Category Archives: Humanitarian Issues

Nigeria – 45 more girls kidnapped near Madagali


45 Girls Abducted In Madagali Fresh Attack

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Boko Haram insurgents have launched an offensive in Waga Mongoro village sandwiched between Gwoza town of Borno State and Madagali town
of Adamawa state where they abducted about 45 girls, local sources in the area disclosed.  Leadership

ICC warns Kenya against leaking Kenyatta trial information


ICC cautions Kenya on Kenyatta media leaks

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta leaves after attending the Mashujaa Day (Hero's Day) celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, on 20 October 2014.Mr Kenyatta was elected in 2013, despite facing charges at the ICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has warned Kenya’s government against leaking information from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s case to the media.

Mr Kenyatta became the first serving head of state to appear at an ICC hearing earlier this month.

He denies charges of crimes against humanity, including inciting violence after Kenya’s disputed 2007 polls.

But the court says it is concerned over the Kenyan government’s ability to ensure confidentiality of the case.

In a report released on Tuesday, the ICC’s Trial Chamber V specifically referred to the leaking of details of a confidential request from the ICC judges to help freeze or seize President Kenyatta’s assets.

The request was issued under seal, however, the Kenyan authorities filed public documents in 2013 referring to the request, which Mr Kenyatta’s lawyers later apologised for.

Details of the request later resurfaced in Kenyan media in April and September this year, in what the court described as “a pattern of information contained in confidential filings being leaked to the media, in some cases even before the filings have been notified to the chamber”.

It subsequently issued a “formal caution” to the Kenyan government, noting “cumulative inattention to the taking of appropriate measures to ensure the confidentiality of proceedings”.

Mr Kenyatta is facing five charges relating to ethnic violence after the 2007 elections that left some 1,200 people dead and 600,000 displaced – the worst violence in Kenya since independence in 1963.

On 8 October, he was summoned to appear at an ICC “status conference” – a pre-trial hearing.

But correspondents say the case has reached deadlock, with the prosecution accusing the Kenyan government of withholding vital evidence and the defence saying that without evidence, there should be no trial.  BBC

Nigeria – Boko Haram split as peace talks continue


Peace talks split Boko Haram into two groups


Members of Boko Haram sect

Following the ceasefire deal the Federal Government entered into with Boko Haram, the violent fundamentalist sect has split into two. While one faction wants peace, the other doesn’t.

It was gathered on Sunday that the Federal Government might have entered into the ceasefire with the faction interested in the cessation of hostilities in the North-East.

A reliable source in government told The PUNCH in Abuja that the leaders of the pro-peace faction of the sect , were the ones who took part in the negotiations with representatives of the Chadian, Cameroonian and Federal Government in Ndjamena, Chad last week.

Federal Government and Boko Haram representatives are expected to fine tune the details of the ceasefire at another   meeting in Ndjamena on Tuesday.

Our source said he believed that the attacks on Shafa in Borno State and Sina, Adamawa State on Friday, could have been carried out by the faction not be interested in ending the violence.

He said “The Boko Haram faction that carried out the attack is the one that wants the insurgency to continue. It is made up of   hardcore elements who believe their goal of imposing Sharia on the whole country has not been achieved and for them, the violence must continue until they win the war or perish in their quest.”

There had been reports of disagreements among the top members of the sect following the clamour by some of its commanders for an end to the insurgency.

A yet to be verified report had said that unknown sect members died a few weeks ago in a shoot-out between the pro-peace and the pro-Jihad factions.

The military is however keeping its side of the peace deal by suspending all hostilities against the insurgents,The PUNCH learnt.

This, according to a top military source, was a direct outcome of a directive issued by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.

Badeh had on Friday ordered the   suspension of all on-going aerial and ground offensives against the sect.

Our source, who pleaded not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, said the military did not consider the latest attacks     as a violation of the ceasefire.

He explained that it was very likely that the operatives of the terrorist cells who carried out the attacks were not aware of the peace deal.

The source said, “One cannot say the peace deal has been violated; it is the nature of most terrorist organisations to act that way, and it should be expected because they have several layers of operation.

“They have such a long chain that it takes time for them to communicate with the top unlike the military where you are very quick communication channels.

“Another thing is that each of the cells operates independent of the other. So those who carried out the attacks in the villages in   might not even be aware of the deal.”

He however   explained that security forces would not allow the other faction to exploit the peace deal to violate the security and safety of the people.

It was learnt that while the security forces would not be on the offensive, sustained efforts would be made to prevent crimes from being committed against the people.

The PUNCH gathered from another source that the military had ensured the suspension of aerial and land offensive in compliance with the CDS’ directive to give peace a chance.

He said, “We will not be watching any violation of the security and safety of our people, we will not be on the offensive but we won’t allow crimes to be committed.

“The air operation is suspended for the duration of the ceasefire; we will not be on the offensive; we really need to comply with the peace agreement at least to give peace a chance.”

Investigations   confirmed that soldiers have remained in their areas of deployment in the North-East.

Another security source warned that soldiers would be left with no option than to act if attacked.

He said while the troops fighting the terrorists   learnt of the ceasefire from the media, they were awaiting briefing from their commanders.

He said, “This is ceasefire does not say pull back soldiers; so soldiers have not been pulled back. It is logical, if soldiers are attacked, they would fight back; they won’t sit and watch but soldiers have not gone for any operation since the ceasefire.”

Efforts to speak with the Director Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade,on the latest developments did not succeed as calls to his mobile telephone line did not connect.

But other sources in government said that the   government was still expressing cautious optimism in its dealings with   the sect.

This, it was learnt, was the reason behind its decision to refrain from making a categorical statement on the ceasefire since the news broke on Friday.

A top official, who pleaded anonymity, said   the government has so far decided to keep a dignified silence to “see how the matter plays out during the week.

This, according to him, was the reason why the government was not surprised about the attacks after the ceasefire agreement became a public knowledge.

He said, “The government does not want to jump into the fray. It is true that discussions are ongoing but the government is watching the situation critically.

“The thinking is that once the process scales through, the government will make a public pronouncement.

“Hopefully, once the Tuesday meeting is successful, the government will talk. For now, we are watching events.”

Efforts to get the reaction of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, did not yield result of the time of filing this report.

Sect captures another Borno town, beheads six

On Sunday, members of the sect   captured another Borno community, Abadam, after laying siege to it.

They also beheaded six people along the Biu – Garkida Road in the state.

It was gathered from security sources that the insurgents, numbering 100, invaded Abadam   on Friday night and took it over on Sunday morning.

They said the heavily armed terrorists arrived in the town in a convoy of about 50 Toyota Hilux vehicles and motorcycles.

They however did not give a casualty figure but a resident told journalists in Maiduguri on the telephone that he saw six corpses, including that of his friend, while fleeing the town.

He said, “Boko Haram gunmen entered Abadam on Friday night and shot at any resident in sight   for almost two days until the early hours of Sunday when many of us started to flee to   our farmlands, bushes and border areas of Bosso in Niger Republic.

“I escaped by crossing River Kumadugu to Diffa   and from there, I boarded a bus to Damasak before arriving in Maiduguri today (Sunday).

“Among the people killed was my friend. My parents and other relations I believe are still in the bush and I do not know their state as I   speak to you .”

The resident added that there was no security presence in the town throughout the period of the attack.

Another resident also told   journalists   that the sect members, as in other places they had captured, hoisted their black and white flag in three strategic locations in the community.

He lamented the possibility of the town, being declared an Islamic Caliphate.

Some     communities in the state under the control of the sect are Dikwa, Gwoza, Marte, Damboa, Banki, Bama, Wulgo, Kirenowa.

Our correspondent in Borno State also gathered that the insurgents   beheaded six people on the same road   where the Emir of Gwoza, Idrissa Timta, was killed a few months ago.

The Executive Director of Stefanos Foundation, Mr. Mark Lipdo, said on Sunday that the terrorists left the bodies of the slaughtered victims   lying on the road   for a long time.

He said the son to one of the victims was injured by the insurgents when he attempted to remove   his father’s body from the scene.

Lipdo said, “Information says in spite government ceasefire agreement with the insurgents,   six innocent civilians were held hands bound and slauterered on the Biu Garkida Road of Borno State on Friday.”

The BringBackOurGirls group, has however asked the Federal Government to continue to secure lives and properties of Nigerians in the areas under Boko Haram attacks.

It also urged the government to maintain a delicate balance in its negotiation with the sect.

The spokesman of the group, Rotimi Olawale, said the government should have   asked for the release some of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls as a proof that the negotiation was being done with the real Boko Haram leadership.

Olawale said, “For us in the BringBackOurGirls, the government needs to maintain a delicate balance in its negotiation with Boko Haram because the recent statement credited to principal secretary to the President says the negotiation is still going on.

“I think they should continue to negotiate with Boko Haram on that platform and secure the release of all those abducted.

“The initial question would be, is the government negotiating with the right group? I don’t know, government needs to take necessary caution.

“For me, the first thing would have been for the group to release some of the girls, so that we can be assured that they are the right group.”

Senator cautions FG

The   lawmaker representing Borno Central Senatorial District in the Senate, Ahmed Zannah, has   advised the Federal Government to be cautious in implementing any ceasefire with   Boko Haram.

Zannah,   in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Maiduguri on Sunday, said the government must exercise high level of wisdom and discretion in dealing with the issue.

He said, “I do not think it is true, because Boko Haram insurgents are still attacking communities in Borno. The insurgents attacked villages in both northern and southern Borno on Saturday.”

Zannah said if the ceasefire was real , the insurgents would not have attacked the villages.

When contacted, the Borno State Government declined comments on the issue.

However, a media associate of Governor Kashim Shettima, Isa Gusau,   told journalists on Sunday that the governor had no comment on the issue.

He said, “Governor Kashim Shettima has no comment on the issue for now. Shettima, whose state has been at the centre of Boko Haram attacks since 2009, says he has no comment for now over the reports, but he will speak at the appropriate time.”

Copyright PUNCH.

Nigeria – 25 killed despite truce with Boko Haram


Reuters) – At least 25 suspected Boko Haram insurgents were killed in clashes between soldiers and the Islamist militants in northeast Nigeria and five civilians were killed in fighting elsewhere in the region, a military source and residents said on Monday.

A ceasefire agreement between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government was expected to lead to the liberation of more than 200 school girls kidnapped by the militants six months ago, and talks were due to continue in neighbouring Chad on Monday.

Boko Haram has not confirmed the truce and there have been at least six attacks over the weekend — blamed by security sources on the insurgents — that have killed several dozen people since the announcement of the ceasefire.

A government spokesman has said that the fighting on Sunday may be the work of criminal gangs in the lawless region.

An army officer, who requested anonymity, said the militants tried to enter the town of Damboa late on Sunday through Alagarno, a Boko Haram hideout, but soldiers fought them off.

“Our men gunned down 25 of the insurgents because they would have entered Damboa and unleashed more terror on the town that is just picking up from its ruins,” the officer said.

He said an armoured vehicle and some arms were recovered from the insurgents.

Damboa, a garrison town near the border with Cameroon, has been the site of fierce fighting between the militants and Nigerian forces for months. The insurgents sacked the town in July but were driven out by an army counter-offensive.

A member of pro-government Civilian Joint Task Force vigilantes, Mohammed Haruna, said of clashes on Sunday, “Two of our members came to (the town of) Biu this morning from Damboa and said the soldiers engaged Boko Haram yesterday and the battle lasted till about midnight.”

Separately, Maiduguri resident Andrew Tada, said the insurgents killed five people in Gava, a hilly town in Gwoza Local Government Area not far from Damboa.

Tada said his brother in Gava was lucky to have escaped to the top of a mountain.

“My brother is still there now with other relatives, women and children,” he told Reuters after speaking with his brother on the phone.

“They (the militants) came yesterday (Sunday) while people were scouting for food at the foot of the mountain. When the insurgents sighted our people, they pursued them and slaughtered five,” Tada said. Reuters

DR Congo – gunmen free hundreds of prisoners in North Kivu


(Reuters) – Heavily armed gunmen freed some 300 inmates from a prison in eastern Congo on Saturday, the provincial minister of justice said, amid fears over deteriorating security in the mineral-rich region.

Christophe Ndibeche said the attackers easily overpowered the security guards, freeing all the prisoners from the central prison of Butembo, a town in North Kivu province.

By Sunday evening, authorities had recaptured about 30 of the fugitives, he added.

“These are enemies of peace who committed this attack to liberate the bandits in the prison. We are going to do everything to find them,” Ndibeche said.

The assault comes at a time of growing alarm in North Kivu, a mineral-rich province bordering Rwanda and Uganda that has long been plagued by dozens of armed militias.

Last week, suspected rebels from the Ugandan ADF-NALU group carried out two overnight raids near the town of Beni, 50 km (30 miles) north of Butembo, killing more than 50 people.

Ndibeche said that highway bandits were the most likely culprits in the prison break given that group’s strong representation among the prison population.


Botswana – will man repatriated from South Africa face death penalty?

Mail and Guardian

Botswana tells red-faced SA it won’t spare the noose

Both countries have very different laws on capital punishment.

Botswana’s defence minister, Ramadeluka Seretse, has insisted that his government will not give South Africa an undertaking that a Botswana citizen wrongly repatriated to face murder charges will be spared the hangman’s noose.

This follows the deportation of the suspect, Edwin Samotse, to Botswana in August this year, contrary to South African government policy and a ministerial court order.

South Africa’s home affairs spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, told amaBhungane that there was no possibility that Samotse would be returned to South Africa because Botswana had its own sovereign judiciary.

He said the South African authorities were, however, preparing to make representations to the Botswana government asking for an assurance that Samotse will not be hanged.

South Africa abolished the death penalty in 1995, and Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe are the only Southern African countries that retain capital punishment for ordinary crimes.

But, according to Zimbabwe’s new Constitution, those under 21 and those older than 70 at the time of their conviction cannot be executed.

Tshwete confirmed that three home affairs officials are being investigated in connection with the illegal deportation of Samotse, but would not say whether corruption was suspected.

Seretse said that, when Botswana applied for his extradition, the South Africans had asked for an assurance that Botswana would not apply the death penalty if he was found guilty, but this had not been given.

He told he Botswana Gazette last month that Samotse would not be returned to South Africa. “We cannot hand him over to the South Africans. We have no obligation to do so and he allegedly committed an offence here,” Seretse said.

“We don’t care how he got here, because he is not an illegal immigrant in Botswana.”

Samotse (26), who was deported directly from a jail in Polokwane, where he was being held on August 13 as an illegal immigrant, should first have first passed through the Lindela detention centre in Johan­nesburg.

He had been in South African custody for three years while his extradition was being negotiated by the two governments. He allegedly stabbed his girlfriend, Tshegofatso Kgati, to death in March 2011 in Francistown, leaving her naked body on a bed before skipping over the South African border.

Against minister’s orders
The deportation took place despite an order by South Africa’s then minister of justice, Jeff Radebe, that he should not be extradited to Botswana after the authorities there refused to undertake not to execute him if he was convicted.

Samotse is yet to appear in Botswana’s High Court.

Meanwhile, a home affairs official told amaBhungane that the department is concerned that South Africa could become a destination for people seeking to avoid the death penalty in their own countries.

The official, who asked not to be named, said that, because the fugitives could not be repatriated, the South African taxpayer would have to pay for their indefinite detention.

The official said that the South African police had arrested other illegal immigrants from other Southern African countries who had apparently crossed into South Africa to avoid execution. But he could not say how many had allegedly done so. — Additional reporting by Drew Forrest

Capital punishment stays despite controversy

Capital punishment in Botswana, which on average hangs one criminal a year, was declared unconstitutional last year, but a later judgment contradicted the finding.

In the murder trial of Rodney Masoko, High Court Judge Tshepho Motswagole ruled that section 203 of the Penal Code, which enshrines the death penalty, is unconstitutional because it does not provide for convicts to plead in mitigation where a court has found no extenuating circumstances.

Motswagole found that the section fails to afford people convicted of murder equal treatment and seriously undermines the individualisation of the inquiry by excluding well-known sentencing principles.

He sentenced Masoko, who killed his girlfriend in 2006, to life imprisonment.

Motswagole’s judgment was applauded by human rights attorneys and the Botswana Centre for Human Rights but it ran into immediate flak from the directorate of public prosecutions (DPP), which issued a press statement announcing that the death penalty remained in force.

Stressing that the controversy surrounding the judgment was misleading to the public and “regrettable and irresponsible”, the DPP pointed to the Court of Appeal’s 1995 finding that capital punishment was constitutional.

The DPP’s stance was confirmed in judgment a month later by another High Court judge, Michael Leburu, who found that section 203 “does not say that the court should not have regard to mitigating factors”.

He condemned two men to death for murdering an old man.

Botswana, which retains ­capital punishment for murder and treason, has executed 47 convicted criminals since independence in 1966.

According to Amnesty International, Southern African countries that have abolished judicial executions are South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Namibia.

Zambia has made an international commitment not to use the death penalty.

At least 778 people were executed worldwide in 2013. But the number of countries carrying out executions dropped from 37 in 1994 to 22 in 2013. —Tebogo Kgalemang


Nigeria – government and Boko Haram agree ceasefiree


FG, Boko Haram agree ceasefire -CDS

Abducted Chibok girls

 Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Federal Government have agreed to a ceasefire.

Chief of Defense Staff Alex Badeh issued an order Friday, telling all service chiefs “to comply with the ceasefire agreement between Nigeria and Boko Haram in all theaters of operations.”

The text went out after Danladi Ahmadu, who calls himself the secretary-general of Boko Haram, told VOA that a cease-fire agreement had been reached.

Earlier, Ahmadu and a close advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ambassador Hassan Tukur, told VOA that the sides were holding talks in Saudi Arabia, aided Chadian President Idriss Deby and high-level officials from Cameroon.

Those talks also focused on the release more than 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram six months ago.  There was no immediate word on the fate of the girls.

Ahmadu, who said he is at a location on the Nigerian-Chadian border, said the girls are “in good condition and unharmed.”

On April 14, dozens of Boko Haram fighters stormed a secondary school in the remote northeastern village of Chibok, kidnapping around 270 girls. Fifty-seven managed to escape.

Boko Haram leader “Abubakar Shekau” later threatened to sell the remainder as slave brides, vowing they would not be released until militant prisoners were freed from jail.

Ahmadu would not elaborate on the conditions under which the girls would be freed.  The Saudi government is not involved in the negotiations.

Nigerian President Jonathan has been criticized at home and abroad for his slow response to the kidnapping and for the inability of Nigerian troops to quell the violence by the militants, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa’s top economy and leading energy producer.

Boko Haram has said it is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria.

The group has launched scores of attacks in the past five years, targeting markets, bus stations, government facilities, churches and even mosques.  Militants recently took over some towns in the northeast for what the group’s leader said would be an Islamic caliphate.

The Nigerian military says the man who appeared in Boko Haram videos as Abubakar Shekau was actually an impostor, and that the real Shekau was killed several years ago.

It says the impostor was killed last month during a battle in the town of Konduga.  A new video of the man appeared a few days later but the military has stood by its assertion that the Boko Haram leader is dead.