Africa Media Review for November 19, 2021

Nigeria In Focus
Nigeria is Africa’s Giant. “Naija” culture, money, and hustle tower in reputation and clout across the continent. Over 200 million people—with a median age of 18—live in Nigeria. Nearly half of Nigerians live in cities and 42 percent use the internet, reflecting a rapidly transforming and dynamic population. Through reforms and elections that have built on its 1999 Constitution, Nigeria has become the fourth most populous democracy in the world—the largest in Africa. Its institutions and checks remain vulnerable however, stalked by decades of military dictatorships and the corrupt networks they fueled. These legacies limit Nigeria’s capacity and dexterity to address its diverse and serious internal security threats, including a long running militant Islamist insurgency around Lake Chad, banditry by criminal gangs near Kaduna, and a revival of militant successionist groups in the South South region. Poverty, land access disputes, and a withering petroleum-dependent economy are kindling for violence by armed groups. The Africa Center’s analyses examine how navigating these challenges goes hand-in-hand with fortifying the country’s democratic organs, avenues for youth-engagement, and security sector reforms. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Nigeria: Osinbajo, Blinken, Discuss Climate Change, Security, Pandemic Response, Others
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, on Thursday met at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Mr Blinken, who is on three-nation tour of Africa, and Mr Osinbajo deliberated on a wide range of areas of bilateral cooperation, including climate change, security, pandemic response, infrastructure, among others. The duo agreed that that there was a need to strengthen and improve relations between the U.S. and Nigeria. The vice president thanked Mr Blinken for the visit, saying that Nigeria is pleased to get much attention from the U.S. “And again, just to reaffirm what the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said on the importance of cooperation and the importance of working together. “And it is actually critical; it is has been shown in the response to COVID-19; this is equally a way of showing how interconnected the whole world is. “There is no real solution without everyone being protected from this pandemic and the possibility of others. … On his part, Mr Blinken pledged U.S. collaboration with Nigeria on climate change, investments in infrastructure, developing capacity to manufacture vaccines, security, among others, saying there are many areas of cooperation between U.S. and Nigeria. … The highlight of the meeting was the adoption of the Development Objective Assistant Agreement by the U.S. Secretary of State and Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.Premium Times

Sudan Protests Continue after Deadliest Day since Military Coup
Street clashes again shook Sudan’s capital on Thursday, a day after security forces shot dead 15 protesters in the bloodiest day since the military’s October 25 takeover. Wednesday’s killings were condemned by UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet who said statement that “it is utterly shameful that live ammunition was again used yesterday against protesters.” Since Thursday morning, police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of anti-coup protesters who had stayed on the streets of north Khartoum overnight, witnesses said, braving an intensifying crackdown that has drawn international condemnation. Police tore down makeshift barricades the demonstrators had erected the previous day. Later in the day, dozens of protesters returned to rebuild them and police again fired tear gas in a bid to clear the streets, witnesses said. “Protesters responded by hurling stones at the police,” said one of them. On October 25, top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan — Sudan’s de facto leader since the April 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir — detained the civilian leadership and declared a state of emergency. The move upended Sudan’s fragile transition to full civilian rule, drawing international condemnation and a flurry of punitive measures and aid cuts. France24

Sudan’s FFC Call for International Investigation into Bloody Crackdown
The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition called for the formation of an international commission to investigate grave human rights violations by the military junta in Sudan after the recent bloody crackdown on protesters. 15 people were killed and more than 80 others were wounded with live ammunition. The security forces further stormed hospitals and homes to arrest protesters. The FFC Central Council held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the political situation in the country following the brutal repression of the November 17 demonstrations, amid sporadic protests in the neighbourhoods and calls for civil disobedience. In a statement released after the meeting, the coalition of the revolution forces appreciated the international support for the Sudanese people and called the formation of an international investigation committee into the crimes committed by the coup leaders from the beginning of the revolution in December 2018 until November 17. Further, they called to refer the findings of this international commission and the would-be perpetrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The statement described the human rights violations that have taken place in Khartoum after the coup as “systematic crimes that amount to genocide and crimes against humanity”. Sudan Tribune

Journalist: ‘Khartoum Now a Military Barracks’
A heavy military presence on all roads and squared in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, has “turned the city into a military barracks since Wednesday morning,” in anticipation of the November 17 anti-coup marches, Feisal El Bagir, General Coordinator of the Journalists Association for Human Rights (JAHR) has told Radio Dabanga. El Bagir cautioned that goal of the ongoing blackout of communications, the internet, and text messages by the junta, “is to isolate the Sudan from the world,” and “to keep the general [international] media in darkness”. He referred to the extensive use of live ammunition and tear gas on peaceful demonstrators, which is now known to have led to at least 15 deaths and hundreds of injuries, and said that the military forces attacked people even within their homes. On the role of journalists, El Bagir said that the Joint Press groups Committee submitted a memorandum to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sudan on Tuesday, which included a monitoring of all violations. He said that journalists in Sudan have raised the slogan ‘Resistance Journalism’ since the military coup, explaining that journalists are working in difficult conditions with the internet blackout, telephone communications and text messages cut off. Dabanga

Sudan Restores Partial Internet Service
Sudan on Thursday evening restored limited internet services three weeks after it switched off internet in the country. Telecom operators were authorised to turn on limited services, offering a partial respite to locals who had been in the dark since October 25 when the military seized power and dissolved the transitional government of Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok. The decision to restore internet arose from a court decision which ordered telecom firms to immediately restore internet, amid an ongoing state of emergency imposed by the military. The courts said the services should be restored immediately until the case filed to challenge the blockade is heard and determined. In the absence of the internet, activists have been using street protests to call for the immediate restoration of Sudan’s civilian-led government. However, security forces responded brutally on Wednesday, leaving many protesters dead and other injured. East African

Ethiopia Releases 6 UN Staff Members, Keeps 5 in Detention
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Thursday that six U.N. staff members had been released but five others, along with one of their dependents, remain in detention in Addis Ababa. At least 16 U.N. staff and dependents were detained earlier this month amid reports of widespread arrests of ethnic Tigrayans. “Further ethnic profiling can only deteriorate this serious dynamic and can lead to a situation for which we have alarming precedents,” said Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the U.N. special adviser of the secretary-general on the prevention of genocide. In a press release on Wednesday, Nderitu reiterated her concern over the “deteriorating situation” in Ethiopia and strongly condemned “the intensification of profiling and arbitrary arrests of ethnic Tigrayans, including United Nations staff.” … Police have denied making ethnically motivated arrests, contending they are only detaining backers of the rebel Tigrayan forces fighting the Ethiopian government. … A joint investigation by the U.N. and the government-created Ethiopian Human Rights Commission published a report in early November concluding that all sides in the conflict have committed human rights violations, including torturing civilians, committing gang rapes and arresting people based on ethnicity. VOA

Guinea’s Transitional President Promises Smooth Transition of Power
Transitional president of Guinea, Mamady Doumbouya has reiterated his vision of a successful transition to his various ministers. He said this during the first meeting of Ministers under the CNRD which took place on Thursday, November 18. At the meeting, the newly appointed transitional prime minister, Mohamed Beavogui said the transition will be done in a “limited time” and this to prepare the foundations for a better Guinea of tomorrow. “We have just completed our first meeting of ministers. On this occasion, the President of the Republic, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya reminded us of the vision of the transition, he urged us to unity, to work, to the spirit of sacrifice, to self-sacrifice so that finally we give Guinea the place it deserves in the concert of nations” explained Mohamed Beavogui. For the Prime Minister, the improvement of the functioning of the administration, the construction of an efficient judiciary and the reform of the economy are the urgent projects that await them. In addition, he said he is aware that his government is not a government of development but of “transformation”. AfricaNews/AFP

Uganda: 21 Suspects Arrested Over Kampala Twin Blasts
Security has announced the arrest of at least 21 people suspected to have participated in the Tuesday twin blasts near the Central Police Station in Kampala and Jubilee building along Parliamentary Avenue in Kampala. According to police spokesperson, following the two explosions, security carried out operations following leads and this led to dismantling of several ADF cells in the country. “We have arrested 21 suspects after dismantling ADF cells in Kampala, Wakiso, Luweero and Ntoroko. These were operatives, coordinators and financers of terrorism activities,” Enanga said. He said the operations were carried out basing on intelligence information and on arrest, the suspects provided information about planning and carrying out bomb attacks in various parts of the country. He noted that the operations led security to ADF terror cells in Mpereerwe, Lweza, Ntoroko and Kasana in Luweero district. … “ADF is widely recruiting and opening recruitment centres all over the country but the joint security agencies will continue to bring perpetuators to justice. Our top priority remains protecting Ugandans Operations we have been handling following the double deadly suicide attacks,” he said. Nile Post News

Uganda Police Kill Five Men after Suicide Bombings, Including Muslim Cleric
Ugandan authorities have killed at least five people, including a Muslim cleric, accused of having ties to the extremist group responsible for Tuesday’s suicide bombings in the capital. Four men were killed in a shootout in a frontier town near the western border with Congo as they tried to cross back into Uganda, police said on Thursday. A fifth man, a cleric named Muhammad Kirevu, was killed in “a violent confrontation” when security forces raided his home outside Kampala, police spokesperson Fred Enanga said. A second cleric, Suleiman Nsubuga, is the subject of a manhunt, he said, accusing the two clerics of radicalising young Muslim men and encouraging them to join underground cells to carry out violent attacks. People extinguish car fires caused by the explosion near the parliamentary building. At least three killed in suicide bomb attacks in Ugandan capital, Kampala. The police raids come after the explosions on Tuesday in which at least four civilians were killed when suicide bombers detonated their explosives at two locations in Kampala. One attack happened near the parliamentary building and the second near a busy police station. The attacks sparked chaos and confusion in the city as well as outpourings of concern from the international community. Guardian

Death Toll from Gunmen Attack in Nigeria’s Northwest Rises to 43
At least 43 people have died following raids by gunmen in Nigeria’s Sokoto state this week, three times more than the initial death toll given by officials, a spokesperson for the state governor said on Wednesday. Although the military is conducting an operation to stamp out a tide of violence by armed gangs known as bandits in the northwest, including a telecoms blackout, the violence and kidnappings have continued. The latest attacks in Sokoto’s Illela town bordering Niger republic town took place from Sunday night into the early hours of Monday morning. The state government had said 13 people were killed while another two were killed in another town east of the state capital. “However, at the time of the governor’s visit Wednesday afternoon the toll has risen to 43,” Muhammad Bello, the governor’s spokesperson said in a statement. In October, gunmen killed at least 43 people in another attack in the state. Armed gangs operating for profit have killed or kidnapped hundreds of people across north-western Nigeria this year. Reuters

SSPDF Soldiers Storm Juba Police Station at Night, Free Detained Colleagues
Soldiers from the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) on Wednesday night stormed a police station in the Lologo suburb of Juba City and forcefully freed four of their colleagues who had been detained for possession of narcotic drugs, the police said. Earlier on Wednesday, the police apprehended and detained four members of the SSPDF with khat (Catha edulis), locally known as mairungi, a stimulant drug. The deputy spokesperson of the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS), Brigadier General James Dak Karlo, told Radio Tamazuj that police did not exchange fire with the soldiers and that the matter has been reported to state security. “The perpetrators are from SSPDF and what happened was that the wrong people came at night and attacked the police station and then took the four perpetrators out of the police cell by force and then they drove away,” Gen. Dak explained. “There was a large quantity of the drugs which was left there at the police station. The good thing is that our people (police) did not exchange fire with them.” Tamazuj

DR Congo Data Leak: Millions Transferred to Joseph Kabila Allies
Companies owned by family and friends of former Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila had millions of dollars of public funds funnelled through their bank accounts, according to Africa’s biggest data leak. The money was transferred to the companies’ accounts at the Congolese arm of the BGFI bank. Millions of dollars in cash were then taken out of the accounts. Mr Kabila was president at the time of the bank transfers. He has declined to respond to our questions over the transfers. The leak included more than three million documents and information on millions of transactions from the BGFI (Banque Gabonaise et Française Internationale) bank, which works in several African countries and France. Online French investigative journal Mediapart and the NGO Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) obtained the information. BBC Africa Eye had access to the evidence, as part of a consortium called Congo Hold-up, co-ordinated by the media network European Investigative Collaborations (EIC). The investigation raises questions about who benefitted from the money transfers and possible conflicts of interests. BBC

US Ends Sanctions against Burundi as Activists Slam Decision
Exiled Burundian lawyer Armel Niyongere, an opposition figure, on Thursday called on the international community and France not to resume cooperation with Burundi, where he said human rights are not respected. “Since Evariste Ndayishimiye, the new president elected in June 2020, took power, there has been a continuous regression: many cases of forced disappearances, torture, assassinations,” the president of the Association of Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) in Burundi told AFP. Sentenced to life imprisonment in his home country, under threat for defending several opponents, Armel Niyongere found refuge in Belgium in 2014. “France and the entire European Union should make the resumption of cooperation conditional on respect for human rights in Burundi,” says Armel Niyongere. … ACAT-Burundi counted 695 cases of killings during Ndayishimiye’s term. And of the 5,000 political prisoners the government promised to release, Niyongere estimates that only 3 to 4,000 have been released. AfricaNews

UN Sounds Alarm on Somalia’s ‘Rapidly Worsening’ Drought
Somalia’s “rapidly worsening” drought has left more than two million people facing severe food and water shortages, the United Nations has warned. The Horn of Africa is now “on the verge of a fourth consecutive failed rainfall season”, according to a joint statement by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Somali government released late on Thursday. “About 2.3 million people in 57 of 74 districts – nearly 20 per cent of the population in the affected districts – are ravaged by serious water, food and pasture shortages as water pans and boreholes have dried up,” the statement said, adding that climate change was one of the main drivers. More than 80 percent of Somalia is estimated to be experiencing severe drought conditions. The dire situation has already forced an estimated 100,000 people to flee their homes in search of food, water and pasture for their livestock. In recent years, natural disasters – not conflict – have been the main driver of displacement in Somalia, a war-torn nation that ranks among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change. Somalia has experienced more than 30 climate-related hazards since 1990, including 12 droughts and 19 floods. Al Jazeera

Madagascar: ‘World Cannot Look Away’ as 1.3 Million Face Severe Hunger
The international community must step up support to Madagascar, where more than one million people in the south are facing severe hunger, the top UN aid official there said on Thursday in a renewed appeal for solidarity and funding. The impacts of the most acute drought in over 40 years, combined with sandstorms and pests, have made it nearly impossible for people in the Grand Sud to grow their own food for at least three years now. “The world cannot look away. People in Madagascar need our support now, and into the future,” said Issa Sanogo, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country. The World Food Programme (WFP) recently warned that the situation in southern Madagascar could become the first-ever famine caused by climate change. The UN and partners launched a $231 million flash appeal this year to cover operations through May 2022. Although nearly $120 million has been received so far, the UN humantarian affairs office, OCHA, said more funding is urgently needed to provide food, water, health services and life-saving nutrition treatment in the months ahead. The drought has left more than 1.3 million people facing severe hunger, including some 30,000 people who are facing life-threatening famine-like conditions. UN News

Malawi Anti-Corruption Body Says Graft Continues Unabated
Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau says official graft continues to rise in the country, with complaints doubling in the past year. ACB Director Martha Chizuma, who took office in May, warns that if the trend continues, Malawi will never reach its development goals. Chizuma was speaking Wednesday at the start of a two-day long national symposium aimed to find strategies of ending corruption in Malawi. She told reporters it is worrying that people entrusted to fight corruption are those allowing it. “Sad to say is that people who have put in positions of public trust and they are ones who are abusing that trust and are committing corrupt acts. The way they are doing it, is quite sophisticated,” said Chizuma. She gave no further details as to which state institutions are committing corrupt acts, or what she meant by the corruption being “sophisticated.” Chizuma said the complaints her bureau receives have almost doubled in the past year. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones