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.”
Mismanagement of Public Funds and Resources Will Destroy Nigeria, Says Stakeholders
Some concerned stakeholders have said the broad-based financial misappropriation, abuse of public office by Public Officeholders and unchecked borrowing will destroy the nation’s present and future if not checked.
According to Auwal Musa, the Executive Director, CISLAC, who spoke at a stakeholders’ dialogue on ‘Policies, Gaps and Alternatives in Fiscal Transparency in Private Sector Governance,’ organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and Transparency International (TI), with support from OXFAM’s country office in Nigeria, abuse of power and financial recklessness as been going on for far too long.
Musa said, “This has been going on for too long, and every singular effort from the citizens is termed as hate or unpatriotic. Meanwhile, the consequences of this anomaly are staring us in the face on a daily basis and are on the increase. Increased poverty; banditry allegedly occasioned by rising unemployment; and unpatriotic citizens trooping into leadership positions to perpetuate the looting and misappropriation due to no oversight and punitive sanctions, not to mention health, infrastructure and societal decay. The list is inexhaustible.”
He also implored the Government that in order to reduce the excessive misuse of public resources, mismanagement of finances and strengthen the financial management system, the holes that encourage people to evade and undermine the collection of taxes must be bridged and in-depth economic improvement devised to close policy gaps.
“There are many areas in which the government can increase its revenue drive. For instance, in the Oil and Gas sector, there are a lot of gaps as a result of lack of a clear legal framework through the PIB, which will enable the sector to be more efficient, transparent and competitive. Again, the oil theft needs to be blocked; other areas like maritime revenue can be harnessed in these sectors.
“Also, the government should block the areas where revenues are supposed to be collected and are not collected. For instance, the audit report clearly shows how the government is losing revenue.” he said.
The stakeholders urge policymakers to look for other sources of revenue that can guarantee development in Nigeria.
Also, speaking at the event was the Programme Manager, Tax, Justice, Environment and Conservation of Nature, CISLAC, Chinedu Bassey, who said one of the reasons to strengthen the Nigerian financial management system is to stop people from stealing and mismanaging resources meant for development.
Iheme Madukairo, the Manager, Large Tax Audit, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), advised Nigerians who evade taxes to stop such act that the law will take its course.
He said “Enforcement is out there, sleeves are rolled up to do the job that we are mandated to do by the act and sooner or later, we will catch up with them. The sanctions have also increased by virtue of the finance act. The penalty has been increased, once it is found out that it is a deliberate act to breach the law, the law will take its course.”
Lai Mohammed Says Buhari Has Recovered Over N800bn in Looted Funds
Buhari Has Recovered Over N800bn in Looted Funds
President Muhammadu Buhari government has recovered over N800 billion looted by corrupt Nigerians since the beginning of this administration in 2015.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, disclosed this on Tuesday at a press conference held in Abuja.
He said, “This administration’s fight against corruption is as strong as ever, and we have the records to back up this claim.
“This administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of N800bn, not to talk of forfeiture of ill-gotten properties.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has made recovery of Nigeria’s stolen assets one of his priorities since he became president in 2015.
Several of Nigeria’s untouchables have been convicted despite political experts and social commentators saying the war against corruption should not be only against opposition but also against those in the ruling party that seems to have been overlooked.
Still, the ruling party has insisted that members of the party have been convicted and one of such is Kalu.
President Buhari Names Railway Stations After Tinubu, Jonathan, Fashola, Others
Buhari Names Railway Stations After Prominent Nigerians
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday named railway stations after Tinubu, Jonathan and other prominent Nigerians.
In a statement released through the Ministry of Transportation and signed by Eric Ojiekwe, Director, Press and Public Relations of the Ministry, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed that the deserving citizens have contributed to the progress and development of their respective communities and the nation at large.
According to the statement, for the Lagos-Ibadan with extension to the Lagos Port Complex at Apapa railway station, the beneficiaries are:
Bola Ahmed Tinubu (Apapa station)
Mobolaji Johnson (Ebute Metta Station)
Babatunde Raji Fashola (Agege station),
Lateef Jakande (Agbado station) and
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (Kajola station).
Others are Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (Papalanto station)
Prof. Wole Soyinka (Abeokuta station),
Aremo Segun Osoba(Olodo station)
Chief Ladoka Akintola (Omio-Adio station)
Chief Obafemi Awolowo (Ibadan station)
and Chief Alex Ekwueme (Operation Control Centre)
For the Itakpe-Ajaokuta/Aladja-Warri Railway, the names are:
Alhaji Adamu Attah (Itakpe station)
Dr. Olushola Saraki (Ajaokuta station)
Admiral Augustus Aikhomu (Itogbo station)
Brigadier General George Innih (Agenebode station)
Anthony Eromosele Enahoro (Uromi station)
Chief Tom Ikimi (Ekehen station) and
Brig. Gen. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia (rtd) (Igbanke station)
Others according to the statement include:
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (Agbor Station Complex)
Brigadier General David Ejoor (Abraka station)
Micheal Ibru (Opara station)
Alfred Rewane (Ujevwu station) and
Vice Admiral Mike Akhigbe (Railway Village, Agbor).
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