Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has warned the Federal Government not to sign any bilateral agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco, which may involve exploitation of resources in Western Sahara.
Falana said any such agreement will be set aside by a competent court of law.
In a statement, yesterday, Falana said President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Morocco should rather be used to pressure the country to respect the right to self-determination of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
“In particular, the attention of the Nigerian leader should be drawn to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the High Court in South Africa, which have ruled that the Kingdom of Morocco is not competent to exploit any of the vast natural resources in Western Sahara as they belong to the Saharawi people. Therefore, the federal government should not enter into any bilateral agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco, for the exploitation of the resources in the occupied territory.
“Otherwise, such agreement will be annulled and set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction,” Falana said.
The rights activist also accused the federal government of policy summersault on Western Sahara and noted that “in 1984, the defunct military government headed by General Muhammadu Buhari, supported the legitimate demand of the colonised people of Western Sahara to self-determination by ensuring that the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic was admitted to the Organisation of African Unity (now African Union).
“In protest against the admission, the Kingdom of Morocco withdrew from the continental body. The decision of Nigeria to champion the legitimate cause of the Saharawi people was informed by several resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the 1975 ruling of the International Court of Justice which held that the Kingdom of Morocco does not encompass Western Sahara.
“But, in a demonstration of foreign policy somersault, the Buhari administration did not oppose the request of the Kingdom of Morocco to join the African Union.”
Falana said the admission of Morocco into the African Union, last year, was dangerous precedent threatening the unity of the AU.
“The Kingdom of Morocco has been mounting pressure on member states of the African Union to support her illegal occupation of the territory of Western Sahara. As if that was not enough, the Kingdom of Morocco has been disrupting meetings of some African Union committees by insisting that the accredited representatives of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic be prevented to participate in such meetings.
“In view of article 20 (1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which provides that the peoples of Africa shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination and shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen, Nigeria is under a legal duty to support the struggle of the colonised people of Western Sahara for political Independence from the Kingdom of Morocco.”
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