Category Archives: West Africa

Mali three killed in mortar attack on UN base

Reuters

Suspected Islamist militants attacked a U.N. base in the northern Mali town of Kidal with mortars and a truck bomb on Friday, killing three peacekeepers from Guinea and wounding 30 others, authorities said.

The attack is a fresh sign of instability in the desert region that is home to Islamist groups including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb who have staged increasingly bold raids in recent months and have targeted the U.N. base several times.

“At about 7 a.m. (0700 GMT) the MINUSMA base in Kidal was the target of a complex attack which, according to provisional figures, caused the death of three blue helmets and around 30 wounded,” Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Mali representative of the U.N. secretary general, said in a statement.

Eight mortar shells were fired at the base and there was also gunfire, said Olivier Salgado, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, whose acronym is MINUSMA.

“This combination attack using rockets and a van bomb is the second of this type against soldiers from the Gangan battalion in this region,” said a statement from Guinea’s government.

The base is part of an attempt by the United Nations to end violence in Mali following a takeover of the north by Islamists in 2012, which was thwarted by a French-led intervention force that pushed the militants out of key towns a year later.

The U.N. mission has not stopped the violence and Islamist militants have expanded their attacks in recent months into other parts of Mali and beyond.

These have included an attack on a hotel in Mali’s capital in November in which 20 people died, and one on Burkina Faso’s capital in January in which 30 were killed.

There is also a decades-long separatist struggle in northern Mali by ethnic Tuaregs.

Radouane Ag Mohamed Aly, spokesman for the separatist Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), told Reuters that the attack had been conducted by Islamist militants.

There was no official confirmation or claim of responsibility for the Kidal raid.

In a separate incident, three soldiers were killed on Friday and three others wounded in an ambush of a military convoy on the road between Timbuktu and Goundon in northern Mali, a military source said.

The wounded were evacuated to Timbuktu hospital. It was not clear who conducted the ambush.

(Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Nigeria Buhari orders investigation of “padding” of 2016 budget alloications

Premium Times

2016 Budget Fraud: Buhari orders probe; wants questionable allocations scrapped

Minister of Budget and National Planning Senator Udoma Udo Udoma addressing the Management Staff  during assumption of Office at Budget And National Planning

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an immediate investigation into allegations of fraudulent padding of allocations in the 2016 budget, with strict orders that all cases of discrepancies, errors and ambiguities be resolved promptly, a senior government official told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday.

An extensive analysis of the budget by PREMIUM TIMES exposed questionable details, with the National Assembly on Tuesday suspending deliberations on the document indefinitely.

The chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje, (APC-Gombe State), and his House of Representatives counterpart, Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC-Kano), said the suspension was necessary to enable the National Assembly carry out “proper clean-up” of the budget.

Earlier, a senior presidency official blamed “budget mafia” for the controversial contents, in reference to civil servants responsible for preparing the budget.

Another top administration official on Thursday gave PREMIUM TIMES further details on how the government was responding to the embarrassing budget allocations.

He pleaded anonymity, and said the government was avoiding publicly stating its position on the matter for now to avoid playing into the hands of its critics.

The official said both the Finance and Budget & National Planning ministries were determined to effect the necessary corrections and turn in a clean copy of the document for approval.

 

He blamed most of the errors in the budget on “over-ambitious civil servants” in the budget office who handled the preparation of the document prior to the appointment of ministers by Mr. Buhari.

He said by the time the ministers were eventually appointed, they had no sufficient time to properly scrutinize the budget for errors, in view of the tight deadline each of the ministries got before the final presentation to the joint session of the National Assembly on December 22, 2015.

To enable the budget to be cleaned up of all the controversial allocations, the official said a high-powered panel had been constituted with a mandate to investigate all observations and concerns by individuals, media and agencies, particularly the National Assembly.

“The presidency has ordered the immediate investigation of all the allegations and issues, particularly on padding, raised by the National Assembly on various ministries, departments and agencies of government,” he said.

“The investigative panel is expected to critically look into the budget item-by-item, incident-by-incident, with particular attention to the reactions from the National Assembly, ministries, media, civil society groups or indeed anybody that raised concerns regarding the padding of the budget.

“All corrections would be made to ensure that the budget was passed as soon as possible. I assure you government is working cautiously on the corrections with the intention of correcting any error or malfeasance spotted in the 2016 Appropriation Bill. If there is any error whatsoever, it is being sorted out straight away,” the official added.

It remained unclear what sanctions the government was considering for officials that might be found to be involved in padding the budget. Our first source had said those involved might be fired.

The House of Representatives had asked government to order the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, to arrest and prosecute top civil servants behind the budget padding scandal.

On its part, the Senate said, apart from the prosecution of the civil servants, the Minister of National Planning and Budget, Udo Udoma, and other top officials of the ministry should also be sanctioned.

However, the official exonerated the minister, saying “That the budget could be presented the day it was presented and in the manner it was done was due to the extra effort and hard work by the ministers who inherited what the civil servants had already prepared.

”By the time they took over, most of the ministers did not have a good grasp of the details of the budget of their ministries”.

Nigeria – 58 killed in suicide bombing at Borno IDP camp

Premium Times

Bomb

The National Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday said 58 people were killed and 78 victims others injured after suicide bombers detonated explosives at the Internally Displaced Persons camp in Dikwa, Borno State.

Emergency workers said the incidents occurred when the IDPs queued up to collect their morning food ration in a camp that currently accommodates over 50, 000 people displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.

The Zonal Coordinator of NEMA in the North East, Mohammed Kanar, said some of those killed had been buried while the injured were moved to unnamed medical facilities.

The Nigerian government has repeatedly claimed Boko Haram had been significantly degraded to such a level that it could no longer carry out coordinated attacks.

But the group has continued to wreak havoc, attacking communities in Borno and carrying out suicide bombings, killing and maiming scores each time.

On Wednesday evening, the Nigerian government circulated a statement condoling with families of victims of the Dikwa attack.

“On behalf of the federal government of Nigeria, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, expresses his profound condolences to the families of the victims of yesterday’s suicide bombing of an IDP camp in Dikwa, Borno State, and also the entire people and government of the state,” a statement by the vice president’s office said.

 

“His prayers are that the Almighty God will comfort them and grant the injured persons quick recovery.

“The Vice President stated that it is indeed regrettable that the heartless terrorists chose to unleash their wickedness on people who were taking refuge from previous acts of destruction in their homes.

“He reassured the nation that the full weight of the federal government’s force will be deployed to hunt down the perpetrators of this evil act and also to confront terrorists continuously in the protection of life, liberty and property of all Nigerians: there will be no hiding place for terrorists.

“Prof. Osinbajo has given directives that formidable security in and around the IDP Camps in the country be beefed up and renewed measures put in place to guard against future occurrences.

“Finally, the Vice President called on the people of Borno State and all Nigerians that the commitment of the federal government to safety of lives and property continues to be of paramount concern to the Buhari administration.”

Chad – Deby seeks fifth term in office

BBC

Idriss DebyGetty Images Chadian President Idriss Deby has been in power since 1990

Chad’s President Idriss Deby has announced he will run for a fifth term in April’s elections.

Mr Deby took power in a coup in 1990 and later introduced elections.

A referendum in 2005 scrapped a clause restricting presidents to two terms, but Mr Deby said that if he gets re-elected he will reinstate it.

In the last year, Burundi, Rwanda and Congo-Brazzaville have all changed their constitutions to allow their presidents to run for office again.

Africa Live: BBC news updates

Mr Deby said on Tuesday that reinstating term limits would provide “vitality” to the democracy.

“We must limit terms, we must not concentrate on a system in which a change in power becomes difficult,” he told the ruling party.

“In 2005 the constitutional reform was conducted in a context where the life of the nation was in danger,” he added.


Africa’s longest-serving leaders:

  • 36 years: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – Equatorial Guinea, took power in a coup in August 1979
  • 36 years: Jose Eduardo dos Santos – Angola, took over after death of the country’s first president in September 1979
  • 35 years: Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe, won the country’s independence elections in April 1980
  • 32 years: Paul Biya – Cameroon, took over after resignation of the country’s first president in November 1982
  • 31 years: Denis Sassou Nguesso – Congo, installed by the military in October 1979, out of power from August 1992-October 1997
  • 30 years: Yoweri Museveni – Uganda, became president after his rebel group took power in January 1986

Nigeria – army arrests m,astermind behind Bayelsa Agip pipeline bombs

Punch


Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai

Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

Troops of the Joint Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, say they have arrested the suspected mastermind of the bombing of pipelines belonging to Nigerian Agip Oil Company in Bayelsa State.

Agip oil pipelines located in Orukari, Golubokiri and Kpongbokiri communities of Brass Local Government Area of the state had been bombed on January 28.

The dynamite attacks on the pipelines had resulted in massive spillage of crude oil from the Agip pipelines into the sea and fishing camps.

But on Wednesday, the Commander, OPS, Maj.-Gen. Alani Okunlola, in a statement by the Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, Col. Ado Isa, said their troops arrested the mastermind of the attack.

Okunlola gave the name of the mastermind as Prince Alvin Cockman Oyegun,   alias ‘Commander Abula’.

The OPS commander said the suspect was arrested at Idema community in Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa State.

He said the suspect allegedly masterminded the attack on the Agip manifold located at Gbobokiri in Brass LGA of Bayelsa State on January 28, 2016, which led to oil spillage in the area.

Okunlola said the manifold that was attacked was a 24-inch manifold that conveyed crude oil and gas.

He added that the hunt for other suspects and accomplices was ongoing.

The OPS commander warned all miscreants engaged in the destruction of oil installations to desist from such criminal acts.

He said the Command remained resolute in its fight to rid the Niger Delta region of oil thieves, pipeline vandals and other criminals.

He urged the public to once again remain vigilant and report any suspicious persons to the Joint Force promptly.

Cameroon – at least 6 killed at funeral by suicide bombers

Reuters

At least six people were killed and 30 injured in northern Cameroon on Wednesday by two Islamist suicide bombers at a Muslim funeral gathering, two officials in the region said.

The attackers were from Boko Haram, the group based in neighbouring Nigeria that has stepped up cross-border attacks in Cameroon’s far north despite the setting up of a roughly 9,500-strong regional military task force.

One of the officials said the attack in Nguetchewe, about 10 km (6 miles) east of the Nigerian border, is the first known Boko Haram strike in Cameroon at a funeral gathering, although the militants have made an attack on a baptism in the past.

The U.S. military refers to Boko Haram as the “most lethal” extremist group in the world and thousands are thought to have been killed during their more than six-year insurgency.

(Reporting by Josiane Kouagheu; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Africa oil – Tullow in deficit for second year running

Reuters

Tullow in the red for second year as weak oil prices bite

Africa-focused oil producer Tullow Oil (TLW.L) reported an operating loss for the second consecutive year and further suspended its dividend payments on Wednesday as the sharp decline in oil prices has drastically reduced its income.

Tullow Oil said it made a full-year operating loss of $1.09 billion in 2015, a smaller loss than the $2 billion seen the previous year, but signalling one of the worst spells in the company’s history.

The oil producer said there was a risk, if oil prices remain low, that it may become non-compliant with its financial covenants by the end of the year.

It said it was able to cut annual capital expenditure to as low as $300 million in 2017, down from up to $1.1 billion planned for 2016, if market conditions do not improve.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps, editing by Louise Heavens)

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