ExxonMobil Quits Oil Exploration Off Liberia’s Coast

Philadelphia, PA USA –

Oil exploration off Liberia has experienced a major setback with the announcement on Monday by the global oil giant ExxonMobil that it is quitting a block off the small West African nation.

File photo of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas
File Photo of Exxon Mobil

The prospect and investment were seen as a potential economic boon for Liberia and profitable investment for ExxonMobil a year ago, if exploration yielded commercially viable oil.

Oil Block LB-13
Oil Block LB-13-

According to the global gas an oil news source Upstream, “Partner Canadian Overseas Petroleum revealed on Monday that the pair have let go of LB-13 after both companies “elected not to enter into the third exploration phase” at the tract.”

ExxonMobil is taking a loss of $15.6 million in exploration and evaluation expenses and says it intends to inform Liberian authorities over its decision to quit further exploration. The technical team of ExxonMobil, however said, it saw “opportunities in other areas of the block and continued “to perform geological and geophysical analysis in these areas.” This reservoir has potential quality.

According to an article written in 1994 by A. Hallam, An Outline of Phanerozoic Biogeography, “…The Late Cretaceous is often regarded primarily as a time of biotic retractions that culminated in the spectacular mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous, but it was also a time of major evolutionary radiations in both the marine and terrestrial realms when many modern faunas and floras first became established. This mostly shallow-water, clastic sequence is, in places, very fossiliferous. 

First signs of trouble in its oil prospecting was the delay by ExxonMobil in 2014 when it curtailed exploration and drilling of the Mesurado-1well in Liberia due to the Ebola pandemic which heavily impacted the countries in the Mano River basin.

Map of Liberia
Map of Liberia

Liberia’s economy which needs a major boost and offshore capital will be further pressured with this major loss of a ExxonMobil’s investment for oil.

According to an economic overview report of Liberia by the World Bank, “…Headline inflation averaged 12.4% in the first half of 2017, compared with 7.3% the previous year, driven by the relatively fast pace of the depreciation of the Liberian dollar against the U.S. dollar (of 20% in the first half of 2017 compared to 11% in the same period in 2016). Other factors include excess liquidity in terms of Liberian dollars, and the relative shortage of inflows of foreign exchange. The resultant rise in the cost of living, especially the cost of food, which is mostly imported, increased fiscal pressures. Limited employment continues to undermine the welfare of Liberians in both urban and rural areas.” 

Political transition in Liberia is at an impasse due to a challenge of the October 10th Presidential election.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

Guinea: “Paradise Papers” Reveals Bribery Involvement of Former Guinean First Lady Mamadie Toure

Philadelphia, PA USA – Nov 10, 2017 -Data contained in the Paradise Papers, which is a giant leak of off shore financial records exposing global crime and corruption has named Madam Mamadie Touré, the widow of late Guinean President Lansana Conté, as a person involved in a multi-million dollar bribery scheme for mining rights in the poor West African country.

Former First Lady of Guinea Madam Mamadie Toure
Former First Lady of Guinea Madam Mamadie Toure

Information seen by West African Journal investigative team quotes US authorities as alleging that Madam Toure “received $5.3 million in bribes to help a mining company obtain rights to the world’s richest iron ore deposit.”In 2014, federal prosecutors were granted a request to and raided the home of Madam Toure in Jacksonville, Florida. Properties seized including restaurant equipment and an ice cream cooler together were worth about $1million.

The leaked information contained in the database of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) disclose that Madam Toure was granted legal Power of Attorney by a British Virgin Islands company known as Matinda Partners to, among other things, “…negotiate,conclude, sign, execute and deliver on behalf of the Company such conveyances, transfers, assignments, deeds, documents, licenses, authorities or agreements as said Attorney shall consider necessary or proper to enable to it to dispose of or acquire any assets in any part of the world (hereinafter referred to as “the assets”) on such terms as the Attorney shall consider proper or desirable in his absolute discretion…”

Late President Lansana Conte
Late President Lansana Conte

Shortly thereafter in 2006, the leaked information revealed that the widow of the late General Conte entered into a business relationship with an un-named mining company. However, at the time, BSGR, a mining company owned by an Israeli magnate Benny Steinmetz, in partnership with a Brazilian firm, owned iron ore rights in the Simandou and Zogota area of Guinea.

In December, 2014, the FCPA online blog reported that as part of a federal grand jury probe of BSGR’s business dealings in Guinea, Madam Toure had become “co-operating witness” a year earlier. She reportedly wore an FBI wire to record a conversation with a middle man for the BSGR company. In the recorded information, the middle man, a French national named Frederic Cilins, is heard offering millions of dollars in bribe to Madam Toure, if she would agree to lie to US prosecutors and destroy incriminating evidence.

Map of Guinea
Map of Guinea

The Guinean government later revoked the mining licenses of BSGR, accusing it of obtaining its license through corrupt means. It’s Brazilian partner known as Vale SA. BSGR denied any wrong-doing and its Brazilian partner was never implicated in any wrong doing.

U.S. authorities, according to the leaked documents in the Paradise Papers, alleged that Matinda Partners, which had earlier granted Madam Toure Power of Attorney, was used as a go-between entity to funnel $5.3 million to her “to help it win a disputed mining concession from her husband, then President Lansana Conte, shortly before he died in late 2008…”

As part of effort to reduce her public exposure and connection with Matinda Partners during the scheme, Madam Toure reportedly utilized “stand-in” shareholder companies Beneficence Foundation and the Swiss based Agefor SA as covers. Madam Toure has admitted to the bribery scheme and has been cooperating with U.S. authorities.

Ellen-Johnson-Sirleaf
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Also included the ICIJ database is Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was listed as a Director of the Bermuda registered offshore company known as Songhai Financial Holdings Ltd. a subsidiary of Databank’s finance, fund management and investment company Databank Brokerage Ltd., from April 2001 until September 2012.

Mr-Ken-Ofori-Atta
Mr. Ken Ofori Atta

Databank, was co-founded by an investment banker and current Finance Minister of Ghana Mr. Ken Nana Yaw Ofori-Atta.

In response to a request for comment, ICIJ reports that. “Stephen D. Cashin, chief executive of Pan African Capital and a board member of Databank, responded to a request for comment from Sirleaf-Johnson that Songhai was designed for offshore investors to invest in Ghana’s Databank and that Databank had no business in Liberia. President Johnson-Sirleaf was elected to the board of Databank before being elected president, he told ICIJ, and she has no interest in Songhai or Databank. Cashin said Sirleaf-Johnson actually resigned from Songhai before her election campaign, but the resignation was “not effected” until 2012 due to “an administrative oversight” in Bermuda.”

President Johnson-Sirleaf began her first term in January, 2006. No wrongdoing is attributed to her or Ghanaian Minister Ofori-Atta from information contained in the ICIJ database.

Governments around the world have begun to scrutinize the participation of companies, politicians and their nationals who are mentioned the the Paradise Papers and their involvement in secret and questionable offshore dealings.

The ICIJ, in its disclaimer, notes that there are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts and it does not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.

This ICIJ database contains information on almost 500,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers, the Offshore Leaks and the Bahamas Leaks and some from politicians featured in the Paradise Papers investigation. The data covers nearly 40 years up to early 2016 and links to people and companies in more than 200 countries and territories.

By Staff Reporter

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia: CDC Calls For Run-Off Elections To Get Back On Track Quickly

In Liberia, the leader and Presidential contender of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is calling for the electoral process to be put back on track in timely manner.

Senator George-Weah
CDC Senator George Weah

Senator George Manneh Weah, who won 38.4 % of the October 10th Presidential vote, told his supporters on Tuesday evening at his party headquarters in Monrovia to remain peaceful pending the resolution of the Liberty Party’s complaints now before the National Elections Commission (NEC).

“They used to say that we CDC (Weah’s party) are hooligans, we are troublemakers, and in 2017 we know who the real troublemakers are. We are aware of all their tactics, all of their provocations, we will not allow ourselves to be distracted,” Weah said to party supporters.
The CDC is calling for a speedy resolution of the issues raised by the Liberty Party (LP) in order for a new date to be announced for the run-off elections.

The Liberty Party (LP) petitioned the Supreme Court of Liberia to halt the run off elections which were scheduled for November 7th, citing “fraud and irregularities” in the process. The Court, after hearing arguments last Friday from legal counsels of the Liberty Party (LP) and the National Elections Commission (NEC), halted the process and instructed the NEC to quickly hear and resolve the complaints raised by the Liberty Party before a new date is set for run-off elections.

Liberian Politicians
Liberian Politicians

No time-frame has been announced for the disposition of the issues raised by the Liberty Party (LP) which has now obtained the support of the ruling Unity Party of contender and incumbent Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the All Liberian Party (ALP).

The four parties, meantime, on Tuesday announced preliminary discussions on the formation of a “coalition” to support Vice President Joseph Boakai in the run-off elections with Senator Weah.

No formal commitments have been made by the parties but they say discussions are on-going.

Staff Reporter

West African Journal

Botswana Police Ranked Africa’s Best; Nigeria at Bottom – Global Report

Africa’s best police service is that of Botswana despite being ranked 47th best in the world. This is according to the World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) released by two bodies, the International Police Science Association (IPSA) and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

Boatswana Police
Boatswana Police

The index ranked the Rwandan police as Africa’s second best (with global position of 50th) followed by Algeria (58th), Senegal (68th) and Tunisia (72nd) in that order. Completing the top 10 for Africa were, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ghana, South Africa and Mali respectively.

WISPI measures the ability of the police and other security providers to address internal security issues in 127 countries, across four domains, using sixteen indicators,” authors of the report stated. The four domains are, capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes.

 

Despite the failure of Africa to break into the top forty, the continent was very prominent in the lower rankings. Six African countries were in the bottom 10. Cameroon and Mozambique in the 120th and 122nd spots.

Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria made it an African quartet at the bottom – occupying 124th to 127 slots respectively.

Map of Boatswana
Map of Boatswana

At the top of the global rankings, Europe dominated with eight countries. Except first place Singapore and Australia in sixth spot, all the other countries were in Europe – Finland, Denmark, Austria, Germany (2nd – 5th), Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland (7th – 10th).

About the World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI)

The aim of the WISPI is to, firstly, measure security provider performance across the four domains of internal security: capacity, process, legitimacy and outcomes.

Secondly, to see how these domains relate to each other and finally to track trends in these domains over time, and to inform the work of security providing agencies, researchers, and practitioners in the field of peace and conflict studies, criminology, and police studies.

World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI)

Gambia: Water Crisis Hit Jamali Babou Village

The Foroyaa Newspaper quoting residents of Jamali Babou, a village in the Niani District of the Central River Region North of the Gambia, say the area has been hit with a serious water crisis, as their only hand-pump well broke down.

Map of Gambia
Map of Gambia

According to the information, the residents of the village now travel over two kilometres daily to fetch water from other villages, and this is escalating their drudgery.

Upon receiving the information, this reporter visited the village to ascertain the veracity of the information.

According to Njoba Khan, the water crisis in the village is caused by the broken hand-pump well, the only available one in the village as a source of portable water.

 She said the hand-pump well was dug in 2001 and as a result of its breakdown, they have to walk for over two kilometers to get water from neighboring villages. “This long trek in search of this essential commodity daily, is increasing our drudgery and suffering,” she confirmed.

Rohey Ndow on her part, said the water crisis in the village has impacted negatively on their health because water is an essential element in life to ensure sanitary hygiene.

According to her, apart from their domestic consumption of water from the well, they also use the well to provide water for their domestic animals.

Aminta Jobe on her part, also shared the same view with others but added that Government and Non-governmental Organisations should help them address the problem to save the women from travelling daily, in search of water in other villages.

Foroyaa Newspaper, Gambia

Sierra Leoneans Return To Give Back To Their Communities

After living in the United States for over a decade, Usifu Bangura returned to Sierra Leone to reunite with his family and to do his bit in rebuilding a country still recovering from civil war.

Usifu launched a project to improve access to clean water for people in Kambia, the village where he found his mother after tracing the process of his adoption.

Republic-of-Sierra-Leone
Map of Sierra Leone

Using Hippo Water Rollers or drums that are designed to roll over different types of terrain, residents can now transport up to 90 litres of water per trip.

I decided to come back to my home country to see my family after fourteen years as well as to bring any kind of humanitarian relief that I can.

“I decided to come back to my home country to see my family after fourteen years as well as to bring any kind of humanitarian relief that I can, specifically to the use of hippo rollers, he said”

Usifu gets the tanks from South Africa and has rallied donors to help fund his initiative.
Sierra Leone, ranks among the bottom of the U.N. Human Development Index, and according to WaterAid, third of the population does not have access to safe water.

His Bangura Project has also introduced water filters. He has also been holding discussions with residents to find out more about pressing needs of the community.

They are also been holding discussions with residents to find out more about pressing needs of the community.

“ It reduce child labor and that is very very great,in those days when we do not have it, actually when we want to send our children they cannot go and they are not happy because — They enjoy this roller,” said Kambia resident, Chernor A. Mansaray.

Usifu’s mother, Fatou Sankoh gave him up for adoption in 2004 after Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war that ended in 2002. His father had been killed and his mother could not afford to raise him and his siblings.

He was in the country for 6 months this year before returning to the states.

Usifo is working on partnering with the government and local organizations on a larger scale to develop community run projects to improve clean water supply in rural parts of the country.

Reuters

Zimbabwe Court Grants Bail To U.S. Citizen Charged With “Subversion”

HARARE (Reuters) – A high court judge in Zimbabwe said on Thursday the state’s case against a U.S. citizen charged with trying to subvert President Robert Mugabe’s government lacked facts and ordered that she be granted bail.

Zimbabwe High Court
Zimbabwe High Court Building

Martha O‘Donovan has been in prison since Saturday, a day after she was arrested on accusations of insulting Mugabe in a Twitter post. Police later leveled the more serious charge of subversion, which carries a possible 20-year jail term.

Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe

In granting her bail, High Court Judge Clement Phiri said there was a “patent absence of facts” in the state’s case.

“The applicant has demonstrated that she should be granted bail. It is my finding that it is in the interests of justice that the applicant be given bail,” Phiri said.

O‘Donovan was not in court. Phiri ordered her to deposit $1,000 with the court, surrender her passport and report to the criminal investigations department twice a week as part of her bail conditions.

Her lawyer Obey Shava said O‘Donovan would be released on Friday after completing administrative procedures. Amnesty International said in a statement the case showed that Zimbabwean authorities had contempt for freedom of expression.

Reuters