Observers of Guinea’s political crisis have raised concern that the seeds of Africa’s next civil war are being sown in that country. Giving credence to this alarm is a sprawling camp, where white contractors are getting military training to an estimated 1,500 to 4,000 men from one of Guinea’s smallest ethnic groups.
The trainees, say a camp employee, a government official and several diplomats, are almost all Guerze, the tribe of Guinea’s troubled leader.
The camp is one more sign of the growing instability in this West African nation of 10 million, where President Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara was shot at and lightly wounded by his own presidential guard last Thursday. Isolated and increasingly fearful for his safety, Camara appears to be tapping the dangerous sentiment of tribal allegiance in a bid to hold onto power.
Dictators have used such tactics throughout the continent, in some cases plunging countries into civil war. War in Guinea could also spread across the region along ethnic lines, because Guinea shares its largest ethnic group, the Peul, with five neighboring countries.
“We worry that he is recruiting and training this ethnic militia so that it can carry out blows below the belt,” said Mamadou Baadikko, president of the Union of Democratic Forces, an opposition party. “If this doesn’t stop, the risk of civil war is real.”
The 45-year-old Camara led a military coup last December, hours after the death of former strongman Lansana Conte. His first speeches were stirring, promising to crack down on corruption in the dirt-poor country and to hold elections in which he would not run. Many hoped he would reach out beyond his immediate clan because it makes up just 0.05 percent of the population, and because he is Christian in an 85 percent Muslim country.
But nearly all the top ministries were handed to men from his ethnicity. And only a few months later, Camara, 45, began hinting that he planned to run for office.
When opposition leaders led a rally on Sept. 28 to demand he step down, the presidential guard opened fire on the thousands of protesters, killing at least 157. Witnesses say the protesters were mostly Peul, while the soldiers who attacked them were overwhelmingly ‘forestier,’ the ethnic groups from Guinea’s forested southeast, including the Guerze.
It was just a few weeks before the massacre that residents of Forecariah, a dusty town 80 miles south of the country’s capital, began seeing buses arrive loaded with young men who spoke only forestier dialects.
The training camp for the militia is inside the former campus of the national gendarmerie academy in the village of Kalia, 2 1/2 miles up a dirt road from Forecariah, said a camp employee who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation. He said that in mid-summer, the academy’s director and staff were replaced by men from the president’s ethnic group.
Eighty percent of the recruits, he said, are Guerze. The rest are from the related forestier tribes. Only a handful are from the country’s major ethnicities, including the Peul, which make up 40 percent of the population, and the Soussou, which account for 20 percent.
Local residents said the foreign trainers were speaking English and two other languages which sounded like Hebrew and Afrikaans.
Parked outside were several four-wheel drive vehicles and a large bus with license plates beginning with “AG,” designated for the “Armee Guineene,” French for the Guinean Army. Locals say the bus ferries the men to and from the camp.
Idrissa Cherif, the junta’s minister of communication, said media reports that mercenaries are in Guinea are “lies.” He said Israelis are at the camp in Kalia on an official mission to train the Guinean army.
“Yes, there are Israeli citizens here,” Cherif said. “They are training our army … why do they want to tarnish the image of my country by calling them mercenaries?”
But the Israeli government said no permits have been issued to Israeli companies or individuals to operate in the security sector in Guinea. “Those doing so are acting in violation of Israeli law and may face criminal charges in Israel,” said Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
FG Mulls Introduction Of Private Firefighters
The Federal Government says it is proposing to broaden the scope of the National Fire Academy to accommodate private firefighters to address fire incidents across the country.
The plan, if carried out, would lead to the emergence of private firefighters in the country.
Speaking after his first official inspection tour of the academy, the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said the fire service could have certified private firefighters like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps’ private guards.
He added that private firefighters were needed to enhance the fire service’s operations as well as improve their response time.
This was contained in a statement by the Minister’s Media Adviser, Alao Babatunde, yesterday.
The statement partly read, “Today, we have over 3 million private guards certified by the NSCDC. We can have something similar for the fire service. We need private fire service men to enhance our service and response time. The President’s #RenewedHope agenda has charged us to be innovative if we must change the narrative.
“As a matter of fact, this is another innovative way to generate revenue because we expect that anyone looking to become a safety or security guard should get trained and certified by this academy.”
Tunji-Ojo urged all institutions and recreation centres to engage certified fire and safety personnel trained by the academy when the plan materialises.
He said: “A lot has been done, but there is still a lot more to be done. With what I have seen here, I can guarantee you that we will work very hard to see that this facility will not only be useful in training officers of the fire service but also for the private sector.
“We must make fire safety a personal affair. Every institution, commercial and social recreation centre should have certified fire and safety personnel, trained by this facility.
“All public and commercial buildings and infrastructure such as banks, hotels, malls, restaurants, or even government buildings should have first responders that can administer basic fire fighting remedy while waiting for the arrival of a full operation squad of the country’s Fire Service”.
Decentralise Pipeline Surveillance Contracts, Ondo Ex-Militants Urge Tinubu
A group of ex-militants in Ondo State, on Wednesday, called on President Bola Tinubu to revisit the pipeline surveillance project and decentralise the awarding of the contract.
The group, under the auspices of the Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard, said decentralisation of the contract would enhance the security of pipelines on waterways.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the group, Chief Lucky Ajiroba.
The statement is titled, ‘Call on His Excellency President Bola Tinubu to re-visit the pipeline surveillance contract.’
The group faulted the last administration for awarding the contract to only one company, saying the purpose for which the contract was awarded was not achieved as the security situation of the pipelines was getting worse.
The statement read, “We are the members of Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard. The group led by Akogun Job Omotuwa comprises ex-militants in the state who voluntarily submitted their arms and ammunition in response to the good gesture of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the amnesty programme in the year 2017, and we have shown our unwavering allegiance to the terms of the amnesty initiative of the government.
“The overall effects of all these are: it has increased considerably the quantum of oil production, it has substantially increased the revenue accruable to the Federation account, and ultimately it allows peaceful coexistence among the people of the oil-producing communities of the country.
“We are aware of the sterling enterprise of this administration to improve on the security architecture of the Nigeria state and all its apparatus, with a particular reference to the pipeline surveillance and secured waterways.
“The last administration made a giant stride by awarding the pipeline surveillance to a sole company in the Niger Delta Area. It is not out of place to state that the purpose upon which the contract was awarded for was not achieved as the situation of the security of the pipeline was worse than ever before since their collaborative effort was not enough to support the constituted military authorities.
“The failure of this was ascribed to the centralization of the contract. In view of this perennial failure, there has been avalanche of agitation from every quarter that the pipeline security contract should be decentralized for the purpose of achieving the desired goal of the Federal Government which is in the best interest of the entire citizens.”
The group, which commended the President for its efforts in repositioning the country’s economy, opined that each ex-militant leader in the Niger Delta Region be identified, and the pipeline security contract be split among them.
Assembly Tasks Delta Govt On Rising Prostitution, Drug Abuse
The Delta House of Assembly has passed a resolution urging the State Government to take drastic measures against rising cases of drug abuse and prostitution in the state.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Mrs Bridget Anyafulu (PDP-Oshimili South) at plenary in Asaba.
Presenting the motion, Anyafulu decried rising cases of open sex trade and use of illicit drugs among youths in the state, especially in Asaba and environs.
“Open sex trade and use of illicit drug is not a good example for our children.
“The situation is worrisome considering the fact that both issues are illegal,” she said.
Anyafulu, also the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Community and Social Development said that urgent measures must be taken to address the situation.
“The twin evil of drug abuse and sex trade represents great danger to the lives of our young people and the society at large.
“They both underline the physical, mental and social well-being of our young people and this will also jeopardize the development, peace and security of our dear state.
“So, I want to state that no nation survives without the youth, the youth and the young general are the life wire of our nation.
“Any nation that ignores the youth is heading for doom, so the importance of the young people cannot be over emphasized, it is therefore very important that we address this ugly trend,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Oboro Preyor (PDP-Bomadi) decried the negative impact of rising drug abuse and prostitution, saying it must be addressed.
‘‘If this ugly trend is not addressed, it would attract more young people into their folks,’’ he said.
He also urged the government to rehabilitate youths who were addicted to drug and to create other avenues of engaging them in productive activities.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers when put to voice vote by Speaker Dennis Guwor.
The lawmakers also called for support from law enforcement agencies to ensure the arrest and prosecution of illicit drug dealers and commercial sex workers in accordance with the law in order to curb the rising trend.
Sports3 days ago
Govt Urged To Promote, Invest In Golf
News3 days ago
Sudan: UN Bemoans 1,200 Children’s Death As Health Crisis Worsens
Politics1 day ago
Tribunal Verdict: Kano Declares 24-Hour Curfew Amid Tension
Business1 day ago
‘Nigeria Loses $1.5bn Annually To Malnutrition’
Rivers3 days ago
Publisher Promises To Uphold Professionalism
News1 day ago
NLNG Prize For Science: Don Bags $100,000 For Respiratory Technologies For New-Borns
Sports1 day ago
MTN To Co-Sponsor Nigerian Football League
Health3 days ago
How Soft Drinks Affect Male Fertility -Research