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Zimbabwe: President calls security forces’ action, “unacceptable and a betrayal”

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Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called violence by the country’s security forces “unacceptable and a betrayal” following deadly protests last week sparked by a sharp fuel price hike.

Zimbabwe protesters

Mnangagwa’s comments were his first on the strife which has wracked Zimbabwe for over a week, during which the President was largely absent. He arrived back in Harare Tuesday from Switzerland, where he had been due to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting.

“One week ago I announced measures to stabilize our nation’s crucial fuel supply. I was aware that these measures may not be popular, and this was not a decision we took lightly. But it was the right thing to do,” Mnangagwa said on Twitter.

“What followed was regrettable and tragic. Everyone has the right to protest, but this was not a peaceful protest. Wanton violence and cynical destruction; looting police stations, stealing guns and uniforms; incitement and threats of violence. This is not the Zimbabwean way.”

He added that “violence or misconduct by our security forces is unacceptable and a betrayal of the new Zimbabwe. Chaos and insubordination will not be tolerated. Misconduct will be investigated. If required, heads will roll.”

The leader, who last year replaced longtime strongman Robert Mugabe, returned early from the annual jamboree in the Swiss alpine resort town of Davos.

He left his Minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube, to continue bilateral trade talks and investment meetings and he took a more hardline stance on the protests, saying they were not over the price hike but were “pre-planned.” In an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, he said: “What triggered the rebellion in the streets was not the fuel price, this was pre-planned.”

Ncube added that there was already was a “groundswell and this was just one of the issues that was added on.”

Deadly Violence

Protests started last week after the government announced a 150% fuel price hike, and quickly turned violent amid a fierce clampdown by security forces.

At least five people were shot by police and another 25 wounded during battles with protesters in the Zimbabwean capital. Human rights organizations blamed the police and the army for the violence.

Sheila Matindike of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission said police officers used live rounds on protestors.

“At least eight deaths have been reported to the commission and mostly attributed to use of live ammunition,” she said at a media conference in the capital, Harare.

“Whilst the police officers in charge were not forthcoming with their side of the story, the verified facts raise a lot of question around the crowd control capacity of the law enforcement agents,” Matindike said.

“They seem to resort to use of brute, excessive and disproportionate force in most circumstances thereby causing avoidable loss of life and also worsening the situation,” she added.

Zimbabwe’s minister of state for national security, Owen Ncube, confirmed last week there were casualties but blamed nongovernmental organizations, and other individuals working with the opposition group MDC Alliance for instigating the violence.

As the protests raged, the country’s internet was cut off, with many Zimbabweans unable to access social media or check the news for updates on the protests.

On Monday, Japhet Moyo, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions — which has been involved in organizing the protests — was arrested at Harare’s main airport on Monday and faces charges of subversion.

Moyo was not aware that he was wanted by the police, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Tinashe Mundawarara told CNN.

His union was one of the main groups calling for a general strike after the announcement of the massive fuel price hike in Zimbabwe.

Also on Monday, the country’s High Court ruled that mobile operators should restore unrestricted access to mobile and internet services immediately, following a days-long blackout.

Judge Owen Tagu told the court that it had “become very clear that the minister has no authority to make the directive” and ordered mobile operators to “unconditionally resume the provision of the full and unrestricted services to all subscribers forthwith.”

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa joins a growing list of world leaders who will not be in attendance at Davos.

US President Donald Trump decided the US delegation would remain at home and British Prime Minister Theresa May canceled her visit to focus on the UK’s Brexit plan.

French President Emmanuel Macron — who, like Mnangagwa, is trying to quell violent street protests — is also skipping the forum. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be absent.

CNN Africa

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Politics

Buhari wants bandits dealt with

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President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered security agencies to deal ruthlessly with bandits, kidnappers and other criminals. It was at an extraordinary meeting at the State House, Abuja, where security strategies were reviewed.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin briefed State House reporters at the end of the meeting that lasted for about two hours.

According to him, the President said that no stone should be left unturned towards securing every part of the country.

The CDS said:  ”The security meeting we just had with Mr. President today (yesterday) is to review the strategy that we are adopting in confronting security issues in Zamfara State, especially, and other places nationwide. And this review strategy is to address all the issues, including kidnapping, banditry and other associated issues confronting the nation. And we are coming out with a revised strategy to handle those challenges.”

Asked if there was any order from the President, he said: “Yeah, the marching order is for us to deal with this issue immediately and ruthlessly and ensure that all those bandits are immediately dealt with and all those issues bordering on our security are properly addressed.”

Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, who was at the meeting, said the frequent kidnapping on the Abuja-Kaduna Road had been tackled, adding that the route has become safe for motorists.

IG Adamu said: “I want to assure Nigerians that Kaduna-Abuja roads are now safe. We have cleared the roads, we have arrested a lot of kidnappers and in confrontation with some of them; some were fatally injured.

“So the road is cleared. Our patrol teams, the combined security services that are patrolling the road are constantly there – 24 hours.”

Apart from CDS Gen. Olonisakin and IG Adamu, other Service Chiefs at the meeting are; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Yusuf Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Ibok-Ete Ibas and Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno; National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Department of State Services (DSS) Director-General Yusuf Bichi;  Interior Minister Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzau and Defence Minister Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali.

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Politics

PDP tasks Buhari on raising insecurity in parts of the country

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The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari on the raising insecurity in various parts of the country.

Lamenting the frightening dimension insecure has assumed across the country, the PDP, in a statement Monday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, particularly bemoaned the situation in the northern states.

Ologbondiyan said the party is heavily grieved by the pain, anguish and horror Nigerians have been subjected to in the hands of marauders in the past three years.

The main opposition party blamed the situation on the Muhammadu Buhari administration for its failure to provide adequate security in the country, despite the huge resources at its disposal.

The PDP challenged the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) to account for the whereabouts of the “political mercenaries” it imported into the country from neighboring countries, particularly from Chad and Niger Republic during the build-up to the 2019 general elections.

This, the PDP said, is predicated on fears in the public space of the possible involvement of these foreigners, who the PDP said, assisted the APC to unleash violence on Nigerians during the last elections.

The party insisted that the influx of these foreigners into Nigeria during the period, heightened acts of banditry in the county.

“Nigerians could recall that the PDP had raised a red flag on the dangers of the heavy importation of unscreened aliens by the APC to involve in its presidential election campaign rallies.

“The PDP and other well-meaning Nigerians had expressed fears that such aliens could be used by unpatriotic elements to unbridle violent acts against Nigerians”, the party added.

The PDP further lamented that the Federal Government has failed to exert enough commitment in protecting the lives of Nigerians and curbing the daily bloodlettings and kidnappings of citizens in Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Kogi, Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Bauchi and other states.

The opposition party said it has been proved right by its insistence that President Buhari and the APC never believed in their own campaign promises.

It further noted that by every indication, the President Buhari-led Federal Government has no solution to the security challenges plaguing the county, which the PDP said, has festered under the President’s incompetent watch.

“This is the very reason Nigerians are anxious for the retrieval of our stolen presidential mandate, which they freely gave to Atiku Abubakar, at the tribunal, so that our nation can have the benefit of a purposeful government that is alive to its responsibility of ensuring the security and wellbeing of the Nigerian people”, the PDP added.

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SECURITY

Government must accept responsibility for this tragedy – Fela speaks on Police brutality

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The Presidential candidate of Alliance for New Nigeria, Fela Durotoye has condemned the alleged killing of Kolade Johnson by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Fela Durotoye

Kolade was alleged to have been shot by a member of a police team, while he was watching a Premier League fixture between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in Lagos on Sunday.

Johnson’s death has since sparked widespread criticism, with a renewed call on the Federal Government to end the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) unit of the police.

Speaking on the development, the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elkana, in a statement said suspects have been arrested and investigation begun into the matter.

Durotoye, reacting in a series of tweet on his Twitter page, highlighted what President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration needed to do to seek justice for Kolade.

He wrote: “My heart and Prayers go out to the Johnson family on the tragic passing of their son, brother, husband and father, Kolade Johnson, whose life was prematurely taken by operatives of Special Anti Cultism Squad (SACS) while watching a football match.

“This is one more needless and tragic death and another reason why we must once & for all End police brutality.

“I believe the primary responsibility of govt is to protect the lives & property of every citizen and our leaders must hold dear that sacred responsibility by holding to account any law enforcement agent who through abuse of power and excessive use of force leads to the loss of life.

“The government must accept responsibility for this tragedy and take quick action to set up a credible investigation that leads to a QUICK conclusion and restitution to ensure justice is served.

“No one can understand the pain that the family and friends of Kolade Johnson are going through at this time, I pray that God’s comfort soothes their hearts & May His soul rest in perfect peace.

“As Nigerians we all deserve to be safe & secure wherever we live, work and play and our government must take convincing & conclusive steps to reassure us that every Nigerian live matters & needless loss of lives would not happen in the future.

“I recommend that at the very least, government should send a high powered delegation to the Johnson family to commiserate with them & feel their pain … The government should cover funeral expenses & support his family with a monthly stipend & scholarship.

“Our government should show care to the family, take care of the family and take action to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

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SECURITY

IG says poor funding affecting police force

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The acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Abubakar Mohammed Adamu, has lamented the underfunding of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), saying it is the main malady confronting the force.

Adamu, who made the disclosure yesterday while defending the 2018 police budget before the Hon. Lawal Abubakar-led Committee on Police Affairs urged the lawmakers to expedite action on the Police Reform Trust Fund Bill pending before the National Assembly as a way to bridge the funding gap.

While he underscored the fact that the primacy of the Nigeria Police as the lead agency in internal security matters is being challenged by inadequate funding, Adamu who reinstated that he is committed to restoring the dwindling primacy of the police within the internal security architecture of Nigeria, stated that the desire required the support and understanding of all stakeholders especially members of this House of Representatives.

According to him, “It has been realized that the quantum of funds required to address the operational and administrative needs of the force can hardly be met through normal annual appropriation. In this regard, therefore, the long-awaited Police Reform Trust Fund Bill pending before the National Assembly is aimed at bridging the gap. I, therefore, urge the 8′” National Assembly, to as a matter of urgency, consider and pass into low the Police Reform Trust Fund Bill.

He stated that out of the N324,220,893,212 appropriated for the Police, N25,197,675,020 was appropriated for Capital projects, but only N5,019, 767,502. 47 representing 19.92 percent has been released and cash-backed as at today while the balance of The N20,177,907,517.53 is yet to be released. The amount released and cash-backed to date has been utilized for the payment of completed and on-going projects.

Also, N8,917,942,925.37 was released out of the N10, 301,772.177 appropriated for overhead while N288,721, 446,064 was appropriated for the payment emolument, including statutory deductions such as funding for Compulsory Pension Scheme and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

“I wish to crave your support and cooperation in the task of repositioning the police to be able to carry out its statutory responsibilities of maintaining law and order amongst others. Your commitment at this point in time is very vital and I believe that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.”

He assured Nigerians that “The Nigeria Police is blessed with officers and men who are not only intellectually gifted and exceptionally dedicated but professionally sound enough to surmount the security challenges facing the nation.

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