By - Adedoyin Shittu
This week recorded series of trending news stories across various media outlet, Aprecon brings a brief of some major News that caught our radar this 40th week in 2019.
Senegal: Senegal president pardons political rival Khalifa Sall
Senegal President Macky Sall pardoned one of his chief political rivals, the charismatic former mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall on Sunday, September 29. He was jailed in 2018 on corruption charges. Khalifa Sall, who is no relation to the president, was arrested in March 2017 on suspicion of embezzling 1.8 billion CFA francs ($3 million) in public funds. Last year, he was sentenced to five years in jail. He was pardoned with two others, according to a statement from the Presidency on Sunday. Khalifa Sall’s lawyers confirmed the decision.
Somalia: Al-Shabab suicide bomber and gunmen attack US drone base in Somalia at the same time as Italian peacekeepers are ambushed in Mogadishu
Al-Shabaab jihadis launched twin attacks on US and Italian troops in Somalia on Monday, September 30.
A suicide bomber in a car blew himself up at the gates to a US drone base at Belidogle, in the south of the country before gunmen swarmed inside. Somali state broadcaster SNTV said the attack at the airstrip ended around 10 minutes after it started, with no casualties on the US side. Meanwhile a suicide bomber attempted to blow up a convoy of European Union peacekeepers in the capital Mogadishu. The bomb in the capital missed the Italian soldiers but injured a group a civilians nearby but It is not clear how many people were injured, or how badly.
Al-Shabaab, which translates to ‘The Youth’, serves as Al-Qaieda’s branch in eastern Africa and has been operating in the country since the 1990s. The group controls large portions of the south of the country and border areas with Kenya and Ethiopia where it enforces fundamentalist Islam, including Sharia law. Its stated goal is to establish a jihadi state that encompasses the whole of the Horn of Africa, including Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.
Nigerian activist and former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore pleaded “not guilty” at a court in Abuja on Monday, September 30, to charges of treason, money laundering and harassing the president. During his court hearing Omoyele Sowore said while arrested Boko Haram commanders in custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) are allowed to make calls, he has been denied access to telephone. “What is interesting is that Boko Haram commanders who are engaged in high level terrorism have access to telephone, TV and even cable in their cells. So you wonder which one is better: a freedom fighter or a terrorist.”
State Security Service agents arrested Sowore in early August after he called for a revolution. A court last week denied a request by state security to keep Sowore in detention pending the charges, but did not release him as ordered. Another federal court in Abuja threatened the head of the State Security Service with prison for contempt of court for the failure to release him. Sowore remained in detention despite the threat.
Security agents on Friday, October 4, stopped journalists from taking the photographs of Omoyele Sowore, as he returned to the court for his trial.
During his bail application hearing on Friday, Sowore said Nigerians must not give up on transforming the country from its current stagnant state. He said the country has survived military oppression in the past and will survive the current one. He said, “It doesn’t matter how long it’ll take, you must persevere and ensure that we liberate ourselves. “We must not give up. I’m in high spirits. I’m not afraid. I do not care what they do. “Nigeria is in a situation as it was even before independence. We need a brand new country, and that’s what I’m about. “The whole charges is around the fact that they’re afraid that there’s new consciousness in the country, and that Nigerians are now looking at alternatives.”
Nigeria: Islamic State claims attack on soldiers in northeast Nigeria
At least 13 persons were killed and several other injured when Boko Haram terrorists attacked a military formation in Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State, security sources said. The terrorists came in several vehicles to attack the military barracks in Gubio town at about 4:30pm on Sunday, September 29.
According to the security source, the gun duel last for more than three hours and resulted in the deaths of at least eight soldiers while others sustained bullet wounds. The source said, “At least eight soldiers, about five civilian including a policeman were killed and dozens others injured during an attack by terrorists on Gubio military base in the Northern part of Borno. “The troops fought them, many of the insurgents were killed but they went away with their corpses.”
A civilian Joint Task Force official disclosed that 13 dead bodies were found after the attack on Sunday while on Monday three additional bodies were recovered from the bushes. The source added that four gun trucks belonging to troops with arms and ammunition were taken away by the terrorists.
Nigeria: Nigerian police free 19 women and girls from Lagos ‘baby factory’
Police in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, have freed 19 women and girls who had mostly been abducted and impregnated by captors planning to sell their babies. The girls and women, aged from 15 to 28, were brought to Lagos from the southern and eastern states of Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Abia and Imo with promises of work, Lagos police said on Monday.
Two women aged 40 and 54 were arrested in connection with the case and police were still looking for a third.
Kenya: Kenya says it kills three militants planning attacks in Mombasa
Kenyan police shot dead three men suspected of planning militant attacks in the coastal city of Mombasa on Tuesday, October 1, ahead of National Day celebrations to be hosted in the city this month, according to a senior official.
The suspects were killed in a raid on a house in Majengo Mapya, a suburb in the city’s south, said Paul Leting, director of criminal investigations in the coastal region. Seven other suspects were detained. “That house was a hideout for planning attacks and other criminal activities,” Leting told journalists at a press conference in Mombasa. Weapons including a grenade, 1,700 rounds of ammunition, a rifle and 15 pistol holders were seized in the raid, Leting said. Police also recovered two bullet-proof jackets, Quran journals, police and military uniforms, military face masks, eight machetes and gun oil from the suspects’ hideout.”
Mali: Soldiers killed in attacks by suspected jihadists in Mali
Twenty-five Malian soldiers have been killed and 60 are missing after suspected jihadists attacked two army camps in central Mali on Monday, the government said in a statement.
The death toll from attacks on two army bases in central Mali has risen to 38 from 25, defense minister Dahirou Dembélé said on state television late on Thursday, October 3.
Jihadist groups have exploited ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbors to boost recruitment and render swathes of territory ungovernable.
Somali: U.S. re-opens embassy in Somali capital amid persisting Islamist violence
The United States announced on Wednesday, October 2, that it had re-opened its embassy in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, nearly three decades after it was shut down, underscoring deepening ties between the two nations amid persisting threats from Islamist group al Shabaab. In a statement the U.S. embassy to Somalia said the move was a milestone in the strengthening of relations between the two countries and would help advance stability and development in Somalia.
Somalia, in the Horn of Africa, has been gripped by widespread lawlessness and violence since 1991 when autocrat Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled by various warlords. The United States closed its embassy in January 1991.
Rwanda charges 25 men tied to rebel outfit with treason, other crimes
Rwandan prosecutors on Wednesday, October 2, charged 25 men with treason and other crimes related to their alleged activities in a rebel group founded by a South African-based dissident.
The men appeared in a military court in the capital Kigali for the first time since they were repatriated in June from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they were captured.
The suspects included Habibu Mudathiru a former Rwandan soldier who prosecutors say was in charge of operations and training in Congo for the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), a rebel group founded by Kayumba Nyamwasa. Nyamwasa, a former ally of President Paul Kagame, is now a Rwandese dissident based in South Africa. None of all suspects had a lawyer and they are expected to return to court on Thursday to make a plea.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Landslide at gold mine in eastern Congo kills at least 16
A landslide at a shuttered gold mine in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo killed at least 16 people on Wednesday, the provincial governor said.
“There was an accident at the Kampene mine, and for the moment we were able to get 16 bodies from the site of the landslide,” Auguy Musafiri, governor of Maniema province, told reporters by telephone. “What surprises us is that the activities continued in this mine, which had been closed by the provincial division of mines.”
“More than 20 people were working on the gold seam at the time of the accident, suggesting more bodies may be found,” said Stéphane Kamundala, a local activist.
Nigeria: Nigeria releases 25 children cleared of suspected ties with Boko Haram, says UNICEF
The Nigerian army released 25 children on Thursday, October 3, after clearing them of suspected ties with armed Islamist groups in the country’s restive northeast region, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said. UNICEF said 23 boys and two girls were released by the army and handed to authorities in Borno, the state worst affected by the insurgency. “These are children taken away from their families and communities, deprived of their childhood, education, health-care, and of the chance to grow up in a safe and enabling environment,” said UNICEF Nigeria Acting Representative Pernille Ironside.
Burundi: Nearly 600 Burundian refugees head home as mass repatriation starts
Nearly 600 refugees voluntarily left Tanzania for their homes in neighbouring Burundi on Thursday, October 3, fearing that the exercise could turn forceful.
The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said 590 Burundian refugees had returned on flights that it had organised with the U.N.’s International Organization of Migration (IOM). Burundi and Tanzania had agreed in August to start repatriating 200,000 refugees, saying that conditions in Burundi had improved. Despite its unresolved political crisis, Burundi is preparing for another election in 2020 which the UN says could result in a fresh wave of atrocities.
Burundian refugees who returned home on Thursday say they left camps in Tanzania because women are often raped when they go looking for firewood and because Tanzanian police have beaten and arrested men. “When women go in the villages to look for firewood for cooking, they were raped,” said Selemani Ruratanye, a 50-year-old father of six. “Men are beaten … or jailed (by the Tanzanian police).”
Thousands of Burundians fled a surge of political violence in 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third disputed term in office and opponents accused him of breaching the constitution.
Cameroon: National Dialogue
Cameroon national conference held in the capital faced serious threat over sharp divisions among the delegates. Some delegates came close to fighting each other as tempers boiled over at the conference in the capital, Yaounde.
Anglophone delegates are calling for varying degrees of autonomy with the leader of the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF), John Fru Ndi, wanting a return to the 1961 federal constitution which would allow self-governance for an English speaking region. Francophone delegates are echoing President Paul Biya’s insistence that the form of the Cameroonian state is not up for discussion and this has angered the Anglophones. Separatist leaders and armed groups were not even represented at this national dialogue because their demands had not been met but the conference went ahead anyway, with politicians and other interested parties in attendance.
On Thursday, October 3, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya announced on Twitter that he will drop charges against 333 prisoners arrested for their alleged roles in a two-year separatist uprising, but rebel leaders dismissed the move as a political stunt and pledged to keep fighting. About 500,000 people have been displaced and more than 1,800 killed by the conflict. Many schools have been forced to close.
Nigeria: Gunmen kidnap school girls, 2 others in Kaduna
Gunmen kidnapped six schoolgirls and two staff members from a boarding school in northern Nigeria on Thursday, police said. Police said the girls and staff were taken in the early morning from a school called Engravers College in a remote area near the village of Kakau Daji in Kaduna state. The students and the staff were abducted on Thursday at about 12:10am when the bandits invaded the school.
A staff of the school who spoke on condition of anonymity said the bandits called on Thursday, October 3, at about 7:00pm to demand for a ransom of N50 million. “Yesterday in the evening, they called and said we should pay N50 million for release of the students and the two staff that they kidnapped. “But we pleaded with them that things were hard and we didn’t have that kind of money. They also said things were hard for them. “We begged them to collect N100,000, but the man laughed and said N100,000 is nothing. He said that he as a person can even dash somebody N100,000. “This morning (Friday, October 4) they called again and we are still negotiating,” he said.
Swiss to auction 25 supercars seized from son of Equatorial Guinea dictator
A collection of luxury cars seized from Equatorial Guinea’s vice president, Teodorin Obiang Nguema, estimated at 18.5m Swiss francs ($18.7m) was auctioned off in Switzerland.
Among the cars auctioned are seven Ferraris, three Lamborghinis, five Bentleys, a Maserati and a McLaren.
The cars were confiscated by Swiss justice after the opening in 2016 of a financial wrongdoing case against Obiang, son and likely heir of Equatorial Guinea’s authoritarian president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled for 40 years. In February Swiss prosecutors said they were dropping charges of financial wrongdoing against Teodorin Obiang Nguema but were confiscating the luxury cars as part of the case.
Follow us on Twitter @aprecon
Follow on Instagram @_aprecon
Like our Page on FB @aprecon
Copyright © The African Progressive Economist 2019. All Rights Reserved.