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Published 31st March 2000

Vol 41 No 7


Offshore, offside

In a private investigation, a soccer star says he's uncovered a multi-billion dollar debt trading fraud and calls on the government to act

The determination of President Olusegun Obasanjo's government to probe the financial management of its military predecessors is to be tested by soccer star John Fashanu. He has launched a private investigation into a US$6 billion Nigerian debt buy-back scheme, claiming it was 'riddled with corruption'. The scheme was run from the Central Bank of Nigeria between 1988 and 1993, while General Ibrahim Babangida was President. On the face of it the scheme was a shrewd way of covertly buying back Nigeria's commercial debt at deep discounts. Babangida had pledged to reduce the debt substantially and did so. In 1992, Nigeria had agreed the terms for a 'Brady bond' deal - basically, an approved way of reducing the nominal value of debts that were never likely to be paid in full - which took some $5.5bn. of commercial debt off the books. Fashanu, who is also the United Nations' Children's Fund special envoy in London, was found innocent in 1998, along with Zimbabwean goalkeeper Bruce Grobelaar, of charges that they fixed British soccer league matches. Fashanu told Africa Confidential that his investigators (whose report was sent this week to senior Nigerian officials) had established that the scheme was a smokescreen behind which hundreds of millions of dollars were diverted into Swiss and Austrian accounts.

Tables turned

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Swept to power amid demand for change, President Wade has high expectations to meet

Senegalese are still reeling from the change they have brought about. By voting out their President of 17 years, Abdou Diouf, they have steered the country into the unknown territo...

Bizimungu bust-up

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The ethnic coalition in Kigali looks dangerously fragile

An official of the ruling Front Patriotique Rwandais (FPR) described the resignation of President Pasteur Bizimungu as 'proof of a healthy democratic environment'. Vice-President a...

Other infernos

The government isn't winning and can't afford its wars in the west and north

The systematic killing and burning of more than 700 Ugandans by the leaders of a bogus Christian cult in mid-March generated some sympathy for President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni's go...

The blame game

The ruling party exploits popular pro-war sentiment in its election campaign

It's still no war, no peace, along the Ethiopian-Eritrean border, as each side loads onto the other the blame for the lack of progress. Last year, Ethiopia bore the blame for block...

Silencing the critics

The All Amhara People's Organisation, which claims to be a national party, cannot campaign without local offices. Nearly two years ago, it formally asked Premier Meles Zenawi for l...


Radio silence

President Charles Taylor's 15 March order closing down two independent radio stations - Swiss-funded Star Radio and the Catholic-run Radio Veritas - may be linked to embarrassing r...

Togoïmi's Tactics

President Idriss Déby is deeply worried about ex-Defence Minister Youssouf Togoïmi's rebellion in the Tibesti. Travel, even for officials, is impossible north of Faya-L...

Warlords at the gate

More questions face Djibouti's proposed Somalia peace conference: nearly all Somalia's main political organisations have now come out against the gathering, scheduled for 20 April.