Monthly Archives: February 2015
A consignment of U.S. military equipment has arrived in Cameroon to aid in the fight against the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. This is part of an increasing flow of international assistance to Central African nations as they prepare to deploy a regional military force to counter Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.
The United States Ambassador to Cameroon, Michael Hoza, said the military equipment is a sign of Washington’s firm commitment to help Cameroon counter the growing regional terrorist threat posed by Boko Haram.
“Just this morning some more equipment arrived. We have been setting up a logistic pipeline for critical equipment to assist Cameroon security forces in their battle against Boko Haram. We will continue our effort to provide assistance and advice to the Cameroonian military and security forces as they battle to defend Cameroon’s territory and protect its people,” said Hoza.
Hoza said the United States has been providing military advisors and trainers at Cameroon’s request, and that cooperation is evolving to focus more on counter-insurgency tactics.
Cameroon Defense Minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o said American assistance is vital to counter Boko Haram’s nearly six-year insurgency, which spilled over from Nigeria into Cameroon in 2013 and more recently into neighbors Chad and Niger.
He said the assistance, and the knowledge that the international community is supporting them in the fight against Boko Haram terrorism, has boosted the morale of Cameroon’s military.
Earlier this week, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a new video vowing to disrupt Nigeria’s March 28 elections. The vote was delayed by six weeks to allow a new regional military push to assist Nigeria to roll back insecurity in the north, where Boko Haram says it wants to create a caliphate.
Cameroon, Chad and Niger have launched air and land operations trying to squeeze Boko Haram fighters along Nigeria’s borders. Regional military chiefs meet in Chad next week to finalize plans to deploy some 8,700 troops – which will also include soldiers from Benin.
Boko Haram has killed thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands people, attacked mosques, churches, schools and homes, and kidnapped scores of girls and young women.
The United States has declared Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization and has placed a $7 million bounty on Shekau to help bring him to justice
“Although the Ebola outbreak is approaching its 1st anniversary, and even though it appears ‘the worst is over’, and reported new cases seem to be declining it is still not really time for celebration” stated National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Sierra Leone, Woode Olatungie.
It all started in Guinea
On 28 December 2013 a two-year-old boy died and was later identified by researchers of the New England Journal of Medicine, as the first case of Ebola in West Africa and confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO)
The toddler named Emile Ouamouno, died of Ebola in Meliandou, a small village in Gueckedou district, in the South East of Guinea. Emile’s death became the root cause of a catastrophic Ebola outbreak which has infected over 21,000 people today and claimed nearly 9000 lives according to a WHO report.
“Mothers and fathers, who contracted Ebola, had their children infected and these children later died. Some died during treatment at the ETUs (Ebola Treatment Units) and others at the Interim Care Centres (ICCs) few months after” said National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Sierra Leone, Woode Olatungie.
On his part, George Kordahi, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Liberia, said the past year was a “very difficult and trying time for us. I have never experienced such emotions personally. Death was all around us but yet, was invisible unless it touches you. July, August, September, October and November of 2014 are months we will never forget as long as we live”
SOS Children’s Villages safe and alert
Movements in and out of SOS Children’s Villages were restricted, to avoid anyone bringing the virus into the village environments. All SOS schools were closed and children are being schooled at home, where possible, especially in Sierra Leone.
In Liberia, children read books in Libraries in SOS Children’s Villages and the older children help younger ones with studies.
With essential funding for care programmes from individual sponsors and many multilateral and governmental entities, SOS Children’s Villages stepped up precautionary measures to guard against infection.
The SOS Children’s Village in N’zérékoré, located in the most affected region of Guinea, was the most vulnerable SOS facility, especially as communities were hostile to sensitization.
Aware of this high risk and concerned about the lives of children in the care of SOS Children’s Villages, local authorities donated concentrated solutions of sodium hypochlorite and bleach that were distributed to SOS family homes and schools.
SOS teams carried out campaigns and health briefings to sensitize coworkers and SOS children about the public health danger and purchased essential household goods in bulk and stocked in SOS Children’s Villages ahead of government enforced ‘lockdown’, to ensure smooth functioning of the villages.
A clinic that won’t give up – SOS Medical Centre Monrovia
SOS Medical Centre Monrovia continued to render services to hundreds of people since the outbreak was reported in Liberia. The centre was among the few that operated all 24hours a day.
Steadfast to its relief efforts, the SOS Medical Centre is presently exploring the possibility of collaborating – as a referral centre – with the partnership between the governments of Liberia and the United States of America to study infectious diseases and develop clinical research capacity in Liberia.
Slowing but not under control
WHO figures in a recent situation report on Wednesday, 4 February, indicate that the number of new cases of Ebola increased in all three countries worst-hit by the virus in the last week of January
It is the first increase in a week in 2015, ending a series of encouraging declines. Sierra Leone registered 80 of the 124 new cases, Guinea 39 and Liberia five. Earlier, WHO had announced its lowest weekly count of new cases since June 2014 and Liberia recorded only five new confirmed cases in ten months, raising hopes in the fight against the disease.
“The fact that figures of the infected are decreasing is a relief. If it continues in this trend, then normalcy is not far-fetched” said the deputy director of SOS Children’s village Freetown.
New signs of hope
After months of closure, the SOS Hermann Gmeiner International schools and SOS Kindergartens in Liberia reopened on 16 February. Government also announced a postponed reopening of other schools in the country on 02 March.
“A delegation from SOS visited the MOE and this was the final information we received” said Mr Kordahi.
“The thought of wasting a whole year at home was frustrating. I am confident schools will reopen soon and we all will be in our classrooms again with friends” said Mariama, a student of SOS Hermann Gmeiner International School, Freetown.
In Guinea, schools resumed on Monday, 19 January, three months late and some parents are still reluctant to send their children to school, for fear they might contract the virus.
“Fear that the virus makes more victims still exists because we cannot get people abandon customary habits and practices” said National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Guinea, Diane Oumou. SOS Children and young people have participated in several socio-cultural activities including preventive awareness sessions against Ebola and community programmes to clean up public places.
“We look forward to developing programmes for our upkeep. All promises by government ranging from food, medical, money and care for children are failed” said Korlia Bonarwolo, a survivor, while pleading with government and international partners to assist in sustaining Ebola survivors.
Home for the children ‘no one wants to see’
As the outbreak slows, SOS Children’s Villages is shifting focus to care for over 10,000 children orphaned by Ebola in West Africa.
SOS Children’s Villages admitted first four Ebola orphans into SOS Children’s Village Makeni on Friday, 23 January 2015.
“By mid-February, additional six children orphaned by Ebola will be admitted in the Children’s Village in Makeni, about 15 to 20 in the Children’s Village Freetown and 10 to 15 in the Children’s Village Bo”, noted Mr Woode, the national director.
The impact of the Ebola epidemic is felt in all circles of the society. Fear of contamination has led to people not wanting to interact with others. Health care systems have virtually collapsed while airlines, investors, contractors and citizens have fled the affected countries and prices of basic commodities and medical supplies are increasing.
However, the Ebola also introduced the good practice of hygiene which is common in the three most affected countries, and in Guinea has led to a zero recorded case of Cholera in the last year, contrary to previous years.
“We wash our hands frequently with soap and this diluted water, and make sure everyone does so frequently”, said a community leader, whose community benefitted from buckets and disinfectants donated by SOS Children’s Villages Liberia.
By Jude Fuhnwi
• Arrest proves sect has European members
• Bama, Baga about to be liberated as more insurgents are slayed in Sambisa, Gwoza
• Chad inflicts more casualties on terror group
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja with agency report
Following the capture of eight French nationals who are members of the terror group Boko Haram, a diplomatic spat has ensued between France and Cameroun, which has insisted on trying the terror suspects.
A top Nigerian intelligence source opened up to THISDAY on the brewing diplomatic tensions between France and one of her Francophone allies in the sub-region following the shocking discovery that some French citizens are staunch members of the sect, a throwback to their membership of the terror group, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
According to findings, France was reported to have chided her former colony for insisting on trying the terrorists in Cameroun instead of handing them over to the French authorities.
Enraged by the audacity of Cameroun to hold its citizens, the French Foreign Minister, Mr. Lauren Fabuci, was alleged to have ordered that the suspects be handed over to the European country with immediate effect.
However, Camerounian authorities were said to have felt slighted and have protested the manner in which France had demanded the release of its nationals.
A Camerounian minister was quoted to have said: “Mr. Lauren Fabuci, the French Foreign Minister, has ordered Cameroun to release immediately eight Europeans captured by our security men, for being part of Boko Haram terrorists.
“Mr. Fabuci demanded their immediate handover to France so that they can prosecute the terrorists on French soil, ignoring our sovereignty and independence.
“The French are acting as if Cameroun is their errand boy that they can order around and ignore the fact that we have our own laws with which we can try the terrorists.”
The latest revelation has lent credence to strong suspicions in the Nigerian intelligence community that Boko Haram has strong foreign backing.
When contacted on the discovery of French nationals who had joined the terror sect, the Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, said it was a matter for the parties involved to sort themselves out.
“All I can tell you is that the matter is for Camerounian and French authorities to settle,” Olukolade stated.
However, a top military officer said the Nigerian intelligence community had previously warned of a growing foreign collaboration with Boko Haram.
He said other than Chadians, Boko Haram has a large presence of Arabs, Malians and other Islamists who have joined the sect.
“Now we have seen evidence of French and European participation. This is one major indication that Boko Haram has very active and sophisticated foreign backing. I advise that the African Union should take this up.
“France is trying to silence the Camerounians but Africa must rise to the occasion and take this findings seriously. They must not keep quiet,” the military source said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian military has continued its onslaught to rid the North-east of Boko Haram terrorists, as a concerted air campaign by the Nigerian Air Force has resulted in the death of a large number of Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State.
This is coming just as military sources informed THISDAY that the boundary town of Baga and to some extent Bama, might have been liberated, save for few pockets of resistance by Boko Haram elements and mop-up operations in both towns.
According to a statement yesterday by the spokesman of the Defence Headquarters, Major-General Olukolade, “A concerted air campaign by the Nigerian Air Force is ongoing in furtherance of the mission to clear terrorists from all their enclaves.
“The air strikes which today (yesterday) targeted the training camps and logistics dumps of the terrorists in Sambisa forest and parts of Gwoza have been highly successful as it achieved the aim with required precision.
“The death of a large number of terrorists has been recorded, while many others are also scampering all over the forest and out of the struck bases. Details of casualty will be determined in subsequent phases of the operation.”
Olukolade said the strikes would continue in other locations of the theatre of war, heralding the advance of troops and other elements of the mission.
In the same vein, the Nigerian military buoyed by the joint offensive of neighbouring Chad and Cameroun, is set to complete the liberation of other strategic towns in Borno State.
A top intelligence source informed THISDAY that Baga followed by Bama would soon be freed from the firm grip of the terrorists.
“There are some small details to be taken care of, but the operations have been largely successful. You will soon hear the cheering news from the appropriate authorities.
“The Baga liberation is almost complete and mop-up operation phase is already ongoing,” the source said.
Also, the insurgents suffered heavy casualties when Chadian troops pushed into Nigeria this week, residents who fled the fighting told AFP yesterday.
Chad’s army said Tuesday evening that they had taken control of the town of Dikwa, which is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) southwest of the Nigerian border town of Gamboru.
The offensive deep inside Nigerian territory was a first and suggested strategy to tackle other rebel-controlled areas in Borno State, which is the terror group’s stronghold.
The Chadians are part of a four-country coalition mounting a regional fight-back against the Islamists.
“Chadian soldiers took over Dikwa from Boko Haram after heavy fighting on Tuesday,” Bababura Diwa, who lives in the town, said by telephone from Fotokol, across the border in northern Cameroun.
Diwa said the Chadians came from Gamboru, which they had previously recaptured, with heavy artillery power and overpowered a group of militants at Lomani village, 15 kilometres from Dikwa.
“When they came into Dikwa, there was intense fighting but at last they subdued the Boko Haram fighters,” he added.
“They killed many of them, including Abu Ashshe, their commander, who was notorious for seizing cattle in the area.
“I used the opportunity provided by the presence of the Chadian troops to leave the town. I was afraid to leave when Boko Haram took over the town for fear of being branded a traitor and killed,” he said.
Diwa’s account was backed by several other residents, who took advantage of the Chadian advance to flee the ancient town, which is near Boko Haram’s makeshift camps in the Sambisa Forest.
Jidda Saleh, another resident, said Chadian troops launched heavy aerial and ground attacks on the Kala-Balge area, particularly on Nduwu village, which he said was a “major Boko Haram stronghold”.
“The whole village was bombarded and it is obvious Boko Haram suffered heavy casualties from the aerial attack. Ground troops moved in later,” he added.
“Meleri, which has a huge Boko Haram concentration, was also bombed by Chadian military jets and then taken over by ground troops.
“By the time we left, we learnt the Chadian soldiers were on their way to Kushimori village where Boko Haram keep the livestock they seize from people.
“They have kept thousands of livestock there. They sunk boreholes and recruited people to rear the animals for them,” Saleh said.
Algoni Wal-Amire, another Kala-Balge resident, welcomed the offensive.
“Living under Boko Haram was like living in a minefield. You are always afraid your next step could be your last. I thank God I’m now safe from them,” he said.
The country is observing three days of national mourning in honour of at least 36 people killed in the bombing.
Niger’s authorities have continued with investigations into the air strike of February 17, 2015 on a Mosque in Abadam, a village located on the border between Niger and Nigeria that killed at least 36 people and injured more than 20 others as they gathered for a funeral ceremony, RFI reported. The Niamey government declared three days of national mourning that started on Thursday, February 19, 2015 in honour of the people who died in the air strike.
Government officials said that at least 36 civilians were killed when an unidentified airplane bombed a border village in Niger on Wednesday, Reuters cited. Military officials in Niger are reported to have said the air crew was likely to have mistaken the villagers, who had gathered for a funeral near a mosque, for Boko Haram militants. The Deputy Mayor of Abadam, Ibrahim Ari, is cited as having told the BBC that a plane had dropped three bombs. One struck a group of mourners sitting in front of the residence of a local chief, stating that more than 20 people had been injured during the incident. A local official in the village of Abadam blamed the Nigerian air force for the incident. By yesterday, it was not yet clear who was responsible for the bombardment as Nigeria has denied responsibility. “It’s not to my knowledge and there has not been any report from our people of such an incident,” BBC quoted Dele Alonge, a spokesman for Nigeria’s air force as having said.
The Abadam bombing incident came at the time the Nigerian army has intensified its offensive against Boko Haram militants to dislodge them from the villages and other localities they have occupied in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States in the north east of the country. Nigerian defence spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade said the army killed more than 300 Boko Haram militants during military operations, BBC reported, and added that two soldiers lost their lives and 10 more were wounded in Borno State. BBC further cited Nigerian defence spokesman as saying that the army destroyed several Boko Haram armoured vehicles, seized five types of armoured fighting vehicles, an anti-aircraft gun, 50 cases of bombs, eight different types of machine guns, some 50 cases of ammunition, 300 motorcycles the rebels use to launch attacks, campsites used by the terrorists and captured some fighters.
Winners in the different categories of the 2015 edition of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope are yet to receive the prize money. However, there is no reason for alarm as this is the normal procedure
for the award of the prizes as was the case last year. To make sure the money get to the actual recipients, Guinness usually pays through banks and therefore requires information from the concern regarding their real identity or bank account so s to be able to pay the money. According to the Secretary General of the Cameroon athletics federation, the laureates will receive prizes within next week. It would be recalled that the winner in the male and female categories would receive FCFA 10 million each while the runners up receive five million and the third placed athletes, two million. There are prizes for the first three in other categories like the relay race, half race, the quarter race and junior categories. The race was won this year by Godlove Gabsibuin in the men’s category and Yvonne Ngwaya in the feminine category.
YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Nigeria and its four bordering countries announced plans Saturday to deploy an 8,750-strong force by next month to combat the growing regional threat posed by Boko Haram.
Details of the proposed deployment were revealed at the end of a three-day meeting in Cameroon in a statement read out by officials, including Issaka Souare, African Union adviser for Mali and the Sahel.
The plans call for Chad and Nigeria to contribute 3,500 troops each, while Cameroon and Niger would contribute 750 each and Benin would contribute 250. The force would be headquartered in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.
Nigeria’s conflict with Boko Haram has taken on an increasingly regional dimension in recent months, with the extremists staging attacks in Cameroon and Niger in the last week alone.
Nearly 100 people were killed and some 500 wounded in an attack on the town of Fotokol in Cameroon on Wednesday and Thursday that saw Boko Haram fighters raze mosques and churches and use civilians as human shields, Cameroon officials said.
On Friday, Boko Haram attacked two towns in Niger, killing four soldiers and wounding 17. Niger’s defense minister said 109 Boko Haram fighters were killed after Chad and Niger troops responded to that assault, but the figure could not be independently verified.
Earlier this month, AU heads of state announced plans for a 7,500-member force to fight Boko Haram. Officials said Saturday that the number was increased to 8,750 to allow for the inclusion of police and humanitarian officials.
Saturday’s statement said $4 million was urgently needed for the deployment, though it was unclear where this and other funding would come from.
Jacqueline Seck Diouf, who represented the U.N. at the talks in Cameroon, said the U.N. had promised logistical support for now but added that the AU was requesting funding. Further assistance would need to be approved by the U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, she said.
Cameroon Defense Minister Edgar Alain Mebe Ngo’o declined to discuss proposed operational details for the force.
The president of a local hunters’ association in Ngambe Tikar was arrested by wildlife officials of the Mbam and Kim Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife on Tuesday 27 January 2014. He was arrested with two others for illegal possession and commercialization of a variety of wildlife products including a dead baby colobus monkey, the limbs and scales of a giant pangolin, both listed as totally protected wildlife species in the country. The operation that was carried out in collaboration with the gendarmerie brigade in Ngambe Tikar came after an elaborate investigation following growing tips from the population on the illegal activity going on in the town. Wildlife officials put up investigztion missions to corner and arrest him but could not succeed in nailing him down to any offences although it was widely known that he was deep into wildlife trafficking.
Immediately after their arrest, law enforcement officials rounded the three traffickers into a truck with two other burglars who had been terrorizing Ngambe Tikar’s residents through regular break-ins and had succeeded in escaping detention at the gendarmerie brigade. The three traffickers were handcuffed alongside the burglars and transported immediately to the divisional headquarters of Ntui where they are held in detention. As the Toyota –pick-up truck carrying the suspects reel into the road, steadied and fired into full gear, the crowd surged with excitement and relief, noting that some of the high profile criminals including notorious wildlife traffickers were now leaving town. The operation was carried out with the technical assistance of The Last Great Ape Association (LAGA) and the Mbam and Kim Divisional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife, Sone Charles, declared shortly after the operation that “these poachers have been giving us a lot of headache, carrying out these activities and for some time we have been trying to track them but thanks to the efforts of LAGA we drew up strategies to monitor their activities which enabled us to lay hands on them”.
The hunters’ association president is known to have been in the illegal business for several years. In March 2014. he was found poaching in Ngambe Tikar by a National Control Brigade team from the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife that was on a control mission in the Mbam and Kim Division. He was warned on the illegality of his activity and released without charges brought against him.
As law enforcement officials made logistic preparations to transfer the traffickers to Ntui, pressure from some administrative and traditional quarters was mounted to secure their release. Phone calls and direct physical pressures were observed, a source close to the case declared but the wildlife officials and gendarmes handling the matter stood their ground. After witnessing the steadfast attitude of law officials, another approach consisting basically of negotiating for their release was initiated. On the way to Ntui, precisely at Ngoro, the team was approached by some people, engaged them in calm discussion with the same intent but this too failed to produce any effect. Many consider this resistance encouraging especially as the divison host two national partks, the Mbam and Mpem and the Mbam and Djerem National Park.
Pressure mounting and negotiation is a regular feature when wildlife criminals are arrested around the country. In a similar event, the Conservator of the Benoue National Park arrested some 4 Chinese gold diggers this month in the park for illegally prospecting deep inside the park. They carried a spade, a gold beater and a pickaxe, basic tools necessary for gold panning The conservator attempted to get the gendarmerie detain them as procedure warrants but he was turned down and had to detain the Chinese in the park’s offices. According to the conservator who was contacted by phone who declared that following sustained pressure and with little support from anyone, he released the offenders; failing to prosecute the offenders as the law demands.
Meanwhile in a successful case, wildlife officials in Mfou succeeded in prosecuting a man who was arrested in August 2013 near the Nsimalen International Airport for illegal possession and circulation of African grey parrots. He sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by the Mfou Court of First Instance. Minkada Engonga Mathurin who was transporting 71 African grey parrots on board a vehicle with a military number plate was equally ordered to pay civil claims of over 3 million CFA F and fines of close to 200 000 CFA F. This is victory for those working every day on the ground to prosecute people responsible for the demise of the country’s wildlife heritage as the law governing the sector stipulates that a person should face 1 t 3 years jail term if found guilty of breaking section 101 of the 1994 wildlife law that states that anyone who is found in possession of a protected wildlife species is presumed to have captured or killed the animal.
The Delegate General for National Security, Martin Mbarga Nguelle has terminated the contract between Cameroon and Thales Security Systems, a French company that was responsible for the printing of Cameroon national IDs, following authorisation from President Paul Biya.
Sources say the President gave the police boss permission to terminate the contract following reports from the national security delegation that the French company was involved in several corrupt practices including embezzlement of state funds, inflation of bills, and provision of three identity documentation to some citizens.
The company is also being indicted for allegedly undertaking a fake tenancy agreement with an unnamed landlord in Mvan, Yaoundé. The Journal learnt that the owner of the house occupied the building but Thales Security Systems was billing government as though they leased it. The firm recently charged government to pay some 10billion FCFA in unpaid rents to the landlord, to cover 2013 and 2014.
About 35 employees of the company are currently in pre-trial detention and are in court for fraudulent deals at the identification centre in Mvan.
Thales Security System laid off 300 of its staff last week, January 29.Bernard Brousse of the projects department served the employment contract termination letters to them on the same day. The Delegate General for National Security had notified the company about the non-renewal of its contract with the government of Cameroon since December 31, 2014.
Reports say earlier efforts made by the police headquarters to end government’s partnership with Thales Security Systems amounted to nothing, due to strong links between the company and some top officials at the Presidency. Mbarga Nguelle managed to notify the President in person and obtained his blessings to shut down the company’s activities.
Meantime, the French company is claiming 3.5billion FCFA from the Cameroon government; a debt which a source at the police headquarters says is a fabrication. The source said that the general delegation for national security instead intends to balance the accounts of the company and inform them how much they are to refund into government coffers.
Thales Security for its part is said to have filed complaints to both French and Cameroonian authorities to seek redress.
Bernard Okalia Bilai on February 4, 2015, assessed the condition of the victims during a visit to PAID-WA and the Buea Regional Hospital.
After the fatal road accident on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at Mile 29 on the Buea-Muyuka road in Fako Division of the South West Region, consternation and grief continues to haunt the people on what went wrong and why it happened. The unfortunate and avoidable accident, which left six dead, including three students of the renowned Pan-African Institute for Development-West Africa (PAID-WA), has not left local administrative authorities unconcerned.
To assess the situation and console with the victims, South West Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, on Wednesday, February 04, 2015, visited the Buea Regional Hospital where some of the survivors are receiving treatment. Dr. Enow Orock, Director of the Buea Regional Hospital, assured the Governor that the victims were all showing signs of improvements. He informed Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai that some of the victims were suffering from multiple injuries like head trauma, with two being severe. Cameroon Tribune learnt that 36 accident victims were rushed to the hospital on February 3, 2015, from Muyuka when the unfortunate incident occurred.
Some 32 of them were students of PAID-WA on field trip to Kumba. Earlier at the PAID-WA campus, the Governor regretted the unfortunate incident that claimed the lives of some of its students. He told the sobbing students to remain calm as all necessary measures have been put in place to curb a repeat. The Regional Director of PAID-WA, Mr. Uwem Essia, in tears, promised that the institution will foot the bills of its students. He assured that PAID-WA will do everything possible for the student victims to recover.
Among the six dead are three PAID-WA students: Pendi Tamogan, Tchoungan Berane and Leocadia Rokin. Three other victims were identified as Wunchiah Henry (builder), Emilia Ebue (mother) and Daniel Bassy (driver). Reckless driving, speeding, overtaking and use of road-unworthy vehicles, have in the past weeks claimed many lives in Fako Division and left many families in grief.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, 90, fell down steps from a podium after speaking to supporters upon his return from Ethiopia, say witnesses.
Mugabe appeared to miss a step and toppled when he left the raised lectern at the airport Wednesday afternoon, according to several witnesses, who insisted on anonymity because of security concerns.
His aides quickly helped him up and escorted him to his limousine which sped away, they said.
“He addressed supporters who welcomed him … He missed a step as he walked down from the podium and immediately fell down,” said a witness.
Some press photographers who captured the fall said they were forced to delete their pictures by security personnel.
Mugabe’s spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Mugabe was elected chairman of the 54-nation African Union at a summit of African leaders on Jan. 30 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The role of rotating AU chairman is largely ceremonial.
He celebrates his 91st birthday on February 21. Mugabe takes annual vacations every January to Asia, including Singapore where he has visited specialists for checkups on his eyes, according to Zimbabwean officials. The Zimbabwean leader has repeatedly insisted that he is “fit as two fiddles.”
Zimbabwe, a once-prosperous nation of 13 million people in southern Africa, has struggled since Mugabe’s government began seizing white-owned farms in 2000. Mugabe is accused of using widespread violence to win several disputed elections, according to human rights groups. The country suffered hyperinflation until it abandoned its currency for the U.S. dollar in 2009.
The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 over abuses linked to national elections, banning travel in Europe and freezing the assets of dozens of officials and business representatives. The measures have been gradually lifted in recent years to encourage reform but Mugabe and his wife Grace remain on the EU blacklist.
Now that Mugabe is the head of the African Union, the European Union has decided to ease its travel ban on him while he is chairman for the next year.