Nigeria – Boko Haram continue attacks in Adamawa with police station raid

Punch

Boko Haram members

Fighting between Nigerian troops and Boko Haram insurgents escalated in Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba in Adamawa State on Wednesday.

Casualty figures could not be obtained as of 8pm but the development forced the state government to impose 24-hour curfew on the affected communities.

Our correspondents gathered that   Mubi, the second largest town in the state and host of two high institutions, was the worst hit.

A parent, Ahmad Sajoh, whose   daughter is studying at the Adamawa State University, said that as of 2pm on Wednesday, the police barracks in the Government Reservation Area was overrun by the insurgents while the prison in the town was blown open.

He added that   fighting which was ongoing at the army barracks caused confusion at the IDP camp in the Lamorde area of the town.

However, an online newspaper, SaharaReporters reported that Boko Haram insurgents took over the headquarters of the 234 battalion in the town.

Our correspondents gathered that the development made banks to move their cash to Yola, the state capital.

Sources told The PUNCH that insurgents   launched an attack on Uba   in the Michika-Madagali area of the state in response to sustained aerial bombardment of their hideouts by security forces.

Residents said they saw a large number of insurgents at Mararaba, a town about seven kilometres from Mubi.

Sajoh told one of our correspondents that his daughter called to inform him about the development in Mubi.

He said, “This morning, I got a call from my daughter who is a 200-level student. She was hysterical. I was in Abuja for a meeting, but her information forced me to head back to Yola immediately.

“I ordered her to leave the hostel and join her cousins to escape the town. I called my father who confirmed the story. By the time I arrived at Yola airport, the town had fallen to the insurgents.

“My parents are trapped while my daughter and her cousins are missing. We have lost contact for   six hours.”

Sajoh, who is the director of Press and Public Affairs to the former Governor Murtala Nyako, added, “Mallam Iliyasu of the Bursary Department of the state university, who is trapped in the town said by 2pm, the Police Barracks in the GRA was overrun by the insurgents, the prison was blown open while fighting was going on at the army barracks. The IDP camp at Lamorde area was thrown into confusion.

“The new rulers of the town had issued a decree banning   entry and exit to the town. Students who trooped to the motor park were stranded with most taking refuge in any house that could welcome them.

“The barracks are the least safe locations in the town. So far, there are no reported cases of killings or abductions. But fear and apprehension have taken over.”

Another source said that Mubi was currently deserted by residents after the incident, the second in three months.

The   higher institutions in the   town were forced to close down again.

There are fears of   humanitarian crisis should the town fall into the hands of the insurgents.

A fleeing resident, Joshua Gajere, said   several people might have been killed during the shootings that lasted for almost two hours in Uba and other villages.

He said, ‘‘We are in serious trouble as these boys (Boko Haram) have taken over our towns, splitting into groups and advancing towards Mararaba, Mubi and Vintim, the home town of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh. They made the   Nigerian troops to retreat to Mubi’’.

Gajere added, “As I am talking to you now, residents are scampering for safety.

‘‘Mubi has now become a ghost of itself as people in their hundreds are fleeing for their lives.

‘‘Even here in Maiha, we saw military vehicles zooming off towards Yola, the state capital.’’

However, a resident from Michika, Mr. Siva Zira, told one of our correspondents that the   military was having an upper   hand as they were able to dislodge the insurgents in Michika and Uba.

Meanwhile,   Governor James Ngillari has asked the people of the state, particularly those in the affected areas to remain calm as security agents were on the top of the situation.

His Director of Press and Public Affairs,   P.P. Elisha, said   the governor met with security heads in the state to assess the situation.

He said, “It’s unfortunate with this development, His Excellency, has met with security chiefs in the state on Wednesday to assess the situation.

“People should remain calm, security agents are on the top of situation.’’

It was further gathered banks in Mubi have taken the pre-emptive steps to move out large volume of cash to the Central Bank of Nigeria in Yola.

Our correspondents could not get the Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, to comment on the   hostilities as the calls to his mobile telephone line did not connect.

The government has imposed a 24-hour curfew on Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba.

The Secretary to the State Government, Mr Andrew Weyle, who announced this, advised the people to stay away from the roads and other public places.

He said,“Following the escalation of violence by the insurgents, his Excellency the Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Bala James Ngillari, has approved the imposition of 24 hours curfew on Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba, with immediate effect.

“People are advised to stay off the roads and public places except those on essential services.”

It was further gathered that the insurgents   killed the son of a prominent traditional ruler in the area.

A resident, who identified himself as Kwahir Sani, said, “We fled to a village called Wuro Gude near Mubi when the violence erupted and I have lost contact with some of my children.

“As I am talking to you now, we are hearing gunshots by military in Mubi.”

It was gathered that the insurgents also attacked Askira Uba and Kukawa in Borno State for over six hours.

A fleeing resident said the terrorists killed many people, burnt many houses and carted away food stuffs.

Agence France Presse reported that the heavily armed terrorists, on arrival in Kukawa, opened fire on a police station and market, sending many fleeing.

Copyright PUNCH.

Mali – French soldier and 20 Islamists killed in fighting

Reuters

French soldier, about 20 Islamists killed in clash in Mali

PARIS Wed Oct 29, 2014 9

PARIS (Reuters) – France said on Wednesday a French soldier and about 20 Islamist militants were killed during a fierce clash in northern Mali near the Algerian border earlier in the day.

Le Drian’s office said in a statement that French forces had battled a militant group of some 30 fighters in the Tigharghar valley, part of the mountainous Adrar des Ifoghas area.

“Particularly violent combat took place. Our soldier was mortally hurt and two of his comrades were wounded.”

The offices of President Francois Hollande and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian both confirmed the death on Wednesday of Thomas Dupuy, a sergeant from a commando parachutist unit in the air force.

His death raised to 10 the number of French soldiers killed since France intervened militarily in Mali in January 2013 to help drive out Islamist insurgents who had seized control of the former French colony’s north.

About 20 “heavily armed” militants were killed in the operation that included combat helicopters, a statement from the army chief of staff said, adding that operations were ongoing.

A defence ministry source said French forces had launched an operation at the weekend against dozens of militants who had returned to the region after being driven out last year.

Addressing a parliamentary hearing earlier in the day, Le Drian said the militants might be linked to al Qaeda’s North African wing, AQIM, which has thrived in a largely lawless and sparsely populated desert region.

France’s intervention in Mali was designed to retake control of northern towns that had been overrun by separatists and rebels linked to al Qaeda in 2012 after a coup in the capital Bamako. It has since evolved into a 3,000-strong counter-terrorism mission stretching from Mauritania to southern Libya.

Le Drian on Monday criticised the slow deployment of U.N. peacekeepers in Mali’s volatile northern region and said he would send more troops to the area while the United Nations builds up its presence there.  Reuters

 

Ebola infection rate slowing in Liberia

BBC

Ebola crisis: Infections ‘slowing in Liberia’

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there has been a decline in the spread of Ebola in Liberia, the country hardest hit in the outbreak.

The WHO’s Bruce Aylward said it was confident the response to the virus was now gaining the upper hand.

But he warned against any suggestion that the crisis was over.

The WHO later said the number of cases globally had risen more than 3,000 to 13,703 since its last report, but that this was due to reporting reasons.

The number of deaths was put at 4,920, roughly the same as the last report four days ago. All but 10 of the deaths have been in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

In other developments:

‘Pet tiger’

The latest WHO figure of 13,703 cases is a significant leap on its previous situation report on Saturday, which showed cases rising above 10,000 for the first time – to 10,141.

But Dr Aylward, the WHO’s assistant director general, said that this increase was due to data being updated with old cases, rather than new cases being reported.

Saturday’s situation report put the death toll at 4,922.

The similar death toll in the latest report was mainly a result of a revision of the Liberian statistics.

Health workers in Liberia, 28 OctHealth workers have been collecting fewer bodies in Liberia

Cases there rose from 4,655 to 6,535 but reported deaths dropped from 2,705 to 2,413.

Deaths in Guinea rose from 926 to 997 and in Sierra Leone from 1,281 to 1,500.

Liberia’s Red Cross said its teams collected 117 bodies last week, down from a high of 315 in September. Treatment centres also have empty beds available for patients.

Dr Aylward said : “It appears that the trend is real in Liberia and there may indeed be a slowing.”

“Do we feel confident that the response is now getting an upper hand on the virus? Yes, we are seeing a slowing rate of new cases, very definitely.”

Dr Aylward said there had been “a huge effort to inform the population about the disease, to change the behaviours that put them at risk”.

And he said there had been “a real step up in the work to put in place safe burials”.

But Dr Aylward said the data was still being examined and cautioned against thinking the crisis was over.

South African businessman Patrice MotsepeSouth Africa’s Patrice Motsepe is donating $1m to Guinea to help the country fight Ebola
Graph showing Ebola pledges

He said: “A slight decline in cases in a few days versus getting this thing closed out is a completely different ball game.

“It’s like saying your pet tiger is under control.”

Later, US President Barack Obama praised the progress made in Liberia, but also warned: “This is still a severe, significant outbreak… We’ve got a long way to go.”

He said again that the disease had to be tackled at its source in West Africa, adding: “If we don’t deal with the problem there, it will come here.”

Until Ebola was contained, he said, there could be more individual cases in the US.

Magnate’s gift

On Wednesday, South Africa’s first black billionaire, Patrice Motsepe, donated $1m (£620,000) to Guinea to help the country fight Ebola.

The mining magnate said he hoped it would assist with clinical management, social mobilisation and other key steps in controlling the deadly virus.

His donation was announced as the US welcomed the international aid effort.

line

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

How Ebola survivors’ blood is saving lives

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • No proven vaccine or cure
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

BBC

Africa’s Long Road Since Independence

Hurst and Company

Africa’s Long Road Since Independence

The Many Histories of a Continent

Keith Somerville

Bibliographic Details
Hardback
May 2015 • £25.00
9781849045155 • 500pp

IMG_1021.JPG

Zambia – cabinet confirms Guy Scott as acting president



 

Reuters

Zambia’s Scott becomes Africa’s first white leader in 20 years

LUSAKA Wed Oct 29, 2014

Zambia's Vice President Guy Scott (L) listens as U.S. President Barack Obama (not pictured) speaks, at the first Leaders' Session of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, at the State Department in Washington, in this August 6, 2014 file picture.  REUTERS-Larry Downing-Files
Zambia's President Michael Chilufya Sata addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013.  REUTERS-Ray Stubblebine
A man walks past the King Edward VII Hospital, in central London October 29, 2014.  REUTERS-Peter Nicholls

Zambia’s Vice President Guy Scott (L) listens as U.S. President Barack Obama (not pictured) speaks, at the first Leaders’ Session of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, at the State Department in Washington, in this August 6, 2014 file picture.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing/Files

LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia’s Guy Scott became Africa’s first white head of state in 20 years on Wednesday after the president, “King Cobra” Michael Sata, died in a London hospital aged 77.

Scott, a Cambridge-educated economist born to Scottish parents, was Sata’s vice president. He takes over as interim leader until an election in three months, making him the first white African leader since South Africa’s F.W. de Klerk lost to Nelson Mandela in the 1994 election that ended apartheid.

“Elections for the office of president will take place within 90 days. In the interim I am acting president,” Scott said in a brief televised address.

“The period of national mourning will start today. We will miss our beloved president and comrade.”

Scott, 70, will not be eligible to run for the presidency because of citizenship restrictions, analysts say.

Sata, an abrasive figure nicknamed “King Cobra” because of his venomous tongue, died on Tuesday in London, where he was receiving medical treatment, the government said earlier. He had been president of Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper producer since 2011.

The cause of death was not immediately disclosed, but Sata had been ill for some time. He was being treated at London’s King Edward VII hospital when he died, the website Zambian Watchdog reported.

“As you are aware, the president was receiving medical attention in London,” cabinet secretary Roland Msiska announced on state television. “The head of state passed away on October 28. President Sata’s demise is deeply regretted.”

SHARP TONGUE

Sata, whose populist platform included defending workers’ rights, was often fiercely critical of the foreign mining companies operating in Zambia’s copper belt. Analysts said his death could prompt a rise in investment in the country.

“President Sata has been a divisive figure for Zambia on the economic front, espousing increasingly authoritarian and ad hoc policy measures against the crucial mining sector in recent years, which has hampered investment,” South African consultancy ETM said.

“The president’s passing could make way for a more reformist administration and help to remove broader policy uncertainties.”

Sata, whose varied CV included stints as a policeman, car assembly worker, trade unionist and platform sweeper at London’s Victoria station, left Zambia on Oct. 19 for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife and family members.

Defence Minister Edgar Lungu, secretary general of Sata’s Patriotic Front party, had to lead celebrations last week of the 50th anniversary of Zambia’s independence from Britain.

Concern over Sata’s health had been mounting since June, when he disappeared from the public eye without explanation and was then reported to be receiving medical treatment in Israel.

He missed a scheduled speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September amid reports that he had fallen ill in his New York hotel. A few days before that, he had attended the opening of parliament in Lusaka, joking: “I am not dead.”

It was a typically no-nonsense denial from a politician not known for diplomatic niceties.

“I haven’t bloody lost so don’t waste my time,” he barked at a BBC reporter in 2008 after results showed he had indeed lost an election to his main rival, Rupiah Banda, albeit by the narrowest of margins.

Although he toned down the nationalist, anti-Chinese rhetoric that finally helped him oust Banda in a 2011 election, he would still deliver occasional rants at the foreign miners.

A year ago, he threatened to remove the mining licence of Konkola Copper mines, Zambia’s biggest private employer, because of plans to lay off 1,500 workers. During the row, the company’s foreign chief executive had his work permit revoked.

The Zambian kwacha fell 2 percent against the dollar after Sata’s death was announced. Traders said it was unlikely to suffer any prolonged weakness because of the underlying health of an economy expected to grow 7 percent this year.

“Obviously, there will be a sentimental temptation to go long on dollars, but I’m also quite confident the central bank will do everything it can to protect the currency,” one Lusaka-based trader said.

“In terms of the economy, everything should still be on track.” Reuters

 

Zambian Watchdog

I am the acting president at the moment. It has just been passed by cabinet,” Guy Scott has told the Telegraph of UK.
This made him Africa’s first white president of a democratic government ever “except maybe the Venetians in the days when they ran the world,” he added.
Mr Scott described this as a “bit of a shock to the system,” adding: “Everyone is getting used to calling me ‘Your Excellency’, and I’m getting used to it. There are truckloads of guys following me on motorbikes. It’s very strange.”
Asked why he thought he had been chosen by the cabinet to be Zambia’s interim leader, he pointed to his “seniority within the party, in government”, adding:
“The president kept me as his vice-president despite a lot of efforts by people to get me taken down. And I happened to be there when he died.”
He said that he last spoke to Mr Sata, who flew to London almost two weeks ago, several days ago. Asked if he had told him he wanted him to take over the presidency, he said: “He would never be so polite as to do that. But he said he was happy that I was there, to take over if needed.”
   Zambian Watchdog

 

BBC

Zambian President Sata death: White interim leader appointed

Guy Scott pictured in August 2014It is unclear if Guy Scott will be able to run for president because he is not a third generation Zambian

Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott has been named acting leader following the death of President Michael Sata.

Presidential elections to choose a permanent successor will be held within 90 days, Defence Minister Edgar Lungu said.

Mr Scott becomes Africa’s first white head of state since FW de Klerk in apartheid South Africa.

Mr Sata died in the UK aged 77 after receiving treatment for an undisclosed

He was being treated at London’s King Edward VII hospital where he died on Tuesday night.

‘Beloved comrade’

Mr Scott regularly stood in for the president at official events, but was never appointed acting president when Mr Sata was abroad – so this is his first time to officially lead the country.

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Guy Scott

  • Often disparagingly referred to as the “ceremonial vice-president”
  • He was born in 1944 in Northern Rhodesia after father emigrated from Glasgow to work as a doctor on the railways
  • A Cambridge-trained economist, he entered politics in 1990 joining the MMD which won the first multiparty elections the next year
  • As agricultural minister he oversaw the recovery from a devastating drought in 1992/93
  • He joined Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front (PF) in 2001
  • Appointed vice-president in September 2011 after the PF’s election victory
  • As his parents were not born in Zambia a constitutional clause on parentage may nullify any attempt to run for president

 

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In a brief televised address Mr Scott confirmed his appointment.

“The period of national mourning will start today. We will miss our beloved president and comrade,” Reuters news agency quotes him as saying.

The president’s death comes just days after Zambia celebrated the 50th anniversary of independence from the UK.

Cabinet secretary Roland Msiska said on national TV that President Sata’s wife and son were at his bedside.

Michael Sata is the second of Zambia’s five presidents to die in office

He is the second Zambian leader to die in office after Levy Mwanawasa in 2008.

Earlier this month reports in Zambia said that President Sata had gone abroad for a medical check-up amid persistent speculation that he was seriously ill.

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Obituary: Penny Dale, BBC’s former Zambia correspondent

Zambian President Michael Sata gestures upon arrival at Solwezi airport before addressing supporters at an election campaign meeting on 10 September 2014Mr Sata was known as “King Cobra” for his tough style of public speaking

Gravelly-voiced as a result of years of chain-smoking, Michael Sata rose to political prominence in the 1980s. He quickly earned a reputation as the hardest-working governor while in charge of Lusaka and as a populist man of action. But he was also known for his authoritarian tendencies, an abrasive manner and a sharp tongue – and his critics say his nickname of “King Cobra” was well-deserved.

A devout Catholic, Mr Sata had worked as a police officer, railway man and trade unionist during colonial rule. After independence, he also spent time in London, working as a railway porter, and, back in Zambia, with a taxidermist company.

At the fourth attempt, Mr Sata won presidential elections in 2011. At first he looked as if he would keep promises to tackle corruption and create jobs and prosperity. But his term in office was marred by a crackdown on political opposition and a decline in the economy.

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He had rarely been seen in public since returning from the UN General Assembly last month, where he failed to make a scheduled speech.

After he left the country, Defence Minister Edgar Lungu was named as acting president.

Mr Scott is of Scottish descent and his parents were not born in Zambia, so he may not be able to run for president in January because a constitutional clause on parentage could nullify his candidacy. BBC

 

 

France says Burkina Faso must keep to African rules on political change

Reuters

PARIS

PARIS (Reuters) – Former colonial power France urged Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore on Tuesday to abide by an African Union charter stipulating that regional leaders should not try to stay in power by changing the constitition.

Tens of thousands of people marched through the capital Ouagadougou on Tuesday, calling for Compaore to abandon plans to hold a referendum on changing term limits to allow him to stay in power.

France has thousands of troops fighting al Qaeda-linked Islamists in the region and uses Burkina Faso as its main launchpad for its special forces in the Sahel-Sahara. It relies on Compaore, who has turned himself into a power broker in West Africa having been in power for 27 years.

“The African Union charter on democracy and good governance article 23…specifies clearly that constitutional revisions aiming to prevent political change are banned,” Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal told reporters.

President Francois Hollande had sent a letter to Compaore on Oct. 7 outlining this position, he said. Breaking the charter could lead to sanctions, he said.

Reuters

 

Punch

Dr. Abdul-Jhalil Tafawa-Balewa

 

A fresh crisis is brewing in the Peoples Democratic Party over the insistence of some of its members to contest its presidential primary with President Goodluck Jonathan.

But the national leadership of the party has refused to sell its presidential nomination and expression of interest forms to two other presidential aspirants.

Two of the aspirants, Dr. Abdul-Jhalil Tafawa-Balewa and Prof. Akasoba Duke-Abiola, were at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja on Tuesday to purchase the forms, but they were turned back.

First to arrive was Tafawa-Balewa, who hails from Bauchi State. He is also the son of Nigeria’s First Republic Prime Minister, the late Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa.

It will be recalled that all the caucuses of the party, including the National Executive Council had endorsed President Jonathan as its sole presidential candidate.

Tafawa-Balewa had on September 21 condemned the action, which he said was a plot by the leadership of the party to frustrate other presidential aspirants.

He insisted that he would not be intimidated by such a decision and vowed not to be cowed.

He wondered the type of democracy that was being practised by the PDP.

He had asked, “What type of democracy do we have? Is the PDP a communist party? Where is the place of internal democracy?”

On Tuesday, Tafawa-Balewa stormed the party’s national secretariat with his supporters and bank tellers, with which he had hoped to purchase the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms.

The bank tellers indicated that he deposited N22m into the account of the party with Zenith Bank.

The breakdown of the fees showed that he paid N20m as nomination fee and another N2m for the expression of interest form.

He paid the money into the party’s account Number 1012436478 with the Zenith Bank.

Rather than being issued his forms, the aspirant claimed that he was told by officials of the party that the forms were not ready.

The party is expected to stop the selling of forms to all the aspirants on Thursday (tomorrow).

Tafawa-Balewa said he was told that all other forms were on sale except the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms.

He said, “I have paid for my forms. I was however told that they don’t have the forms ready. No matter, I am still here. I will send some of my people here on Thursday to come and pick the forms.”

He said he went to the office of the Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, and the National Organising Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha, but was denied the forms.

Asked whether he was not aware that all the party organs had endorsed the President, Tafawa-Balewa said those organs were mere little organs of the party and were not superior to its Constitution.

Speaking on the refusal of the party to present her with her forms, Duke-Abiola, who is one of the widows of the late Chief MKO Abiola, described the action of the party as questionable.

Displaying the Diamond Bank Teller with which she paid her N2m to the party’s bank account, Duke-Abiola wondered why the party would issue her receipts and refused to sell the forms to her.

Female aspirants, like her, are expected to pay just N2m for the expression of interest form while the nomination form is free for them.

The party claimed it took the decision to encourage female aspirants to run for elective offices.

The presidential aspirant said she was told by the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu and Mustapha that the party printed only one form.

She said, “I have the receipt from the party after paying my money. But they said they printed only one presidential nomination form, even though the guidelines do not say that.

“The NOS and the National Chairman said the party printed only one form. I asked that they should give the one they printed to me since I was there. They laughed and said whether I didn’t know who they printed it for. This is a fraud.”

She said that she would not ask for a refund of her money, but that the party must sell the forms to her, having paid for them since she said there was vacancy in Aso Rock.

In his reaction, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, said he was not aware that the aspirants came.

He said he would need to find out from Mustapha before he could react to the allegations.

Asked if the party would sell presidential forms to other aspirants, he said he would also consult Mustapha.

“I will have to find out from the national Organising secretary, because I’m not directly involved in the selling of that forms. I’m only involved in the management of the image of the party,” he said.

Copyright PUNCH.