Abayomi Azikiwe (right), editor of the Pan-African News Wire, along with (right to left) David Sole of MECAWI, Mike Kelly of Finding Alternatives to Military Enlistment (FAME) and Derrick Grigsby of MECAWI. (Photo: Cheryl LaBash, WW).
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
From Constance Ikokwu in Washington DC, 10.03.2007
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe yesterday gave indications that Nigeria would not support the deployment of United States (US) combatant troops in Africa under the auspices of the new US/Africa Command (AFRICOM).
Maduekwe said this in Washington DC during an interview with journalists after the 47th Independence anniversary celebration held at the Nigerian Embassy.
According to the Minister, stationing US combat troops on African soil is counter-productive, unnecessary and impinges on the sovereignty of states.
“If it is about the command is about stationing US troops on African soil, we feel there is no need for that. We feel it will be a derogation of the sovereignty of African states to station foreign troops on African soil,” Maduekwe said.
It is counter-productive, he said, because “we even believe that such stationing of combat troops in African soil at a time when Africa is not at war with anybody sends the wrong kind of message.
It is counter productive even to US interest. If there is one continent that is not hostile to the United States, by reason of its own understanding of its regional interest, it is Africa. We want to see the Command not in terms of US military bases in Africa because there is no need for that.”
Reminded that the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has already offered her country as a base for AFRICOM, the Minister said “we will not comment on Liberia’s position because we need to read their statement and the context of what the Liberian government is saying because presence does not have to mean combat troops.
It could mean exchange of information, it could mean training facilities. Even Nigeria has benefited from training facilities from the United States. If that is what the command is all about, there is nothing new about that.”
Maduekwe disclosed that Nigeria was yet to receive a formal document which explains AFRICOM, even after it has been launched for more than three months. He said the communication concerning the command was inadequate.
Nigerian court allows summons in Pfizer drug trial
Wed Oct 3, 2007 2:12pm BST
By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA (Reuters) - A Nigerian court allowed the federal government on Wednesday to serve a summons on U.S.-based drug maker Pfizer Inc to defend itself against a $6.5 billion (3.2 billion pound) lawsuit over a drug trial.
The federal government and the northern Nigerian state of Kano are suing Pfizer for a combined $8.5 billion in damages over the 1996 trial of Trovan, a new drug tested on children during a meningitis epidemic.
Nigeria alleges Pfizer was responsible for the deaths of 11 children and permanent health problems for dozens of the 200 children involved in the Trovan trial.
Pfizer says Trovan saved lives and the alleged victims were affected by meningitis, not Trovan.
More than 12,000 Nigerian children died in six months from the 1996 epidemic of meningitis, an infection of the nervous system that can kill in hours.
"Leave is hereby granted for the prosecution to serve ... the defendants," said Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court in the Nigerian capital, listing Pfizer Inc and four other defendants.
He adjourned the case to Oct 22.
Trovan had been tested on 5,000 people before it was used in Nigeria. It was licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use on adults a few months after the Kano trial.
It briefly became one of Pfizer's top-selling drugs, with 300,000 prescriptions per month. But authorities imposed severe restrictions on its use three years later when it was found to cause serious liver injuries in some patients.
The federal lawsuit was first filed in the United States, but was thrown out in 2005 by a judge who said it should be heard in Nigeria.
The Kano state government's $2 billion civil suit against Pfizer also came up on Wednesday, but was adjourned until December 5 to allow both sides more time to study the case.
A criminal case based on the Trovan trials and brought by Kano state was also heard and adjourned to November 6 to enable the defendant to be served a court summons.
The attorney general of Kano state, Aliyu Umar, said he would be leading a delegation to hold talks with Pfizer on November 17 in the United States with a view to a possible out-of-court settlement.
(Additional reporting by Mike Oboh in Kano)