Tuesday, 21 November 2017

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At least 50 people were killed on Tuesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a mosque in northeast Nigeria, police said, in an attack blamed on Boko Haram jihadists.

The blast happened during early morning prayers at the Madina mosque in the Unguwar Shuwa area of Mubi, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) by road from the Adamawa state capital, Yola.

“So far we have at least 50 dead from an attack at a mosque in Mubi,” Adamawa state police spokesman Othman Abubakar told AFP.

“Several people were injured. We don’t have the figure now because they have been taken to several hospitals for treatment.

“It was a (suicide) bomber who mingled with worshippers. He entered the mosque along with other worshippers for the morning prayers.

“It was when the prayers were on that he set off his explosives.”

Asked who was responsible, Abubakar said: “We all know the trend. We don’t suspect anyone specifically but we know those behind such kind of attacks.”

The attack bore all the hallmarks of Boko Haram, the Islamist militants whose insurgency has left at least 20,000 people dead and more than 2.6 million others homeless since 2009.

Haruna Furo, head of the Adamawa state emergency management agency, and Musa Hamad Bello, chairman of the Mubi north local government area, both confirmed the attack.

They gave lower death tolls but both said the number of those killed was likely to rise.

Another emergency services official described the blast as “devastating”. He said only that there were “high casualties”.

Roof blown off
Abubakar Sule, who lives near the mosque, said he had just returned home when he heard the blast.

“I was there when the rescue was on and 40 people died on the spot and several others were taken to hospital with severe and life-threatening injuries,” he added.

“The roof was blown off. People near the mosque said the prayer was mid-way when the bomber, who was obviously in the congregation, detonated his explosives.

“This is obviously the work of Boko Haram.”

Boko Haram briefly overran Mubi in late 2014 as its fighters rampaged across northeastern Nigeria, seizing towns and villages in its quest to establish a hardline Islamic state.

The town’s name was changed temporarily to Madinatul Islam, or “City of Islam” in Arabic, during the Boko Haram occupation.

But it has been peaceful since the military and the civilian militia ousted them from the town, which is a commercial hub and home to the Adamawa State University.

In recent months, Boko Haram activity has been concentrated on the far north of Adamawa state, around Madagali, which is near the border with neighbouring Borno state.

Earlier this month, at least two civilians were killed when dozens of Boko Haram fighters tried to storm the town of Gulak but were repelled by soldiers.

There have been repeated suicide bombings in the area, which lies not far from the Sambisa Forest area of Borno, where the militants had a base.

Boko Haram fighters are also said to be hiding in the Mandara mountains, to the east of Adamawa state, which forms the border with neighbouring Cameroon.

Posted On Tuesday, 21 November 2017 14:26 Written by

The Federal Government has floated the much awaited US$3 billion dual series bond to fund approved budgetary expenditures.

A statement from the Federal Ministry of Finance yesterday quoted Minister  Kemi Adeosun as saying that “the government would utilise the proceeds of the Notes in funding the approved budgetary expenditures and for refinancing of domestic debt, as may be applicable.”

According to Mrs. Adeosun, the Notes represent Nigeria’s fourth Eurobond issuance, following issuances in 2011, 2013 (two series) and earlier in 2017.

She noted: “Nigeria is implementing an ambitious economic reform agenda designed to deliver long-term sustainable growth and reduce reliance on oil and gas revenues while reducing waste and improving the efficiency of government expenditure.

“Our economy is beginning to recover, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) having returned to growth in 2017, but we must maintain the momentum behind our investments in order to further drive growth. That is why we are, and will continue to focus investment on the enabling infrastructure we need to broaden economic productivity.

“Successfully extending out debt profile in the international market to 30 years is a key element of that strategy as it establishes a basis for the longer term financing required for transformational infrastructure investment.

“As we have always stated we are progressively replacing debt with revenue, which is reflected in the 2018 Budget proposal. We are establishing the building blocks for inclusive growth and beginning to see the results of the hard decisions that have been made to reset our economy appropriately.”

The aggregate principal amount of the dual series bond is being offered notes under the Federal Government’s US$4.5 billion Global Medium Term Note programme (increased from US$1.5 billion).

The Notes comprise a US$1.5 billion 10-year series and a US$1.5 billion 30-year series.

The Ministry of Finance said “the 10-year series will bear interest at a rate of 6.5%, while the 30-year series will bear interest at a rate of 7.625%, which will be repayable with a bullet repayment of the principal on maturity.

The statement said “the offering, which attracted significant interests from leading global institutional investors, is expected to be closed on or about 28 November, 2017, subject to the satisfaction of various customary closing conditions.”

When issued, the Notes will be admitted to the official list of the UK Listing Authority and available to trade on the London Stock Exchange’s regulated market.

Nigeria may apply for the Notes to be eligible for trading and listed on the Nigerian FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange and the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

The pricing was determined following a roadshow led by Mrs. Adeosun; the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele; Debt Management Office (DMO) Director-General Ms. Patience Oniha, and the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze.

Commenting on the Notes’ pricing, the DMO Director-General Patience Oniha said: “With the successful pricing of our 4th Eurobond, Nigeria has become one of the few African issuers whose securities have attracted strong investor interest amongst institutional investors across the globe.

“This time, Nigeria issued a new 10-year bond at a yield of 6.500% and a 30-year benchmark, priced at a yield of 7.625%, which despite the longer tenure remains cheaper than our 15-year issuance earlier this year.

“The 30-year is a landmark as the tenor represents the first by a sub-Saharan country other than South Africa and importantly establishes the basis for long term infrastructure funding, which is a priority for this government.”

Oniha expressed satisfaction with international investors’ recognition of Nigeria’s huge potential.

“Perhaps even more important is that with this dual tranche issuance the objective of reducing the cost of government borrowing has been achieved,” she added.

Posted On Monday, 20 November 2017 23:31 Written by

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party will launch the parliamentary process on Tuesday for impeaching President Robert Mugabe, a government lawmaker told AFP.

The decision on Monday came after Mugabe missed a deadline to resign given to him by his party over the weekend.

Once a simple majority of parliamentarians vote for impeachment, an investigative committee is formed by lawmakers, who report back to both houses of parliament. Each house must then vote by a two-thirds majority for him to be stripped of office.

“We are expecting the motion to be over (Tuesday),” said ZANU-PF lawmaker Paul Mangwana, referring to the initial procedure to commence impeachment proceedings.

He added that ZANU-PF had approached the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to seek their cooperation to pass the necessary parliamentary votes.

In a televised address late Sunday, the 93-year-old veteran leader defied expectations he would quit, pitching the country into a second week of political crisis.

The speech provoked anger and disbelief among many Zimbabweans, fuelling concerns that Mugabe could face a violent backlash.

Zimbabwe’s crisis erupted on November 13 after a factional squabble over the presidential succession erupted into the open prompting the army to seize power.

Posted On Monday, 20 November 2017 17:51 Written by

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has made his first public appearance since the army took over on Wednesday.

He attended a graduation ceremony in the capital, Harare, handing out degrees.

Mr Mugabe had been under house arrest for days. The army made its move after a power struggle over his successor.

The military said on Friday it was "engaging" with Mr Mugabe and would advise the public on the outcome of talks "as soon as possible".

Meanwhile Christopher Mutsvangwa - the leader of the influential war veterans' association, once loyal to Mr Mugabe - said he should step down at once.

He called for a huge turnout in street protests on Saturday.

"We want to restore our pride and tomorrow is the day... we can finish the job which the army started," Mr Mutsvangwa said.

"There's no going back about Mugabe. He must leave."

Liberal groups opposed to the president have also backed the rally.

The leader of last year's #Thisflag protests, Evans Mwarire, urged people to turn up.

President Mugabe at graduation ceremony - 17 NovemberImage copyrightAFP
Mr Mugabe is chancellor at the Open University

Mr Mugabe's attendance at the graduation is an annual tradition but he was not expected this year.

BBC Online Africa editor Joseph Winter says he was allowed to be there partly to keep up the pretence that the military have not staged a coup and partly because of a genuine, deeply felt respect for him going back more than 40 years.

Mr Mugabe walked slowly up a red carpet and joined the crowd in singing the national anthem, then opened the graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe's Open University, where he is chancellor.

One of the people he conferred a degree upon was Marry Chiwenga, the wife of the general who detained him on Wednesday, the state broadcaster reports.

Neither the 93-year-old president's wife, Grace Mugabe, nor Education Minister Jonathan Moyo - an ally of hers whose house was reportedly raided by the military - were present.

The army acted after Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.

Mr Mnangagwa was seen as a potential successor and his sacking was supposed to have paved the way for Grace Mugabe - who is four decades younger than him - to take over the presidency instead.

Posted On Friday, 17 November 2017 17:31 Written by

Zimbabwe's military has placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest in the capital Harare, South African President Jacob Zuma says.

Mr Mugabe told Mr Zuma in a phone call that he was fine, the South African leader's office said.

Troops are patrolling the capital, Harare, after they seized state TV and said they were targeting "criminals".

The move may be a bid to replace Mr Mugabe with his sacked deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, BBC correspondents say.

Mr Mnangagwa's dismissal last week left Mr Mugabe's wife Grace as the president's likely successor.

Heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of Harare early on Wednesday.

Mr Mugabe, 93, has dominated the impoverished country's political scene since it gained independence from the UK in 1980.

The UK Foreign Office advised Britons "currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer", while the US embassy in Harare advised US citizens in Zimbabwe to "shelter in place" until further notice.

China, Zimbabwe's biggest trading partner, says it is closely watching the situation and hopes that the relevant parties can properly handle their internal affairs.

 

What do we know of Mr Mugabe's situation?

The firing heard during the early morning came from Harare's northern suburbs, where Mr Mugabe and a number of government officials live, the BBC's Shingai Nyoka reports from Harare.

In a statement, Mr Zuma's office said: "President Zuma spoke to President Robert Mugabe earlier today who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine."

Young women walk past an armoured personnel carrier in Harare, 15 NovemberImage copyrightAFP
Troops are patrolling Harare

Special envoys from the Southern African Development Community would be sent to Zimbabwe, he added.

A Zimbabwean army officer, Major General Sibusiso Moyo, went on TV after the takeover to say Mr Mugabe and his family were "safe and sound and their security is guaranteed".

 

How did the military justify its move?

"We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes... that are causing social and economic suffering in the country," Maj Gen Moyo said, reading out a statement.

 
Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo read out a statement on national TV early on Wednesday

"As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy."

Maj Gen Moyo also called on the security services to co-operate "for the good" of the country and warned that any provocation would "be met with an appropriate response".

It is not clear who is leading the military action.

Army chief Gen Constantino Chiwenga, who visited China last week, said on Monday the army was prepared to act to end purges within the ruling Zanu-PF party.

In Harare, some people greeted the news with delight. "We are going to have a good life, we are looking forward to Christmas, because of what has happened," one woman told BBC News.

"I want to thank the general for removing this tyrant," said a man. "He was ruling the country as if it belonged to his family."

Posted On Wednesday, 15 November 2017 13:35 Written by

Senegal on Friday sealed a return to the FIFA World Cup for the first time since their 2002 debut thanks to a 2-0 win over South Africa in World Cup qualifying African Group D.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Diafra Sakho scored the opener for the visitors in Polokwane, before a somewhat fortuitous Thamsanqa Mkhize own goal sealed the three points for the Teranga Lions.

The visitors are now five points ahead of nearest Group D challengers Burkina Faso with one game remaining.

Senegal stunned the world by beating World Cup holders France in their first ever game at the global finals in 2002.

If they are to produce performances to match that at Russia 2018, it is likely that Liverpool’s Sadio Mane will be the catalyst.

Unsurprisingly, Mane was integral to the victory that booked their World Cup return, with a wonderfully incisive through ball teeing up Sakho for the opener.

2010 World Cup hosts South Africa played their part – and even dominated possession for spells – in a lively match, with Lebogang Manyama hitting the crossbar.

But the second goal, just before half-time, knocked the wind out of their sails.

Head coach Aliou Cisse was the Senegalese captain during their 2002 debut, which saw them follow up that remarkable opening win against France to reach the quarter-finals.

The former midfielder will be hoping he can inspire them to achieve similarly superlative heights next year in Russia. (NAN)

Posted On Friday, 10 November 2017 21:30 Written by

The UN mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) released rebel fighters accused of shooting a UN peacekeeper, confidential documents seen by the BBC show.

The two men were handed back to their commander in 2015 despite injuring the UN peacekeeper - a war crime under international law.

Because the incident happened shortly before crucial elections, UN officials chose to "appease the electoral process" by "set[ing] the alleged war criminals free, handing them over", a UN report says.

This revelation is the latest blow for a peacekeeping mission beset by problems.

'This cannot go unpunished'

The incident itself took place in December 2015.

Four rebel soldiers belonging to a mainly Muslim militia, Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) which translates as the Union for Peace in CAR, approached a UN checkpoint on motorcycles in the central town of Galaboroma.

A peacekeeper asked them to stop and told them to put their hands above their heads for a search. But instead, two of the men took out weapons and aimed at the UN troops, a confidential investigative report reveals.

UN soldiers shot back, killing a rebel named Junior and injuring another.

The remaining two rebels were arrested and transferred to the battalion headquarters in the nearby mining town of Bambari. The detained men had allegedly injured one of the UN peacekeepers.

Following a previous attack against civilians and UN peacekeepers, the UN mission in CAR, known as Minusca, said: "Any attack targeting the civilian population, UN and humanitarian personnel is a war crime that can be prosecuted in accordance with Central African law and international law."

For its part, the UPC denied that its troops had attacked the UN peacekeepers. "It's false," said UPC spokesman Souleymane Daouda.

But the UN's top official in Bambari at the time, Zlatko Bars-Dimitroff, recommended an "immediate transfer" of the rebels to Bangui for a "proper investigation" by local judicial authorities.

For the next 14 days, a flurry of emails between senior UN and CAR officials decided the fate of the two rebels - Rodolphe Sombo-Igain and Ilyassa Ibrahim.

'They effectively let them go'

"Kindly convey to UPC leadership that by taking such reckless actions their elements have committed a serious crime which cannot go unpunished," Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR, known as Minusca, wrote in an email obtained by the BBC.

"UPC would receive a strong message that attacks against Minusca [the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR] will have consequences (no impunity)," Mr Bars-Dimitroff wrote in agreement.

Yet, in order to "appease the electoral process in Ouaka Region, UN authorities decided to set the alleged war criminals free, handing them over to local UPC leader Ali Darassa," the confidential UN report says.

 
Fergal Keane visits Bambari - where UN peacekeepers separate two rival warlords.

Human Rights Watch has documented multiple war crimes committed by Mr Darassa and his faction, one of the major rebel groups fighting for control of the country's resource-rich central region.

Technically, the two rebel soldiers were released on "liberté provisoire", (provisional freedom) and effectively means the court can still investigate the suspect while that person is free from detention.

But "releasing someone on 'liberté provisoire' in the current context, is effectively just letting them go," explained Human Rights Watch researcher Lewis Mudge.

Posted On Friday, 10 November 2017 05:13 Written by

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday traced N500m to the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada.

The money was said to be part of the N23bn allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, through the then Director of Finance of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman.

It was learnt that Wada arrived the EFCC office around 12pm and was still in custody around 9pm.

Posted On Monday, 06 November 2017 23:31 Written by

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata condemned Jose Mourinho to another damaging defeat against his former club as the champions clinched a crucial 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.

Morata rewarded an enterprising display from Antonio Conte’s side when the Spain striker headed home early in the second half at Stamford Bridge.

After losing twice at Chelsea in his first season as United boss, Mourinho, who won three English titles in two spells with the Blues, is growing accustomed to leaving west London empty-handed.

This was an especially painful setback for Mourinho as a second defeat in their last three Premier League games leaves second-placed United lagging eight points behind leaders Manchester City.

United haven’t won at Chelsea since October 2012, a barren run that now stretches to eight matches.

While Mourinho licks his wounds, Chelsea manager Conte can take heart from a vibrant performance that keeps his fourth-placed team nine points behind City.

Amid talk Conte was in danger of losing the support of his players over his intense training regime, Chelsea’s third successive league win was well timed for the Italian in the week when demanding Blues owner Roman Abramovich made one of his ominous visits to the training ground.

Having reportedly torn into his players during a lengthy inquest into Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at Roma, Conte wielded the axe as David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger were dropped.

Just as significantly, France midfielder N’Golo Kante returned to provide his steadying influence after missing six games with a hamstring injury.

In need of a fast start to set the tone, Chelsea thought they’d taken the lead when Marcos Alonso’s cross was turned into his own net by United defender Phil Jones, only for referee Anthony Taylor to disallow the goal for a push by Morata.

United should have been ahead themselves moments later when Ashley Young’s cross exposed early fault lines in Conte’s revamped defence, but the unmarked Marcus Rashford headed over from close range.

Tiemoue Bakayoko was equally profligate at the other end, the Chelsea midfielder firing wide from Davide Zappacosta’s cross.

Without a goal in his last six appearances, United striker Romelu Lukaku was searching for the blistering form that followed his pre-season move from Everton.

But the Belgian was largely anonymous and even when he turned on the edge of the Chelsea area for a low shot, Thibaut Courtois was able to push it away.

Rough treatment
Eden Hazard led the Chelsea response with a stinging 25-yard strike, forcing David De Gea into an agile stop.

Mourinho has been criticised for adopting a cautious gameplan in big matches recently and, while he seemed more willing to let United go forward this time, he must have been furious with the way Chelsea were slicing open his defence.

Andreas Christensen should have punished more slack United marking when he headed over from a Fabregas corner, before Conte finished the half raging at the officials after Antonio Valencia barged over Hazard.

Hazard came in for more rough treatment after the interval, with Jones and Ander Herrara both booked for fouling the Chelsea playmaker.

Hazard could have exacted immediate revenge when he found himself with just De Gea to beat from close range, but the Belgian’s hurried shot was easy for the United keeper.

Hazard didn’t need to rue that miss as Chelsea’s pressure was rewarded in the 55th minute.

United had only themselves to blame as Cesar Azpilicueta was allowed to advance unchecked down the right before whipping his cross towards Morata.

Left untouched by the flat-footed Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly, Morata had time and space to bury his header past De Gea for his first goal in seven games.

Mourinho sent on Anthony Martial and Marouane Fellaini, yet there was little threat from United until Fellaini squandered their last chance, shooting straight at Courtois in the closing minutes.

Posted On Monday, 06 November 2017 00:06 Written by

Liberia's Supreme Court has ordered preparations for Tuesday's presidential run-off to be halted amid allegations of fraud in the first round.

Ex-football star George Weah and Vice-President Joseph Boakai are due to go head-to-head in the 7 November vote.

But the Liberty Party's Charles Brumskine, who came third in the first round, has challenged the result.

Last month's election was the country's first independently run vote following the end of civil war in 2003.

Following the announcement, riot police were deployed to guard the court and electoral commission.

Later, a delegation arrived in the capital, among them the heads of the regional grouping Ecowas, and the Africa Union. They are meeting the heads of all the political parties.

Who does the president support?

Mr Brumskine and the Liberty Party said the first round was "characterised by massive systematic irregularities and fraud", including polling stations opening late and therefore preventing people from voting.

The election is to be postponed until his accusations are properly investigated, the court says.

But even if his case is thrown out, observers say it is likely to delay next week's vote as the commission will have lost valuable preparation time.

The Liberty Party is not alone in its allegations. The accusation of irregularities is backed by two other political parties - including Mr Boakai's Unity Party, which on Sunday alleged that its own president had interfered in the process.

In a statement, it said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female elected president and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, had attempted to influence the outcome of the poll.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at a speech in New York in 2015Image copyrightAFP/GETTY
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is accused of not supporting her deputy's presidential bid

Relations between Mrs Sirleaf and her deputy are not warm, with some ruling party officials saying the vice-president was not her choice to succeed her, the BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh reports from the capital Monrovia.

Mrs Sirleaf, 79, has however said more than twice that she supports Mr Boakai, who won 28.8% of the vote compared to Mr Weah's 38.4% in the first round.

Mr Weah's Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) responded to the accusations by noting it was "sad for a ruling party that has been in power for 12 years [to] be crying".

International observers, including the European Union, had not raised major concerns about the first round of voting, although some irregularities were observed, AFP news agency reports.

The court has instructed the Liberty Party and the electoral commission to present their cases by Thursday.

However, election commission spokesman Henry Flomo told the BBC it had not yet been officially informed of the Supreme Court's order, made late on Tuesday.

But if there is an injunction, the commission will abide by it as the Supreme Court is the highest court and its decisions are final, Mr Flomo added.

 
Posted On Wednesday, 01 November 2017 17:01 Written by
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