Al-Qaeda Raid in Burkina Faso Signals Expanding West African War
An attack by al-Qaeda militants at a hotel in the West African nation of Burkina Faso left at least 23 people dead and highlighted the militants’ shift to striking capital cities in the region.
Burkina Faso’s military rescued at least 126 hostages from the Splendid Hotel, which is popular with foreigners, on Saturday after the siege. It was the second attack claimed by al-Qaeda since gunmen took more than 100 people hostage in November at the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital of neighboring Mali, killing dozens.
French special forces helped Burkina Faso’s army in the operation, Interior Minister Simon Compaore said by phone. Among the victims were people from 18 countries. Four of the militants, including two women, are dead, Army spokesman Guy-Herve Ye said. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, led by the one-eyed former Algerian soldier Mokhtar Belmokhtar, said it carried out the siege that began on Friday at about 7 p.m. local time.
The attack showed al-Qaeda’s growing ability to strike far from its traditional field of operations in northern Mali where it’s been fighting government troops, French soldiers and United Nations peacekeepers, backed by U.S. intelligence officials and special forces. President Francois Hollande has sent soldiers and fighter planes to former French colonies in Africa to repel the Islamists, whose attacks intensified in the semi-arid Sahel region with arms looted from Libya following the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s government in 2011.
“I think it’s just a matter of time, whether it’s in Abidjan, Accra, or Dakar,” Cynthia Ohayon, Burkina Faso analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said by phone from Ouagadougou. “It happens in Paris and in Istanbul; it can happen anywhere.”
Roger Nikiema, a Burkinabe who was meeting friends at the Cafe Cappuccino in Ouagadougou, said they had just placed their order when the gunfire started.
“We all threw ourselves on the floor,” he said in an interview. “I was with six friends, three American girls and three guys. A bullet hit my arm and I have an injury there. I heard a female voice among the attackers.”
The latest attack came a day after al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia claimed to have killed 63 Kenyan soldiers in the southwest of the Horn of Africa country and two days after Islamic State said it carried out a gun-and-suicide bomb assault in central Jakarta, Indonesia.
As they did when they attacked the Radisson Blu in Mali, the militants said their latest raid was done in response to French intervention in the region that has led to the death of Muslims, according to a statement it sent to Mauritania’s al-Akhbar newspaper on Friday. AQIM disavowed Islamic State last week, saying the group’s caliphate in Syria is illegal and strays from the tenets of Islam.
“We killed 30 of the crusaders,” one of the attackers in Ouagadougou said in a recorded message sent to the newspaper. Al-Qaeda “will fight against France until the last drop of blood.”
AQIM and other militant groups stepped up their advance in northern Mali, a desolate, semi-arid area, after a coup by the army in 2012 created a power vacuum.
From its start in 2013, France’s military drive against the Islamists has expanded to almost 3,000 troops fighting militants from Mali to Niger and Chad, where the Nigerian group Boko Haram is active. AQIM’s Belmokhtar is believed responsible for the 2013 attack on a BP Plc plant in Algeria that left 38 dead.
Government officials in the region say militants and traffickers compete with each other to move drugs, goods and migrants through the Sahel and the Sahara, which is hard to patrol because of its desert-like temperatures and lack of roads.
Burkina Faso, Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer, has faced political instability in recent years. Formerly known as the Republic of Upper Volta, President Blaise Compaore was ousted in October 2014 after 27 years in power following widespread public demonstrations against him. A failed coup followed in September, and in November elections, Roch Marc Christian Kabore was voted into the presidency.
“The new government was appointed three days ago; the president took office two weeks ago,” said Ohayon of International Crisis Group. “There was a wave of optimism and this attack has dealt a huge blow to that. Burkina Faso serves as a symbol of progress in the region, because it’s an example of democratic consolidation and peaceful religious coexistence — and I think that’s what they want to destroy.”
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Petitions NBC to Sanction Channels TV Over Alleged Breach of Broadcasting Code
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the President-elect, has reportedly filed a petition with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), calling for the sanction of Channels Television for allegedly breaching the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
The petition alleges that the TV station allowed its guest, Labour Party Vice Presidential candidate Datti Baba-Ahmed to make several incendiary comments that impugned the integrity of the 25 February 2023 Presidential elections.
According to Tinubu’s petition, Baba-Ahmed claimed that the Labour Party won the election, which is “a fallacy and not correct,” and he alleged that President Buhari should not swear in the President-elect because he did not score 25% of the vote in the FCT, which is a prerequisite for being declared the winner.
Tinubu also accused Baba-Ahmed of making subversive, inciting, and inflammatory comments, which breached the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
The petition calls on NBC to apply sanctions against Channels TV, stating that the TV station’s guest was “not only provocative but also inciting the public and the Labour Party followers to delegitimize the outcome of the elections but also propagate resistance against the incoming duly elected administration of Bola Ahmed-Tinubu and Kashim Shettima.”
This development comes amid tensions and uncertainties surrounding the aftermath of the 2023 Nigerian Presidential elections with some political parties and their supporters contesting the results and calling for a rerun. The Nigerian Broadcasting Code aims to regulate the activities of broadcasters and ensure that they promote national unity, peace, and social harmony, among other objectives.
NBC is yet to respond to Tinubu’s petition or issue any statement on the matter. However, this petition highlights the need for broadcasters and media houses to uphold journalistic ethics and professional standards, especially during sensitive periods like elections.
Court of Appeal Upholds Adeleke’s Victory in Osun State Governorship Election
In a landmark judgement, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has affirmed the victory of Senator Ademola Adeleke as the rightful governor of Osun State.
The ruling, which comes as a surprise to many, overturned the decision of the Osun State Governorship Tribunal which had earlier nullified Adeleke’s election victory.
Following the governorship polls in the state, an Election Petition Tribunal had sacked Adeleke from office, citing his failure to secure the majority of lawful votes during the July 16 governorship polls. However, in a unanimous agreement by a three-man panel led by Justice Mohammed Shuaibu, the Court of Appeal quashed the tribunal’s judgment and gave its verdict to uphold Adeleke’s victory.
The Appeal Court Panel revoked the tribunal’s order which directed that a Certificate of Return be withdrawn from Adeleke and issued to his predecessor and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Gboyega Oyetola. The panel held that the Osun State Tribunal was wrong to have said that there was overvoting, a claim that only relied on the evidence by Oyetola and the APC, and as such, doesn’t prove their case in any way.
The judge faulted Oyetola and APC, that they only relied on the data from the back end server and failed to look at the voters register which forms the foundation of the whole electoral process and as such, cannot strengthen their allegations of overvoting. The court also resolved in favour of Adeleke on the issue of jurisdiction, stating that section 285(8) of the constitution as amended, the court has every right to entertain the appeal.
The ruling is a significant victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Adeleke, who had been locked in a legal battle with the APC over the governorship position since the election. Many Nigerians have applauded the Court of Appeal’s decision as a step towards consolidating the country’s democracy and upholding the rule of law.
The decision has also set a precedent for future electoral disputes in the country, as it highlights the importance of credible evidence in proving electoral malpractice claims. This ruling has shown that allegations of overvoting cannot be sustained without concrete evidence from the voters register, and political parties must be thorough in their investigations and presentation of evidence in such cases.
NIMC: Presidential Council Faults N1000 NIN Fee, Demands Review
The recently announced N1000 National Identification Number (NIN) verification fee for the application, issuance and renewal of international passports by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has been criticised.
The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC faulted the mandated charge and called for a review.
Investors King had earlier reported that NIMC declared that Nigerians living in the country will pay N1000, while Nigerians residing in other African countries will pay $3 or its equivalent in other currencies and those in other continents across the world will pay $10 or its equivalent in other countries as NIN verification fee for application, issuance and renewal of their international passports.
Reacting to the development, the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business/PEBEC Secretary, Jumoke Oduwole, in a statement, emphasised the need for a review to make citizens enjoy quicker and less expensive government services.
Oduwole, who commended the collaboration between NIMC and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), said such a partnership will enhance passport services.
She noted that stakeholders are not impressed with the extra charge to be paid for the NIN verification before they can process their passports.
According to her, the outline of the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2022 signed into law by the President Muhammadu Buhari on February 8, 2023 states that where an applicant requires the service of a ministry, department or agency, the MDA involved is mandated to conduct the necessary verification or certification from relevant MDAs, in respect of the applicant.
Investors King understands that PUBEC was set up in 2016 by President Buhari with the aim of curbing hectic bottlenecks and bureaucratic limitations accompanied with owning and managing business enterprises in Nigeria.
The chairman of the council is the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. PUBEC has since its existence periodically issued EO1 Compliance Reports containing monthly reports of Ministries, Departments and Agencies submitted to the council.
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