Tag Archives: privatization of armed forces

This Land is their Land: money, minerals and the dead elephants

satellite image of Afirca 1994. image from wikipedia

GOVERNMENT DEFENCE ANTI-CORRUPTION INDEX, by Transparency International [Excerpts below]

• In Ethiopia, a sizable conglomerate, the Federal Metal and Engineering Corporation (METEC), grew out of the defence industry complex. METEC is now the biggest, richest, and most influential enterprise in the country and has started to acquire private property and hotels. METEC is overseen by a board headed by Defence Minister Siraj Fergessa, but METEC’s financial and budgetary links with the military aren’t clear, and there is no evidence that annual reports have ever been made available to the public.
• In Sudan 160 registered companies are linked, owned, or controlled by the military, security, and police services …
• The Eritrean military state puts the entire population to work. Military conscripts are a source of cheap labour and even the Eritrean diaspora is coerced into contributing 2% of their income to the Eritrean Defence Forces. Eritrean defence and security institutions have beneficial ownership of many key businesses in Eritrea – in agriculture, forestry, fishing, animal husbandry, mining and minerals, industry and manufacturing, energy, services, tourism, banking and finance, and there is no transparency regarding the details of their operations and finances… • In Ghana, the armed forces started operating their own bank in 2013. No audits or
nannual reports appear to be publicly available…
In 29 of the countries surveyed, defence institutions have controlling or financial interest in businesses associated with the country’s natural resource exploitation that face little to
no scrutiny.
• In Rwanda,…  Tin and tantalum smuggled into Rwanda are allegedly aundered through the country’s domestic tagging system and exported as ‘clean’ Rwandan material. The government has denied its involvement, but evidence suggests it is complicit.
In Equatorial Guinea, there are reports that government officials, including defence and security officials, have diverted revenues obtained from the country’s natural resources, including land and hydrocarbon, into private accounts through offshore shell corporations. Teodorin Nguema Obiang, the president’s son and Vice-President for Defence and National Security, has been accused of stealing $300 million (US) of the country’s oil and gas wealth through corruption and money laundering.
• In Cameroon, there is also evidence of military involvement in the illegal exploitation of the water and forest sectors including the sale of small titles to companies on an industrial scale, and through allowing the Chinese to engage in illegal commercial fishing….
• In Algeria, there are significant links between the military and oil and gas industry; with billions of oil dollars at the heart of the permanent clashes between the different clans in the “pouvoir” – the opaque military and political collective which controls the country….
In many cases, military personnel engage in illicit commercial operations for their private
gain….• In Cameroon, military personnel have been involved in money laundering through the operation of casinos and illegal gaming houses, and there is evidence that the Cameroonian armed forces have been used to provide security for private oil companies.
• There are reports of Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) and other security officials being involved in the highly lucrative trade of elephant tusks. Reports have also emerged of entire military convoys escorting illegal poachers. If caught, rather than face prosecution, military officers are transferred to new positions.

Privatization of the Army: Nigeria

Nigerian troops in Somalia 1997

Private security is big business in Nigeria. The country suffers bombings in the north, sectarian violence in the centre and simmering insecurity in the oil-producing south-east. Red24, a Scottish security firm, says more than 600 people are kidnapped in the country every year, putting it among the five worst for that sort of crime…  [There are] 1,500 and 2,000 private security companies in Nigeria. Because they cannot legally carry weapons, armed units must be hired from national forces….Private companies pay the security forces handsomely. But that also encourages commanders to hire out their men. The result is a privatisation of public security, reckons Rita Abrahamsen, a professor at the University of Ottawa. In 2011 a retired deputy inspector-general estimated that up to 100,000 police officers (about a third of the country’s total) were working for “a few fortunate individuals”, and questioned what that meant for regular Nigerians. Martin Ewence, a British naval commander turned consultant, reckons that the navy in effect has “given over its maritime security responsibilities”.

In the worst cases, the private-security culture fuels conflict. Oil companies in the Niger delta have been criticised for arming Nigeria’s Joint Task Force in a bid to secure their assets. The task-force’s combination of police, army and naval personnel, whose houseboats are moored in the delta’s greasy creeks to “tax” passing barges, are accused of human-rights abuses and involvement in the theft of oil.

Private security in Nigeria: Rent-a-cop, Economist, Oct. 17, 2015, at 54