China to Support Nigeria in Fight Against Islamist Insurgents

China signed a memorandum of understanding with Nigeria Thursday, offering its support to the West African nation’s security forces as they battle an Islamist insurgency in the country’s northeast, the army said.
No details on the nature of the assistance were provided in the emailed statement, signed by defense spokesman Tukur Gusau.
Boko Haram, a faction of which is allied to Islamic State’s so-called West Africa Province, has waged a decade-long campaign of violence to impose its version of Shariah law on Africa’s most populous country. Its militants have stepped up attacks in recent months, including on army bases, ahead of February elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking a second term.

This is the full story of how MC Oluomo was stabbed with a poisoned knife at Lagos APC campaign rally

The full story of how MC Oluomo was stabbed at Lagos APC campaign rally and the suspected men who did it.

MC Oluomo does the 4+4 sign for Buhari's re-election (Lailas Blog)MC Oluomo does the 4+4 sign for Buhari’s re-election (Lailas Blog)

It was billed as a Lagos APC campaign flag-off, with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode expected to reel out his achievements and state why he thinks Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos APC governorship flagbearer, is the best man to succeed him in May. 

But it turned out the day the infamous and ‘invincible’ MC Oluomo, got stabbed in the neck and was rushed to a hospital as he bled profusely, battling for his life.

This campaign rally was supposed to be a meeting point for APC faithful in an atmosphere of peace, conviviality, solidarity chants, chest thumping and galvanizing the base. 

However, midway into the campaign rally at the Skypower Grounds, beside the Archbishop Vining Church on Oba Akinjobi Way in GRA Ikeja, a melee ensued as Ambode addressed the audience and made a case for Sanwo-Olu. 

Ambode endorses Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat at the Lagos APC campaign rally on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 (Lagos APC) Ambode endorses Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat at the Lagos APC campaign rally on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 (Lagos APC) 

Ambode endorses Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat at the Lagos APC campaign rally on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 (Lagos APC) 

“People started running helter skelter and thugs armed with knives and cudgels began attacking themselves”, says Bayo, 31, who was right inside the venue when all hell broke loose.

A fight between NURTW factions

Video footage from the venue showed young men making a dash across the sandy ground with machetes and knives; and photo journalists lying on the deck as police pranced on the scene to fire live bullets into the dusty sky.

“What I seek from all of you is the continuous growth and continuity of this state”, Governor Ambode yelled through the public address system, as violence broke out before him and other dignitaries. “You guys should wait”, Ambode added, but no one was going to obey him at this point. The knives, cudgels and guns were well and truly out to halt his speech.

Pulse was told that factions of the Lagos State chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) were purveyors of the mayhem and that Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly referred to as MC Oluomo, was one of the fatally stabbed on the afternoon. 

The crowd at APC campaign ground in Ikeja screamed APC (APC Lagos)The crowd at APC campaign ground in Ikeja screamed APC (APC Lagos)

The crowd at APC campaign ground in Ikeja screamed APC (APC Lagos)

“MC Oluomo was stabbed twice with a poisonous knife called Makenje (which literally translates to don’t touch blood). All the VIPs were spirited out of the venue by security personnel. It was like a war zone with sophisticated guns and machetes on display”, one APC chieftain who was at the venue told Pulse on condition of anonymity.

A plot to settle political scores?

Another source told Pulse that the violence was orchestrated by persons who are still angry that Ambode was schemed out of the 2019 governorship race and disgraced, as Sanwo-Olu was settled for by the powers that be.

“It was well planned by top politicians. This was carried out by thugs loyal to Ambode’s camp. These thugs and the politicians who put them up to this are still angry that Ambode didn’t get a second term ticket. The plot was to disrupt the rally and turn attention away from the candidate Sanwo-Olu. And you have to say they succeeded to some degree”, says the source. 

The legend of MC Oluomo

MC Oluomo wasn’t supposed to be rushed to the hospital after being stabbed, because he supposedly wears a spiritual armour that shields him from gun, knife and other dangerous weapons. Which was why the knife used to stab him was a poisoned one, Pulse was told. But he was expected to be inured from the venom of a poisoned knife, no less.

In other words, MC Oluomo was supposed to be ‘unkillable’.

“The only way they could break through MC Oluomo’s skin was to poison the knife and as I speak with you now, native and medical doctors are battling to keep him alive by extracting the venom from his system. It’s 50:50 for him now”,another APC source shares. 

Another source tells Pulse that MC Oluomo is recovering in hospital after “doctors and two elderly jazzmen (native doctors) extracted the poison from his system.

Sanwo-Olu rides with Ambode through the campaign ground in Lagos (Lagos APC)Sanwo-Olu rides with Ambode through the campaign ground in Lagos (Lagos APC)

Sanwo-Olu rides with Ambode through the campaign ground in Lagos (Lagos APC)

“The man who stabbed MC Oluomo lives on Apapa Road in Ebute Metta. Forget what the Commissioner of Police is telling you”, the APC source offers.

Wanted for culpable homicide

The Lagos State Police Command has declared a chieftain of the NURTW, Mustapha Adekunle aka Seigo, wanted for the stabbing of MC Oluomo.

Lagos police spokesperson Chike Oti, says Seigo arrived the rally with a group of persons who went on to unleash mayhem as the rally progressed.

“However, at the tail end of the event, Seigo and his group, for a reason yet to be determined, violently engaged other supporters of the party. In the ensuing melee, one MC Oluomo, another NURTW chieftain, was stabbed and was rushed to Eko Hospital where he is currently recuperating, while two other victims of the attack were taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) for treatment. The crisis was quickly contained by policemen at the venue.” Oti stated.

The police has also declared Seigo a wanted man.

Lagos state police commissioner Imohimi Edgal held peace talk meetings with NURTW Lagos before the rally that turned violent (Punch)Lagos state police commissioner Imohimi Edgal held peace talk meetings with NURTW Lagos before the rally that turned violent (Punch)

Lagos state police commissioner Imohimi Edgal held peace talk meetings with NURTW Lagos before the rally that turned violent (Punch)

Oti says it is surprising that the thugs disrupted the rally even after Lagos Police Commissioner, Imohimi Edgal, held peace talks with various factions of NURTW before the event and extracted commitments from them to the effect that no one was going to disrupt the campaign rally.

“It was therefore surprising that a prominent member of NURTW would attempt to violently disrupt a peaceful political rally. In view of the development, the Command wishes to encourage members of the public with useful information on the whereabouts of Mustapha Adekunle popularly known as Seigo to report such at the nearest police station,” Oti added.

However, APC sources loyal to the Sanwo-Olu camp tell Pulse that the police is not pointing at the real culprits of the violence and stabbings.

Ambode  acknowledges cheers from APC faithful during flagoff of Lagos campaign rally on January 8, 2019. (Lagos APC)Ambode acknowledges cheers from APC faithful during flagoff of Lagos campaign rally on January 8, 2019. (Lagos APC)

Ambode acknowledges cheers from APC faithful during flagoff of Lagos campaign rally on January 8, 2019. (Lagos APC)

“The Seigo they are declaring wanted is a close ally of MC Oluomo. How will Seigo stab his own close friend? The police is deliberately chasing shadows here. They should ask Kunle Poly and Agbede about the violence and not try to rope in an innocent Seigo who has no reason to stab his friend MC Oluomo”, one APC source says. 

The reign of thugs

APC governed Lagos runs a patronage political system where motor park lords and street urchins extract rent from residents, political godfathers, motorists and the state government. 

These motor park lords have louts who answer to them and who they often command to wreak havoc on their behalf. 

African Union and UN relaunch Central African Republic peace talks


Senior officials from the United Nations, the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on Tuesday began a visit to Bangui to “relaunch” the AU-led peace talks.

The senior officials are in Bangui “to revive international efforts for lasting peace in the country, through dialogue between the government and armed groups under the auspices of the African Union Initiative,” said a UN statement.

The AU mediation, launched in July 2017 and supported by the UN and the main partners of the Central African Republic, is criticized by diplomats and observers for its slow pace and a lack of results.

The visit – which includes Jean-Pierre Lacroix, head of the UN peacekeeping department, and Smail Chergui, AU peace commissioner – is scheduled to last until Thursday.

A parallel mediation has been launched by Russia backed by Sudan. Criticized by France, it brought together, at the end of August in Khartoum, three militias of the former Seléka coalition and the antibalaka group, a self-proclaimed self-defence militia.

At the end of September in New York, Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra stated that mediation for peace in his country was the responsibility of the AU, adding that Russia’s involvement in talks with armed groups was only for “facilitation” purposes.

The Central African Republic, has been mired in a deadly conflict for the past six years, which has displaced more than a quarter of its 4.5 million inhabitants.

2 soldiers killed and 8 arrested after failed coup attempt in Gabon, government says

(CNN)Two soldiers suspected of being part of an attempted coup in Gabon were killed and eight military officers were arrested, state media reported Tuesday.

The suspected coup plotters stormed the state radio and television headquarters around 4 a.m. Monday, allegedly taking journalists and staff hostage, while they read out a statement saying they had taken control of the Central African nation.

The officers declared their dissatisfaction with President Ali Bongo and said they had seized power to “restore democracy” in the country.

The two officers were killed when Gabonese defense and security forces moved in to stop the takeover and rescue the hostages, state-run Agence Gabonaise De Presse (AGP) reported on Tuesday.

Four soldiers were arrested a few hours after the coup attempt, government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou said.

A fifth officer, identified by Mapangou as Lt. Kelly Ondo Obiang, was captured hiding in a building beside the radio station, Mapangou told CNN.

On Monday, Mapangou told French news outlet RFI that defense forces have now taken back control of state TV and radio.

“It seems it was a group of troublemakers because military officials say they weren’t aware of this group,” Mapangou said.

The government in Gabon also said the “situation is under control” and peace had been restored to the capital.

What happened?

A video circulated on social media Monday showed several officers in a radio studio dressed in military fatigues. 

A man who described himself as commander of the Republican Guard and president of the Patriotic Movement of the young security forces of Gabon said in a lengthy statement that there has been a decline in the President’s health and in his presidential capacities. As two men dressed as officers stood behind him with guns, the man said that the Patriotic Movement would preserve the integrity of the nation.

The officer said they were disappointed by Bongo’s message on December 31 from Morocco, where he is recovering from a stroke.

Bongo has been battling ill health since October and acknowledged the speculation about his health during his New Year’s speech, but insisted he is recovering.

Monday’s incident sparked security concerns, prompting foreign offices to issue travel guidance in the Gabonese capital of Libreville.

In an alert issued Monday, the US State Department asked that “(US) Embassy personnel restrict their movements to the area north of Léon-Mba International Airport from dusk tonight until dawn tomorrow.”

The State Department said the US Embassy was monitoring the situation and advised embassy staff and their families to continue to avoid downtown Libreville and limit “unnecessary travel.”

Many foreign missions have condemned Monday’s coup attempt.

Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, called on all “actors to adhere to the constitutional means” in resolving the incident.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement on Tuesday that the “era of military coups and governments” were long gone in Africa.

Buhari, a former military general, urged the Garbonese army to embrace constitutional provisions and democracy.

Residents returned to work and students returned to school in Libreville on Tuesday, one day after the attempted coup, AGP reported.

Internet connection was also restored after a 24-hour shutdown, according to the report.Ali Bongo casts his vote at a polling station during the presidential election on August 27, 2016 in Libreville.

Longtime rule

Bongo was sworn in for his second seven-year term in 2016 after a disputed election followed by deadly protests. Bongo’s re-election extended his family’s half-century rule over the oil-rich nation of 2 million people.

Ali took over from his father, Omar Bongo, who died of cardiac arrest while receiving treatment for intestinal cancer in a Spanish clinic in 2009, following 42 years in office.

The elder Bongo came into power in 1967, seven years after the country’s independence from France.

He ruled over the small nation with an iron fist, imposing a one-party system for years and only allowing multi-party rule in 1991, though his party retained its grip on government.

The soldier behind the coup attempt in Gabon arrested


Reports from Gabon indicate that the officers behind an apparent coup attempt on early Monday morning have been arrested. 

Minister of communication told French broadcaster, RFI that mutineers have been arrested by GIGN units (elite tactical units), the situation is under control and order was being reestablished.

Led by one Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang who led a takeover of the national radio, the soldiers said they had taken over in order to restore democracy in the Central African nation.

The Gabon 5: How soldiers attempted to overthrow a government 

Under the banner of the Patriotic Movement of the Defense and Security Forces of Gabon, the leader said the most recent Bongo national address “reinforced doubts about the president’s ability to continue to carry out the responsibilities of his office.” 

An online freedom group, Internet Without Borders: which fights for digital rights, against digital repression and oppression, confirmed that there was an internet blackout in the wake of the move.

Reports also indicate that the signal for the national radio had been cut after the address. The military is also said to have fired tear gas at the premises to disperse people who apparently were in support of the attempted coup.

Reuters witness, however, reports that much of the capital, Libreville, remained calm.

South Africa Authorities want Interpol to arrest Zimbabwe’s grace Mugabe

South Africa

Authorities in South Africa are working with Interpol to enforce an arrest warrant issued for Zimbabwe’s former first lady Grace Mugabe over an alleged assault in an upmarket district of Johannesburg last year.

After the alleged assault with an electric cable came to light in August 2017, the South African government granted Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity.

That immunity was overturned by a South African court this year after the alleged victim, model Gabriella Engels, challenged the decision.

“I can confirm that a warrant for the arrest of Grace Mugabe was issued last Thursday,” South African Police Service spokesman Vishnu Naidoo said on Wednesday.

Naidoo added that police were seeking Interpol’s help to enforce the warrant.

There was no immediate comment from Mrs Mugabe or from authorities in Harare.

Mrs Mugabe was seen as a potential successor to her 94-year-old husband Robert, who ruled Zimbabwe from 1980 until he was ousted in a coup late last year, at the time of the incident in a luxury hotel in Johannesburg’s Sandton district.

READ MORE: Grace Mugabe, the president’s typist who nearly became Zimbabwe president

She has denied assaulting Engels with an electric cable, saying an “intoxicated and unhinged” Engels attacked her with a knife after the model had gone to see the Mugabes’ sons at the hotel.

South African advocacy group Afriforum, which represented Engels, has dismissed Mrs Mugabe’s denial as a lie.

Mrs Mugabe has retreated from the limelight in Zimbabwe since her husband was ousted in the November 2017 coup.

South African President Calls for Land Nationalisation

South Africa

South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma has weighed in on the ongoing land reform debate, urging the government to quickly implement the policy of ‘expropriation of land without compensation’.

In two videos posted on his Twitter account, Zuma said the land reforms are necessary because nearly all of the problems faced by South Africans can be traced back to the question of land.

‘‘You must know that the ills of the black people in South Africa…the bigger portion of it emanates from the land dispossession,’‘ argued Zuma.

‘‘You solve the problem of the land, you’ll solve the poverty in this country, inequalities and the economic issues.’‘

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and the opposition Economic Fredom Fighters (EFF) are pushing for the amendment of the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

Land is a contentious issue in South Africa where racial inequality remains entrenched more than two decades after the end of apartheid when millions among the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority.

READ MORE: Here’s why South Africa wants to expropriate land without compensation

Zuma’s prefered land policy

Zuma, who was president of South Africa from 2009 until 2018, also called out the ‘willing-seller, willing-buyer’ policy that the ANC used in the past to address the land question.

‘‘If we want to keep the land, and sell it to people who have got no money, you are prolonging the problem, a painful problem to the people.’‘

He then went on to explain that the ANCnow seeks to redistribute the land by requiring those who own ‘large stretches of land’ to share it with indigenous black who owned this land before.

He also backed the framers of the Freedom Charter who called for nationalisation of land, arguing that land is such a valuable resource to be sold to private individuals or companies.

It should rather be leased to people for profitable use.

‘‘Land is an important resource for the nation. That’s why the debate must be frank and straight. And we must resolve the matter.’‘

Another ex-president, Thabo Mbeki, described the ongoing ANC land reforms as ‘racist’ in September last year.

The ANC has previously resolved to reach out to the two ex-presidents, whom it accuses of raising views that contradict ANC’s policies.