Tag Archives: West Africa

Violence, ballot box snatching, vote buying hallmark guber polls in Kogi, Bayelsa

Bookmakers were, yesterday, proven right, when shootings, widespread violence and electoral malpractice took centre stage as Bayelsa and Kogi states went to the polls to elect new governors, and a senator.

In the build up to the exercise, the actions and inaction of some interested parties, forced many, including observer groups to express fears that bedlam may reign. It did, as reflected in at least two deaths, maiming, kidnapping, several cases of ballot box snatching, intimidation of voters, massive rigging and sundry electoral malpractice, which were recorded in both states.

The nadir of the violence in Kogi State, was the killing of two persons, Umoru Shuaib and Faruk Suleiman, at Barracks Polling Unit in Abocho Community, in Dekina Local Council.

Three persons, who were shot in Bayelsa State, have their stars to thank for still being alive, while another youth identified as Prince Odede, allegedly had his hand chopped off by political thugs at Ward 5, Opolo, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

In Kogi, which lived up to its reputation as a hotbed of political violence, an unidentified Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) official was allegedly kidnapped at the SUBEB Polling Unit in Lokoja.

The abduction allegedly occurred after gunmen shot sporadically into the air while voting was going on. As voters scampered for safety, the gunmen went away with the official. This happened not long after some suspected thugs reportedly attacked the polling unit where Senator Dino Melaye voted. The hoodlums reportedly broke one of the ballot boxes, carted away the other, and shot severally into the air as they departed in a black Hilux van.

Senator Melaye, who confirmed the development via his official Twitter handle, said that the incident did not happen while he was at the polling unit.

The gunmen, who killed the duo in Abocho, while they were about casting their votes, an eyewitness claimed, apparently came for Shuaib.

“They came in a bus while voting was taking place and were in police uniform. So, we didn’t suspect anything. Shuaib had voted and was chatting with Suleiman close to the poling unit, when the bus drove by. None of the occupants alighted from the vehicle, but all we just heard were gunshots and shouts from the victims, as well as onlookers. And in the ensuing pandemonium, the attackers drove off.

Angola/Gambia: Angola Fired Up Against Gambia

Angola are arsenal ready to complete a double qualifier win over Gambia’s Scorpions today when the two sides face off at the November 1 Stadium in Luanda.

The Antelopes are a fast growing side after completing a 3-1 aggregate triumph over Gambia in October in two legs in what was the World Cup preliminary show.

The Central African country boasts of contingent paltry foreign-based stars, but notwithstanding, under coach Pedro Conglaves, they’re looking to launch a comeback to continental heavyweights they once were during the 2006 World Cup.

Their Portuguese coach is tipped to field his previous line up which could potentially include Geraldo and Fabio Abreu -the goal scorers during the Scorpions meeting in Luanda.

Their adversaries, Gambia, have a heavy foreign-based contingent in which Ebrima Sohna could be the sole home-based player. The match begins 7pm Gambian time.


Kogi election: 11th-hour judgements won’t alter our plans- INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has foreclosed any adjustment to its arrangement for the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections on account of recently delivered court judgments.

Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Lokoja, during a stakeholders’ meeting/signing of peace accord among political parties and candidates, also assured INEC was ready to conduct next Saturday’s election.

He declared all non-sensitive materials had been delivered to the commission’s office in Lokoja while the sensitive materials had been delivered to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The INEC boss also emphasised the essential value of the Smart Card Readers (SRC), saying their use is mandatory in accordance with the regulations and guidance of the commission for the conduct of elections.

Yakubu however, appealed to all stakeholders to help the INEC in making the exercise a peaceful and successful exercise, saying that all the efforts of the commission to deliver a free, fair and peaceful election require the support and commitment of all stakeholders.

According to him: “I would like to assure the people of Kogi State that our preparations will not be affected by the judgement delivered five days ago in which a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the Commission to include a political party on the ballot.

“Although the judgement is at variance with the decision of another Federal High Court in Abuja delivered ten days earlier which affirmed the propriety of the Commission’s action in a similar case by another political party, INEC has a consistent record of obeying court orders.

“However, we will consider legitimate steps to address the conflicting judgements by courts of coordinate jurisdiction in the interest of our electoral jurisprudence.

“Furthermore, with four days to the Governorship elections, two more cases challenging the decision of the Commission on the validity of candidates’ nominations have been reserved for judgement in Bayelsa and Kogi States.

“In addition, there are twelve (12) cases of intra-party disputes filed by aspirants from different political parties challenging the conduct of their own primaries and nomination of candidates, some of which have been reserved for judgement in the next few days.

“I must admit that the plethora of court cases and conflicting judgements delivered on the eve of elections in Nigeria are stressful to the Commission and costly to the nation.

“However, I wish to reassure the people of Bayelsa and Kogi States that learning from experience, the Commission has taken steps to ensure that the elections on Saturday in the two States are not affected by any eleventh hour judgement.

“With only four days to the election, how prepared is the Commission? The short answer is that we are ready.

“So far, the Commission has successfully implemented 12 out of our 14-point plan for the election as required by law.

“The Commission has delivered all non-sensitive materials for the election to our office here in Lokoja.

“The sensitive materials for the Governorship and Kogi West Senatorial Re-run elections are also ready.

“As usual, they are being handled by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The normal process of inspection and distribution of sensitive materials within the State will be done in the presence of party agents, security agencies, observers and the media.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Kogi State will communicate the date and time for stakeholders’ inspection and the arrangements for deployment in line with the Commission’s established procedure.

“For emphasis, let me reiterate that the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) have been configured.

“It is mandatory to use the SCRs for voter accreditation and authentication in line with the Commission’s regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections.

“Let me also reiterate that voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units is a violation of the law.

“The ban on the use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force and will be strictly enforced and monitored.”


‘Probe police excesses against students in Kenya’

Global human rights watchdog, the Amnesty International on Tuesday asked Kenya to probe police excesses and violence against university students. 

“Amnesty Kenya is deeply concerned about the violence against students resorted by police officers at Jamo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Juja, Kiambu on Nov. 11,” the civil rights group said in a statement. 

“The incidents were precipitated, when students gathered to protest against growing insecurity in the campus and around,” the statement read. 

“We call upon the Internal Affairs Unit of the NPS [National Police Service], the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to commence investigations into the cause of the violence,” Amnesty International said.

The interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and the Inspector General of the NPS had committed to probe and arrest officers involved in the incident. While appreciating this commitment, human rights body noted that Kenyan police officers have been using excessive force against students in recent years. 

It also recommended reforms in the methods of policing, to break the cycle of violent incidents in the Kenyan seats of higher learning.

“Violent policing during demonstrations must stop. Officers who break their code of office must be held individually guilty of misconduct, sanctioned and made to compensate victims,” said Irungu Houghton, executive director of Amnesty office in Kenya.


Nigerian forces attack Zakzaki supporters during Arba’een mourning rituals

Security forces in Nigeria have attacked the followers of Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), during a religious procession in the capital, Abuja, arresting at least four people.

The security forces used tear gas and live ammunition against Zakzaky’s supporters, who were taking part in a procession to commemorate Arba’een, the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH) — the third Shia Imam — on Friday.

One of the mourners was reportedly injured in the attack.

Nigeria has been cracking down on the IMN for several years.

Sheikh Zakzaky has been in detention since December 2015 after his home in Zaria was brutally raided by Nigeria’s forces, during which he was beaten and lost his left eye.

During the violent crackdown, three of his sons lost their lives, his wife sustained serious wounds and more than 300 of his followers were killed.

IMN members regularly take to the streets of the Nigerian capital to call for the release of the sheikh.


Nigeria Releases 25 Children Cleared of Suspected Ties With Boko Haram

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA, – The Nigerian army released 25 children Thursday 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.

Nigeria has fought an insurgency by militant Islamist group Boko Haram in northeastern states that has killed more than 30,000 people over the past decade. It is not clear how many children in total have been drawn into armed groups, including Boko Haram, or how they have been recruited.

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.

Earlier this week, police in Lagos said they had freed 19 women and girls who had mostly been abducted and made pregnant by captors planning to sell their babies.

Last week, around 400 boys and men — some as young as 5 and many in chains and scarred from beatings — were rescued from a building in the northern city of Kaduna that purported to be an Islamic school.

Ironside said UNICEF was working to ensure that all children affected by the conflict were reunited with their families.

A total of 2,499 people, including 1,627 children, have been cleared of association with non-state armed groups in Nigeria since 2016, UNICEF said.


NBC fines 20 stations in second quarter of 2019

Twenty stations violated the nation’s broadcasting codes in the second quarter of 2019, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has said.

The stations were fined for breaching the provisions of the broadcasting code on hate speech.

A breakdown of the offences, which were allegedly committed between April and June, according to NBC’s Director General Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, include breaching broadcasting code on hate speech, use of vulgar lyrics and obscene content.

Kawu berated African Independent Television (AIT) for defying all actions to ensure compliance with the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

Sections of the breached codes are: Section 1.16.1(f): The law of contempt, relating to matter pending before law court’s, and Section 5.1.12: News and current affairs programme shall be guided by the ethical standards of journalism.

Kaduna Zone recorded the highest in obscenity, while Abuja Zone topped the chart in hate speech.

In the area of unverified claims, the Ibadan Zone recorded the highest.

On fines meted out to the errant stations, Abuja Zone recorded the highest with 47.17 per cent, Ibadan Zone came second with 15.09 per cent and Benin came third with 13.22 per cent while the lowest was Enugu Zone with 1.89 per cent.

Forty-five stations were fined in the first quarter of the year for similar offences.

Addressing reporters on the second quarter monitoring of broadcast stations’ profile, Kawu said: “Coming shortly after the National and State Elections in the first quarter of the year, the report indicates that though there is a drop in breaches related to hateful, abusive and inflammatory broadcast, which peaked during the elections, and for which as many as 45 stations were fined, the second quarter indicates that the trend has continued among certain stations, especially in political programmes.

“Therefore, 20 stations were fined in the second quarter for breaching provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code on hate speech.

“Other breaches were in the area of Obscene and Vulgar Lyrics – 10 stations were fined for infractions related to use of vulgar lyrics and obscene content. It is worth mentioning that the programme, Big Brother Naija (BBN4) was cautioned against unwholesome content on its broadcast.

“Use of unsubstantiated and misleading claims by advertisers, especially trado-medic advertising, also dropped significantly from the last quarter, but a total of 30 stations were fined for infractions related to same.

“Ten broadcast stations were fined for breaches related to station announcers turning themselves into advertisers, hypers and promoters of products.”

On AIT, Kawu said: “Our monitoring activities indicate that some stations, especially AIT, are deliberately meddling in the cases before the election tribunal. It is trite knowledge that the media cannot comment on or discuss the details of any matter in court. The Broadcast Code in Section 1.16.1(f) requires all broadcasters to comply with the law of contempt relating to matters pending before the law courts.”


Protesters demand Ambode’s probe

SCORES of protesters under the aegis of Lagos Youth Vanguard (LYV) on Tuesday protested at the Lagos State House of Assembly complex demanding the probe of former governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

The protesters, who chanted solidarity songs, were led by the Patron of LYV, Mr. Rasak Olokooba, and the President of the Group, Mr. Ibrahim Ekundina.

Some of the placards carried by the protesters read: “Ambode, submit yourself for probe,” “Ambode must be probed,” “EFCC, do your job.”

The LYV stated in its leaflets distributed to journalists that Ambode “deliberately laid landmine through the obvious improper, inappropriate and insufficient content in his handover note that should serve as a guide to the incoming administration in the tradition of every civilised public officer.”

The group accused Ambode of flouting official procedures, saying that he refused to abide by the procurement laws.

He was accused of wrong priority in policies and programmes as well as abandoning the track that could bring about development in the state.

The LYV said: “We call for his probe and investigation with a view to apportioning appropriate penalties.

“We want to assure the good people of Lagos State, and all the people that care about Lagos that we will continue to pursue every legitimate means until justice is done.”

The group’s Patron Olokooba said it was good to be fair to every administration.

Olokooba added that they had watched events for 90 days and that there were clear indications that the former governor had been making attempts to sabotage the current administration.

He said: “For every government that is going out, you leave a template for the coming government to succeed. Ambode handed over a very rickety handing over note that cannot assist the current administration.

“If you go round the state today, you will see that there is no governor that would inherit such state and the people of the state would be happy with him, but thank God the goodwill enjoyed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is still intact, if not, by now the people of Lagos State would have been complaining bitterly.”


No more non-performing loans, CBN warns banks

There is no room for money changers in the banking sector of the financial economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), told banks on Tuesday.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said the banks should be major players in growing the economy, and warned that the era of armchair banking was over.

According to him, the days of non-performing loans (NPLs) had become history in the country “as anyone who benefits from any facility must pay back”.

Adding bite to the NPL issue, Emefiele appealed to the judiciary to support efforts towards ensuring that bank debtors pay back what they owe.


At least 29 killed in two attacks in Burkina Faso

At least 29 people were killed in two attacks in northern Burkina Faso on Sunday, in a region prone to extremist violence, the government said.

One vehicle transporting people and goods “rode over an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Barsalogho area” leaving at least 15 passengers dead, government spokesman Remis Fulgance Dandjinou said in a statement.

A security source said most were traders.

Meanwhile, around 50 kilometers (30 miles) away, 14 people were killed when food vans travelling in convoy were attacked, the spokesman added.

Local sources said many of the dead were the drivers of the three-wheeler vans, which were carrying provisions for people displaced by fighting.

“Military reinforcements have been deployed and a thorough search is under way,” Dandjinou said.

A former French colony that ranks among the world’s poorest countries, Burkina Faso has been struggling with an extremist revolt since 2015.

The country’s army has been increasingly targeted by the radical militants. Earlier this month, an attack on a military base in northern Burkina Faso killed 24 in an unprecedented blow to the army in its campaign against extremists.

The insurgency, which came from neighboring Mali, began in the north but has since spread to the east.

Since 2015, more than 500 people have died in attacks that have become increasingly violent especially in the north and the east, according to a toll compiled by AFP.

The capital Ouagadougou has been attacked three times, including a March 2018 extremist assault on the military headquarters that left eight dead.

A summit of regional heads of state is due to be held in Ouagadougou on Saturday to discuss the security situation.