Jihadist Bloodshed Brings Burkina Faso To Its Knees

File Photo of gunman, posing for a portrait on an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) of the French Army during the Barkhane operation in northern Burkina Faso on November 12, 2019.
MICHELE CATTANI / AFP

 

 

Little more than five years ago, Burkina Faso was on the up, priding itself as a favoured tourist destination for well-heeled Europeans.

Today, the country seems to be visibly sinking, battered by a jihadist revolt that has swept in from neighbouring Mali, rolled into Niger and cast a shadow on the countries to the south.

More than 1,650 civilians and soldiers have died since 2015, according to a local monitoring group, the Observatory for Democracy and Human Rights (ODDH) — a  figure that some say is probably just a fraction of the real tally.

Nearly a million people have fled their homes and nowhere in the country rates as safe, under travel recommendations issued by Western governments.

The country, one of the poorest in the world, is scarred by stories of tragedy.

“My wife was killed in an attack in Arbinda in December, leaving a two-year-old baby,” said Aly Sidibe, a 42-year-old former herder displaced in the northern city of Kaya.

“The child is in Ouagadougou. He is being taken care of by social services.”

Sidibe said he had lost his entire herd.

“I had more than 50 cattle. I don’t even have a sheep anymore,” he said.

– ‘Lazy king’ –
Burkina Faso lies in the heart of the Sahel, whose leaders have joined a French-backed effort to roll back jihadism in the vast semi-desert region.

President Emmanuel Macron will join his five allies in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott on Tuesday to debate the state of the campaign.

Burkinabe General Moise Miningou, speaking to AFP, hit out at perceptions that the armed forces were failing.

“People who talk like that do not know the real situation,” he said, pointing to a strategy of “liberating axes (and) securing populations.”

“(…) The battle is hard but we will shortly get results,” he said, noting that the country would have five operational combat helicopters by the end of the year.

Security sources say the armed forces have been a casualty of Burkina’s political turmoil.

For several years, Burkina Faso seemed immune to jihadist attacks — the result, according to some analysts, of a secret deal between the then president, Blaise Compaore, and militant groups.

After Compaore was ousted in 2014, the armed forces were essentially muzzled, deprived of funding, equipment and training, according to the sources.

The transitional government that took over and the government of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, who took power in 2015, were afraid of coups.

“We had an army without weapons, an army without ammunition and not trained at all,” said one source.

As the jihadist attacks mounted from 2015, the security forces became overwhelmed, said Mahamoudou Savadogo, a Burkinabe researcher specialising in armed Islamism.

“The army was never equipped, and there was never an appropriate strategy,” Savadogo said.

As a result the armed forces went from defeat to defeat, sometimes masking shortcomings with announcements of spectacular victories.

In the long term, the territory over which the state exercises its authority is shrinking and the army, police, teachers and administration are absent from whole swathes of the country.

Some say Kabore has done little to quell the relentless jihadist attacks.

“He’s a kind of lazy king who holds more and more audiences and listens in his chair without making any decisions,” a diplomatic source in Abidjan said.

– Cycle of retribution –
Savadogo said the void left by the state has been filled by inter-communal violence.

He pointed to the clashes between the Mossi and Fulani — an ethnic herder group, also called Peuls, who are accused by other communities of complicity with the jihadists — as the example of a vicious circle.

“The Mossi abuses in retaliation for the actions of armed terrorist groups have practically pushed young Fulani to join jihadism. They really have no other choice if they want to survive, but also to take revenge,” he said.

Exacerbating inter-communal tensions is a recurrent strategy of jihadist groups throughout the Sahel, according to a French security source.

These groups also seek to appeal to the aspirations of populations abandoned by the state. They have threatened holders of hunting concessions and mining sites, often granted by corrupt state officials, and then offer the hunting and gold-panning areas to locals in the north and east.

Drissa Traore, a teacher and political analyst, said Kabore’s lavish promises on security are unlikely to impress the public, many of whom are likely to see it as a campaign pitch ahead of presidential elections due in November.

“Their worries are elsewhere. Water, gas, food, everything is lacking… Even when these products are available, the prices are tripled or quadrupled,” Traore added.

The security crisis may deprive entire areas of the country from taking part in the vote, which could lead to a skewed or disputed result.

“Despite a disastrous record, the ruling party will win, because the opposition has no leader. We run the risk of even more tension,” predicted Savadogo. “We’re going to sink even further.”

 

 

-AFP

Four Children, Nine Others Test Positive For COVID-19 

Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello

 

Niger State has recorded 13 new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Among them is a five-year-old boy.

In the official report released by the State Task Force on COVID-19 on Wednesday, three other children aged eight, twelve and fifteen are also confirmed positive.

All the 13 new cases are said to be from Chanchanga Local Government Area of the state.

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The new figure is the highest daily confirmed cases from the state since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The chairman of the State COVID-19 Task Force, Ibrahim Matane has however affirmed the determination of the government to curtail the spread of the virus.

Police Arrest Fake Inspector, Suspected Fraudsters In Niger

A file photo of a police van.

 

The police in Niger State have arrested a fake Inspector accused of mounting illegal checkpoints during the lockdown days in the state.

This was confirmed to Channels Television on Wednesday by the Public Relations Officer of the State Police Command, Abiodun Wasiu.

According to Wasiu, the 45-year-old suspect who hails from Kaduna State was a former sergeant in the police before he was dismissed in February 2019 at Sabon Tasha Division, Kaduna State Command.

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The police spokesman said the suspect arranged with others who are at large and extorted unsuspecting members of the public via the illegal checkpoints.

Similarly, the police also paraded two suspected fraudsters who specialise in defrauding people at the Automated Teller Machine at the bank areas.

According to the police, the fraudsters pretended to render assistance to the unsuspecting public, thus end up withdrawing their victim’s money.

Niger Governor Eases Lockdown, Directs Markets, Banks To Open

A file photo of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.

 

 

Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has ordered the easing of the lockdown and other measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

While briefing reporters on Tuesday at the Government House in Minna, he directed markets, banks and other places of business activities to reopen, but with strict adherence to all safety measures.

The governor, however, stated that there would be strict enforcement of the compulsory use of face masks in public places and adherence to physical distancing.

He also asked the police and other security agencies to arrest and prosecute persons not wearing face masks in public places.

Governor Bello explained that the government took the decision to relax the lockdown after reviewing its strategies and assessment of the current realities.

He revealed that the state Ministry of Education has been directed to liaise with all stakeholders in the educational sector to develop a workable strategy for the reopening of schools in the state.

The governor asked all civil servants to remain at home except those on essential services and thanked the people of the state, especially frontline workers for their effort in the fight against COVID-19.

Read the full text of the governor’s briefing below:

MEDIA BRIEFING BY ALHAJI   (DR.)   ABUBAKAR SANI BELLO,   GOVERNOR, NIGER   STATE AND CHAIRMAN NORTH-CENTRAL GOVERNORS FORUM ON EASING OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN   IN   NIGER   STATE AT THE   GOVERNMENT HOUSE,   MINNA; TUESDAY 9TH JUNE 2020.

PROTOCOLS:

Once again I thank all Nigerlites, particularly the frontline workers who have been making sacrifices for the containment of COVID-19. We, in our different roles, we have all demonstrated our commitment to the collective wellbeing of all, even in the face of outright discomfort.

As at today, the state has recorded 46 cases of COVID-19 and one death, out of which 26 of them have been discharged and reunited with their families. This represents more than half of the cases we have had to manage.

All confirmed cases so far are limited to nine LGAs of Chanchaga, Suleja, Rafi, Bida, Shiroro, Borgu, Bosso, Mariga, and Kontagora.

However, we have established additional quarantine centres in Minna and Suleja to cater for humane repatriation of Almajirai to reunite with their families and curtail the chances of contracting the virus and its spread.

After reviewing our strategies and assessment of the current realities, the following guidelines shall be used going forward:

All measures earlier put in place shall be eased – nonetheless,   there shall be enhanced enforcement of the compulsory use of facemask in public places and adherence to Physical distancing;

Henceforth, markets, banks and other places of business activities should be opened with strict adherence to all safety measures;

There shall be no more lockdown days, hence restriction of movement shall be from 10pm to 4am;

The ban on inter-state travels except for the movement of agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods and essential services will remain in force;

All intra-state travels are to be eased and the internal security checkpoints should be dismantled;

The ban on commercial motorcycle operators shall remain;

Public motor parks and other public transportation centres must continue to abide by the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Transport for their operations;

State government to support IBB University to establish a testing centre to include antibody and antigen tests.

Police and other security agencies to arrest and prosecute anyone not wearing face masks in public places within the state;

The State Ministry of Education is directed to liaise with all stakeholders in the educational sector towards developing a workable strategy for the reopening of our schools;

All civil servants are to remain at home except those on essential services.

 

We are redoubling our efforts to operationalize a molecular testing laboratory at General   Hospital Minna, to increase our testing capacity and reduce the turnaround time for the release of results.

Our surveillance systems are being enhanced to quickly detect any case of coronavirus including investigation, monitoring and management of positive cases.

As we strengthen our sensitization efforts to improve case search within our communities to mitigate against community transmission among others, I wish to call on our traditional leaders, religious clerics, market associations, transport unions, youth groups, NGOs, CBOs, to deepen community outreach so that collectively we will curtail this pandemic.

While we continue to do our part, I appeal to everyone to continue to adhere to personal hygiene procedures as well as other precautionary measures.

Thank you all and stay safe.

Gana Narrowly Escaped Death With Gunshot Wounds – Military

A file photo of soldiers travelling in a truck.

 

 

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) says wanted notorious criminal suspect, Terwase Akwaza, popularly known as Gana, has been injured.

Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.

According to him, was injured in a special operation conducted by troops on Saturday at Mtan village in Utenge Council Ward of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State.

Enenche noted that a combined team of troops of Operation Whirl Stroke Special Forces of Sector 2 deployed in Gbise and Zaki Biam in Benue State, as well as those from Sector 4 in Taraba State, carried out a raid operation on Gana’s hideout.

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“Two of the gang members were neutralised and others fled with various degrees of gunshot wounds.

“Exploitation revealed that Gana narrowly escaped death with gunshot wounds,” he said in the statement.

A file photo of wanted notorious criminal suspect, Terwase Akwaza, popularly known as Gana.

 

The major general said troops recovered some items such as one locally fabricated machine gun, six locally-made rifles, two locally fabricated cartridge guns, and one Dane gun, among others.

He added that Gana’s personal belongings, other items, and thatched houses in the areas were destroyed by the soldiers.

In another development, the DHQ spokesman revealed that troops of Sector 3 deployed at Ondori in Doma LGA of Nasarawa State raided the camp of a group of Bassa armed militia said to be planning to attack some Tiv villages over land disputes.

He noted that seven members of the Bassa militia, dressed in red shirts, were arrested in the camp.

Enenche said the soldiers recovered some weapons from the camp while the suspects were being interrogated and would be handed over to the police thereafter.

Seven Almajirai Test Positive For COVID-19 In Niger State As First Patient Dies

A map showing Niger state.
A map showing Niger state.

 

At least seven Almajiri returnees from Kaduna have tested positive for COVID-19 in Niger state.

The State Commissioner for Health and Hospital Services, Dr Muhammad Makusidi, disclosed this on Saturday.

He also said the state has recorded its first COVID-19 death, a 40-year-old diabetic taxi driver plying the Suleja-Abuja route.

The deceased had given up shortly on arrival at the Suleja General Hospital.

The Commissioner said a postmortem sample was taken for test and it returned positive, stressing that contact tracing will commence with immediate effect.

So far, Niger state has recorded a total of 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases as on Saturday evening.

Makusidi, on Saturday, revealed that eight new cases had been confirmed after the state sent 22 samples for testing to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Of those eight, seven are Almajiri returnees from Zaria, Kaduna state.

A number of Almajiri children have tested positive for the virus even as Northern state governments seek to return them to their parents amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Gambari Is A Seasoned Scholar, Niger Governor Lauds Appointment

File photo of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.

 

The Niger State Governor and Chairman of the North-Central Governors’ Forum, Abubakar Bello has commended the appointment of the new Chief of Staff (CoS) to President Muhammadu, Ibrahim Gambari, describing him as a seasoned scholar.

Governor Bello said the appointment of Professor Gambari is laudable considering the fact that he is a seasoned scholar and experienced diplomat.

In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mrs. Mary Noel Berje, the Governor expressed hope that the new Chief of Staff will bring his wealth of experience to bear to ensure growth and development across the country.

“I urge you to take up the new task with all sense of responsibility and be assured of our support. Your appointment as the Chief of Staff to our dear President was received with joy.”

Governor Sani Bello enjoined Professor Gambari to discharge his duties without fear or favour and prayed to God to grant him the wisdom needed to pilot the Affairs of the new office.

He urged the new CoS to carry everyone along and assured him of the support of Governors in the North-central geopolitical zone as well as the government of Niger State.

The new CoS has served the country in various capacities in the past. He was Minister of External Affairs in Nigeria (1984-1985) and subsequently Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations (1990-1999).

Professor Gambari also served as Joint AU/UN Special Representative in Darfur and Head of UNAMID (2010-2012).

Before his present appointment, Prof Gambari is the Chairperson of the Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

23,000 Refugees Flee Into Niger Over Violence In North West Of Nigeria – UN

File photo: IDP cams in the north of Nigeria.

 

 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that an estimated 23,000 persons in the northwestern part of Nigeria, have been forced to seek safety and security in Niger in the last one month (April) due to the violence in the region.

According to a statement issued by the UNHCR on Tuesday, this takes the total number of refugees fleeing that part of the country to take sanctuary in neighbouring Niger, to more than 60,000 since the first influx, in April last year.

“Since April 2019, people have fled relentless attacks by armed groups in the Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states of Nigeria. Most found refuge in Niger’s Maradi region,” the statement read.

“Fearing and fleeing the same insecurity in the border areas, an additional 19,000 Niger nationals have become displaced inside their own country”.

The UNHCR further explained that the latest influx of refugees, which involves mainly desperate women and children, follows attacks in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states during the month of April.

“Several villages in several Local Government Areas were attacked by gunmen.

“The deadliest attack claimed 47 lives in Kankara, Danmusa and Dusi-ma Local Government Areas in Katsina State and prompted airstrikes by the Nigerian Armed Forces,” the statement added.

According to the UNHCR, those fleeing speak of extreme violence unleashed against civilians, murders, kidnappings for ransom and pillaging and looting of villages and despite border closures due to COVID-19,  they are still being allowed to seek protection in Niger.

Meanwhile, there’s now an urgent need for water, food and access to health services, as well as shelter and clothing.

But the agency says it is working closely with authorities in Niger to relocate at least 7,000 refugees to safety, in villages 20 kilometres away from the border, where water, food, shelter, access to health and other essential assistance can be provided.

This, according to them, will also ease the pressure on host communities in border areas, where basic infrastructure and services are lacking.

Niger Governor Bello Pardons 46 Inmates

File photo of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.

 

Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello has granted pardon to 46 inmates across the various Correctional Centres in the State.

This was confirmed in a statement issued by the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Niger State, Barrister Nasara Dan-Mallam who is also the Chairman of the State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy.

According to him, the release of the inmates was as a result of Presidential recommendation that governors should consider grant of pardon to deserving inmates with a view to decongesting the prisons.

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Dan-Mallam disclosed that the pardoned inmates were considered for release based on the recommendation of the State Advisory Council on the prerogative of mercy with due consideration to old age, ill-health, convicts serving three years and above with less than six months to serve among several others.

He appealed to the released inmates to make use of their freedom by engaging in useful ventures and shun any act that could lead them to crime.

“Government wants you to be good citizens for the socio-economic and political development of Niger State in particular and Nigeria as a whole,” he stated.

Niger Records Third COVID-19 Case

File photo of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.

 

Niger State has recorded its third case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The state Commissioner for Health and Hospital Services, Dr Muhammad Makusidi, made this known on Friday.

Dr Makusidi explained that the patient who is over 30 years was driving from Lagos to Kano through Minna, the Niger State capital when he was stopped.

He was held for flouting the state COVID-19 Movement Restriction Order.

The driver was subsequently tried by the mobile court and quarantined, and his sample was taken to Abuja for test and he turned out to be positive.

Dr Makuside said the patient who was at the quarantine centre in Minna would immediately be moved to Isolation centre at the Minna General Hospital for treatment.

According to him, the patient has no contact in the state as he was only passing-by to his destination in Kano State.

Meanwhile, the state government has intercepted three vehicles carrying 43 passengers heading to Kuta in Shiroro Local Government, adding that they were tried at the mobile court and repatriated back to their state.

COVID-19: Niger Govt Praises Workers, Calls For Safety Measures

File photo of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.

 

Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has called on civil servants and the organised labour to abide by the safety measures put in place by health professionals and the government orders aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 as they mark May Day celebration.

In a statement issued on Friday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Berje, the governor commended the organised labour for their understanding with the government at this trying period.

The governor said he is optimistic that the world would soon overcome the pandemic and life would return to normalcy.

Governor Bello urged them to avoid contracting and spreading the virus, while also maintaining the practice of personal hygiene.

He described civil Servants as pivotal to the success of the policy implementation of his administration adding that, when the civil service is properly positioned, every aspect of government runs smoothly.

“The impact of the government’s policies and programmes on the citizens is determined by whether they have been implemented excellently or shoddily. This, in turn, depends on the efficiency and effectiveness of the civil service,” the governor said.

He also assured the workers of his administration’s commitment to give priority to their welfare and development for optimal performance, promising that conducive atmosphere will continue to be provided for the private sector to thrive as they have been adding value to the state.

Niger Extends COVID-19 Lockdown By Two Weeks

File photo of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.

 

The Niger State Government has extended the COVID-19 lockdown in the state by another two weeks to curtail the spread of the virus.

Governor Abubakar Bello made the declaration on Monday at the Government House in Minna, the state capital.

According to him, there will however be relaxed conditions including allowing people to move within their premises and business owners to operate within the neighbourhood.

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The governor noted that the ban on inter and intrastate travels still remains, as well as the compulsory use of face mask by citizens outside their homes.

Governor Bello explained that the focus of the new lockdown order is to ensure the confinement of coronavirus within the local government.