Category Archives: Africa – International

Nigeria -Maiduguri suicide attack and Boko power in Borno

Punch

Maiduguri market

“Maiduguri is gradually being captured. Its location is almost in the middle of Borno State and only the Maiduguri-Damaturu axis of the roads leading to it can boast of relative calm.”

These were the words of Jack Vince, a Maiduguri, Borno State-based freelance journalist shortly after a male and female suicide bombers detonated Improvised Explosive Devices at the city’s market on Tuesday.

About 59 people died and 92 others injured in the attacks which occurred at 11. 23 am.

Thirty five of the corpses, according to medical sources, were deposited at the mortuary of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

The remaining 24 corpses were taken to the state specialist hospital in the troubled city.

A military source told our correspondent   that the female bomber was the first to detonate her IED, “killing herself and some traders and their customers who were near her.”

He added, “Just as people gathered around her corpse and few other people that died in the first explosion, the male bomber   detonated the explosive on him.   No one can give you the exact casualty now but   over 50   people were killed and many have been rushed to hospital.”

Earlier, some traders at the market had claimed that the attacks were carried out by two female suicide bombers believed to be members of Boko Haram.

One of them, Abba Kolo, said he counted “more down 40 corpses.”

“As I am talking to you we are still trying to rescue the injured and evacuate the corpses of almost   60 traders and people who came to purchase things in the market.”

A youth vigilante,     Hassan Ibrahim, however claimed that the female attacker kept a parcel in a shop on One-Way, a commercial area beside the popular market, which detonated as she made to walk away.

“As people were still wondering what happened and trying to rescue the injured, another bomber in the same area   detonated a bomb planted on his body. This claimed so many lives.”

A trader,   Ali Bukar, said, “They were two suicide bombers. The first detonated an IED,   killing herself and many people. But   as traders and their customers were running for their lives, the other bomber detonated his own, killing   many more.   I saw about 14 tricycles evacuating corpses to the hospital.”

A worker at the UMTH said “about 35 corpses and 42 injured persons were brought to our facility”.

The   state’s Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary   and Executive Secretary Hospital Management Board,   Salisu   Bura, told Governor Kashim Shettima   that 24 corpses were deposited at the hospital.

He also told the governor, who visited   the victims at the State Specialist Hospital, that 54 people were admitted.

“Out of this number, 14 of them who were critically injured have been referred to the UMTH for proper treatment while 20 have been discharged.”

Our correspondent however gathered that one of the injured, a 14-year-old boy, died after.

Shettima described the bombers as “wicked” and wondered why they had chosen   traders and children as their targets.

Journalists were not allowed to take pictures of the site of the explosions by security agents.

A photojournalists with the Daily Trust, Tunji Omirin, who was nearly beaten up by soldiers   had his camera seized.

The Public Relations Officer of the state police command, Gideon Jubrin, did not give the number of the casualties.

“I can confirm to you that there were explosions at the Maiduguri Monday Market today(Tuesday) but I cannot give you details now as our men and the military are on ground to bring back order,’ he told journalists on the telephone.

Jubrin added, “Whatever figures you heard from the hospital source are their own figures, but as you know, we are still evacuating corpses. We have   yet to count the corpses. This is a sad situation, I will update you whenever we are able to clear the scene and know the casualty figure.”

There was however high security alert in Maiduguri   after the explosions.

Armed security operatives were seen screening vehicles, thereby     causing traffic jam on major roads in the town.

People were also subjected to serious screening before being allowed into public premises in the troubled town.

It was however gathered that the security threat might not be unconnected with suspected infiltration of the internally displaced persons camp in the town by Boko Haram insurgents.

A member of the youth vigilante group, who spoke to our correspondent under condition of anonymity said, “It is believed that   insurgents followed the IDPs into town. They ( insurgents) even slaughtered two people in one of the camps and they have been going about wreaking havoc in some parts of the state.”

Copyright PUNCH.

South Africa – ANC seeks session to suspend EFF MPs without pay

Mail and Guardian

25 minute special sitting of the National Assembly has been convened, seemingly to ensure EFF MPs are suspended without pay before the holidays.

Opposition parties are rallying to get President Jacob Zuma to attend a sitting of the National Assembly - which seems to have been convened just so the ruling party can deal with the EFF. (David Harrison, M&G)

The special sitting of the National Assembly called by speaker Baleka Mbete is scheduled to last a mere 25 minutes, seemingly to ensure that EFF MPs are suspended without pay before the Christmas holidays.

This is revealed in a proposed programme that the majority party presented to the chief whips forum – a consultative forum made up of whips of all parties represented in Parliament.

For the first time in 20 years of democracy, the forum was deadlocked and could not agree on the programme. The programme will now be referred to a programme committee which will sit on Wednesday afternoon.

The first and main item of the agenda – proposed by the ANC on Tuesday – is the adoption of a report of the powers and privileges committee, which found Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs guilty of contempt of Parliament, and proposed sanctions of up to 30 days suspension from Parliament – without pay.

The opposition parties rejected the proposed agenda, and instead tabled their own item on the agenda – getting President Jacob Zuma to come to the National Assembly to answer questions. Neither side would concede.

The ANC’s deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said it was a problem that the opposition would unite against Parliament holding people to account. This was particularly ironic given that the opposition are demanding Zuma’s attendance for the very same reasons – accountability.

“The problem with the opposition parties is that they are against one item, which is the report of the powers and privileges committee. I don’t understand it because if I disobey the rules of Parliament and I act in a manner that is disruptive, I must be held accountable.

“The opposition parties are united in not wanting people to be held accountable. So that is why they are protesting against the sitting on Thursday,” she told the Mail & Guardian, shortly after the meeting fell apart.

‘Impossible for Zuma to make Parliament this year’
Dlakude added that opposition parties were “demanding the president”, but said that there was a process when it came to asking the president questions.

“Questions must be sent to the president, and then there must be a date for him to come and answer those questions in the House.

“We must also remember that it’s not that the president doesn’t want to come and answer questions – he was here on August 21. He responded to those questions.”

Dlakude said it would be impossible for Zuma to be in Parliament on Thursday or before the end of this year. “Standing here, I don’t know where the president is. He has a very hectic schedule.

When the M&G asked about the way forward, Dlakude responded, saying “Watch and see, you must watch this space.”

Opposition parties ridiculed Mbete’s decision to recall Parliament for a 25 minute sitting.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu said the meeting collapsed because all the opposition parties were saying that the ANC’s proposed programme was ridiculous. “They’ve recalled members from oversight to come back on Thursday for 25 minutes on things that are not necessary.

“It can’t be that people who were deployed by Parliament to do oversight work, and to do constituency work, are recalled for 25 minutes because the ANC wants to vindictively punish the EFF…”

The programme had five reports to be considered on Thursday, with five minutes allocated to each report. The controversial report which proposes the sanctioning of the EFF MPs tops the list, while the other four reports focus on oversight visits that portfolio committees carried out earlier this year.

The motions and members’ statements which, in recent weeks, have been used by political parties to delay the proceedings of the House are not on the draft programme.

The M&G understands that the opposition parties are planning, once again, to use the tactic to delay the adopting of the report sanctioning the EFF.

Parliament convened at ‘enormous expense’
“The meeting collapsed because we were saying that in terms of parliamentary rules, there is a sequence of proceedings that should be adhered to. There should be motions, there should be motions without motions, there should be members’ statements, and there should be other deliberations,” said Shivambu.

“We insisted as well that we want President Zuma to come and account to Parliament. He must utilise this opportunity to finish the business that he could not conclude on 21 August, and the ANC is basically refusing,” he added.

“We do not want to be brought back here just for one issue which is in the interest of the politicians of the ANC.”

Democratic Alliance MP Dion George, who represented the party in the chief whips forum, decried the reconvening of Parliament at “enormous expense” just to deal with the EFF.

“It seems to be very clear what the ANC wants to do; they want to get the item regarding the EFF on to the programme, and they don’t want the president to come and answer questions.

“Our position is very clear: we want a date where the president will come and answer questions this year. We will not agree to anything else,” he said after the meeting.

He said they understood that there needed to be a process to get questions on to the order paper for the president, and that they won’t be unreasonable about that. “But we want to see the president this year, and he must answer questions. That is the bottom line.

“It does not have to be Thursday, but a question must be asked why you would recall Parliament for a session that appears to be 25 minutes long at the moment?

“At what expense to the people? That is not acceptable. We are horrified at what is being proposed,” he added.

Failed peace deal
Freedom Front Plus’ chief whip Corne Mulder said it was the first time in 20 years that a meeting of the chief whips forum ended in the manner it did on Tuesday.

He said MPs had been curious when the speaker announced her decision to reconvene Parliament, and wondered what would be on the agenda.

“We didn’t know what it was about but now the ANC has showed its hand in this meeting. It’s about one item, one issue, and that’s why the programme is scheduled to last for only 25 minutes.”

Mulder said this agenda was pushing through the powers and privileges report, to suspend the EFF members.

“We have said that you are wasting taxpayers’ money. If you want to recall Parliament, make it worthwhile, and also get the president to come and reply.

“We are talking about a couple of millions of rands. Members have travelled across South Africa. I’ve been in the home affairs committee – we have a full programme, and we are booked into hotels…”

Parliament’s committees are indeed on oversight across the country this week, and some, like the energy portfolio committee, are abroad.

A number of the committees announced in press statements on Tuesday that they were going to cut their oversight visits short, while others were postponing their trips due to the sitting scheduled for Thursday.

Parliament announced on Monday night that Mbete had decided to call a sitting of the National Assembly to allow the house to complete its work before going into recess, in accordance with the agreed parliamentary programme framework.

It said that the meetings of the chief whips’ forum and the National Assembly programme committee would be convened to discuss the programme for the sitting.

The EFF disciplinary issue – which was put in abeyance by a political deal struck between the opposition and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa – is now back on the table due to the political peace deal failing earlier this week.

The National Assembly’s last scheduled sitting for the year was on November 20. – Mail & Guardian


 

Kenya – police panic as ICC police witness disappears

Star (Nairobi)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 – 07:00 — BY KAMORE MAINA MISSING: Francis Okonya Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

SENIOR police are in turmoil after former senior Deputy Police Commissioner Francis Okonya vanished last Friday. His official car was reportedly seen driving into the US embassy in Gigiri on Friday afternoon following an acrimonious row with Inspector General David Kimaiyo and his deputy Grace Kaindi in the morning. Okonya has since disappeared and his phones are switched off. Police officers went to his home in Westlands on Friday and Saturday but his family said that they had not seen him.

The police panic is largely because Okonya was the chief police investigator into the post election violence in 2008. The National Police Service Commission dismissed him in April after he was vetted. However he went to court and the court ruled that he should stay in office until the matter is heard and determined. Okonya resumed work in May but last Friday morning he found that the locks on his office had been changed. He first confronted Deputy IG Grace Kaindi at her office in Vigilance House. He then stormed over to Kimaiyo’s office in Jogoo House around 9am. Two of his cars were withdrawn but he then drove out of the compound of Vigilance House at 9am in his official MG car. That car was reportedly spotted at the US embassy at around 3pm by GSU guards who called Vigilance House.

Okonya’s office has now been allocated to Senior Assistant Inspector General of Police Joseph Ashimalla who has been appointed deputy to Kaindi. Top cops tried repeatedly to reach Okonya but he had switched off his mobile phones. The fear is that Okonya might volunteer to be a witness in the International Criminal Court against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. As Deputy Director of CID in 2008, he prepared a detailed Power Point and 100 gigabyte report that he presented to senior police officers. He also made several appearances at the Waki Commission that investigated the post-election violence.

It was the ‘Waki envelope’ containing the names of top suspects that eventually led to the ICC prosecutions in Kenya. Former head of the Administration Police training college, Uku Kaunya, went into exile in 2010. There has been widespread speculation that he is still a potential witness at the ICC. ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda made frantic efforts in 2012 to question Provincial Police Officers and Provincial Commissioners over the 2007/2008 post election violence. Former Internal Security minister George Saitoti refused permission to police officers to give information to the ICC that might compromise national security or incriminate themselves. Yesterday, a senior official told the Star that he is shocked that the ICC might still be interested in the evidence of police chiefs. “PCs and PPOs are not like documents that you can hand over to the ICC prosecutor. If the ICC wants any evidence from us, let the court approach us individually and such a request will be considered,” he said. In October 2010, former ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo wrote to then AG Amos Wako requesting to interview police chiefs on how they managed the post-election violence with details of their provincial security meetings at the time. In 2011, Judge Daniel Musinga barred Justice Kalpana Rawal from taking the evidence of the security chiefs. – See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/police-panic-possible-icc-witness-disappears#sthash.SoEE6aXP.dpuf

Liberia keeping foot on pedal to beat ebola

allAfrica

By Boakai Fofana

The incidence of reported Ebola cases is no longer increasing nationally in Liberia, enabling the United States government to consider scaling back the number of Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) it is building in the country. But while there is debate among some Liberians about how many new facilities are still needed, those building them are determined to “keep the accelerator… down until Ebola is gone from Liberia.” AllAfrica’s Boakai Fofana reports from Buchanan on the opening of the first completely American-built ETU in the country.

Locals watched in awe from a distance as dozens of United States Army engineers prepared to take journalists on a guided tour of a newly-built Ebola Treatment Unit in the port city of Buchanan, about 70 miles southeast of Monrovia.

A few children scavenged in a pile of building waste from the 100-bed facility, as grown-ups looked on, unperturbed. And the adults were justified in their lack of worry, according to 32-year-old Albertha Dunn. Not only had the new unit admitted no patients yet; even during the heyday of the epidemic in Liberia, the city was not greatly affected.

“I only heard on the radio one time that we had about 12 persons with Ebola in the county,” she said. Albertha believes Grand Bassa County, where Buchanan is situated, was saved from the scourge by God. “We have been having strong prayers here”. But she added that people have stopped shaking hands and they follow the preventive measures laid down by health workers. The mother of five had been coming out every day to watch the month-long construction of the facility with another concern: she’s hoping to get a job as a cook.

In September, President Barack Obama authorized the deployment of thousands of American soldiers to help corral the Ebola outbreak which was ravaging Liberia and some of its neighbors. Their mission included building 17 treatment centers and training thousands of local health care workers. But as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control begin to report that the outbreak is stabilizing in Liberia, officials are reassessing their strategy.

“If you look back to August, we were all under attack,” said Mia Beers, the leader of the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. She announced that because the nature of the epidemic is changing, they were looking to build 15 ETUs instead of the planned 17, so that there will be one in each of the counties. “The strategy now is to go out in the rural areas and really hunt down Ebola,” she added, warning that although the numbers have dropped, “the fight is not over”.

The Buchanan unit is the first exclusively built by U.S. Army engineers and sits on more than four acres of land outside the city. The few units already constructed in other parts of the country were built in collaboration with either the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) or local contractors. Major General Gary J Volesky, who heads the U.S. military mission to Liberia, praised the role of the AFL: “With our Armed Forces of Liberia brothers, we are going to complete all the ones… under the current plan,” he said at the opening.

In addition to the ETUs donated by the Americans, facilities are being built by donors including WHO and the Chinese government, who have brought in 160 military health workers to staff a U.S. $41 million facility they are constructing at the country’s international sports stadium. But with two-thirds of the hundreds of beds currently available empty, according to the Liberian health ministry, and WHO’s recent announcement that Ebola is “no longer increasing” across the country as a whole, pundits are beginning to question the rationale for building more.

“They would be fools to spend all that money on ETUs,” Stephen D. Cashin, chief executive of the Pan African Capital Group, told the New York Times. He suggested that some of the money be spent on putting in place the expertise and skill sets needed “to provide care to the masses of people of Liberia”. However, not everyone sees it that way, and along with the Liberian government, aid organizations warn against the country letting its guard down.

Lifting the 90-day state of emergency imposed at the height of the epidemic, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf cautioned Liberians that “until the national goal of zero-new-cases by Christmas is achieved all across the country, we will keep many of the previous measures in place.” She said notwithstanding the gains, “a number of our compatriots are still lying in ETUs, hot-spots are springing up in rural areas, and many are still dying of Ebola.”

General Volesky echoed the president’s point at the unveiling in Buchanan: “We are going to keep the accelerator on that car down until Ebola is gone from Liberia.” He announced that the U.S. is bringing in three more mobile labs to be deployed in the southeastern counties.

South Africa Maharaj says Zuma only required to answer questions in parliament four times a year

Mail and Guardian

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj says President Jacob Zuma is only required to answer questions by invitation, once per quarter.

President Jacob Zuma is not avoiding answering questions in Parliament, says the presidency. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma is not sidestepping his duties to answer questions in Parliament, presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said on Tuesday.

“The continuing statements by political parties that President Jacob Zuma has avoided going to Parliament are incorrect, and are creating a wrong impression,” Maharaj said in a statement.

“The president has fulfilled his parliamentary responsibilities since his election as president in May 2014 to lead the fifth administration.”

Zuma is required to answer questions in Parliament four times a year.

Maharaj said Zuma was not an MP and was only required to answer questions by invitation. “The president is required to answer questions once per quarter in the National Assembly. He was elected and inaugurated in May 2014. That is when we begin counting for the new term of office of the president,” Maharaj said.

Zuma appeared in Parliament once this year, on August 21, to answer questions – but he could not conclude the session because of the disruption of the House by Economic Freedom Fighters MPs.

Maharaj said Zuma would continue answering questions both in writing and when invited to orally respond to questions in both the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

“The presidency is working on the president’s calendar for 2015, and as usual it will include parliamentary responsibilities at the required times.” He said these included the State of the Nation address, the budget speech by the minister of finance, the budget vote of the presidency, and questions.

“We wish to emphasise that there should be no expectation that the president will appear regularly in Parliament, given the fact that he is not a Member of Parliament.”

Over the past few months opposition parties have criticised Zuma for not making himself available four times this year to answer questions in the National Assembly.

Last week, the Democratic Alliance introduced a motion to censure the president but it failed to pass when the ANC majority voted against it. – Sapa

Nigeria – 65 killed in double suicide bombing in Maiduguri market

Punch

Maiduguri market

Two suicide bombers – a male and female – attacked a heavily populated Maiduguri market, killing scores of people, an eyewitness, Yusuf Ahmed, said on Tuesday.

An unconfirmed source said 65 corpses had been evacuated while others claimed 30 people were killed in the explosion.

Ahmed said on the telephone, “As I am talking to you, people are still trying to rescue the injured and evacuate the corpses. It is difficult to know the number of casualties.”

He said the place had been condoned off by security agencies making it difficult to assist in the rescue operations.

A youth vigilante source confirmed that the female attacker kept a parcel in one of the shops on One-way, a commercial area beside the popular Monday Market, telling the traders that she had something to pick from the market,

“The package detonated few minutes later. And as people were still wondering what happened and trying to rescue the injured, a bomber in the same area detonated a bomb planted on her; this claimed so many lives,” the source said.

Details later…

Another source claimed that the third bombing suspect was caught by the people. This also could not be confirmed as the police had yet to give an official confirmation of the explosion.

BBC

Nigeria’s Maiduguri city hit by ‘deadly blasts’

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau with fighters. 31 Oct 2014Boko Haram has vowed to create an Islamic state in Nigeria

Two female suicide bombers have blown themselves up at a crowded market in northern Nigeria’s Maiduguri city, causing many casualties, witnesses say.

At least 30 people were killed when the teenage girls detonated themselves, witnesses told AP news agency.

Witness Sani Adamau told Reuters news agency that the second blast occurred while people were trying to help those injured in the first blast.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram is waging an insurgency in Nigeria.

It was based in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, after its formation in 2002, but it has since been driven out of the city by the military and vigilante groups.

It now controls a large number of towns and villages in Borno, amid fears that it is preparing to launch an assault to capture Maiduguri.

Boko Haram has not commented on the explosions.

line

Who are Boko Haram?

  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

Nigeria – Boko Haram raid Damask disguised as traders

BBC

Boko Haram crisis: ‘Militant traders’ raid Nigeria town

Aftermath of a Boko Haram attack in Kano state, 15 November 2014Despite a state of emergency in the north-east, Boko Haram has been stepping up its attacks

Hundreds of residents and soldiers are fleeing a northern Nigerian town attacked by militant Islamists disguised as traders, officials say.

Shootings and explosions had rocked the trading town of Damasak, near Niger’s border, a senator told the BBC.

Boko Haram fighters seized a nearby fishing village on Thursday, reportedly killing 48 people.

On Sunday, Nigeria’s top Islamic leader accused soldiers of “terrorising”, rather than defending, civilians.

“Soldiers take to their heels and abandon their bases, arms, ammunition and other military hardware on the approach of the insurgents,” said the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.

Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar (February 2009)The sultan of Sokoto is Nigeria’s most influential Muslim scholar

“Nigerian security forces only surface after the deadly attacks and terrorise an already terrorised people by installing road blocks and searching homes,” he added in a statement issued on his behalf by Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the main body representing Muslim clerics in Nigeria.

‘Inflicted horror’

The militants entered Damasak carrying containers which they claimed were full of goods for sale when were, in fact, stuffed with AK-47 rifles, local government official Mohammed Damasak said, AFP news agency reports.

Map

The gunmen “inflicted horror” and “many traders escaped with bullet wounds while many are lying dead at the market”, he is quoted as saying.

Senator Maina Ma’aji Lawan told the BBC Hausa service that Boko Haram appeared to be on the verge of capturing Damasak, forcing people to flee to outlying villages and across the border into Niger.

line

Who are Boko Haram?

  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

Who are Boko Haram?

Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau

line

Mr Lawan is the senator for the northern area of Borno – one of three states where President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency last year, vowing to crush the insurgency.

Boko Haram has stepped up attacks since then, declaring a caliphate (Islamic state) in areas it controls.

In Thursday’s assault, traders were on their way to Chad to buy fish when militants blocked their path near the village of Doron Baga, some 180km (112 miles) north of Maiduguri.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau with fighters. 31 October 2014Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has declared an Islamic state in the north-east

A fish traders’ group said some of the 48 victims had their throats slit whilst others were tied up and drowned in Lake Chad, in one of the most brutal attacks blamed on Boko Haram.

BBC Nigeria analyst Aliyu Tanko says the militants appear to be advancing northwards after taking control of much of southern Borno in recent months.

It seems the group wants to isolate the state capital, Maiduguri, to make it easier to launch an attack on it, he says.

The sultan of Sokoto’s intervention shows a growing lack of confidence in the security forces, although the government says it is doing its best to defeat Boko Haram, he adds.

Last week, another influential Muslim leader, Muhammad Sanusi, the emir of Kano, said residents should “acquire what they need” to protect themselves.

Boko Haram has killed Christians and Muslims opposed to its version of Islam since launching its insurgency in 2009.