Africa Media Review for October 19, 2016

Boko Haram Overruns Nigerian Military Base in Northeast 
Nigeria’s army says Boko Haram Islamic insurgents have overrun a remote border military camp in the northeast, leaving 13 soldiers wounded and an unknown number missing. Monday’s attack on Gashigar, on the border with Niger, is the third reported direct attack on the military after months of a lull during which the Islamic extremists hit soft civilian targets. Army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman called the attack a “temporary setback” committed by “remnants of Boko Haram” that forced the soldiers to retreat. He says an operation is in progress to find the missing troopers and “clear the Boko Haram terrorists at the general area.” It is believed such attacks are the work of a faction of Boko Haram that calls itself the West Africa Province of the Islamic State. AP on ABC News

Chibok Leader: 100-Plus Girls Unwilling to Leave Boko Haram
Nigeria’s government is negotiating the release of another 83 of the Chibok schoolgirls taken in a mass abduction two-and-a-half years ago, but more than 100 others appear unwilling to leave their Boko Haram Islamic extremist captors, a community leader said Tuesday. The unwilling girls may have been radicalized by Boko Haram or are ashamed to return home because they were forced to marry extremists and have babies, chairman Pogu Bitrus of the Chibok Development Association told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. Bitrus said the 21 Chibok girls freed last week in the first negotiated release between Nigeria’s government and Boko Haram should be educated abroad, because they will probably face stigma in Nigeria. AP on ABC News

Malnutrition Spikes in North Cameroon Amid Boko Haram Conflict
Aid agencies are sounding the alarm about severe food insecurity throughout northern Cameroon as a result of the Boko Haram conflict. This month, 70 children suffering from malnutrition have needed medical attention at the Minawao refugee camp. However, says nurse Irene Mbarga, the hospital has limited resources to treat them. The families are not able to provide enough food, she says, and malnutrition is making other health conditions worse. VOA

Nigerian Ex-minister Arrested in $2.1B Arms Probe
Former Defense Minister Musiliu Obanikoro has been detained by Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency over the misappropriation of $2.1 billion earmarked for the fight against Boko Haram, a spokesman said late Monday. Obanikoro was arrested in capital Abuja after his arrival from the U.S., his spokesman Jonathan Eze said in a statement. He was questioned by officers from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigating the alleged theft of $6.8 billion of public funds by senior officials in ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and People’s Democratic Party. The sum included money intended for the military’s battle with Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria. Anadolu Agency

Somali Troops Battle Al-Shabab Fighters in Afgoye
Intense battles between Somali troops and al-Shabab fighters have broken out in Afgoye, a strategic city about 30km northwest of the capital Mogadishu, according to security sources and witnesses. Tuesday’s clashes started when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle near a police station and an African Union base. Gunmen then stormed the area, attacking military bases. “Fierce fighting is taking place in several bases in Afgoye, one of which came under attack from a booby-trapped car,” Abdulakir Ahmed, a local security official, told AFP news agency. Ahmed later said that at least 10 people, including soldiers and civilians, had been killed by the attackers, who also suffered casualties. Al Jazeera

Where Do Somali Refugees Go When Kenya Shuts Down Camp?
Twenty-eight-year old Nurto Ahmed Abdullahi stands beside the dusty airstrip at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, preparing to board a charter flight to Mogadishu. She is one of tens of thousands who after years of seeking refuge in Kenya are going back to their native Somalia as part of a “voluntary repatriation” program backed by the United Nations and the Kenyan government. But Abdullahi and others say the process is hardly voluntary, and accuse Kenya of forcing refugees back to an unsafe country. Kenya plans to shut the 25-year-old Dadaab refugee camp, which houses nearly 300,000 people, by the end of the year, citing the economic burden and concerns that the camp is a recruiting ground for al-Shabab militants. VOA

Burundi’s President Signs Bill On Withdrawal From The ICC
The president of Burundi has signed legislation to make Burundi the first country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. The presidency said on Twitter on Tuesday that President Pierre Nkurunziza approved the law after it won lawmakers’ support last week. Burundi’s decision to quit the ICC follows a bitter dispute with the international community over the human rights situation in the East African country. More than a year of deadly violence has followed Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to pursue a third term. AP

Burundi’s Vote to Withdraw from War Crimes Court Stirs Concern in The Hague
Burundi’s parliamentary vote last week to leave the International Criminal Court poses “a setback in the fight against impunity,” the court’s governing body said on Tuesday. Burundi’s parliament voted overwhelmingly on Oct. 12 to withdraw from Rome Statute, the 1998 treaty establishing the global court, which would make it the first country to quit. The head of the ICC’s governing body, Sidiki Kaba, said he was concerned that would undermine “efforts towards the objective of universality” and called on Burundi to “engage in a dialogue”. Reuters

South Sudan’s Second City Scorched by Renewed Fighting
This used to be South Sudan’s second largest city, a bustling center on the White Nile River of more than 120 000 people, many employed in the oil fields nearby. Today Malakal is rubble and almost entirely deserted by civilians, a city emptied by three years of civil war and now by new rounds of fighting. Following clashes in the city’s outskirts last week, the army flew in journalists to show that the government retains control of the strategic city, even though rebels still vow to take it. The army said 56 rebels and four government soldiers were killed in the fighting. News 24

The Tribulation of South Sudan Journalists
Journalists in South Sudan continue to endure hard times in the execution of their duties as the government sustains its onslaught on the freedom of the press and expression. Their woes can be traced back to the start of the conflict in 2013. A talk with journalists reveals moving tales of persecution and repression in the form of death threats, kidnapping, harassment, arbitrary arrests, detention and censorship. Mr Denis Dumo, based in Juba, testified that the current cut back on media freedom in South Sudan was connected to the political turmoil in the oil-exporting country. The East African

Egyptian Soldiers, Militants Killed in Sinai Clashes
Six Egyptian soldiers and 12 gunmen were killed during armed clashes in the North Sinai Peninsula on Monday morning. Egyptian security sources told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an that the gunmen, believed to be affiliated with the Sinai Province group, ambushed an armoured army vehicle on the main road to the village of Abu Tawila south of the town of Sheikh Zuweid. An Egyptian captain identified as Abdullah Ali Najib, 28, and four soldiers were killed in the attack, reported Ma’an. Following the attack an Egyptian army commando killed three gunmen. Meanwhile, a lieutenant identified as Mahmoud Faris, 25, was shot dead during clashes with gunmen in the village of Al Muqata south of Sheikh Zuweid. SABC

20 Dead in Pygmy/Bantu Caterpillar Clashes in DRC
At least 20 people have been killed in three days of clashes in southeast DR Congo between Pygmy and Bantu people over a disputed caterpillar collection tax, a local parliamentarian told AFP on Tuesday. Local MP Kalunga Mawazo told AFP on Tuesday that the fighting in Kabalo between Sunday and Tuesday was triggered by a dispute over the caterpillar harvest, a common food staple for the hunter-gatherer people of the Tanganyika region in northern Katanga. “The attacks since Sunday left four (Bantu) Lubas and 16 Pygmies dead in a row over the tax traditionally paid to the Bantus by the Pygmies,” Kalunga said. News 24

Congo Opposition Parties Begin Nationwide Strike Over Elections
Opposition supporters in the Democratic Republic of Congo began a nationwide strike Wednesday, a month after more than 50 people were killed in violent demonstrations demanding President Joseph Kabila leave power. Congo’s main opposition alliance called on students and workers to stay home in the third such protest this year, as it attempts to maintain pressure on Kabila to step down when his second term ends on Dec. 19. At 9 a.m., streets in the center of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, were deserted. A presidential election had been scheduled for November, but has been delayed until November 2018 after a political agreement between the ruling party and group of smaller opposition parties, which will run the prime minister’s office in an interim administration headed by Kabila until the vote can be held. Bloombeg

Kenya’s Escalating White-Collar Crime Situation is ‘Untenable’
Kenya is facing an increased amount of white-collar crime, a situation that’s “untenable,” attorney-general Githu Muigai said. “An unprecedented number of persons have been arraigned in court during the past year to answer charges of economic corruption,” Muigai said at an anti-corruption summit held on Tuesday at the presidency in the capital, Nairobi. As of October, 873 people in East Africa’s biggest economy were facing corruption charges in court, including five former ministers, six principal secretaries, two senators, nine lawmakers, 16 senior county officials and 17 chief executive officers of state-owned companies, director of public prosecutions Keriako Tobiko said at the meeting. Mail and Guardian

France Says Congo Election Delay Not Answer to Crisis
A decision to push back presidential elections in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to 2018 is not the answer to the crisis there and risks fuelling an escalation in violence, French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said. The Constitutional Court in Democratic Republic of Congo said on Monday it had approved a petition by the electoral commission to delay a presidential election set for November, allowing President Joseph Kabila to remain in office until April 2018. “There is only way to get out of the crisis and that is that president does not present himself and arranges elections,” Ayrault told reporters. “Pushing back the election to 2018, an uncertain date is not the solution. There is a real risk of a clash. There is a danger of violent demonstrations and repression,” Ayrault said. Reuters

UN Peacekeeping Chief to Visit Disputed Western Sahara
The U.N. peacekeeping chief said Tuesday he is heading to the disputed Western Sahara later this week to visit U.N. troops for the first time since Morocco expelled more than 70 U.N. civilian staffers in March to protest comments by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Herve Ladsous told a group of reporters after briefing the Security Council that he will visit Layoune, the largest city in Western Sahara, as well as camps for Sahrawi refugees in neighboring Tindouf, Algeria, and the Moroccan capital, Rabat. He will be the highest-ranking U.N. official to visit the region since early March when Ban used the word “occupation” in talking about Morocco’s involvement in Western Sahara during a visit to a refugee camp in Tindouf. That led to demonstrations against Ban in Morocco and the government’s decision to expel U.N. civilian workers. AP on ABC News

The #FeesMustFall Student Protest is Shaking South Africa to Its Core
People around Braamfontein know Father Graham Pugin and his generosity. When he protected Wits University students running away from police in the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, it was his way of supporting the community he cares for so dearly. When police came to the church and tried to force their way in, he stood in front of the church entrance, his hands in the air as a sign that he was unarmed. He was shot in the mouth by a rubber bullet, blood dripping down his white robe. Students rushed from the church to help the man who’d helped them. Soon after images of the incident started to circulate on social media. UN Dispatch

UN Pushes for Action on African Desertification
The UN spoke out strongly about desertification in Africa on Tuesday less than a week after Kenya’s government said 1.3 million citizens were facing starvation in drought-hit regions. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) met for a two-day event in Nairobi and called on the Kenyan government to push for the restoration of five million hectares of degraded land to help fight desertification. Dry spells have caused hardship in the arid and semi-arid lands of northern Kenya. Monique Barbut, UNCCD executive secretary, said: “Every single country should take such a commitment to make sure that by 2030 we are not losing more land than what we are restoring.” Anadolu Agency

Monopoly Tournament in Nigeria Mirrors Chaos of the Real-Life Property Market
The real estate market operates on a buyer-beware system starkly visible across the metropolis, where spray-painted signs on numerous homes shout warnings: “This house is not for sale.” The messages attempt to thwart a longtime con game of scammers selling homes they don’t actually own to unsuspecting buyers. Buyers must also navigate corruption even at official levels. Government workers have long demanded bribes in order to obtain official documents needed for buying property. Even once a deal is done, problems emerge. Armed with machetes, criminal gangs so well established they have a name, omo onile, roam Lagos building sites looking to extort money before allowing construction to begin. Also, the government makes liberal use of eminent domain, regularly seizing property, sometimes with extreme consequences. This month, nearly 33,000 people were evicted from a seaside community in the Lekki suburb of Lagos. Officials razed part of a slum near the city’s main port in 2013, forcing 9,000 people from their homes. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones