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Al-Qaeda Raid in Burkina Faso Signals Expanding West African War

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French soldiers

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.

War Expands

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.”

French Intervention

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.

Political Instability

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.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Government

FG Approves N1.85 Billion For Construction of Ebonyi Salt Lake Walls

The Federal Government on Wednesday approved a sum of N1.85 billion for the construction of walls around Ebonyi Salt Lake.

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The Federal Government on Wednesday approved a sum of N1.85 billion for the construction of walls around Ebonyi Salt Lake.

Briefing newsmen at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) council meeting on Wednesday, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite disclosed that the project will be funded directly by the presidency. 

The Minister further explained that the 27km retaining wall would contain the loss of raw salt from the salt lakes in Ebonyi State, saving at least $88m spent yearly on salt importation.

Investors King earlier reported that Nigeria spent at least N155 Billion within the last two years to import salt and other locally available products from Asia and South America.

Salt is one of the most common mineral resources in Nigeria. A large deposit of salt could be found in Ebonyi State. The state even prides itself as the “salt of the nation”.

However, Nigeria has not been able to successfully preserve and mine the large salt deposits. 

The Minister nevertheless disclosed that the wall which will be built along the lake will help to solve the challenges. 

“The salt is in Ebonyi State, of course, naturally, but it cannot be mined without this infrastructure that we’re about to do, we’re building a retaining wall because water comes in and washes the salt away every time. 

“These are salt lakes that occur naturally, so the salt is in the lakes, but when water comes in, it washes the salt away”. He noted. 

According to the Minister, the wall which has been awarded to Reinforced Global Resources Limited, at the sum of N1.85bn is about 27 kilometres long and about 2.9 meters high. 

The retaining wall project is expected to be completed within six months after which the process of salt mining from the lake will begin. 

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Nigerian Political Parties to Spend Billions of Naira as INEC Lift Ban on Political Campaigns

Political parties in Nigeria are expected to spend billions of naira in the next year’s elections as INEC officially lifts the ban on political activities. 

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2023 Presidential Candidates

Political parties in Nigeria are expected to spend billions of naira in the next year’s elections as INEC officially lifts the ban on political activities. 

It is about five months to the next general election in Nigeria where citizens will go to the polls to cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. Political parties are expected to spend billions of naira during this electioneering process as it was in previous elections. 

It will be recalled that the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed February 25th for the Presidential and National Assembly elections while Governorship and State Assembly elections will be held on March 11th, 2023.

Investors King understands that Nigerian previous elections were hugely monetised and next year’s election would not be an exception. 

A closer analysis of the presidential election shows that there are 18 Presidential candidates which will compete in 176,846 polling units. 

Going by the electoral laws and the previous election, all candidates are expected to appoint polling unit agents who are offered some token for their service. 

Investors King gathered that in the last elections, polling units agents were offered between N10,000 to N20,000. Using N10,000 as a variable, this means each of the leading political parties will expend at least N1.7 billion on polling unit agents.

Other areas where political parties are expected to spend money include logistics, public campaigns, posters and banners, courtesy call gratification and security among others. 

Besides, it is also expected that the leading political parties will engage in vote buying which could run into hundreds of billions of naira. Many Election Monitoring Groups (EMGs) such as Yiaga Africa have alleged voter inducement in previous elections. 

Political parties spend between N5000 to N10,000 to induce voters. It can be assumed that parties will spend more in the next general election since Nigeria’s voter population has increased to 95 million, adding more than 12 million new registered voters in the just concluded voter registration. 

Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that the commission will spend N305 billion to conduct the 2023 election. This is different from the commission’s yearly budget which currently stands at N40 billion. 

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Nigeria Senate to Tax Unoccupied And Expensive Building Owners in Abuja

The Nigeria Senate intends to introduce a bill to tax unoccupied and outrageously expensive buildings in the Federal Capital City. 

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The Nigeria Senate intends to introduce a bill to tax unoccupied and outrageously expensive buildings in the Federal Capital City. 

The Chairman Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Senator Adeyemi Smart lamented that there were too many unoccupied buildings in the city despite being completed and built to taste. 

A check by Investors King shows that thousands of expensive houses are left unoccupied in Abuja, especially in high-net-worth neighbourhoods such as Guzape and Katampe Extension (Diplomatic Zone).

Smart Adeyemi made it known at a press briefing with members of the committee that the Senate will introduce a property tax bill on such buildings to mitigate the issue of accommodation in the capital city which has been a critical burden on average citizens. 

He said, “We have found that in this city, many houses are without habitation. There are a lot of mansions with no one living in them and no one is asking questions.

He added that the government will lock any uninhabited building and cause the owner to pay a fee to the government. 

“If you have built houses and they are unoccupied, we’d find out the reasons and tell the government to lock them up so that criminals will not take charge.

We’d propel legislation that will cause them to start paying taxes so that we’d use the money to develop the city”. He said.

The Senator also questioned why expensive buildings will be left unoccupied for years if the funds are from legitimate sources.  

It will be recalled that the ICPC Chairman Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, warned estate developers against serving as conduits for Illicit Financial Flows, (IFFS) at the commission’s 13th Annual General Meeting, AGM held in July 2022.

The ICPC Chairman further stated that the commission is currently probing completed and unoccupied estates in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, with the help of sister agencies.

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