Nigeria – bomb blast kills 25 in Zaria; Boko Haram suspected

BBC

A general view of the scene after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at a local government building in the Sabon Gari district of the city of Zaria, Kaduna State, northern Nigeria, 7 July 2015
School teachers were among the victims of the bombing

A bomb attack has killed at least 25 people and wounded 32 others in northern Nigeria’s Zaria city, the state governor has said.

A suspected suicide bomber targeted civil servants at a government building in the city, witnesses said.

Emergency workers have rushed to the scene to help evacuate the wounded.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which often targets northern Nigeria, has stepped up attacks since President Muhammudu Buhari took office in May.

The group has not yet commented on the latest attack.

It came a day after police chief Solomon Arase announced new measures to curb the rise in bombings. They include:

  • banning street trading and hawking in the capital, Abuja
  • strengthening security at all mosques and churches countrywide.

Witnesses in Zaria said people including primary school teachers had been queuing up seeking employment under Mr Buhari’s administration when the bomb detonated in Zaria’s Sabon Gari district.

null
Emergency services battled to cope in the aftermath of the bombing

“We call on our citizens to be vigilant and avoid crowded places like markets, mosques, churches and motor parks in the next few weeks,” Kaduna state governor Nasir El-Rufa’i said on his Twitter account.

Mr El-Rufa’i said the government was working with the security agencies to end the wave of militant attacks in the country.

Buhari blamed

More than 200 people were killed in attacks blamed on Boko Haram last week.

On Sunday two bombings in Jos, Plateau state, left at least 44 people dead.

null

On Monday, a young girl believed to be just 13 was killed when explosives strapped to her body detonated near a mosque in Kano city, the biggest in northern Nigeria.

Some analysts link the upsurge in bombings to Mr Buhari’s decision to remove military checkpoints countrywide on the grounds that internal security was the responsibility of police, reports the BBC’s Bashir Sa’ad Abdullahi from Abuja.

Plateau state governor Simon Lalong has called on Mr Buhari to reverse his decision, saying checkpoints made it more difficult for militants to move around.

Meanwhile, military spokesman Colonel Sani Usman told the BBC that 100 men, 24 women and dozens of children accused of links to Boko Haram had been freed.

Some has spent months in custody but investigations revealed that they were innocent, Col Usman added.

Regional forces have been battling Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria, and have recaptured all major cities and towns from the group.

null

Boko Haram at a glance

null
  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009
  • Pledged allegiance to Islamic State, calling itself West African Province
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, hundreds abducted, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Seized vast area in north-east, where it declared caliphate in 2014
  • Regional force retaken most territory

Zimbabwe – Mnangagwa faction in ZANU-PF turf battle with Grace’s supporters

Zimbabwe Independent

Mnangagwa faction targets Kasukuwere

RELATIONS between Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction and the group that had coalesced around President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, ahead of the party’s acrimonious congress in December last year which led to the ouster of former vice-president Joice Mujuru are fast deteriorating.

By Elias Mambo

This comes amid revelations Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere is locked in an explosive turf war with a key Mnangagwa ally Joram Gumbo, Zanu PF’s chief whip.

A letter written by Gumbo to Kasukuwere dated June 18 exposes their fierce clashes.

Since Mujuru’s ouster, Zanu PF fights have shifted to a new terrain where Mnangagwa and his allies are waging a vicious war of attrition against Grace’s associates, particularly politburo member Jonathan Moyo and Kasukuwere.

Latest details show that Grace could now also be distancing herself from the clique she closely worked with to remove Mujuru as she seeks to occupy middle political ground to position herself to succeed Mugabe.

Events within Zanu PF and Mugabe’s remarks against his Vice-Presidents, Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko and Grace’s disclosures they report to her as she sets the agenda, betray the First Lady’s presidential ambitions.

Moyo’s current freeze out of cabinet indicates renewed tensions with Mugabe and possibly with Grace as post-congress realignments take place in the succession context. Recently, Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao launched a blistering attack on party secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, openly accusing the fourth highest ranked party official of working to undermine his uncle despite the fact that the team worked together to oust Mujuru.

Sources in Zanu PF told the Zimbabwe Independent this week Kasukuwere believes Mnangagwa is fighting him by proxy through his Midlands allies in parliament, notably Gumbo and vocal Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment chairman Justice Mayor Wadyajena.

Kasukuwere has been summoned — for the second time in less than a year — to appear before the Wadyajena-chaired committee to clarify how he administered the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust Scheme between 2009 and 2013 when he was in charge of the portfolio. Previously, he was taken to task over shady indigenisation deals.
Kasukuwere reportedly confronted Gumbo over the matter resulting in the chief whip responding with an angry letter last month.

The letter, dated June 18, highlights a number of issues which have become a new source of conflict between Mnangagwa’s allies and those once seen as Grace’s close associates.

“I wish to unequivocally protest that your accusations are unfair, untruthful and totally misdirected,” Gumbo fumed in the letter to Kasukuwere.

“You are accusing Midlands province and promising that ‘we will see’ if we do not cooperate with you as a province because you come from Mashonaland Central province.

“The utterances you make are based on Honourable Mayor Wadyajena’s committee operations which have nothing to do with me or Midlands province. Your insinuation is that Midlands Province conspires against you, which is totally unfortunate and unfounded.

“For your information, we totally support you as our national commissar and your utterances now become a cause of concern and worry. Parliamentary committee matters have nothing to do with a province. You were once a chairperson of a committee and you know very well how the committee operates.”

In an interview yesterday, Gumbo said there was nothing sinister about his exchanges with Kasukuwere.

“It was just something internal and there is no bad blood between me and him. He had approached me so I was just responding and clarifying our duties,” he said.

Wadyajena has been militant in his oversight role regarding indigenisation deals, management of youth funds and operations around government’s community share ownership schemes.

However, those close to Kasukuwere say Wadyajena is using parliament to settle personal and political scores at a time when the succession battles have been re-ignited fiercely as Mugabe becomes frail.

Last year Wadyajena summoned Kasukuwere, but was blocked by the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda and then clerk of parliament Austin Zvoma who ruled that it was improper for the minister, who has left the office, to speak on any matters when there was a sitting successor unless it was in criminal investigations.

The attacks on Kasukuwere are a result of his growing political influence and ambitions which have gained momentum since being appointed national political commissar.

“Kasukuwere has been vicious in his restructuring programme as the party heads for provincial polls and this has caused friction in the party. The Mnangagwa faction is livid at his activities,” a senior Zanu PF official said this week.

The provincial executives are crucial in the succession battle as they would even be more critical in the new process of electing Mugabe’s party successor through a national primary poll via secret ballot.

However, in recent weeks Kasukuwere has been trying to assuage factional tensions and hostilities by singing Mnangagwa praises.

While addressing a rally in Hurungwe West recently, Kasukuwere said the constituency had been honoured by the presence of “the face of the liberation struggle in the form of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa”.

The same also happened in Headlands and Mutare where Kasukuwere took the Zanu PF supporters through a history lesson of Mnangagwa’s war credentials and heroic escapades.

As Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars continue raging on, Mugabe seems to becoming anxious about the renewed fights, hence his remarks at last week’s national youth assembly meeting warning forming alliances around Mnangagwa and Mphoko was unacceptable and futile.

“If you are choosing between my two vice presidents you are beginning your own Gamatox. They (VPs) occupy equal sphere. If you say you want this one to succeed you are already bringing divisions with the people and this so soon after our election,” he said.

During the closed door briefing with the youths, Zanu PF sources said Mugabe forthrightly attacked his deputies over exacerbating factionalism and succession wrangling.

Zimbabwe – Mnangagwa sent to China to revive mega-deals

Zimbabwe Independent

mnangagwa emmerson

AS the country’s economy continues to nosedive, President Robert Mugabe has dispatched Vice- President Emmerson Mnangagwa to China for a five-day visit where he has been tasked “to revive the Chinese mega deals,” Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Elias Mambo

Sources close to Mnangagwa this week told the Independent, the Vice-President, who has been invited by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and is in charge of the economic sectors, will meet several businesspeople who want to invest in Zimbabwe.

“Mnangagwa will be leaving on July 5 and will be back on July 10. He will first visit Beijing and then proceed to Shandong Province. He is expected to meet a number of businesspeople as well as address a business delegation,” the source said.

Last year in August, Mugabe visited China where a number of deals were struck and are still to be implemented. Chinese President Xi Jinping is also expected to visit Zimbabwe sometime.

Government sources said the Chinese pinned Mugabe down on policy inconsistences and the succession issue during his August trip to that country seeking an economic bailout. Since his appointment, Mnangagwa has voiced his concern on the need to create investor-friendly policies.

Nigeria – Buhari may sideline anti-graft agencies in recovery of looted funds

Punch

Buhari may sideline EFCC, ICPC in loot recovery

ICPC and EFCC logos

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari may not involve the nation’s anti-graft agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission in his government’s efforts at recovering looted funds, The PUNCH has learnt.

Our correspondents learnt on Monday that the President did not have confidence in the anti-graft agencies.

A top government official, who is familiar with the Buhari’s government’s efforts at recovering looted funds, told The PUNCH in confidence that President might rely more on people outside the system to achieve good results.

The official said, “The President’s body language as far as the anti-corruption agencies are concerned suggests that he does not have so much confidence in them.

“Most of the recovery job may be done by people outside the system, like consultants.”

He added that Buhari’s reliance on outsiders had started yielding positive results and that the President was currently in possession of incriminating information about individuals and institutions suspected to be culpable in looting the nation’s treasury.

He added that the information was not made available to Buhari by the anti-graft agencies but by concerned individuals and groups.

“I can confirm to you that the President has received plenty information that is useful for the recovery process. Anti-graft agencies are not the sources of the information. He got the information from different sources, including anonymous and known sources,” he said.

When contacted, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Buhari was committed to the recovery and repatriation of all stolen funds from any part of the world.

The President had on June 23 said his administration had received firm assurances of cooperation from the United States and other countries in his quest to recover and repatriate funds stolen from Nigeria.

He said it was up to Nigeria to provide the international community with the facts and figures needed to drive the recovery effort, saying that he would be busy in the next three months, getting the facts that would help in recovering the stolen funds.

“In the next three months, our administration will be busy getting those facts and the figures to help us recover our stolen funds in foreign countries,’’ he had said while granting audience to members of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

It was learnt on Monday that the President had not given any directive on the recovery of stolen funds to any of the nation’s anti-graft agencies.

Investigations revealed that the leadership of the EFCC and the ICPC were unsure of the level of their expected involvement in the task of recovering the looted funds under Buhari.

Some very senior officers of the anti-graft agencies told one of our correspondents in confidence that they had not been involved in any looted funds recovery effort under Buhari’s administration because the President had not indicated what he expected from them in the exercise.

An officer in a strategic position in one of the agencies simply said he had no knowledge of whether the President had issued a directive or not.

It was gathered that the President had been engrossed in discrete moves to recover billions of Naira believed to have been stolen by officials of previous governments.

Buhari was said to have reached out to his counterparts in several countries to seek assistance on how the stolen funds could be repatriated.

It was further gathered that some of the leaders contacted had indicated readiness to assist the President on the issue of assets recovery.

The government source said that some of the politicians who got wind of the move by the President had become jittery and had commenced moves to return some of the funds in a bid to avoid being humiliated.

However, the source could not give the exact amount of money believed to have been recovered so far in the course of the efforts by Buhari to recover stolen Nigerian assets.

The source said, “Let me make it clear that no anti-graft agency is involved in the ongoing efforts to recover stolen funds.

“The fact is that nobody is sure of what the President wants to do or which security agency he intends to rely on in the bid to recover some of these funds.

“What we know is that he reached out to some foreign countries where some of these former government officials have gone to hide the funds and these countries are cooperating with him. They have promised to assist him to recover them.

“Some of those involved who got wind of the President’s move have started returning some of the stolen money.”

Most of the missing funds in Nigeria are believed to have been lodged in secret bank accounts in the U.S., UK, Switzerland and other European countries.

The President had indicated his resolve to trace and recover all such stolen funds on his resumption at the Presidential Villa on June 27, 2015.

The President, who raised the alarm that he met an empty treasury, said that billions of dollars stashed away in foreign accounts could be recovered in the next three months.

Adesina had told Saturday PUNCH that the Federal Government had the intention of engaging foreign private investigators to assist the country in tracing the looted funds.

– See more at: http://www.punchng.com/news/loot-recovery-buhari-may-not-involve-efcc-icpc/#sthash.CpX17Vdc.dpuf

Kenya – suspected Al Shabab gunmen kill quarry workers near Mandera

BBC

Kenya: ‘Al-Shabab’ kills quarry workers in gun attack

Hundreds of newly trained Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18 km south of Mogadishu, Somalia
Al-Shabab fighters from neighbouring Somalia have been linked to the killings (file photo)

At least 11 people have been killed and several others wounded in a gun attack near a military camp at the Kenyan border with Somalia.

It is believed the victims were workers from a local quarry in Mandera county in the north-east of the country.

Residents told the BBC they had heard two explosions, followed by heavy gunfire in the middle of a night.

Militia group al-Shabab, which operates out of Somalia, has been linked to the attack.

Mandera County Commissioner Alex Ole Nkoyo told AFP people were sleeping when the gunmen struck.

“These were al-Shabab from the nature of the attack. They used explosives and guns,” he added.

Kenya Red Cross said it was sending an aircraft to the scene to fly the injured to hospitals in Nairobi.

Constant threat

Al-Shabab has not confirmed its involvement, but its militants have been behind a series of similar attacks in the region.

Their deadliest assault to date happened at a university in the Kenyan town of Garissa in April, when four gunmen killed 148 people.

In 2013, at least 67 people died in a gun attack on the Westgate mall in the capital Nairobi.

null
null

Analysis: Tomi Oladipo, BBC Africa Security correspondent

People from other parts of Kenya working in the north-east have threatened to leave the area following frequent al-Shabab attacks.

The Islamist group has carried out numerous attacks near the long porous border with Somalia.

This latest incident is likely to put the spotlight on the Kenyan authorities again over their handling of the security situation.

Just two weeks ago the government lifted a night-time curfew in the area after Muslim clerics said it impeded prayers during the month of Ramadan.

Kenya – gunmen kill 13 in north-east

Reuters

Unidentified gunmen killed at least 13 people in Mandera town in northeastern Kenya early on Tuesday, the head of the Kenya Red Cross was quoted as saying on Kenyan television.

At least 11 people were also wounded in the attack that took place soon after 2 a.m. (12:00 a.m. BST), the Kenya Red Cross also said on its Twitter feed.

“(There are) 13 people who are dead. We know there are 11 that are injured,” Abbas Gullet, secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross, told Citizen Television.

Gullet said four of the injured would be evacuated to the capital, Nairobi, medical treatment.

“This (is) … what we understand, (they) were quarry workers. They were sleeping when they were attacked early hours of this morning,” Gullet said.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Paul Tait)

Nigeria – army says it has killed 6,000 Boko Haram in last month

Daily Trust

The Nigerian military has intensified the battle against Boko Haram terrorists killing over 600 in a month, PR-Nigeria media consultants to the security sector said yesterday.

PR-Nigeria said even as there was little information flowing from the military about their ongoing operations against terrorism in the North-eastern parts of the country, several sources had confirmed that over 600 terrorists must have been killed in the last one month.
PR-Nigeria stated that a top security officer said: “While the terrorists have engaged in guerrilla tactics of using vulnerable girls and young men for suicide attacks on soft targets, we ensure that their fighters do not escape as they continue to meet their waterloos in the hand of the troops.”
The source added that since the emergence of new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari no single territory in Nigeria is being occupied or proclaimed by the terrorists as their ‘Caliphate’ even as their leaders are either being killed, captured or on the run.