Taxonomy of Nigeria’s Endemic Corruption

Matthew T. Page
Matthew T. Page

The Carnegie Carnegie Endowment for International Peace just published a report titled “A new taxonomy for corruption in Nigeria.” It’s author, Matthew Page, identifies more than 500 types of graft. As he puts it, corruption ranges “from the jaw-dropping, to the creative, to the mundane.”

It includes “the oil minister who diverted billions of petrodollars in just a few years. … the local official who claimed a snake slithered into her office and gobbled up $100,000 in cash. … the cop shaking down motorists for 25 cents apiece at makeshift checkpoints.”

Post-colonial era: national, continental and international corruption

Nigeria amplifies and magnifies corruption, taking it at a larger scale than perhaps anywhere on the continent. But it shares the plague with all the other countries. Since the so-called independence series of the 1960s, corruption has become widespread, embedded, endemic. It affects the public and private sectors in secret or open ways, at micro- and macro-levels. It involves the heads of state, senior and junior civil servants, business people, sworn-in officials in the legislative, judiciary and executive branches of government. It is externally induced and domestically perpetrated.

Pastoralists and agriculturalists of Nigeria, Unite!
Nigeria. Soldiers As Policymakers (1960s-1970s)

For corruption in Guinea, see for instance:

Conakry : plaque-tournante de l’Escroquerie internationale
Mahmoud Thiam. Seven Years in Prison
Guinea Mining. Exploiting a State on the Brink of Failure
Sales temps pour les amis d’Alpha Condé
France – Guinée : Bolloré et Condé

An uneven struggle

Run by knowledgeable and dedicated individuals, anti-corruption  institutions and programs are actively at work in Nigeria. However, they face an uphill battle and an uneven struggle; and the eradication of the practice, remains, indeed,  a herculean task.  This report underscores that:

«… corruption stymies Nigeria’s boundless potential, hamstringing the petroleum, trade, power and banking sectors and more. In the defense sector, it compounds security challenges in hotspots like the Lake Chad Basin, Middle Belt and Niger Delta. In the police, judiciary and anti-corruption agencies, it undermines the country’s already-anaemic accountability mechanisms, thereby fueling further corruption across the spectrum.
It also rears its head in politics through electoral manipulation and the kleptocratic capture of party structures. “Brown envelope journalism” undermines democratic norms and the media’s ability to hold leaders accountable. Meanwhile, it is Nigeria’s most vulnerable that are worst affected when graft, fraud and extortion permeate the educational, health and humanitarian sectors.
Corruption in Nigeria, and elsewhere, is highly complex. It can take a variety of different but inter-related forms. Its effects can span across several disparate sectors. Yet most existing frameworks for studying corruption share a common shortcoming: they conflate how corruption occurs (i.e. tactics and behaviors) with where it occurs (i.e. which sector). This can muddle our understanding of an already complicated issue and prevent policymakers, practitioners and analysts from thinking about Nigeria’s greatest challenge in more sophisticated and nuanced ways.»

Matthew T. Page is a consultant and co-author of Nigeria: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2018). His appointments include a  nonresident fellowship with the Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja.
The 42-page PDF report is accessible below.

Caveat. The title of the report is, in part, a misnomer with respect to the use of the word taxonomy.  An SKOS standard-based approach would have yielded a vocabulary, i.e. a neat classification and a cogent hierarchy of broad(er)/narrow(er) terms. Overall,  though, the content of the paper is facts-based and well-referenced. Despite its shallow historical timeline, which begins at “independence” in 1960 and thus fails to include the continuity with, and the lasting impact of the colonial period.
My SemanticVocabAfrica website instantiates a real—continental and worldwide—taxonomy/vocabulary. It currently contains the Fulɓe, Languages, Outline of Cultural Materials, and Peoples vocabularies. The last two are drawn respectively from the HRAF project and from Murdock’s 1959 book. Both are updated and annotated with Wikipedia and Worldcat links and references, and other authoritative sources. In addition, I expand the book with MindNode mappings for data visualization. Last, I have added three main entries: African Jews, Caucasian Africans, Diaspora.

Tierno S. Bah

Conakry. Drôle d’Etats-généraux des droits de l’homme !

Le site Guineelive.com l’avait attaché à un siège éjectable en février dernier. Ils ont été pour les frais. Car le 26 mai dernier, Khalifa Gassama Diaby a été reconduit à son poste de ministre de la citoyenneté et de l’unité nationale. Soit. Il n’est reste pas moins que le département ministériel et son occupant détonnent dans le régime du président Alpha Condé. Car les concepts et la pratique de la citoyenneté et de l’unité nationale sont en piteux état en Guinée. Cela, depuis le complot de Sékou Touré contre les Fulɓe en 1977. Une conspiration que le “responsable suprême” monta pour éliminer Telli Diallo et ses infortunés co-accusés. Le système monstrueux érigé sous la révolution continue de sévir. Ainsi, durant la campagne électorale de 2010, le candidat Alpha Condé promit de reprendre la Guinée au niveau où Sékou Touré l’avait laissée. C’était un signe annonciateur d’années de vaches maigres et de retour aux tragédies. Une fois élu, le slogan fut mis en pratique. Et depuis lors, il colle à la peau du “professeur”. Car si son intention était de saigner le pays et de faire souffrir davantage les populations, alors on peut constater qu’il a tenu parole et réussi dans la destruction du tissu social du pays. A quoi s’agit de grands pas en arrière ! Par exemple, le pont de Linsan — qui marque la frontière traditionnelle  entre le Fuuta-Jalon et la Basse-Guinée— vient de s’effondrer. Pour le moment, la capitale Conakry est coupée du reste de la Guinée. A l’exception des tronçons nord (Dubréka, Boffa, Boké) et sud (Forécariah, Benty)… Dans ce contexte de dérive gouvernementale et d’incurie administrative, que peut-faire faire un ministre chargé des droits de l’homme ?

Le dilemme de Khalifa Gassama

S’il n’a pas les mains liées, Khalifa Gassama fait tout de même face à un grand dilemme. Sa position, entre deux pôles diamétralement opposés, est on ne peut plus inconfortable.
D’une part, en tant que ‘contitutionaliste’, il rêve et parle de faire respecter la Loi fondamentale, qui prescrit les droits inaliénables du citoyens ainsi que les devoirs inhérents à la construction de l’unité nationale. Malheureusement, cette dernière, comme indiqué plus haut, a été fortement —certains disent irrémédiablement — ébranlée et compromise.
D’autre part, on constate que Khalifa Gassama est en porte-à-faux avec son patron, président Alpha Condé. En effet, celui-ci se moque éperdument des questions relatives aux droits de l’homme. Il le confirma publiquement en déclarant qu’il se considérait comme un “chef d’état, et non comme le chef d’une organisation des droits de l’homme.” C’était le 12 août 2011, au siège du National Democratic Institute, à Washington, DC. Les propos du président guinéen surprirent et choquèrent l’auditoire. A tel point qu’une personne du présidium formula de vive voix son espoir que M. Condé se transforme, en tant que chef d’Etat, en ultime chef de défense des droits de l’homme en Guinée. Hélas, un tel souhait est resté pieux. Pire, il a été violé au moins 95 fois, un chiffre qui additionne les interventions brutales des forces de sécurité du régime actuel, qui tirent à balles réelles et tuent des manifestants politiques pacifiques et non-armés.

Lire President Alpha Condé at NDI, Washington DC

Drôle d’Etats-généraux

Appuyé par l’Union Européenne et l’ONG Search for Common Ground, le département de Khalifa Gassama vient de clôturer un “Forum des États généraux des droits de l’homme”. Le nom est grandiose. Mais l’étiquette “Etats-généraux” se justifie-t-elle ? L’organisation d’Etats-généraux est normalement une affaire nationale : dans la préparation, le financement et la participation. En l’occurrence, quelle rôle les préfectures du pays jouèrent-elles dans la réalisation de la rencontre ? …
De quels drôles d’Etats-généraux s’agit-il ici ? Est-que, une fois de plus, la montagne Guinée a accouché d’une souris ? D’après le compte-rendu qu’en fait le site Aminata, après trois jours de délibération, la principale résolution a porté sur la rédaction d’une “future Lettre de politique nationale de promotion et de protection des droits de l’homme”.
C’est tout !?
Bien sûr, bouche et plume cousues sur la violence courante. Silence sur la terreur passée. Deux endémies imposées par l’Etat de Guinée :  violateur cruel des droits de l’homme. Cela fait 60 ans qu’il commet ce type de crimes. En toute impunité.

Eternelle fuite en avant

L’accent sur une “future lettre” illustre à souhait la tactique de la fuite en avant adoptée depuis 1958 par les autorités de Guinée.
Hier, c’était Conakry, capitale mondiale du livre.
Aujourd’hui, ce sont les “Etats-généraux” sur les droits de l’homme. Qui se tiennent 34 ans après les Etats-généraux de l’Education, organisés en 1984.
Nulle mention du projet de procès — continuellement différé par le gouvernement — des personnes inculpées dans le massacre du 28 septembre 2009.
Mais les faits sont plus éloquents que les mots et les discours. Dans ce sens, les documents du Camp Boiro Memorial contredisent et démentissent  les manoeuvres dilatoires du gouvernement guinéen : prédateur récidiviste et impénitent, fauteur de violations répétées et de crimes cycliques des droits de l’homme.
Peut-il s’ériger justicier de ses actions criminelles ?
Les tragédies qui ont ponctuées le parcours de la Guinée depuis 1958 (voir le film Cona’cris, la révolution orpheline) en disent plus long qu’une éventuelle “Lettre de politique nationale de promotion et de protection des droits de l’homme”.
Le monde entier sait que l’Etat de Guinée est l’ingénieur et l’incitateur de la violence politique permanente dans le pays.

Tierno S. Bah

Fulɓe: Africa’s Pollinators Under Assault?

Map A. Pular (Pulaar) : western area of the language of the Fulbe.
Map A. Pular (Pulaar) : western area of the language of the Fulbe. (Source : voir Carte B)
Map B. Fulfulde : eastern area of the language of the Fulbe
Map B. Fulfulde : eastern area of the language of the Fulbe. (Source : Marquis Michel de la Vergne de Tressan. Inventaire linguistique de l’Afrique occidentale française et du Togo. Mémoires de l’Institut français d’Afrique noire. N° 30. Dakar, IFAN. 1953, 240 p. cartes)
Fulbe (Fulani) pastoralists and their cattle in Northern Nigeria. They are wearing the traditional conical hat (libitiwal, in Fuuta-Jalon dialect). They are also holding the blessed and sacred herder's stick. The Republic of the Gambia's Tourism and Culture minister, <a href="http://www.webguinee.net/blogguinee/2017/12/les-hubbu-du-fuuta-jalon-lecture-critique/">Hamat Bah</a>, was pictured sporting a similar item in his swearing-in ceremony in 2017. (T.S. Bah)
Fulbe (Fulani) pastoralists and their cattle in Northern Nigeria. They are wearing the traditional conical hat (libitiwal, in Fuuta-Jalon dialect). They are also holding the blessed and sacred herder’s stick. The Republic of the Gambia’s Tourism and Culture minister, Hamat Bah, was pictured sporting a similar item in his swearing-in ceremony in 2017. (T.S. Bah)

Titled “Genocide, hegemony and power in Nigeria” Obadiah Mailafia’s paper is a case study of pseudo-historical rambling and misguided political activism. From the title to the last line it is filled with false assumptions, malicious accusations, and malignant statements. The article illustrates the confusion sowed by “educated” and “elite” individuals and groups among the peoples of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The propagators of the growing discord are a heteroclite bunch. For instance, they include Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka as well as heretofore unknown individuals, such as Mr. Obadiah Mailafia.
I re-post his paper here in the Documents section. The tract is replete with vile insults, ignorant statements, absurd allegations, vitriolic partisanship, fallacious claims and laughable distortions of history. The author refers to the Hausa-Fulani peoples as “a new mongrel race.” How low can someone who considers himself an African be so rude and stoop so low against fellow Nigerians and other Africans? How can hurl on the Web such a derogatory and vulgar term? How can he so gratuitously and readily commit such a despicable and outrageous offense!
In this blog, I denounce, rebut, recuse and refute some of the most egregious passages of Obadiah’s inflammatory article.

Africa’s pollinators

The domestication of the bovine constituted “one of humanity’s first leap forward” (Anselin 1981). It was a watershed achievement that spurred humans’ march into civilization. In parallel with other groups in Asia, America, Africa, ancient Fulɓe partook in such an accomplishment.

See Fulbe and AfricaThe Semantic Web and Africa

In “Cattle Before Crops: The Beginnings of Food Production in Africa,” a remarkable  research paper, Fiona Marshall and Elisabeth Hildebrand argue that, contrary to the other continents, domestication of plants came after that of animals. In other words, pastoralists preceded agriculturalists in “the development of food production” aimed at meeting “the need for scheduled consumption.”
 Thus, while their prehistoric neighbors figured out plant cultivation, ancient Fulbe were a step ahead in taming the wild ancestor of the bovine. In so doing, those pastoralists and agriculturalists forebears  became, metaphorically, the pollinators of Africa. Which, in turn, as we all know, is the cradle of humankind. It is appalling that Mr. Obadiah Mailafia chose to waste his time assaulting one of Africa’s indigenous peoples.

War mongers instead peace makers

Big problems and serious contradictions —legitimate or fabricated — strife and tensions have plagued the Federal Republic of Nigeria since its founding in 1963. And in recent decades its middle section, bad blood has opposed Muslim Fulɓe (Fulani) cattle herders to Christian agriculturalists. Such hostilities are neither new, nor specific to Nigeria. Thus, Ireland is still recovering from a lengthy and bloody civil war between Protestants and Catholics. Likewise, in the tinderbox region of the Balkans, in southern Europe, peace remains fragile as new countries continue to cope with the collapse and splinter of Yougoslavia.

Read (a) The Butcher’s Trail : how the search for Balkan war criminals became the world’s most successful manhunt (b) The Trial of Radovan Karadzic

Back in the Middle Age, France and England fought the Hundred Year’s War. It pitted Catholics against Protestants and, among other atrocities. Joan of Arc life was engulfed by fire at the stake, reducing her body in ashes. In this 21st century the world watches the Rohingya’s plight and flight from persecution by Myanmar’s Buddhist extremists…
Nigeria’s Muslim/Christian divide is deep-seated in history. But they can —should and must — be negotiated amicably and resolved in peace. Unfortunately, instead of seeking positive solutions to the feuds, militants and agitators — like Obadiah Mailafia — who are recklessly bent on fanning the flames of hostility and hatred. Instead of being peace makers, they demonize their neighbors and sound like war mongers. Such a dangerous behavior must be stopped.

Obadiah Mailafia writes:

Gramsci invented the notion of “hegemonia” (hegemony) to explain the structure and anatomy of domination in political society

Error! The editors of Wikipedia would beg to differ with Obadiah Mailafia. They, who pinpoint that Gramsci studied the cultural aspect of hegemonic power, i.e., not hegemony, by and large, but one aspect of its aspects. Other manifestation of supremacy rule include the economy, warfare religions, science…

I find this concept of hegemony so relevant with what is going on in relation to the genocide being perpetrated by the Fulani militias in the Middle Belt of our country today.

Obadiah is entitled to his opinion, but not to the facts. First, he fails to cite any external references or sources. Then, he does not care to provide evidence of ongoing genocide in Nigeria. We know that such tragedy  befell the country during the Biafran War. Then, genocide stroke in Rwanda. But here, my view is nothing demagoguery brings Obadiah to claim that the recurrent attacks and retaliations in Nigeria amount to genocide.

Historians the world over agree that the original home of the Fulani people is Futa Jallon (also known in the French as Fouta Djallon) in the Upper Guinea highlands of the West African Republic of Guinea.

Wrong! Fuuta-Jalon (not Futa Jallon, or Fouta Djallon!) is one of the many regions the Fulɓe call home in 21 Africa countries. But it is certainly not their birthplace. In reality, pushing their cattle herds out of Takrur (southern Mauritania-northern Senegal), they began migrating to the region back in the 12th century C.E.. Takrur existed since the 4th century. Although it has fallen into oblivion, it was a lasting and glorious experiment that forged a new people (the Takruri) out of a melting pot of Soninke, Serer, Wolof, Mande, Fulɓe communities. And, significantly, around the 9th century Takrur became the first sub-Saharan state to adopt Islam as its official religion. However, it conquest by Emperor Sunjata Keita sealed its demised. Fulbe had been leaving the areas for quite some time. But the destruction of Takrur accelerated their exodus. They moved south toward what is today’s Fuuta-Jalon. They also headed east into Maasina, Jelgoogi, Sokoto, Adamawa, etc. In The Fulani Empire of Sokoto, historian H.A.S. Johnston indicates that Fulbe herdsmen begun settling in the Sokoto region as early as the 12th century.

Also known as Fula, Fulbe or Pullo, the Fulani are thought to have emigrated from North Africa and the Middle East in ancient times, settling in the Futa Jallon Mountains and intermarrying with the local population and creating a unique ethnic identity based on cultural and biological miscegenation.

It’s other way around, the indigenous pair (Pullo, singular / Fulɓe, plural) provides the basis for the various names given to the Fulɓe . For instance, they are called Takruri (Moors), Fellasha (Arabs), Peul (Wolof), Fula (Mande), Fulè (Sose, Jalunka) Fulani (Hausa), etc.

The Malian writer and ethnologist Amadou Hampaté Ba famously described Futa Jallon as “the Tibet of West Africa”, on account of its surfeit of Muslim clerics, Sufi mystics, itinerant students and preachers.

Correction: Amadou Hampâté Bâ was no ordinary writer and ethnologist. He was a leader of Pulaaku, the Fulbe way of life. He coined the phrase: “In Africa, when an elder dies, its a library burning down.” Thanks to serendipity, he had received in 1953 an initiation in the sacred rite of Geno and by-gone fulɓe spirituality built around the bovine. In 1961, he teamed with Germaine Dieterlen, a noted ethnologist of religions and the author of Essai sur la religion bambara. The pair co-edited the French version of Kumen, the bible of Fulbe pastoralists. In his review of the book, ethnologist fell in aw with “La poésie saisissante de ce récit [qui] évoque les plus belles pages de la Bible”.
Amadou Hampâté Bâ once declared: “I love Fulfulde, my language. I am proud to be a Pullo poet.” For his tireless advocacy for the continent’s verbal heritage, Ivoirian writer Isaac Biton Coulibaly bestowed upon A. H. Bâ the title of “pope of African oral tradition.” Bâ lived his life as a disciple of Tierno Bokar Salif Taal, a tijaniyya sufi master who taught Islam and tolerance …
Never mind, displaying his bellicose mindset, Obadiah seeks to tarnish “the Tibet of West Africa” homage with the epithet “surfeit.” Again, Gilbert Vieillard must be turning in his grave. For he asserted that Fuuta-Jalon was the Dar-al-Islam (Door of Islam) of western Africa. And in his book The Holy War of Umar Tal: the Western Sudan in the mid-nineteenth century Prof. Robinson concurred in these terms:

« Fuuta-Jalon was much more than an Almamate dominated by a Fulɓe aristocracy. It was a magnet of learning, attracting students from Kankan to the Gambia, and featuring Jakhanke clerics at Tuba as well as Fulɓe teachers. It acted as the nerve centre for trading caravans heading in every direction. The more enterprising commercial lineages, of whatever ethnic origin, established colonies in the Futanke hills and along the principal routes. It served their interests to send their sons to Futanke schools, to support the graduates who came out to teach, and in general to extend the vast pattern of influence that radiated from Fuuta-Jalon. »

Such were, among other things, the facts that prompted A.H. Bâ to label Fuuta-Jalon, a spiritual stronghold akin to Thibet.

The second traditional home of the Fulani is Futa Toro, by the banks of the Senegal River in the current nation of Senegal.

Wrong! Fuuta-Tooro was located in the direct sphere of influence of Takrur. Therefore Fulbe lived there, first, and centuries before the headed down south toward Fuuta-Jalon.

Over the centuries the Fulani converted to Islam and some of them became zealous Muslim clerics and itinerant proselytisers. Through war and conquest they formed several kingdoms, among them Tukolor, Massina, the Caliphate of Usman Dan Fodio and Fombina in the early nineteenth century.

Wrong! In “The Social and Historical Significance of the Peul Hegemonies in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries,” Marxist historian Jean Suret-Canale join other scholars to point out that the Fulbe clerics became victorious through a combination of preaching the Word and wielding of the Sword. It behooved them to win the mind more than the body of new converts. They largely succeeded in their mission. And in Sokoto, Usman ɓii Fooduyee (Usman dan Fodio, in Hausa), his brother Abdullah, his children Mohammed and Asma’u offer a stellar example of such accomplishments.
Read The Caliph’s Sister: Nana Asma’u 1793-1865: teacher, poet and Islamic leader and One woman’s Jihad : Nana Asma’u, scholar and scribe.

To be continued.

Tierno S. Bah

Judge orders release of the Touré couple

Seal of the Northern District Court of TexasFive days after their arrest, Ms. Denise and Mr. Mohamed Touré were released today from jail on order of Judge Jeffrey Cureton of the Northern District Court of Texas. While the case is still pending, no trial date has been set.
Below is an account of the hearing by the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Meanwhile, reaction to the scandal was low-key in Guinea. Based on my quick surfing, most local websites failed to report the news of the Tourés’s court appearance and detention in Texas.
However, a picture appeared on Twitter claiming to identify and name the accuser.  According to that source, she Ms. Djena Jalo.
That spelling raises an automatic flag. Because it should be Jallo, at least. Better yet, assuming that the young woman is from Haute-Guineé, i.e., the Mande region, she is most likely a member of the Fula Wasolon  community, who is ethnically Fulɓe but linguistically Maninka/Bamana. They adopted a base-four naming system that is equivalent to the four Fulbe family names. In the process though, three original Fulɓe patronyms change, while Diallo does not, as indicated in the following table.

FulbeBahBarryDialloSow
Wasolon-FulaDiakitéSangaréDialloSidibé

In short, the name Djena Jalo is somewhat intriguing. It calls for clarification. Let’s hope that better information will be forthcoming.

Tierno S. Bah

Réponse à Lamine Diallo
La sale guerre de Sékou Touré contre les Peuls


Judge orders release of Southlake couple accused of treating girl like a slave

April 30, 2018 03:38 PM

A Southlake couple charged with forcing a West African girl to work in slavelike conditions in their home for more than 16 years were ordered released from federal custody Monday, though they did have to surrender their passports.

Family members and friends of Mohamed Toure and Denise Cros-Toure — who were arrested last week — erupted in celebration after U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cureton ordered them set free. The Toures’ five children sat in the courtroom in support of their parents, and the oldest daughter testified on their behalf.

Tarrant County authorities have dealt with the girl, who is believed to be about five years older than she thinks she is, and the family since at least April 2002, when Southlake police found her in a city park “wearing dirty unkept clothing” and “very visibly scared and nervous,” according to a police report. She has told federal agents that she was forced to do all manner of household chores, that she was for years made to sleep on the floor and that she was at times physically and emotionally abused — all while receiving no pay or formal education.

After Cureton’s ruling, Scott Palmer, Denise Cros-Toure’s attorney, called the government’s case “weak” and suggested that it’s the girl’s word against that of the family’s five children.

“It’s one source,” said Palmer, whose law practice is based in Addison. “We had five witnesses — the Toures’ children — and they say it didn’t happen.”

Cureton reached his decision after almost three hours of testimony.

The couple, dressed in orange and tan jail jumpsuits, smiled and acknowledged their children and friends as they arrived flanked by U.S. marshals.

Palmer, along with Mohamed Toure’s attorney, Brady T. Watt III of Dallas, emphasized that the girl went on domestic vacations with the Toure family, left the home on her own, engaged in social media and even jogged in the neighborhood.

“She was not confined to the home,” Palmer said.

‘They love us’

The Toures’ oldest daughter testified that the girl was a “cousin” — though not by blood or marriage — who was never abused, mistreated or forced to work. The daughter said she spoke not just for herself but for her four siblings as well.

The judge asked that witnesses not be identified by name.

“They love us,” the daughter testified, appearing to fight back tears. “I believe my father to be a good man, my mother a good woman.”

Arrest warrants accusing the couple of engaging in forced labor were issued last Tuesday. The Toures are also accused of taking away the girl’s documents and keeping her in the United States unlawfully after her visa expired.

If convicted, Mohamed and Denise Cros-Toure face up to 20 years in federal prison. Monday’s hearing came after federal prosecutors filed motions Thursday for the couple to be kept in custody, saying the defendants posed a flight risk and could try to obstruct the case.

Their supporters can scarcely believe what’s happening.

“It’s all ridiculous,” family friend Abdul Bility of Fort Worth said Monday after the hearing. “I don’t know how these people could be charged.”

The criminal complaint

The girl, identified in the federal complaint as female victim 1 or “FV-1,” was born in Guinea and lived with her family in a one-room mud hut with a thatched roof and no electricity. Her father was a farmer and her mother sold produce to support the family.

In testimony Monday, the girl was identified as Jane Doe.

On occasion, the girl attended school and learned Malinke, a Guinean dialect, and some French. She did not know English, according to the federal complaint.

Toure and Cros-Toure are also from Guinea but have been permanent U.S. residents since 2005. Mohamed Toure is the son of Guinea’s first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, according to the complaint.

The Toures are educated and have significant assets in the United States, but a federal investigation indicated they do not have jobs. They bought their Southlake home in 1991 for $370,000 and it’s now valued at $590,000, records show.

According to Texas Workforce Commission records, Toure has never worked in this country but has worked for a government party in Guinea. The records show his wife worked for Delta Air Lines from July 2005 to June 2006 and as a substitute teacher in the Carroll school district starting in 2016.

Bank records showed that significant overseas deposits were the family’s primary source of income, averaging $200,000 a year from 2010 to 2016, according to the federal complaint.

The couple’s five children attend high school or college or have jobs.

Leaving home

The girl told federal agents that her father asked her if she wanted to go to a city in Guinea, and took her to Cros-Toure’s parents. She was about 4 or 5 years old at the time. She stayed there for just over a year caring for the Cros family’s blind daughter. She remembered being upset one day, and the Cros family told her to stop crying because they were her family now.

When she was 5, the family placed the girl on a plane to Houston where she then flew to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, arriving on Jan. 19, 2000. Cros-Toure and three of her children met her and took her to their Southlake home, according to the federal complaint. She never left the United States after that.

In testimony Monday, the age of the girl was believed to be over 10 years old when she arrived in 2000. A discrepancy exists because her date of birth has not been verified.

As soon as she arrived in Southlake, the girl told federal agents, Cros-Toure ordered her to care for the Toure family’s 2-year-old son.

Cros-Toure routinely kicked the girl out of the Toure home as punishment for her poor labor and domestic work. The girl slept in a nearby park. She did not try to escape because she was undocumented, spoke very little English, and didn’t have money, any form of identification or a car, according to the federal complaint.

On April 30, 2002, a Southlake police officer dispatched to Bicentennial Park for a possible runaway found the girl. The officer took her back to the Toure home where Cros-Toure said the girl was her cousin and she was being home-schooled. The couple told police that they had been trying to find her, according to the federal complaint.

In 2003, Toure, Cros-Toure and their children took a trip to Paris and left the girl with another family in North Richland Hills.

Added responsibilities

As the years went by, according to the federal complaint, the girl’s job responsibilities increased to cooking, cleaning, making beds, vacuuming, doing the laundry, mowing the yard and painting. She also walked the children to school. Some neighbors believed the girl was a nanny because they would see her with the children or walking the dogs. One neighbor believed the girl did not have a social life.

The Toure’s daughter testified Monday that she and her siblings also did chores, that she went shopping with the girl several times and that the girl was treated like family.

Cros-Toure and Toure started physically abusing her when she did not perform her duties to Cros-Toure’s liking. Cros-Toure increased her punishment when the girl’s pain tolerance increased, like slapping led to the use of a belt and then to the use of an electrical cord, according to the federal complaint.

Cros-Toure is accused of ripping the girl’s left earring out, tearing her ear lobe; hitting the girl when she caught her drawing instead of cleaning the house; and twisting her arm. Toure is accused of sitting on the girl’s back as Cros-Toure spanked her with a belt.

Cros-Toure called the girl a “slave,” a “whore,” and told her she was “just a little nothing,” according to the complaint.

When the girl told Cros-Toure she had proof of the abuse, Toure stated, “Who do you think you are?”

As she grew older, she made fewer mistakes and was punished less often, according to the complaint.

Toure’s daughter told the judge Monday all the children were disciplined by spankings or timeouts.

“No one was ever hit with an electrical cord,” she testified. “I never saw Jane Doe hit with an electrical cord.”

Her day started at 6:30 to 7 a.m., and she worked until the children went to bed at night, according to the federal complaint.

Initially, the girl never left the Southlake home and was never left alone.

Later, she was allowed to walk to a grocery store, but because she could not read or write English, she would shop by sight for the vegetables that she recognized and by the pictures on canned and boxed items, according to the federal complaint. On every occasion, Cros-Toure checked the receipt and change when the girl returned.

The Toures did not allow the girl to eat with the family. One neighbor who was over for dinner at the Toures saw the girl serving the meal and cleaning afterward, but said the girl did not eat with the family.

For years, the girl slept on the floor in one of the children’s bedrooms. When one of the children graduated from high school, the girl was permitted to sleep on an old twin bed in one of the rooms, according to the complaint.

‘My parents took care of her’

Carroll school records showed the Toure children enrolled in the district. There were no records for the girl. One neighbor asked Cros-Toure whether the girl attended school and Cros-Toure replied it was too hard. Cros-Toure told another neighbor that the girl had finished high school.

“My parents took care of her,” the daughter testified Monday when asked how she believed the girl ended up in their Southlake home from Guinea. “She did have the proper paperwork to enroll in school.”

The girl also missed out when Mohamed and Denise Cros-Toure taught their children how to use computers, to swim and drive.

Nor did she get new clothes like the Toures’ daughters, but instead got old, ill-fitting clothes, according to the complaint.

Cros-Toure and Toure never took the girl to a doctor’s office. In 2014, the girl woke up with a toothache and the Toures drove her to a friend’s home where she was given a shot for a tooth infection. She was later driven to Texas A&M College of Dentistry where her tooth was pulled, the complaint states.

At times, the Toures told people the girl was their niece. The girl would repeat it to others because she was embarrassed that it was not true.

In 2016, the couple threatened to send the girl back to Guinea, even taking her to a CVS to have a passport photo taken, but then they stopped.

The girl escaped in July 2016 after Cros-Toure became angry with her on Father’s Day for not preparing anything for dinner. The Toures yelled at her and she attempted to flee the residence, but Cros-Toure blocked her way, according to the complaint. The girl jumped out a window and spent the night at a Southlake park.

The girl contacted a neighbor who let her stay there for a few days. The girl stayed for a week with another neighbor, who contacted the Toures and asked them about the alleged mistreatment. Cros-Toure told the neighbor that the girl was lying, that she had finished high school and that they were sending her back to Guinea.

She was returned to the Toure family.

A month later, the girl contacted a neighbor and told her that things had gotten worse. The neighbor told the girl to get proof of her abuse such as photos, according to the complaint. The girl got photos and her travel documents, then fled the house when Cros-Toure and her children were away. Friends picked her up and took her to a shelter, all her possessions stuffed in a duffle bag and backpack.

Neither Toure nor Cros-Toure filed a missing-person report with Southlake police.

The Toures’ daughter told the judge Monday she was angry with her “cousin.”

“I don’t understand why she is doing this,” she said. “My parents have nothing to hide.”

Domingo Ramirez Jr.
Fort Worth