Gambia + 4 more

IRIN Update 497 of events in West Africa

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News and Press Release
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UNITED NATIONS
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa
Tel: +225 21 73 54
Fax: +225 21 63 35
e-mail: irin-wa@ocha.unon.org

NIGERIA: At least 10 killed in pipeline fire

At least 10 bodies have been found at a location just outside Lagos where several people were engulfed in flames at the weekend while illegally tapping fuel from a pipeline, oil officials said.

The disaster occurred near Akute village, some 15 km north of Lagos, along a pipeline that supplies parts of southwest Nigeria with oil.

[See separate Item: irin-english-1127, titled ' At least 10 killed in pipeline fire']

Senate approves seven more ministerial nominees

Nigeria's Senate approved on Tuesday the last seven ministerial candidates nominated by President Olusegun Obasanjo. Their approval had been held up by allegations within the House that nominees had bribed members of some parties so as to secure confirmation.

Foreign helicopter pilots kidnapped

Two foreign helicopter pilots working with Shell Nigeria have been kidnapped by a hitherto little know group called Enough is Enough, the BBC reported on Wednesday. It quoted a spokesman for the firm as saying the men, believed to be a Briton and an Australian, were seized on Monday shortly after their helicopter landed at Enwhe oil platform in Rivers State.

The pilots reportedly work for Bristol Helicopters, a contractor working for Shell. In response to the situation, Shell has shut down two oil wells feeding the flow station, a move that is costing the company around 1,100 barrels of crude oil per day, media reports said.

Delta youths threaten to shut Shell oil wells

Meanwhile, youths from the Isoko ethnic group in the violence-plagued Niger Delta threatened on Tuesday to close oil wells belonging to Shell, news reports said.

The youths are accusing the Anglo-Dutch transnational of reneging on an agreement to develop Isokoland after 40 years in the community. On 16 December 1998, the youths shut down Shell's flow stations to force the company into action.

Seizures of the company's flow stations have usually been credited to Ijaw youths, who have also kidnapped foreign and local oil employees. However,"Isoko youths are a force to be reckoned with," Ononiwu Chigozie, project field environmentalist at the Lagos-based Human Rights Law Service, told IRIN on Wednesday.

Shell, he said, had often failed to honour deals it cut with Delta communities. The fact that it is mainly its facilities that have been attacked suggests that Shell is the biggest culprit in causing environmental damage and failing to aid communities, he added.

(See separate item titled 'Delta youths threaten to shut Shell oil wells')

Central bank issues new naira bills

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced bills of 100, 200 and 500 naira as part of an effort to restructure the currency, it said it a report on Tuesday.

The bills are expected to be in circulation between now and mid-2000, AFP reported. They are intended to reduce the difficulties in carrying huge sums of money in smaller units, AFP quoted the bank as saying. Up to now, the 50-naira bill was the highest denomination in Nigeria.

The CBN has recently taken measures to strengthen the currency which has fallen to around 104 to the US dollar from 85:1 in January.

MALI-MAURITANIA: Herders, farmers clash along border

About a dozen people died in communal clashes earlier this month along the border between Mauritania and Mali, according to various reports.

A media source in Bamako told IRIN the conflict started when herdsmen in Missira-Samoura, a village populated mainly by farmers in western Mali, refused to allow a Mauritanian horseman to use a watering hole. The horseman rode off and returned with some of his clansmen, attacking the village on 20 June. AFP reported that two people died in that raid.

The villagers retaliated two days later by attacking the horseman's village, Naime, in south-eastern Mauritania. According to the media source in Bamako, 11 Mauritanians died in that attack.

The source said the governor of Koulikoro, the Malian province that includes Missira-Samoura, and the Walid (governor) of Hodh region in Mauritania travelled together to both villages on 23 June in a bid to bring calm to the area. The two officials apologised to each community, the source said.

(See separate item titled 'Herders, farmers clash along border')

GUINEA-BISSAU: No pardon for Vieira

Guinea-Bissau interim President Malam Bacai Sanha said his predecessor, Nino Vieira, would not be pardoned, but would have to face justice "before the people and the law that await him", Lusa reported.

Sanha, who was speaking on Tuesday at the end of a two-day visit to The Gambia, said there was no agreement between the two countries on a pardon for the ex-president. Vieira, ousted on May 7, took refuge in the Portuguese Embassy in Bissau before being allowed to leave the country on 6 June to seek medical attention abroad under an agreement brokered by The Gambia.

THE GAMBIA: Bangladeshi experts expected under FAO programme

Agriculture experts from Bangladesh are to work in The Gambia for three years under a tripartite agreement between the two countries and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Under the agreement - part of the FAO's Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) that operates in 27 African and 19 other countries - Bangladesh "will provide the most appropriate technology, material and equipment to maximise technical cooperation in the various fields", FAO announced on 23 June.

These include rice production, horticultural crops, animal husbandry, artisanal fisheries, aquaculture and small-scale water control technologies.

The aim is to help The Gambia "improve living conditions of the poor and the vulnerable groups in rural areas," according to the agreement.

Abidjan, 30 June 1999; 17:20 GMT

[ENDS]

[IRIN-WA: Tel: +225 217366 Fax: +225 216335 e-mail: irin-wa@ocha.unon.org ]

Item: irin-english-1137

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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999