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Equatorial Guinea: ‘Cleaning Operation’ Tramples on Human Rights, Not Crime

The Equatorial Guinean authorities must immediately stop arbitrarily and indiscriminately arresting young men in their fight against gang crime

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Equatorial Guinea

The Equatorial Guinean authorities must immediately stop arbitrarily and indiscriminately arresting young men in their fight against gang crime, said Amnesty International today after documenting numerous testimonies related to these arrests.

In response to an alleged increase in crime by youth gangs, especially a group known as the “8 Machetes”, Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, launched a national plan to combat these gangs at the beginning of May, which was labelled by the authorities as a “Cleaning Operation”.

On 9 May 2022, Vice President Nguema Obiang Mangue said in a video broadcast on national TV that he had decided to launch the operation ‘to clean’ the streets of Equatorial Guinea of criminals and bandits, and to highlight the “right way” to young criminals.

“The ‘Cleaning Operation’ in Equatorial Guinea is deeply concerning as it leads to egregious violation of human rights. Under the pretext of fighting criminality, young people are being arbitrarily arrested and detained, with many facing torture or other ill-treatment, losing their lives, or being forcibly disappeared,” said Marta Colomer, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner for West and Central Africa.

“The Equatorial Guinea authorities must immediately end this campaign, which amounts to little more than a targeted assault on human rights. It is entirely possible to deal with criminal cases while also respecting human rights.”

Mass arrests and curfews

The government’s plan includes a curfew for young people, as well as sending suspected criminals to high security prisons. In a single week in May, more than 400 young people were arrested, while three months later, thousands of young men were reportedly arrested across the country. Due to a lack of evidence in some cases, some judges decided to grant parole to those arrested. At least two of those arrested, however, died in prison.

Amnesty International spoke with relatives of arrested and detained individuals. In many cases, they said their relatives were mistreated by the security forces during their arrest and detention.

Rubén, a 21-year-old from Campo-Yaunde, was arrested alongside a group of other young people on 20 May while gathering in the Campo-Yaunde area of Malabo, the capital. The group had been described by the authorities as criminals. On 6 June, he died in prison. The family received his body and a medical report, which indicated that Rubén had suffered from breathing difficulties and anorexia, among other health issues. The family maintains that Rubén had no health problems at the time of his arrest.

An older brother of two arrested boys told Amnesty: “The government is reacting to the actions of a criminal gang that was stealing from people, but they are taking people at random. Some are criminals, but others are just innocent men. They don’t investigate. We are not the only ones affected. Many families are also affected all over the country.”

‘He is a gangster, and we are going to put him in jail’

For many other young people arbitrarily arrested by security forces, their whereabouts remains unknown, while their families are often left with little or no news.

Lucas, a 24-year-old, was arrested by the Rapid Intervention Force on 8 May while spending time with his girlfriend and other friends. They were taken to the Central Police Station in Malabo. When Lucas’ girlfriend, Anita, tried to visit him, the police said her boyfriend “is a gangster, and we are going to put him in jail”.

The family heard from informal sources that Lucas is reportedly being held in Black Beach, a high security prison in Malabo, yet nobody could confirm this information. The lack of official information on his fate or whereabouts may turn his deprivation of liberty into an enforced disappearance – a crime under international law.

Anita told Amnesty International: “The only thing they are saying is that none of those arrested are innocent. If at some point it is proven that they are innocent, then they will be released. What happened to Lucas is happening all over the country. It’s not just here in Malabo.”

Santiago, a 22-year-old student arrested in the municipality of Bata three months ago, is still being arbitrarily detained by the police. Although the police told his family there was no proof of Santiago’s criminality, they demanded a payment of 100.000 CFA (around US$150) for his release. As the family were unable to pay, Santiago remains in detention in an unknown location.

“It’s not just my story. All the police stations are overcrowded with young boys who have been arrested. The other day, when I went there, there were at least more than 400 boys,” said Santiago’s father.

According to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Equatorial Guinea is a party, arrested and detained persons have the right to contact and access a family member or other person of their choice. A few days before the launch of the “Cleaning Operation”, the President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo told the people of Equatorial Guinea that the plan does not undermine human rights, and that international human rights organizations who criticize it are trying to destabilize the country.

“The Equatorial Guinean authorities must urgently offer transparent information on deaths in detention and torture and other ill-treatment. They must also ensure those suspected of criminality face justice in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts and release all those who have been arbitrarily arrested and detained,” said Marta Colomer.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Federal Government Opens Portal For Student Bursaries; Approves N75,000 Per Semester

The Education Ministry announced that the Federal Government has opened a portal for students to register for bursaries.

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University - Investors King

The Education Ministry announced that the Federal Government has opened a portal for students to register for bursaries. 

According to the minister, the announcement is in line with the presidential approval for the sum of N75,000 per semester for Nigerian students undergoing degree programmes in the faculty of education in public universities across the country.

Similarly, their counterparts undergoing the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) will get N50,000 per semester. 

It would be recalled that in 2021 during the World Teachers’ Day celebration in Abuja, Adamu Adamu said the bursary is part of the reform of the education sector. 

Investors King gathered that only students undergoing education courses in either public universities or public colleges of education will benefit from the bursary package. 

In addition, beneficiaries must also be a fa full-time students must be in their first year and above. 

The minister added that all physically challenged students who met the above descriptions are also eligible to apply. 

However, any applicant who is a beneficiary of any scholarship is not eligible to apply. 

Interested applicants are therefore encouraged to apply online at http://www.education.gov.ng/

Alternatively, they can visit the Federal Scholarship Board website at https://fsbn.com.ng/applicants/auth/register/35565 

Applicants are enjoined to only submit one application as multiple applications can lead to disqualification. 

After submitting online, applicants are to print a copy and attach a photocopy of their admission to it. They are also advised to attach a letter of admission and a current school ID card for easy processing. 

The application does not attract any processing or application fee.  The application deadline was however fixed to the 21st of October, 2022. 

The ministry also added that there is no way to sabotage or manipulate the system because all relevant information about potential applicants has been gathered from the Nigerian University Commission (NUC) and the National Commission of Colleges of Education (NCCE) and submitted to the Ministry of Education. 

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NDLEA Discovers 13 Million Tramadol Pills Worth N8.8 Billions of Naira in Lagos Mansion

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has discovered an expensive mansion in Lagos stashed with about 13 million tramadol pills with a street worth of N8.8 billion. 

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Tramadol

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has discovered an expensive mansion in Lagos stashed with about 13 million tramadol pills with a street worth of N8.8 billion. 

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency declared in a statement released in the early hour on Monday that about 13,451,466 tramadol pills were recovered in a blockbuster operation. 

According to the statement released by NDLEA spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, the mansion where the drugs were recovered belonged to a billionaire drug baron, Ugochukwu Nsofor Chukwukadibia, who was in custody.

Babafemi further stated that the mansion which was located in the Lekki area of Lagos State was not occupied by occupied humans. 

Part of the statement read “Following credible intelligence, NDLEA operatives on Friday 30th September stormed the Plot A45 Road 2 home of the 52-year-old billionaire drug kingpin. 

A search of the expansive mansion led to the discovery of 443 cartons of Tramadol Hydrochloride 225 mg, which contains 13, 451, 466 pills of the drug while some cartons were already burnt in a fire incident in the house the same day”. 

Babafemi added that Ugochukwu who hails from Ihiala local government area of Anambra state has been on the Agency’s watch list as one of those behind the tramadol drug cartel in Nigeria.

He also noted that Babafemi has about six mansions within the VGC one of which he uses to warehouse the tramadol consignment.

Investors King learnt that five exotic vehicles were also located in two of the mansions which include a bulletproof jeep. 

It would be recalled that in September 2022, the law enforcement agency busted a warehouse in a secluded estate in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State, where over N194 billion worth of cocaine were seized.

Me Babafemi said the illicit drugs, which were 1.8 tons (1,855 kilogrammes), were worth more than $278.2 million, an equivalent of N194.7 billion in street value. 

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FG Signs Agreement With UNICEF to Ensure Safety of Children Rescued in Conflict Areas

The federal government has signed an agreement with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to ensure the safety and protection of children found by Nigerian Security Agencies in conflict areas in the country.

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Child Poverty - Investors King

The federal government has signed an agreement with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to ensure the safety and protection of children found by Nigerian Security Agencies in conflict areas in the country.

According to a statement on Friday, UNICEF representative in Nigeria Cristian Munduate stated that the handover protocol will prohibit the detention of children allegedly associated with armed groups.

Munduate further added that the agreement signed will enable proper integration of such children into the society through educational and psychosocial support, adding that it will give them the privilege of acquiring an identity.

With this agreement, children rescued will be taken to the ministry of women affairs and social development for proper support within seven days.

The statement reads, “The handover protocol is a practical tool to prevent or reduce the detention of children encountered by military and security forces during armed conflict and presents an opportunity to identify and transfer children allegedly associated with armed groups within a period of seven days to the ministry of women affairs and social development.

“The government of Nigeria and UNICEF will continue to work together to ensure that children allegedly associated with armed groups receive appropriate, tailored social and economic reintegration assistance that supports the children’s, families, and communities resilience and social cohesion through child protection, education, psychosocial support, and livelihood initiatives, vocational and skills development, and life skills.

“Under this agreement, the government of Nigeria, the United Nations system in Nigeria, and UNICEF will appoint focal points to oversee the implementation of the protocol and develop a detailed operation plan to guide the implementation of the protocol, outlining roles to ensure its operationalization and share regular compliance reports on the implementation of the protocol with relevant authorities.

“Today marks a historic moment for children who are victims of serious rights violations in north-east Nigeria. This positive undertaking in signing the handover protocol represents a significant milestone and demonstrates the government of Nigeria’s commitment to upholding its obligations to establish and implement the minimum safeguards to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflict.

“The protracted armed conflict in north-east Nigeria has resulted to mass displacement and humanitarian and protection crisis. From 2016 to September 2022, 4,204 children (2,866 boys, 1,338 girls) have been released from administrative custody by the Nigerian military and have received interim care services at the Bulumkutu transit center, including community-based social and economic reintegration assistance.”

The handover protocol is reported to be the first civil human rights instrument to specifically cover the transfer, custody, and care of children in northeast Nigeria and minors from other nationalities who escaped or were rescued from armed groups.

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