or will time be kind and permit the completion of this project to which Nigeria has mortgaged huge FX from its treasury to see it kick off in good time? The chicken has come home to roost, it may seem.

Finally, with the one billion dollars going towards the repayment of principal and interests which are falling due in August, the manipulations by NNPC and politicians at the National Assembly has now become clear for all to see… As it stands, some government agencies and politicians are more than willing to mortgage the interests of the nation and masses to bail out the unbailable refinery project. Welcome to the Republic of Dangote!

Culled from the Investoreel

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