NLC, TUC, others to picket Nigerian firms dealing in ‘stolen’ resources from Western Sahara

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and about 17 civil Society organizations have said they will picket Nigerian companies buying stolen phosphate, fertilizer and fishes from Morocco, claiming that the resources are stolen from the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) otherwise known as Western Sahara.

The labour unions and allied groups under the aegis of Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara, told a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday that they condemned the continued colonial occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco and the continued exploitation of the resources of the country without the consent of the people amidst human rights violations perpetrated by Morocco.

Leader of the movement in Nigeria Dipo Fasina said the formidable team is determined to bring to book all companies in Nigeria which are currently receiving phosphate stolen by the Kingdom of Morocco from Western Sahara to produce fertilizer.

“The legal moves we are making 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.

“This movement supports the development of Nigeria, but not with stolen resources. We insist that although our country needs fertilizer, but not that produced with the blood of our brothers and sisters in Western Sahara,” he said.

He added that Nigerians are freedom loving peoples, not accomplices of leaders of 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, dehumanize its people and plunder its resources which it sells to the European (EU) countries and companies in Nigeria.

“So, we put all those dealing in the stolen Western Sahara natural Resources including their fishes on notice that they cannot continue to do business as usual.

“After giving this notice to the Nigerian companies dealing in stolen Western Sahara resources, we will picket them across the country and bring them before our courts. This also includes super markets selling sardines and fishes from Morocco because 92% of these fishes are stolen from the Western Sahara coast,” he said.

The labour unions therefore demanded that the Moroccan monarchy and leadership be called to order and brought to book for gross human rights violations in Western Sahara.

They also demanded that the consent and permission of the Saharawi people through the SADR government be secured before the natural resources of the country are utilized or trade in any form.

“We demand that the African Union defends its member SADR by giving Morocco a time line to vacate Western Sahara and if it fails, to expel and impose stiff sanctions against it as we did to Apartheid in South Africa.

“We demand that the UN expand the mandate of MINURSO to include human rights violations so its Mission can protect the Saharawi people.

“We demand that Morocco vacates the parts of Western Sahara it is occupying and allows the Saharawi like other Africans and peoples of the world to freely govern themselves and develop their country without any interference.

Maitre Gilles Devers, the European lawyer of the SADR, said that the European Court of Justice has ruled that Morocco has no sovereignty over Western Sahara, saying ” we are organizing a strong cooperation in support of the Western Sahara.”

Also speaking during the conference, Femi Falana, one of the lawyers representing the SADR, said they have decided to take the legal battle to the door steps of Africa countries and companies that have entered into illegal agreements with the Kingdom of Morocco for the exploitation of the natural resources of the people of Western Sahara.

He said that the essence is to warn such parties to cancel such agreements and respect the human right of the people of Western Sahara to enjoy their natural resources as recognized by Article 20 and 21 o the African Charter on Human and Peoples right.

“We are going to start with Nigeria because currently tones of phosphate are being imported into the country from Western Sahara on the basis of illegal agreements entered into between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco and well as certain companies.

” We are warning such parties and we are alerting them of the decision of the people of Western Sahara to defend their human rights to their resources,” he said

The People of Western Sahara under the Polisario front have since 1975 been agitating for freedom from Morocco, which allegedly seized Western Sahara and imposed its rule after former colonial power Spain left Western Sahara. This crisis has dominated International fora in recent years.

Innocent Odoh, Abuja

090/500/60 (SPS)