• INTERVIEW: Why We Overthrew Buhari - IBB

    17/Jan/2016 // 796 Viewers

     

    Former Military President, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida may go down in the history of Nigeria as the most loved yet most hated leader to ever rule Africa’s most populous nation. Such paradox marks him out as an intriguing personality, who remains a reference point in the political circle more than two decades after he ‘stepped aside’ from Aso Rock in controversial circumstances.

    In this rare encounter with a team from Zero Tolerance (ZT), a quarterly magazine published by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,  at his Hill Top mansion in Minna, Niger State,  the former leader offers rare reminisces on his leadership of the country and attempts a prognosis on the myriad challenges facing Nigeria. He spoke about why he led a coup that toppled the regime of Muhammadu Buhari and why he approved the killing of his bosom friend, Mamman Vatsa.

    The interview was conducted by the ZT team of WILSON UWUJAREN, TONY ORILADE, WILLIAMS OSEGHALE, AISHA MOHAMMED and FRANKLYN OGUNLEYE. We have the magazine’s permission to republish the interview here.

    Excerpts:

    Let us congratulate you on your 73rd birthday

    Thank you for reminding me that I am an old man

    At 73, do you feel accomplished?

    First of all, I need to thank God for having attained this age, at remarkably good health still talking and moving. I remain grateful to God, brothers, friends, colleagues and Nigerians generally for all the goodwill.

    Any regrets?

    So far, the emphatic answer is, no!

    Looking back in the last 73 years, what will you say has been your greatest achievement and contribution to this country?

    Seriously speaking, my generation came at a time when Nigeria was just trying to be on its feet. I went into the military service in 1962, Nigeria was just about two years old and it had the problems of a developing nation, what they need to go through and so on. So, we were witnesses to this development and I think, one should be able to quantify his contributions based on that period, what we had been doing. I think it was very fulfilling and rewarding.  

    Why did you choose to go into the military at that time?

    There was a drive to get students or people from this part of the country so as to balance the officer corps of the armed forces; so there was a deliberate drive to recruit officers from this part of the country and I was fortunate that the minister for the army happened to be from this part of the country. So one of his first recruitment drives was to come to our school; he talked to us and gave reasons why we should join the military. Then, we saw some demonstration by General Yakubu Gowon; he was a captain at that time, a lot of us got excited. We applied and were recruited.

    If not the military, where else would you have been?

    My original thought was to be a civil engineer but when this military thing came, I jettisoned that and went in for the military.

    EFCC is eleven years old now, what is your assessment of the Commission?

    Well, I think EFCC has done remarkably well because it came at a time when this country needed an organization that should check the scourge of corruption and the rest of it. I think it came at the right time. I took quite an interest to know how the Commission operates, especially under the present leadership. I believe they are achieving good result. I was reading in the media some of the prosecutions and convictions recorded and I think I am impressed as they have been doing everything in accordance with the law.

    Like everything new, the Commission experienced some teething problems. First of all, the public needed to understand what it was trying to do but I understand what the Commission is doing now. It is very civil, you don’t condemn people, you investigate, you establish facts and so on. This is what is happening now and I think the fact that anybody is innocent until proven guilty is what you are doing now. I think this is good for this country.

    Despite all the efforts, Nigeria continues to be ranked as one of the most corrupt countries, what will you say is responsible for the high level of corruption in this country?

    The fact that the corruption index says Nigeria is highly corrupt is quite subjective. A lot of us have had lots of experience in other countries; generally every country has the problem of corruption in various forms. I think what we need to do is to do the little we did when we were in office, try to find out the source of corruption and then block it.

    Back in 1986, Cooperative Boards as we knew them then was an institution bedeviled by corrupt practices. An ordinary farmer brings his products, the board is there to assess it as either grade one ,two or three. A lot of things went wrong, so what we did was to encourage the farmer to go to the end users, negotiate. The end user will also inspect what you have. So the farmer is talking to you directly, no middle man or anything because the corruption starts where the middle man is.

    Once you have identified areas that are prone to corruption, the next thing is to eliminate them  and get the people educated. In the case of foreign exchange for example, you needed to go to the Central Bank or to the banks before you could get foreign currencies but by establishing the bureau de change, you could walk in there, exchange the money and put it in your pocket, go on with your business and you are not robbing anybody.

    One of the things to avoid, especially in government institutions, is too much control, where there is a lot of control corruption easily manifest itself. So you look at where there is a lot of control, try to do away with it and then things will work for the people.

    The military regimes before you, Murtala Mohammed/Olusegun Obasanjo and General MuhammaduBuhari/Tunde Idiagbon had programmes that frontally tackled corruption. Will you say your government fought corruption?

    Well, we had different approaches; I think my government was able to identify corruption prone areas and checked them. If you remember in this country, there were things they call essential commodities. These are also sources of corruption; you go and buy omo or food or whatever it is and we got government to take its hands off such activitie. Let people use their own brains, hands and labour, nobody has to do it for them. So we did but I am proud to say that was much more effective.

    I don’t have the facts but if what I read in the papers is currently what is happening then I think we were angels.

    I asked that question against the background that during the Buhari administration, there was War Against Indiscipline, you didn’t have a programme like that. You came in and the programme died as it were. Why didn’t you put up something similar to deal with corruption, knowing that corruption was very prevalent?

    Because I was learning from the mistake of those before me. If you take for example the War Against Indiscipline, they were teaching you how to queue, to say sorry when you march somebody! It hasn’t solved anything. It was trying to make you to be civil in your approach to things. Ok I accepted I am going to queue before I get into a car but I might have bribed somebody before I got a ticket to go into the vehicle. We tried not to fall into the same trap, by tackling the source and making corrections in those places.

    You described yourself as an angel when you ruled this country. Sadly people tend to remember your regime as institutionalizing corruption in Nigeria.

    Yeah, I know. Maybe I have to accept that but anybody with a sense of fairness has no option but to call us saints. I give you example, in a year I was making less than seven billion dollars in oil revenue, In the same period there are governments that are making 200 to 300 billion dollars. With seven billion, I did the little I could achieve; with 200 billion there is still a lot to be achieved.

    You are not looking at the benchmark, what was the value of naira to the dollar then and what is it today?

    When I left office, it was 22 naira to the dollar Now it is 162 and is not my making, I left it at 22, official rate.

    When you came into office, the naira and the dollar were almost at par, so what happened that triggered the massive devaluation of the naira under your watch?

    The world is changing economically and if you want to compete with the industries around the world, you have to moderate your currency and what we did was in accordance with the development in the world at that time. The first time when it became one dollar to four naira, we almost went crazy, all of us in the military but then we were learning. Our economy should not be oblivious of what is happening in the outside world and we wanted to compete effectively with other countries.

    All the same, we were able to keep it down to 22. When I left, it went up to 85. Abacha was good; he kept it between 85 and 90.

    In terms of accounting for resource earnings, we can remember that during your regime, there was also this gulf war and Nigeria earned a lot of money. What happened to the gulf war oil windfall?

    First of all, that war lasted 3 months, about ninety something days; it didn’t last up to a year. So get that fact straight. Secondly, the oil price at that time was below 18 dollars per barrel, so there is no way you could make 12.4 billion in 3 months. We couldn’t have made that amount of money but Pius Okigbo knew what he was doing. He had brains and he said between 1986 or 1988 to 1994, monies that accrued to the federal government at that time was about that money you are calling, windfall. He said so. It is there in his book. Then the other thing he said, the monies could have gone into generative investment, I am not an economist but I have an understanding of what this is. Our argument then was if you have the money why keep it and be looking at it when you have a lot of things that will benefit the ordinary man. So that money was not stolen.

    Where is it?

    It is what you see now in the country, Thank God most of the infrastructures we put in place are what you are using today and proudly so.

    What are these infrastructures you are talking about?

    Abuja for example, I built Abuja. Today we have a brand new capital, we used that money. I gave you a Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos, you cannot build it now for all the money Nigeria is making. And what did it cost me? 500. 600, 700 million naira. For the first time, a dual carriage way was seen in the northern part of the country between Kaduna and Kano and then linked it up from Abuja. You cannot afford to do it now, you cannot even afford to touch it because there are a lot of competing needs. You have to put money in education, armed forces infrastructural development, you have to put money in transportation; there are a lot of competing demands.

    You talked about Abuja being a brand new city, surprisingly the city is perhaps the only modern capital without a rail transport system. How come you never thought of building a rail system or was it not part of the master plan?

    You have got good roads. But the advantages of the rail over road is quite obvious as it is cheaper and can move more people per time. The first standard gauge railway was established during our regime. If you ever travel, just go to a place called Itakpe, there is a rail track linking it to Delta. It is a standard gauge railway. So we put these things where we thought the country will benefit from it.

    If as you said,  you did so well, why then is the perception that your government and your person are the most corrupt in Nigeria?

    Well, you gladly use the word perception, and it is said that perception is not reality.

    Why the perception?

    I should ask you, because it is the perception of the media.

    Are you worried?

    No, and you know why? Because now a lot of people can reflect; you believed quite wrongly that we are all crooks and I bear no grudge whatsoever against anybody but I know time will come when they will say after all, they did something and this is what is happening. Now, even our fiercest critics give us credit for certain things we did.

    You are regarded as one of the wealthiest Nigerians living, how did you make your money?

    Well, that is if you believe I have the money.

    This is not a perception

    If you give me some facts, throw it and say this is it then I have cause to explain. But I know who I am and what I represent, I know what values I stand for. A lot of us will not make such stupid mistakes.

    What are the investments of IBB?

    Let me tell you something, maybe you have a hand in it, I have been the most investigated president Nigeria has ever had. By now somebody should have come forward to say here it is. Every government that came after me investigated me because of that perception. Because they wanted to retrieve the billions I stole. Unless you can tell me that you haven’t been very efficient in your investigation, that’s your problem and not mine.

    We interviewed General Olusegun Obasanjo and asked him how he makes his money and he told us that he is a big time farmer. In your case, what do you do, how do you earn your money?

    My pension (Laughs…)

    What is your worth?

    It is difficult, worth in terms of? Naira and Kobo

    I wish I could have shown you my bank account, My account officer just left. I would be ashamed to say it so I won’t say it.

    What are your investments, what do you do?Are you into telecoms?

    No. The issue that I have stake in a telecom company has been laid to rest for a long time.  Globacom issued a statement, nothing of that nature. Agreed they are good and doing well. I am proud that they came up during our time but I am fairly an arrogant man, I don’t plead. If you are good and it is good for us, we say go ahead and do it. So, no Globacom, no petroleum industry and I am not a farmer because I can’t farm.

    You have Heritage Press

    Yeah, it hasn’t been working very well yet.

    Are we to assume that outside government you are not productive? Then how do you get by?

    (Laughs), it doesn’t mean that I am not making money. Of course I have investments, no doubt about that.

    What are these investments?

    I would assure you using my head, I came to one conclusion that the best investment for someone like me is banking, that’s all

    You have shares in banks?

    Yes.

    How many banks

    No, in one bank.

    A major shareholder? 

    Yes.

    Which bank are we talking of …

    (cuts in) ..Again investigate…laughs

    We have observed a trend, most Nigeria leaders come into office not comfortable financially but by the time they are leaving, they become billionaires. Why is it so?

    Now you said most, let me tell you on my own. When I got into office August of 1985 I made a declaration and it is there on record what I had, what I possessed, everything and when I left not much have changed.  Before I became president I was living in this environment, nobody seems to remember that. I tried farming before I became president. I failed. That’s why I said am not going into that field anymore. So it depends, I am not also sure that every president has left office rich. I know they are not.

    Apart from Generals Yakubu Gowon, Mohammadu Buhari and may be Shehu Shagari, some people say every other president left  richer

    No. This is perception. Everyone went there, served and left. I wouldn’t say they left there richer than they were when they came in.

    We really wouldn’t want to talk about the dead but is Abacha among the leaders you claim did not make money

    (cuts in)…ok talk about the living, talk about me.

    The circumstances surrounding your emergence as military president in 1985, some people believe that it was more of self-preservation than national interest. Can you tell us what happened?

    First of all, we planned a coup towards the end of 1983 that truncated the democratically elected government and the military government came in January 1984. Then that government also suffered the same fate as the democratic government when the military staged one of the finest coup in this country, because there was no blood, nothing was lost, smooth and everybody was treated with the most civility and our administration came. When we came in August of 1985 there was a plan to kick us out in December 1985, it didn’t work, they went into operation again in 1990. I think the country was going through a phase at that time, it’s a developing country and we always had one reason or the other for doing what we did at that time.

    But the talk at that time was that there was a rift between you and Buhari and he wanted to dismiss you from the Army.

    No, let me give you a lesson today. A coup or change comes about if there is frustration in the society. Just get that right. There was frustration in the society between 1984 to 1985. The ground was fertile for a coup. It wasn’t fertile, thanks be to God, in December, 1985 when the first attempt on me was made. Neither was it fertile in April 1990 when the second attempt was made and we had the support of all of you sitting down here. You write, you analyze, you talk, and you demonstrated. It was not unusual then to hear, in the case of the democratically elected government in1983, a common phase was ‘the worst military regime is better than this government’. So you were giving us the impetus to stage a coup. We are not dummies. If we didn’t have the support of all of you, we wouldn’t venture into it.

    We cannot end this interview without talking about June 12…

    Yes, it is a day in the history of Nigeria and the day the most credible election was held, so what is your question.

    Why was it annulled?

    We gave you a lot of reasons but I understood the passion, at that time everybody was fed up. The sentiment was, ‘just pack your things and go’. Our thought process is very limited. First of all, on June 23, 1993, I was on the air, and I told Nigerians why we had to do what we did. But I was sensible enough to know that whatever I said nobody was interested.  So the important thing is ‘get out’. I hate to say it but when we annulled June 12, the same Nigerians supported the intervention of the Military. True or false?

    True because you saw it, you are old enough. All those who fought for June 12 ended up serving the Military Government they didn’t like and that perpetuated a longer stay of the military in government.

    When you were leaving government you used the phrase ‘stepping aside.’ Why did you choose to use that phase?

    Every one of you thought that I was not keeping pace with the Nigerian dream. We have a tradition in the military, if you are marching in a column, when they say left, you should obey the command. If you right foot, somebody will shout at you because you are affecting the column, you should step aside so that the column will continue. That was what I did.

    What’s your philosophy in life?

    To be at peace with myself and other human beings.

    And your values …

    Oh that one is a lot. I told you earlier when we were talking about  the stupendous wealth, I told you I know who I am , I know what I represent , I know my background so there are things I wouldn’t do.

    What are these things?

    (Laughs), I wouldn’t steal and I don’t have business to fight you even if you are abusing me. This is still part of what I believe in.  I will always forgive you because if we offend God he forgives, so why should I hold anything against anybody

    Why then was it difficult to forgive your bosom friend, late General Mamman Vatsa?

    Because others before him faced the same law, the only change in that law was introduced by us to give room for appeal. If i was involved in that coup and it flopped, I would have been shot too. So it is the application of the law but then it is painful. We made the law others suffered the consequences.

    As military president, you had the power to commute the death sentence to jail term

    But all those that were shot dead, were shot under a military regime.

    You have a beautiful mansion here; anybody would like to live in this kind of house. We understand that it is a souvenir from a contractor

    Whoever that contractor is, I think he should have gone to jail, to give this as a souvenir. I told you I was living in this environment before I became the president. I built a house here when I was Chief of Army Staff. If I open the window for you, you will see a very beautiful house just behind us, that is where I started and then kept on moving up to this place.

    But you got this place after you left office?

    I started building it in 1991, took 2 to 3years so that by the time I finished I would have a house to sleep in.

    What is the value of the property?

    Now, or then?

    Now

    I cannot estimate because it has appreciated.

    Then

    I know what my friends spent

    Your friends built it for you?

    No, my friends contributed.

    You have good friends..

    Yes I have

    Were they your friends before you went into government?

    They were friends before we came into government and friends while I was in government.

    Source: Premium Times Nigeria


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  • Sudan's al - Bashir defies ICC arrest warrant, attends Rwanda summit

    17/Jul/2016 // 544 Viewers

     

    KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir arrived in Rwanda on Saturday to attend a summit of African leaders, defying an international warrant for his arrest after public assurances from Rwandan leaders that he would not be arrested.

    The African Union summit on Sunday is expected to discuss the continent's uneasy relationship with the International Criminal Court, which some say unfairly targets Africans.

    Ahead of the summit, some African countries renewed efforts to quit the ICC en masse despite the opposition of some countries like Botswana. Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast have been pushing back as well in recent days.

    Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has led growing criticism of the ICC, calling it "useless" during his inauguration in May, an event that al-Bashir attended.

    Some countries want a separate African court with jurisdiction over rights abuses.

    "Withdrawal from ICC is entirely within the sovereignty of a particular state," Joseph Chilengi, an AU official, told reporters Saturday.

    Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC for alleged atrocities in the country's Darfur region.

    He should be at the ICC answering to charges that include genocide, "not persisting in this game of cat-and-mouse with the court," Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch said Saturday night.

    Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said this week that Rwanda would not arrest al-Bashir.

    "Africa doesn't support criminals, but when justice is involved with a lot of politics we take a pause to separate the two," Mushikiwabo told reporters.

    The African Union summit also will discuss South Sudan, where clashing army factions raised concerns of a return to civil war. The chaos threatens a peace deal signed last August between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

    United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who is attending the summit, has called for an arms embargo.


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  • WICKEDNESS! HIV sexual ritualist confesses infecting 104 school girls

    17/Nov/2016 // 501 Viewers

     

    The story of Eric Aniva, Hyena, broke sometimes mid this year when a BBC reporter spoke to him. Aniva bragged of his mischeavious feat of  having sexual cleansing for young girls before they are given out in marriage.verdict is expected this week in the case of a man arrested in Malawi after he told a BBC reporter he had had sex with pubescent girls as part of a “cleansing” ritual. But some Malawians are asking why only one man is on trial for a practice involving whole communities.

    On Thursday, the follow up reveals that a verdict is expected this week in the case the Malawian after he had sex with pubescent girls as part of a “cleansing” ritual. But some Malawians are asking why only one man is on trial for a practice involving whole communities.

    Eric Aniva was arrested in July on presidential orders after he admitted having unprotected sex with girls as young as 12 – and keeping quiet about his HIV-positive status.

    Aniva says he was hired by the girls’ relatives to take part in a sexual initiation ceremony which they believe “shakes off” the girl’s childhood “dust” so that she can enter adulthood.

    We believe that if a widow or widower is not sexually cleansed, then bad luck, sudden death or illness will come to some, or all, of the clan Social worker, Nsanje.
     
    When Malawi’s president, Peter Mutharika, ordered the arrest, he wanted Aniva tried for defiling young girls, but no girl came forward to testify against him.

    So instead Aniva is being tried for another ritual defined as a “harmful cultural practice” under section five of Malawi’s Gender Equality Act, in which he had sex with newly bereaved widows.

    On this charge, two women have come forward to give evidence against Aniva, though one says he had sex with her before the practice was banned, and the other says she managed to escape before the sexual act took place.

    “Widow cleansing is a highly regarded practice among us,” said a social worker from Nsanje, the remote south-western district where Aniva lives.

    “We believe that if a widow or widower is not sexually cleansed, then bad luck, sudden death or illness will come to some, or all, of the clan. We are obliged to do this custom by our ancestors,” he added. He asked to remain anonymous, because government employees are not allowed to talk to the media without permission.

    Until a few years ago, it was common practice in the district for a bereaved widow to have sex with a man three times a night for three to four nights. Often the man would be the deceased’s brother, but in some cases someone from outside the immediate family, such as Aniva, would be hired to perform the act.

    If the bereaved was a man, a woman would be found to have sex with him.

    The ritual was modified, however, in the light of the HIV epidemic, and these days a married couple are supposed to act as surrogates, having sex on behalf of the bereaved. As before, they utter an oath at the point of ejaculation to prevent ill fortune arising from the death.

    What horrifies Malawians about Aniva, who claimed in his BBC interview to have had sex with 104 women and girls, is that he did not stop his sexual practices after finding out he was HIV-positive.

    “HIV is a killer. How can someone with this status, do what he did? I think this man is the devil. Greedy and selfish. If I could judge him, I would give him a murder sentence and life imprisonment,” a pastor, Paul Mzimu, said outside Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, where HIV rates on some wards reach 70%.


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  • Guinea’s president re-elected in contested vote, provisional results show

    17/Oct/2015 // 243 Viewers

    Guinea's Alpha Conde has won re-election in the first round of presidential polls, according to provisional results released Friday that his main rival refused to recognise, labelling the poll "illegal".

    Conde's challengers have said the October 11 election was tainted by widespread fraud and mismanagement and have urged supporters to take to the streets, raising the spectre of unrest in the days to come.

    The poor west African state has a history of post-election violence, prompting the international community to call on all parties to pursue their grievances through the courts rather than protests.

    Conde's main rival Cellou Dalein Diallo dismissed the result as an "electoral farce", telling AFP "we cannot recognise such a victory".

    Results published by the Independent National Electoral Commission from areas representing over 90 percent of Guinea's voters showed Conde winning an outright majority with nearly 2.2 million ballots.

    Turnout was put at around 66 percent of the six million voters, well below an initial estimate of 75 percent.

    One suburb of the capital Conakry and the overseas votes cast by Guineans living in New York have yet to be counted.

    Conde's seven challengers have said the vote, only the second democratic presidential poll since Guinea gained independence from France in 1958, was marred by vote-rigging and demanded a re-run.

    Conde, 77, had gone into the campaign promising to deliver a "KO blow" to his opponents by winning victory at the first round, avoiding a run-off against his closest rival.

    'Illegal' election

    Guinea's first ever democratic election in 2010 went to a second round between Conde and former prime minister Diallo, which Conde narrowly won.

    While Diallo grudgingly conceded defeat in that election he refused to recognise the result of Sunday's rematch -- in which he garnered more than 1.06 million votes, according to the latest results.

    "When the president (of the electoral commission) decides that anyone holding an electoral card can vote, even without an envelope in violation of the electoral code, it shows the illegal way in which the election has taken place," Diallo said.

    "We reserve the right to use all legal means necessary, including peaceful protest," he said.

    The 63-year-old and the six other opposition candidates all demanded a re-run and warned a proclamation of victory by Conde at the first round would vindicate their suspicions of vote-rigging.

    Diallo had dubbed the vote "a masquerade, a massive fraud" and called for protests when he pulled out of the race on Wednesday.

    The election has caused increased tensions, with around a dozen people killed in clashes between Conde and Diallo supporters ahead of polling day.

    An EU election observer team criticised the electoral commission for poor organisation and a "lack of preparation".

    Conde, who spent nearly three decades in exile in France, led the opposition to Guinea's dictatorial first president after independence from France, Ahmed Sekou Toure.

    He says the achievements of his presidency include an overhaul of the army and judiciary, the completion of a hydroelectric dam and reforms to make mining contracts more transparent.

    Despite being rich in bauxite, the ore used to produce aluminium, the country is one of the world's poorest and was blindsided by a severe outbreak of Ebola, which began in the country's southern forests in December 2013 and then spread to neighbouring countries.

    Half the population lives below the UN poverty line, and according to the World Bank, per capita income in 2014 was just $470 with many lacking access to electricity or running water.

    (AFP with DailyGlobeWatch)


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  • Coup fears as Burkina Faso interim president 'detained'

    17/Sep/2015 // 123 Viewers

    Soldiers from Burkina Faso’s powerful presidential guard interrupted a cabinet meeting on Wednesday and detained the interim President Michel Kafando, the prime minister and two cabinet members, military and government sources said.

    “Members of the presidential guard burst into the room of the cabinet of ministers at around 14:30 and took hostage the president of Burkina Faso, the head of state, Michel Kafando, the Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, and the minister of public administration ... and the minister of housing,” Moumina Cheriff Sy, the head of the transitional parliament, said in a statement.

    The move came two days after a commission charged with drafting reforms for Burkina Faso’s transitional government proposed dismantling the elite unit. The presidential guard, known as the RSP, was a key pillar of President Blaise Compaoré’s regime before he was toppled by demonstrations in October after 27 years in power.

    According to information obtained by FRANCE 24, gunshots were heard inside the presidential palace, while Kafando and the prime minister were taken to an unknown location by the soldiers. The presidential guard had reportedly surrounded the palace to prevent anyone from entering or leaving.

    'Attack on the Republic'

    Military sources had earlier said the whole cabinet had been detained but witnesses at the presidential palace suggested that some ministers were subsequently released by the soldiers.

    "The RSP's countless disruptions are a serious attack on the Republic and its institutions," said Sy, adding that military chiefs were now negotiating with the soldiers.

    After the news of the presidential guard’s actions broke, protesters began gathering outside the presidential palace, with soldiers outside firing warning shots to disperse the crowd, witnesses said.

    Civil society activist Souleymane Ouedraogo said on his Facebook page that the soldiers were demanding the resignation of President Kafando. It was not possible to confirm this.

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for their immediate release of Kafando and the prime minister on Wednesday.

    “The secretary-general is outraged by reports of the detention of President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida of Burkina Faso,” Ban’s press office said in a statement. “The secretary-general calls for their immediate release. This incident is a flagrant violation of Burkina Faso’s Constitution and Transitional Charter.”

    'Army within an army'

    Burkina Faso is due to go to the polls on Oct. 11 to elect a new president from a field dominated by former members of Compaoré’s regime.

    In a report submitted to Prime Minister Zida, himself a former commander in the presidential guard, the national reconciliation and reform commission described the 1,200-strong unit as “an army within an army”.

    The RSP’s political meddling after Compaoré’s ousting, including attempts to force the prime minister’s resignation over his plans to reduce its size, provoked further protests and prompted authorities to call for a review of the guard’s role.

    Monday’s report recommended that the regiment be broken up and its members redeployed within the framework of a broader reform of the military.


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  • Burkina Faso presidential guard dissolve government in coup d'état

    17/Sep/2015 // 236 Viewers

    Burkina Faso’s powerful presidential guard announced Thursday morning that it had dissolved the country’s interim government, in what the head of the country’s National Assembly called a “coup d’état”.

    Soldiers from the presidential guard interrupted a cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening and detained the country’s interim President Michel Kafando, the prime minister and two cabinet members.

    “Members of the presidential guard burst into the room of the cabinet of ministers at around 14:30 and took hostage the president of Burkina Faso, the head of state, Michel Kafando, the Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, and the minister of public administration... and the minister of housing,” Moumina Cheriff Sy, the head of the transitional parliament, said in a statement on Wednesday night. Sy slammed the action as a “coup d’état” on Thursday morning.

    The presidential guard’s move comes two days after a reform commission proposed dismantling the military unit.

    The presidential guard, known as the RSP, was a key pillar of ex-president Blaise Compaoré’s regime before he was toppled by demonstrations in October after 27 years in power.

    Gunshots outside palace

    According to information obtained by FRANCE 24, gunshots were heard inside the presidential palace, while Kafando and the prime minister were taken to an unknown location by the soldiers. The presidential guard had reportedly surrounded the palace to prevent anyone from entering or leaving.

    Military sources had earlier said the whole cabinet had been detained but witnesses at the presidential palace suggested that some ministers were subsequently released by the soldiers.

    After news of the presidential guard’s actions broke, protesters began gathering outside the presidential palace, with soldiers outside firing warning shots to disperse the crowd, witnesses said.

    Civil society activist Souleymane Ouedraogo said on his Facebook page that the soldiers were demanding the resignation of President Kafando.

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for their immediate release of Kafando and the prime minister on Wednesday.

    'Army within an army'

    Burkina Faso is due to go to the polls on Oct. 11 to elect a new president from a field dominated by former members of Compaoré’s regime.

    In a report submitted to Prime Minister Zida, himself a former commander of the presidential guard, the national reconciliation and reform commission described the 1,200-strong military unit as “an army within an army”.


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  • BREAKING NEWS: COUP!!! Burkina Faso coup leader named as General Gilbert Diendéré

    17/Sep/2015 // 271 Viewers

    Burkina Faso's Presidential Security Regiment declared a coup Thursday a day after seizing the interim president. Coup members later declared General Gilbert Diendéré the new leader until "inclusive and peaceful" elections can be held.

    In a statement, the military unit also announced the closure of the West African nation's borders as well as the implementation of an overnight curfew.

    Coup spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Mamadou Bamba spoke on national television to announce that "wide-ranging talks" were being held to form a new government leading to "inclusive and peaceful elections".

    He added that the coup had put an end to “the deviant regime of transition” in the West African state.

    Presidential guard members linked to ex-leader Blaise Compaoré had burst into a cabinet meeting on Wednesday and seized acting President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Zida and two ministers.

    Zida was himself once an officer in Compaore's powerful Presidential Security Regiment (RSP), before he toppled his boss after days of street protests in October 2014.

    Shots could still be heard Thursday in the capital Ouagadougou after the arrest of the nation's transitional leaders triggered immediate street protests outside the presidential palace where they were reportedly being held.

    Revolution Square – the epicentre of protests against Compaore – was empty apart from military patrols, with the streets of the capital also deserted.

    International condemnation

    Interim parliament speaker Moumina Cheriff Sy denounced what he said was a "coup d'Etat", and in an interview with Radio France Internationale (RFI) radio Thursday called on the people to "immediately rise up".

    Sy called the detention of the president and prime minister "a serious attack on the republic".

    International condemnation was swift, with the United Nations Security Council and the European Union, one of the main donors to the poverty-stricken country, demanding the immediate release of the country's transitional leaders, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing his outrage.

    President Francois Hollande of France – the former colonial power – joined the chorus of disapproval, calling for political order "to be restored".

    In a joint statement, the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded "the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages".

    Protesters marching on the presidential palace on Wednesday evening were met with bursts of gunfire, with shooting also heard around the complex Thursday.

    Crowds of several hundred shouting "Down with the RSP" gathered with whistles and vuvuzelas near the palace after news spread, with the headquarters of Compaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) party ransacked.

    Troops threaten to kill radio staff

    Broadcasts by Radio France Internationale (FRANCE 24’s sister station) and the private Omega radio station were cut.

    Omega boss Alpha Barry told FRANCE 24 television that RSP troops had threatened to kill staff if they did not stop transmitting.

    The country's main trade unions launched a joint appeal "to observe a general strike throughout the national territory (...) against the RSP interference in politics and for a true democracy".

    While the RSP's demands were not yet known, it has repeatedly tried to disrupt the ongoing transition.

    On Monday the country's National Reconciliation and Reforms Commission had recommended that the 1,300-man force, considered the landlocked country's best troops, be disbanded.

    A transitional government had been in place since ex-president Compaore fled into exile following violent protests in 2014, and was charged with running the nation until presidential and legislative elections could be held on October 11.

    Supporters of Compaore were banned from standing in the upcoming elections under a controversial election law passed in April, which made anyone who supported "unconstitutional change" ineligible to run.

    On the ground, the Balai Citoyen ("Civic Broom") movement, which was at the forefront of last year's anti-Compaore protests, called for protesters to gather to "say no to the coup d'Etat under way", an appeal that was shared widely on social networks.

    State television was broadcasting its usual cartoons and a football match. Its buildings have traditionally been guarded by the RSP.

    AFP


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  • Death toll tops 200 in cross-border Ethiopia raid

    18/Apr/2016 // 272 Viewers

     

    ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - More than 200 people were killed and over 100 children abducted by armed men from South Sudan in a cross-border raid into Ethiopia, the country's leader said.

    Ethiopian officials blame Murle tribesmen from South Sudan for a series of deadly attacks on Ethiopian villages in the western Gambella region on Friday.

    "The atrocities committed by an armed Murle tribe from South Sudan claimed the lives of 208," Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on state television on Sunday evening, increasing the death toll from an earlier estimate of 140.

    Hailemariam said "mothers and children" were among the dead and, "they also abducted 102 children."

    The foreign ministry said over 2,000 livestock were also stolen.

    The Murle, a tribe from South Sudan based in the eastern Jonglei region close to the Ethiopian border, often stage raids to steal cattle and abduct children but rarely on such a large or deadly scale.

    "There had been abduction of children and raiding of cattle from Gambella through crossing the Ethiopian border. However, Friday's attack was massive" Hailemariam said.

    "The Ethiopian defence force is taking measures against the attackers to free the abducted children without any precondition," he said, without specifying whether Ethiopian troops had crossed the border into South Sudan.

    Friday's attacks targeted the Nuer tribe, one of the two main ethnic groups in South Sudan, who live on both sides of the border.

    The western Ethiopian region of Gambella, which borders South Sudan, is also home to some 272,000 South Sudanese refugees who have fled the civil war that erupted in their country in December 2013.

    The raid -- dubbed the "Gambella massacre" in the Ethiopian media -- reinforces long-standing fears that South Sudan's civil war since December 2013 would spill into Ethiopia.

    The conflict has split South Sudan roughly along ethnic lines pitting the president's Dinka tribe against the rebel leader's Nuers. Ethiopia believes the raids are not linked to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

    Located 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the South Sudanese border, Gambella is home to Ethiopian Nuers.

    Local journalists have reported attackers carrying AK-47 assault rifles and killing anyone who resisted.


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  • Non-traditional funding sought for Liberia iron-ore development

    18/Jan/2016 // 143 Viewers

     

    Nontraditional sources of funding are being sought for the development of the best of the four major iron-ore assets that Cavalla Resources has acquired in Liberia from BHP Billiton.

    Cavalla COO Fidel Jonah said on Monday that the company anticipated that the iron-ore pricing environment would be better in three years’ time when its Goe Fantro project would begin making use of existing infrastructure to export from a functioning port 70 km away.

    Print Send to Friend 0 0 “We intend to have our product on the boat at $21/t to $22/t,” Jonah said of the current imperatives of low-cost production, low capital expenditure and high quality ore.

    “Even at today’s low prices, it makes money,” he enthused in an interview with Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.

    MORE INSIGHT Tawana still awaiting MDA from Liberian govt Tawana gets nod for environmental audit Jonah takes over BHP Billiton’s Liberian iron-ore interests Goe Fantro would be the focus of the company for the next two years, when the other assets acquired from BHP would be advanced at a slower pace.

    Cavalla, which has to date been funding development off its own balance sheet, is currently investigating “non-traditional funding sources” as well as development agency funding.

    Goe Fantro would require a capital investment estimated at $240-million. Badly impacted by the Ebola virus, Liberia is now being viewed by development agencies as a country to be supported and the Goe Fantro project has been identified as one that has the potential to improve the Liberian economy.

    Goe Fantro's haematite will provide direct shipping ore (DSO). Production of five-million tons a year of 58% to 62% iron over a 20-year life-of-mine is envisaged.

    Besides Goe Fantro, the other exploration areas acquired from BHP Billiton last year include Kitoma, St John River South and Toto, a Kitoma II exploration licence and the right of first refusal over three additional exploration areas.

    The 1.9-billion-ton Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant resource includes 132-million tons of 57%-iron DSO. Historically, Liberia has been one of Africa’s largest iron-ore exporters and the prospective country is also hosting growing gold-mining activity. Cavalla is the wholly owned iron-ore holding company of Jonah Capital, chaired by Sir Sam Jonah.

    Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

     


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  • Visa regime within Africa to be scrapped as AU launches long-awaited AU passport

    18/Jul/2016 // 2277 Viewers

     

    The long-awaited African Union (AU) passport was on Sunday launched at the opening ceremony of the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

    The Assembly is made up of heads of states and governments of the 54 member states of the AU.

    The AU Commission’s Chairperson, Dr Dlamini Zuma, presented the passport to the Chairperson of the union, President Idriss Deby of Chad and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

    Zuma, in her address, said the passport was a landmark achievement of the commission and was intended to help with regional integration of people of the continent.

    She said Africa was full of hope, possibility and optimism and she was sure that the commission would achieve its aim of a better Africa.
    “We see hope in the resilience of our people and the strides of countries towards eradicating poverty and transforming our economies.

    “We see hope in the ever-changing landscapes of our cities and towns, as we steadily build roads, increase access to energy, ICT, water and sanitation and build schools, clinics and sports fields.

    “We have hope, because the continent’s political and business leadership are preparing to act to make African industrialisation a reality in our lifetime, so that our people benefit from their natural and mineral resources.’’
    She, however, said that the better Africa could only be achieved where peace and security reigned.

    “As AU we have made the pledge not to bequeath violent conflicts, wars and genocide to future generations of Africans.
    “That pledge demands our attention,’’ she said.

    President Deby while declaring the session open, said that the retreat of the heads of states produced immeasurable results.

    He said this was because the continent had decided to take its destiny in its own hands by resolving to fully fund the activities of the union by contributing to it financially and to ensure peace and stability.
    He, however, urged member states to meet up to their responsibilities.

    “While putting an end to the compromising dependency of the union on external contributions to the continent, it should be noted that the annual budget of the organisation which is to be paid up on time which will help us do away with external dependency.
     
    “That is why I want to urge member states to pay up their statutory contributions even if our countries are facing difficult economic and financial situation because of the world economic situation.’’

    Deby said that the recent conflict in South Sudan was a constant reminder of the times the continent was in and that Africa’s lack of possibilities to face difficulties was unacceptable.

    President Kagame in his welcome address said that the AU at its inception was precipitated on unity.

    He said that the concept of unity was what anchored human diversity in the bedrock of universal values.

    “Whenever we gather on the basis of what unites us, there is a peaceful solution to every problem, but when people meet as strangers even small problems are hard to resolve.

    “The unity of our continent with an emplashsis on integration among other things should never be a subject to preconditions or exceptions because lasting solutions always involve everyone,’’ he said.

    Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, in his remarks condemned strongly the terrorist attack on Nice, France, saying it was unacceptable.

    “Let me reiterate our solidarity and stand besides France and its people, we are confident that it will be able to overcome this hardship.
    “I like to call upon all of us to stand against this terrorism that has no religion.

    “At the same time we condemn all acts of terror that have been perpetrated recently all over the world and all those that are still being perpetrated in the Arab region and in the nations of Africa.’’
    He said that the AU’s Agenda 2063 which involved peace and security, achieving sustainable development and improving the situation of women was an ambition that his nation would support.

    Abba said Palestine was ready to cooperate with Africa since it had all the skills and competencies that would be beneficial to both parties.
    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that that the summit which has its theme as “Year of the Human Rights’’ with particular focus on the rights of women, began on Monday.


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