Monday, August 25, 2008

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown offers military aid to oil rich Nigeria

From The Independent
Friday, 11 July 2008
By Daniel Howden, Kim Sengupta, Colin Brown and Claire Soares

Brown blunders in pledge to secure Nigeria oil

Militant groups in the Niger Delta

Photo: Militant groups in the Niger Delta have targeted multinational oil firms (AP)

PM's offer of military aid to Nigeria provokes collapse of ceasefire amid angry claims that UK has 'declared war' on rebel army

Gordon Brown is being accused of preparing for a military adventure in Africa after he pledged to provide backing to the Nigerian security forces. His announcement prompted the collapse of a ceasefire in the oil-rich Niger Delta and helped to drive up crude oil prices on world markets.

The Prime Minister's offer to help "tackle lawlessness" in the world's eighth largest oil producer was immediately condemned by the main militant group in the Delta, which abandoned a two-week-old ceasefire and accused Britain of backing what it calls Nigeria's "illegal government". The group issued a "stern warning" to Mr Brown in an emailed statement: "Should Gordon Brown make good his threat to support this criminality for the sake of oil, UK citizens and interests in Nigeria will suffer the consequences."

Speaking at the close on Wednesday of the meeting in Japan of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations, Mr Brown said that the UK was ready to offer the Nigerian military direct assistance to help return law and order to the southern region and to restore oil output.

The Prime Minister said: "We stand ready to give help to the Nigerians to deal with lawlessness that exists in this area and to achieve the levels of production that Nigeria is capable of, but because of the law and order problems has not been able to achieve." His comments came ahead of a visit to London by the Nigerian President, Umaru Yar'Adua, next week in which he is expected to appeal for military aid to put down militant groups who have attacked oil pipelines and platforms.

The Nigerian press received the British offer as a declaration of war against rebel groups. The Daily Champion newspaper ran the headline "Battle Line! UK to Declare War on Delta Militants".

Mr Brown is under immense pressure on the domestic front to ease the soaring fuel costs, driven by the global spike in oil prices. Major unrest in the impoverished Niger Delta region has cut the country's capacity to pump oil by one-quarter in recent months, helping to drive oil prices to the record high of $145 per barrel.

However, Mr Brown's initiative appeared to catch the Foreign Office unawares. A spokesman insisted yesterday that there had been "no change in policy" but that "options" were being considered. Senior military sources also said they had been caught by surprise by the decision to offer military aid. There are no contingency plans for intervention in Nigeria that can be activated, they said, and any operation would have to be organised from scratch.

President Yar'Adua came to power a year ago after a controversial election win that was challenged in Nigeria's High Court and contested by independent observers. Despite campaign pledges to tackle endemic corruption, which has raised the country to the top of the global graft index and enriched an elite with illegal oil revenues, the President has made little progress. He has also failed in his pledge to address local grievances in the Delta and restore peace to the region.

A series of attacks on installations and the kidnapping of oil workers by the main militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), has cut Nigerian oil production by one-quarter. The group is demanding a greater share of oil revenues be given to local people as the Niger Delta is among the poorest regions in Africa, despite the immense oil wealth it produces. A spokesman for Mend, Jomo Gbomo, told The Independent that the UK offer was tantamount to a return to colonial policies of divide and rule: "They ought to know better than any other country [not] to involve themselves in any other area aside from development. They [the British] are getting frustrated and we will continue frustrating the oil-dependent markets until justice is offered." Asked if he feared that Nigeria would become the next Iraq or Afghanistan, he replied: "It will not get to that point except if there is foreign interference."

Mend offered to enter peace talks last year but withdrew after the government launched a secret trial against one of its leaders. Attempts to convene a summit have been complicated by the withdrawal of the United Nations envoy who was asked to oversee it, as well as the refusal of Mend to take part.

Any action in Nigeria would further stretch British forces. Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of Defence Staff, warned the Government last month: "We are not structured or resourced to do two of these things [Iraq and Afghanistan] on this scale on an enduring basis, but we have been doing it on an enduring basis for years. Until we get to the stage when one of them comes down to small-scale, we will be stretched beyond the capability we have."

Defence sources say the only realistic option would be to send special forces along with specialised hi-tech equipment to combat the guerrilla campaign. However, two squadrons out of the four in the SAS are currently deployed abroad, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and one is said to be on exercise. Units of the Special Boat Squadron are also busy in those countries with one contingent working alongside US forces in yet another hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The UK does, however, have special forces in Djibouti alongside other Nato countries in the American-run Horn of Africa task force involved in missions against Islamist militants; some of them can be switched from east to west Africa. It may also be possible to station a Royal Navy warship offshore.

Major General Julian Thompson, a former commander of the Royal Marines, said: "It would be utterly extraordinary to propose anything like a sizeable deployment of forces to Nigeria. Where are they going to come from? The MoD has not exactly got a box marked 'new troops' they can open up for something like this.

"It would be possible to send special forces in limited numbers to help the Nigerian military, but, with the current situation in Afghanistan they cannot be kept there for anything like a prolonged period."

Britain is one of the largest investors in Nigeria. About 4,000 Britons live in the west African country, many working for large companies, including the oil and gas companies Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group.

Militant groups in the Niger Delta

Photo: A Nigerian separatist rebel in the Niger Delta (

Nigeria - Oil, guns and grinding poverty

Graph credit: Independent Graphics/

Source: The Independent - Browns African Misadventure

Hat tip
- - -

UK offers Nigeria "military experts providing military advice"

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has offered Nigeria help to train security forces in its main oil producing region and promised to support the establishment of a maritime training centre for forces operating in the Niger Delta after meeting Umaru Yar’Adua, the president of Nigeria, in London.

Source: Financial Times report by Alex Barker in London, July 17 2008:
UK offers Nigeria help to train security forces
- - -

UK seeks to deepen energy ties with Nigeria

Britain has offered to help Nigeria overhaul its energy sector as part of Gordon Brown’s attempts to encourage oil exporters to boost production to tame this year’s surge in oil prices.

Britain sees Nigeria, where attacks by militants and under-investment have cut production to 1.8m b/d from a capacity of roughly 2.5m b/d, as one of the few countries that could potentially provide a significant increase in output.

Source: Financial Times report by Matthew Green in Lagos, August 21 2008:
UK seeks to deepen energy ties with Nigeria

Friday, August 22, 2008

Libya sends relief load to Niger

May 27, 2008 Reuters report (via ReliefWeb) entitled 'Libya sends aid to drought-hit Niger':

TRIPOLI, May 27 (Reuters) - Libya on Tuesday sent 30 tonnes of humanitarian relief to drought-stricken Niger, one of several African states struggling to cope with a surge in global food prices, Libyan state media said on Tuesday.

Libya also sent a team of doctors and pharmacists to distribute the aid, which includes medicine, clothes and tents, and provide health care to the poor in the Sahelian country, one of the world's top producers of uranium.

Oil-exporting Libya is one of the main sources of aid to its neighbour Niger, an arid country on the southern fringe of the Sahara.

One in five children die before their fifth birthday in Niger, and aid agencies fear rising world prices for basic foods like rice could put decent nutrition beyond the reach of millions of people even if the next harvest is good.

The country suffered a humanitarian emergency in 2005 that threatened 3.5 million people with famine after drought and locusts the previous year wiped out crops in many villages.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi advocates solidarity among Africans in the fight against poverty to prevent what he sees as meddling in the continent by Western powers.

(Writing by Lamine Ghanmi; editing by William Maclean and Giles Elgood).
- - -

May 28, 2008 BBC (News report 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK) entitled 'Libya sends relief load to Niger':

Niger is a vast, arid country often stricken by drought

Libya has sent 30 tons of aid to Niger, one of several African countries struggling to cope with the global rise in food prices.

The aid included medical supplies, clothes, shoes and tents, Libya's state news agency Jana reported.

Medical teams and pharmacists are accompanying the aid to provide medical services and distribute relief.

Last month, aid agencies said thousands of people had left their homes in the south-east due to food shortages.

Niger is one of the world's least-developed nations and more than two-thirds of its people live below the poverty line and 82% rely on agriculture, according to the UN.

Child mortality rates are high, with an estimated one in five children dying before their fifth birthday.

A report in April by international aid groups and the government of Niger said 14,000 people had been displaced in the region of Maradi.

Most of them have fled to cities, with others moving across the border to Nigeria.

The population of one village, Pardakoye, has shrunk from 800 people to 24.

More than three million people were affected by a famine in 2005.


Niger rebels say French military helping government

Feb 19, 2008, 17:16 GMT report - by Abdoulaye Massalatchi - entitled 'Niger rebels say French military helping government:
NIAMEY, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Niger's Tuareg rebels accused France of giving military support to President Mamadou Tandja's army, but a senior army officer on Tuesday denied that French troops were playing any direct role in the conflict.

The rebel Niger Justice Movement (MNJ), which has killed 50 soldiers and raided army bases and convoys over the last year in the uranium-rich Agadez region of northern Niger, said French officer instructors were in Agadez to train Niger's forces.

The French military was also giving equipment to the army, the MNJ said in a Feb. 18 statement on its Website, without spelling out what this consisted of.

"We condemn all interference by France in a conflict which is the business of the people of Niger," said the statement posted on the rebel Website

"Any French military presence is considered illegal by the MNJ," the rebels added.

A senior Niger armed forces officer, who asked not to be named, told Reuters the government army was receiving training, equipment and logistics support from France under a bilateral military cooperation agreement.

But he denied the French military had any direct role in fighting the light-skinned nomadic desert rebels, who are demanding more autonomy for their region and a greater share of the mineral wealth, especially uranium, that it produces.

Niger is a major exporter of uranium which is used to fuel nuclear reactors.

Tandja's government refuses to recognise the MNJ, dismissing its fighters as "bandits" who traffick in arms and drugs.

"Who has ever seen French troops fighting alongside Niger troops? ... the MNJ is nothing more than a group of armed bandits and should be treated as such. We don't need a foreign army to do that," the government officer said.

The MNJ, which last year raided a French-operated uranium mine and has threatened an offensive against uranium industry targets, said the French military role in Niger recalled the situation in neighbouring Chad, another French colony.

Chadian rebels say France has used its planes and troops stationed in the landlocked oil-producing country to prop up President Idriss Deby and helped him beat off a rebel attack on the capital N'Djamena earlier this month.

Paris denies any direct combat role by its forces in Chad and says it is supporting Deby's "legitimately elected" rule.

The MNJ said French President Nicolas Sarkozy had promised when he took office last year to dismantle France's cozy past relationship with often corrupt and dictatorial leaders in its former colonies in Africa.

"On the contrary, there's a return to the old order," the Niger rebel group said. (Editing by Pascal Fletcher)


Niger rebels vow offensive against uranium industry

Jan 31, 2008 11:39am EST Reuters report by Abdoulaye Massalatchi:

NIAMEY, Jan 31 (Reuters) - A leader of Niger's Tuareg rebels promised on Thursday an all-out offensive against the uranium industry including attacks on foreign-run mines and mineral convoys.

Over the last 12 months, the Niger Justice Movement (MNJ) has attacked army convoys and bases, killing around 50 soldiers.

This has forced Niger's government to impose a state of alert in the north of the Sahelian country, a major producer of uranium which is used to fuel nuclear reactors.

"We are going to attack the uranium mines, including those belonging to Areva, halt the operation of the plants or the opening up of new sites, and target the road shipments to the sea," Tuareg leader Rhissa Ag Boula told French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur.

Last year MNJ fighters attacked a northern mine site operated by French nuclear group Areva and also briefly abducted a Chinese uranium executive.

The rebels are demanding more autonomy and a greater share of wealth in their uranium-rich northern region.

A Niger government spokesman rejected the threat in comments to Radio France International. President Mamadou Tandja's administration refuses to recognise the light-skinned nomadic desert rebels, dismissing them as "armed bandits".

Ag Boula criticised the Niger government for "handing out uranium concessions like buns" to companies from France, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa and China.

China had obtained a major part of the new concessions and the Chinese "build mining cities, bringing their own workers with them". China was selling landmines, vehicles and tanks to the Niger government, Ag Boula said in the interview.


Both the government and the rebels have accused each other of targeting civilians, particularly through laying land mines.

"The army refuses to confront the MNJ, but kills civilians," Ag Boula said. He accused government forces of persecuting Tuareg civilians suspected of sympathising with the rebellion.

Ag Boula was a ringleader of a previous northern Tuareg rebellion in the 1990s. After a peace deal, he served as tourism minister before being sacked in 2004 when he was briefly arrested in connection with the murder of a local politician.

He said army operations in the vast, rugged region around Agadez had driven hundreds of civilians from outlying oasis towns and destroyed the desert tourism industry.

Ag Boula criticised the government for refusing to negotiate with the MNJ. "The worst thing is that there are no signs of an opening or dialogue," he said.

He denied suggestions the Tuareg-led MNJ had connections with Algeria-based Islamic extremists allied to al Qaeda. "We have no connections with any foreign group," he said.

"Fifty years after Niger's independence, Tuaregs no longer accept others running their affairs for them. We've had enough of being dominated."

(Writing by Pascal Fletcher; editing by Robert Woodward)


NWT Updates Shareholders on Niger Uranium 2008 Exploration Program

Note to self. Copied these notes whilst browsing internet. I am filing them here for future reference, if needed.

NWT Updates Shareholders on Niger Uranium 2008 Exploration Program
Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:13pm EST

TORONTO, Jan. 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - NWT Uranium Corp. (TSX-V: NWT;

OTCBB: NWURF) is pleased to update its shareholders regarding the activities
of Niger Uranium Corp., of which NWT is the largest shareholder.

Niger Uranium's 2007-2008 field program at Irhazer and In Gall commenced
in November, according to a quarterly filing issued in late December by the
company. Work will be completed in stages, with the first phase scheduled to
include 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) of diamond drilling to test prospective
targets located along structures that host existing uranium mines. The second
phase is designed to follow-up on earlier results and is scheduled to include
up to 24,600 feet (7,500 meters) of additional drilling.

Concurrent with the drill program, Niger Uranium plans to trench and
sample several targets to test for mineralization, geology and structure. In
addition, grids indicating historical drill sites will be re-established and,
where possible, will be tested by down-hole radiometrics.

"NWT is pleased with the aggressive program underway in Niger," said Marek
J. Kreczmer, President and CEO of NWT Uranium. "As Niger Uranium's largest
shareholder, we look forward to the further advancement of our investment."

NWT contributed the Irhazer and In Gall properties to the Niger Uranium
joint venture. The two properties have returned uranium values ranging from
0.22% U(3)O(8) to 1.0% U(3)O(8) from five surface rock samples collected from
outcrops, as reported in a press release on May 29, 2007, available on SEDAR
at These samples were submitted for re-analysis after they
exceeded the detection limits of uranium tests routinely used to analyze
samples from Niger. Producing mines and deposits in Niger typically grade from
0.1% to 0.42% U(3)O(8), with the highest grades being mined at greater depths.


NWT Uranium Corp. ( is an international resource
exploration company with an experienced, highly technical management team.
Since its inception, NWT has concentrated on the acquisition of properties
with potential uranium targets. NWT Uranium is listed on the NASD Bulletin
Board under the symbol "NWURF" and the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol

The TSX Venture Exchange has not reviewed and does not accept
responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.

This news release includes certain "forward looking statements" within the
meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
Without limitation, statements regarding potential mineralization and
resources, exploration results, and future plans and objectives of the Company
are forward looking statements that involve various degrees of risk. The
following are important factors that could cause the Company's actual results
to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward looking
statements: changes in the worldwide price of mineral commodities, general
market conditions, risks inherent in mineral exploration, risks associated
with development, construction and mining operations, the uncertainty of
future profitability and the uncertainty of access to additional capital.

Potential quantity and grade is conceptual in nature, there has been
insufficient exploration to define a mineral resource on any of the properties
referenced in this press release and it is uncertain if further exploration
will result in any such targets being delineated as a mineral resource. The
technical information which forms the basis for the disclosure regarding the
Irhazer and In Gall properties contained herein was prepared by Graham
Greenway, an independent consultant, who is qualified person within the
meaning of National Instrument 43-101 of the Canadian Securities

SOURCE NWT Uranium Corp.

Marek J. Kreczmer, M.Sc., P.Eng., President and CEO, NWT Uranium Corp., (866)