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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

Nigeria Decides: All land borders to be closed at 12noon

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Federal Government has ordered all land borders to be shut with effect from 12.00noon today to 12.00noon tomorrow.

A man casts his ballot as Nigerians vote for a second day in Lagos, Nigeria, Sunday March 29, 2015. Voting in Nigeria’s elections continued in certain areas on Sunday after technical problems prevented some people from casting their ballots on Saturday and despite extremist violence in the northeast and protests in the south. (AP Photo/Kunle Ogunfuyi)

Minister of Interior Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), who gave the order, said there would be a restriction of movements across the borders during the election days.

Also yesterday, the Acting Inspector-General (IG), Muhammed Adamu, ordered the restriction of vehicular movement on the election day.

A statement issued by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) Comptroller-General Muhammad Babandede: “Further to the presidential election taking place on the February, 16, 2019, the Honourable Minister of Interior has directed the closure of all Nigerian land borders with effect from 12.00noon of Friday, February 15 to 12.00noon of Sunday, February 17, 2019.

“This is to restrict movements across the borders during the election days. The public is to take note and ensure compliance.”

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SECURITY

New police commissioners for 36 states

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The Police Service Commission (PSC) has approved the appointment and deployment of 37 Command Commissioners of Police for the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT), Abuja.

The commissioners are Buba Sanusi, Katsina State; Mohammed Wakili, Kano State; Rabiu Ladodo, Jigawa; Ahmed Iliyasu, Ogun; Mu’azu Zubairu, Lagos State; Ibrahim Sabo, Niger; Alkassam Sanusi, Taraba; Garba Mukaddas, Adamawa and Omololu Bishi, Benue.

Others are Olushola David, Bayelsa; Adeleke Yinka, Delta; Austin Agbonlahor, Cross River; Bashir Makama, Akwa Ibom; Awosola Awotunde, Ebonyi; Belel Usman, Rivers; Bello Makwashi, Gombe State and Abdulrahman Ahmed, Kaduna State.

Others officers deplored are: Bala Ciroma, Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Egbetokun Kayode, Kwara; Hakeem Busari, Kogi; Asuquo Amba, Ekiti; Galadanchi Dasuki, Imo; Suleiman Balarabe, Enugu State;, Dandaura Mustapha, Anambra; Etim Ene Okon, Abia and Ibrahim Kaoje, Sokoto state.

Others are: Celestine Okoye, Zamfara; Garba Danjuma, Kebbi;, Abiodun Ige, Osun;, Undie Adie, Ondo State; Olukolu Shina, Oyo State; Ali Janga, Bauchi State; Damian Chukwu, Borno; Sumonu Abdulmalik, Yobe; Bola Longe, Nassarawa State; Isaac Akinmoyede, Plateau and Odumosu Hakeem, Edo.

Ani said that the Chairman of the Commission, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, has charged the CPs to settle down at their commands and to ensure peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections.

He said that the nation could not afford any disruption of the elections as the world was watching Nigeria.

The spokesman said that approval has been conveyed to the acting Inspector General of Police for implementation.

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SECURITY

Army and Boko Haram clash in Yobe

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Troops of 159 Battalion, Forward Operational Base (FOB), Sector 2, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, on Monday evening repelled attempted terrorist incursion into the border town of Kanama, Yunusari Local Government of Yobe.

Masked security force

The Acting Assistant Director of Army Public Relations, Lt. Njoka Irabor made this known in a press statement issued in Damaturu.

Irabor said “The terrorists came in at about 5:30 pm and started shooting sporadically and vigilant troops of the FOB engaged them.

“Consequently, the terrorists were overwhelmed by the superior firepower of the gallant troops of 159 Battalion and the well-coordinated air support from the Air Component of Operation LAFIYA DOLE.

“This resulted in inflicting casualty on the terrorists, while some of them retreated with gunshot wounds.

“The resilient troops have embarked on the hot pursuit of the fleeing surviving attackers towards Niger Republic border.

“Further details of the casualties on the terrorists and recoveries would be provided on completion of the mop up and pursuit operations”, he said. (NAN)

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SECURITY

AI:Boko Haram kills 60 in Borno

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Amnesty International yesterday alleged that about 60 people were killed following the January 28 attack by the Boko Haram insurgents on Rann, a border town in Borno State.

Investigations had revealed that Boko Haram militants had arrived at the small border town of Rann around 9 a.m. that morning, according to Amnesty International reports, slaughtering civilians and setting houses ablaze. Director of Amnesty International (Nigeria), Osai Ojigho, who confirmed the development, said the organization also analyzed satellite imagery which shows hundreds of burned structures in the town. Many of the destroyed structures only date back to 2017, suggesting they were shelters for internally displaced people who came to Rann seeking protection.

He said: “We have now confirmed that this week’s attack on Rann was the deadliest yet by Boko Haram, killing at least 60 people. Using satellite imagery we have also been able to confirm the mass burning of structures as Boko Haram unleashed a massive assault on Rann, most of which is now destroyed.

“This attack on civilians who have already been displaced by the bloody conflict may amount to a possible war crime, and those responsible must be brought to justice. Disturbingly, witnesses told us that Nigerian soldiers abandoned their posts the day before the attack, demonstrating the authorities’ utter failure to protect civilians.” It was also alleged that the withdrawal of troops triggered a massive exodus of civilians to Cameroon, as fear spread that Boko Haram would take advantage and attack the town. At 9 a.m. on January 28, a group of Boko Haram fighters arrived on motorcycles. They set houses ablaze and killed those left behind. They also chased after those who attempted to escape and killed some people outside the town. Eleven bodies were found within Rann town, and 49 bodies were found outside. Amnesty International was informed that about 50 people have not been accounted for.

Those who took part in the burial explained what they saw. According to an eyewitness: “Ten of us (Civilian Joint Task Force) came from Cameroon to Rann for the burial. When we arrived, we found and buried 11 corpses within the town, but the soldiers told us that they buried several others yesterday (30 January) who had decayed. Outside the town, we recovered and buried 49 dead bodies all with gunshot wounds.
Aid agencies have reported that some 30,000 civilians have fled for the border with Cameroon in recent days, joining a further 9,000 who fled Boko Haram’s previous attack on Rann on 14 January, Amnesty International analyzed satellite images from January 30, 2019 showing hundreds of structures burned in the east, south, and southeast of Rann. Environmental sensors detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January. In the January 14 attack, Boko Haram burned well over 100 structures in other areas of Rann. These two recent attacks have left most of the town heavily damaged or destroyed. Amnesty International is calling on Nigerian authorities to investigate the alleged withdrawal of security forces of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) from Rann, which may have left tens of thousands of civilians exposed to this latest deadly attack.

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