U.S. expresses concern over violence in Cameroon

The United States Government on Tuesday expressed concern over protests in Bamenda and Buea communities of Cameroon that later resulted in peoples’ deaths, injuries and destruction of property.


John Kirby, U.S. Department of State’s Assistant Secretary and spokesperson said in a statement that his government would want the Cameroonian Government to protect and defend the peoples’ rights.


“The United States is deeply concerned by the loss of life, injuries and damage as a result of protests that turned violent in Bamenda and Buea, in Cameroon.


“We are also concerned over the recent Cameroonian government’s actions to restrict free expression and peaceful assembly.


“We call on all parties to exercise restraint, refrain from further violence, and engage in dialogue, for a peaceful resolution to the current protests.


“The United States also urges the Government of Cameroon to protect and defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, ensure that all voices are heard and respected,” he said.


The U.S. official also said that his government was also worried over the ten-year prison sentences for persons who exchanged texts referencing Boko Haram.


Mr. Kirby also said the U.S. was concerned about the arrest of 54 members of the opposition Cameroon People’s Party, while they were peacefully holding their party’s meeting.


“The constitution of Cameroon guarantees freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.


“We believe that non-threatening rhetoric and activities, especially private conversations and gatherings, warrant neither prosecution nor government censure,’’ he added.

Trump Finally Admits Obama Was Born In The United States

Donald Trump finally admitted Friday that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States,” reversing himself on the issue that propelled him into national politics five years ago.

Trump sought to end his longstanding attempt to discredit the nation’s first African-American president with just a few sentences tacked on at the end as he unveiled his new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.
But the issue isn’t likely to die down any time soon — especially as Trump continues to falsely blame Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for starting the “birtherism” controversy. Clinton said earlier Friday that Trump’s acknowledgment of Obama’s birthplace doesn’t go far enough and that he must also apologize.
“For five years, he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president,” Clinton said at an event in Washington. “His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie.”
Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961.
Trump offered no apologies for his leading role in the birther movement and didn’t explain what drove him to change his mind. The President dismissed Trump’s criticism Friday, joking with reporters at the White House and saying, “I was pretty confident about where I was born.”
Read More: CNN

US Actively Supporting Counter Boko Haram Efforts

The U.S. says it supports the establishment of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and is actively partnering with the MNJTF signatory countries in their counter Boko Haram efforts by providing advisers, intelligence, training, logistical support and equipment.


A statement on U.S. support to counter Boko Haram obtained on Friday, said the Department of State, through its Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) account, was providing approximately 71 million dollars, worth of equipment, logistics support, and training to the MNJTF signatory countries, to enable them to participate effectively in the MNJTF.


It said in September 2015, the Administration directed the use of up to 45 million dollars in Presidential Drawdown authority in defence services and articles of the Department of Defence and military education and training to support counter Boko Haram efforts.


It said the joint Department of State and Department of Defence has provided 40 million dollars Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) Counter Boko Haram programme specifically assisted the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria to develop institutional and tactical capabilities to enhance their joint efforts to address security on their shared borders.


It also said that it has laid groundwork for increased cross-border cooperation to counter Boko Haram in the troubled areas.


The Department of State also funds multiple counter-terrorisms, countering violent extremism, law enforcement and justice sector improvement programmes to support Counter Boko Haram efforts through International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE).


Also through Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programmes (NADR), and Economic Support Fund (ESF) funding, as well as through the Trans-Sahara Counter-terrorism Partnership (TSCTP).


It said in financial years 2015 and 2016, the U.S. was providing more than US$195 million in humanitarian assistance for Boko Haram-affected populations throughout the region, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees.


Boko Haram is an Islamic extremist group based in northeastern Nigeria that has wreaked havoc on several countries including Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.


It has killed thousands of people and kidnapped hundreds more. Its activities have also led to the displacement of millions of people in the countries where it operates.




Absence of Ministers Delays U.S Assistance to Nigeria

Notwithstanding the success of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the United States of America last month, the US government was said to have informed him that it would not start to address the requests brought by the Nigerian government until Buhari sets up his cabinet.

Buhari had gone to the US with a number of requests including seeking assistance from America in Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram, support in the reconstruction of the North-east, support in the war against corruption, assistance in tracking down Nigeria’s stolen funds by past corrupt government officials, and increased trade and investment between Nigeria and the US.

But he US government made it clear that while it was willing to help Nigeria address some of its challenges, its officials advised Buhari during his three-day visit to the country to set up his cabinet and put in place a crack team that could help address the multi-faceted problems of the country.

Reports provide that the issue was raised during some of the meetings the US government officials held with Buhari and his team, when the US, led by its president, Barak Obama, said it had expected Buhari to come to Washington with crucial members of his cabinet in order to hold fruitful and productive deliberations.

According to a source at the meetings, the US officials were somewhat disappointed with the president’s team during the visit, which comprised mainly civil servants, adding that the US reckoned that the civil servants would not be able to address any of the country’s requests or provide policy direction until Buhari sets up a team that would help him realise his plans for the country.

Although the source maintained that Buhari’s US visit was “highly successful”, given the renewed relations between the two countries, he stated that Nigeria should not expect much from the US until Buhari’s cabinet emerges, adding that the US was quite emphatic on Buhari’s team before lending support to Nigeria.

He revealed that the position of the US was reiterated during Buhari’s meeting with the US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Read More: thisdaylive

FBI Identifies ISIS Executioner

Reports say that the United States has identified the masked Islamic State militant who murdered two kidnapped American journalists in separate videotaped beheadings.

FBI chief James Comey made this known to reporters at a briefing in Washington on Thursday, saying that,  “We believe we have identified the executioner…, I won’t tell you who it is.”

The British ambassador in Washington, Sir Peter Westmacott, had previously said that the allies were close to identifying the suspect.

Comey did not confirm or deny reports that the suspect in the killing is British, but said the FBI was concerned that another film from the Islamic State group features someone with a North American accent.

It features a masked militant in combat fatigues speaking in English.

 Comey said, “There’s no doubt that there’s someone speaking with a North American-accented English on that video, so that’s a big focus of ours right now.”

White House Explains Purpose of Obama Trip by Ben Rhodes

PS: An excerpt from a White House briefing on President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to Africa.

We see Africa as one of the most important emerging regions in the world, and a place for the U.S. to significantly increase our engagement in the years to come. There are growing economic opportunities there for increased trade and investment and increased engagement by U.S. businesses.

Trade and Investment

We, frankly, have heard a high demand signal from the U.S. private sector for us to play an active role in deepening our trade and investment partnerships in Africa. And I think one of the things you’ll see on this trip is we’ll be incorporating events that bring in the private sector in each of the countries that we’re visiting. And we’ll also be bringing a number of members of the President’s economic team from our new U.S. Trade Representative USTR, Mike Froman, to representatives from OPIC, from the Export-Import Bank, and including Raj Shah, our AID Director, who also plays a role in these issues.

So trade and investment and the economic opportunities on the continent are going to be an important part of the agenda; also democracy and democratic institution-building.

Democracy and Institution Building

Each of the countries that we’re visiting are strong democracies, and the President has made it a priority to support the consolidation of democratic institutions in Africa so that Africans are focused not just on democratic elections, but institutions like parliaments, independent judiciaries, and strengthening of the rule of law — both as necessary elements of a democratic government, but also as necessary elements of development. Because when you have the assurance that comes with the rule of law, it is easier for companies to invest and for economies to take off.

Young People

I think you will also see a focus on young people. Africa has an extraordinarily large youth population, and it’s important for the United States to signal our commitment to investing in the future of African youth. And this, too, is a part of unleashing development on the continent because if you have young people who are able to access opportunity and able to shape the direction of their countries, that’s going to be in the interest of Africa and the United States as well.

Development Agenda

And you’ll also see the President speaking to the key pillars of our development agenda, which has focused on economic growth and also on issues such as food security and global health, where we’ve really shifted to a focus on capacity-building on the continent. So it’s not simply a model of assistance, it’s a model of capacity-building so that Africans are forging solutions to their own challenges.

All of this, I think, adds up to a U.S. engagement and leadership on the continent that is focused on unleashing African economic growth, democratic progress, and ultimately that will have a positive impact on a range of issues, including peace and security issues – because if we’re working and partnering with strong economies and strong democracies, we’re going to be better able to deal with the security challenges on the continent as well.

Ben Rhodes is Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speech-writing in the White House.

Source: allAfrica.com


Nigeria, as seen via satellite

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nigeria, and continues to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid all but essential travel to the Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers; the Southeastern states of Abia, Edo, Imo; the city of Jos in Plateau State, Bauchi and Borno States in the northeast; and the Gulf of Guinea because of the risks of kidnapping, robbery, and other armed attacks in these areas. Violent crime committed by individuals and gangs, as well as by persons wearing police and military uniforms, remains a problem throughout the country. Based on safety and security risk assessments, the U.S. Mission requires advance permission and justification as mission-essential for U.S. official travel to all Northern Nigerian states, in addition to the locations listed above. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Nigeria dated January 12, 2012, to update information on recent violent activity, and to inform U.S. citizens that the U.S. Mission to Nigeria has placed restrictions on all travel by U.S. government personnel to Northern Nigeria.
On December 31, 2011, the President of Nigeria declared a state of emergency in 15 local government areas in the states of Borno, Niger, Plateau, and Yobe. According to the Government of Nigeria, the declaration of a State of Emergency was in response to recent activities of extremist groups. The State of Emergency gives the government sweeping powers to search and arrest without warrants.
On January 9, residents of Nigeria participated in a national strike in protest of the government’s elimination of a gasoline subsidy, causing the closure of businesses throughout the country. Several large protests took place across Nigeria and some clashes with security forces resulted in deaths. Authorities established curfews of varying lengths in the cities of Kaduna (Kaduna State), Kano (Kano State), Oyo (Oyo State), Potiskum (Yobe State), Yola (Adamawa State), and Gusau (Zamfara state). Both international and domestic air travel were disrupted during the strike which ended on January 13.
On February 7, the extremist group known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for three simultaneous attacks on Nigerian military targets across Kaduna in which dozens were killed and injured. In addition, eleven people were killed during a January 22 gun battle and bomb attacks in Bauchi, Bauchi State. On January 20, elements of Boko Haram claimed responsibility for multiple explosive attacks and assaults against various Nigerian government facilities in Kano. The attacks lasted several hours and caused numerous casualties. Boko Haram has continued attacks in January and February, focusing on Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, and Kaduna states, and the group continues to publicly threaten attacks throughout northern Nigeria.
On January 6, gunmen reportedly killed 12 worshippers at a church in Jineta-Yoli, Adamawa State. Gunmen also attacked gatherings in Gombe, Gombe State and Mubi, Adamawa on January 5, reportedly killing 28 people. An explosive device was thrown into an Arabic-Koranic school in Sapele, Delta State on December 28, 2011 injuring seven people. Boko Haram also took credit for church attacks on December 25, in Niger, Plateau, and Yobe States that killed dozens. On August 26, a suicide bombing at the UN Headquarters in Abuja killed 25 people and wounded more than 80 other individuals. This attack was the first against an international organization and the fourth bombing in Abuja during the past year. It followed a similar bombing against the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters ten weeks earlier that killed five individuals on June 16. These bombings were in addition to bombings elsewhere in Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Adamawa, and Plateau States throughout the last year.
The risk of additional attacks against Western targets in Nigeria remains high. In December 2010, a bomb exploded near an Abuja “fish bar,” killing several people and injuring many others. Also in December, several explosive devices detonated in Jos, Plateau State, and alleged members of an extremist group attacked police and others in Maiduguri, Borno State, leading to significant casualties. In October 2010, two car bombs detonated in downtown Abuja during Independence Day celebrations, killing ten and wounding many others. Since March 2010, five improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have detonated in the Niger Delta region, causing one to three reported casualties in each case.
In September 2010, over 150 members of Boko Haram escaped from prison in Bauchi, some of whom now may be participating in attacks in other parts of the country. A loose alliance of militant groups in the Niger Delta region has conducted a number of attacks against oil installations and posts of the Nigerian military’s Joint Task Force (JTF), which had attempted to close the militant camps. In June 2009, the Federal Government of Nigeria offered unconditional amnesty to any militants willing to surrender their arms and accept the government’s amnesty program. While almost all major militant leaders accepted the offer and the amnesty remains in effect, the potential for violence and the risk of kidnapping remains, with violent incidents involving “ex-militants” continuing.
Kidnappings continue to be another security concern. In January 2012, a U.S. citizen was kidnapped from his vehicle in Warri, Delta State and his security guard was killed. Assailants kidnapped a German citizen, also in January 2012, along a road where he was reportedly working in Kano, Kano State. In 2011, there were five reported kidnappings of U.S. citizens in Nigeria. The most recent occurred in November when two U.S. citizens, along with a Mexican national, were taken hostage in international waters off the Nigerian coast and held captive for over two weeks in the Niger Delta. Others have occurred in Lagos and Imo States. Also, a British national and an Italian national were kidnapped in Kebbi state in May 2011. Since January 2009, over 140 foreign nationals have been kidnapped in Nigeria, including seven U.S. citizens since November 2010. Six foreign nationals were killed during these abductions, while two U.S. citizens were also killed in separate kidnapping attempts in Port Harcourt in April 2010. Local authorities and expatriate businesses operating in Nigeria assert that the number of kidnapping incidents throughout Nigeria remains underreported.
Travel by foreigners to areas considered by the Nigerian government to be conflict areas without prior consultation and coordination with local security authorities is not recommended. The Nigerian government may view such travel as inappropriate and potentially illegal, and it may detain violators. In 2008, Nigerian authorities detained six U.S. citizens, including journalists, on six occasions, in areas where militant groups had operated. The Nigerian government interrogated these U.S. citizens for lengthy periods of time without bringing any formal charges before ultimately deporting them. Journalists are required to obtain a special accreditation from the Ministry of Information prior to traveling to conflict areas in the Niger Delta region states. This special accreditation is in addition to the general press accreditation and a valid Nigerian visa which are required to conduct such activities elsewhere in Nigeria.
Many foreign oil companies operating in the Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers have implemented “essential travel only” policies for their personnel. The U.S. Mission requires advance permission for U.S. government travel to these states, as well as the states of Abia, Edo, and Imo, the city of Jos in Plateau State, and Bauchi and Borno States, given the safety and security risk assessments and the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate General’s limited ability to provide assistance to individuals detained by Nigerian authorities in these states. Due to recent violent activity, the U.S. Mission has temporarily restricted all travel by U.S. government personnel to Northern Nigeria. All travel requires advance permission and justification as mission-essential for U.S. official travel to all Northern Nigerian states. U.S. citizens who are resident in these states are advised to review their personal security in light of the information contained in this Travel Warning.
Nigeria is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society in which different ethnic and religious groups often live in the same area. The States of Bauchi, Borno, and Plateau have experienced violence in the past year exacerbating tensions along those lines.
Violent crime committed by individuals and gangs, as well as by some persons wearing police and military uniforms, is an ongoing problem throughout the country, especially at night. U.S. citizen visitors and residents have experienced armed muggings, assaults, burglary, carjacking, rape, kidnappings, and extortion – often involving violence. Home invasions remain a serious threat, with armed robbers accessing even guarded compounds by scaling perimeter walls; following, or tailgating, residents or visitors arriving by car into the compound; and subduing guards and gaining entry into homes or apartments. Armed robbers in Lagos also access waterfront compounds by boat. U.S. citizens, as well as Nigerians and other expatriates, have been victims of armed robbery at banks and grocery stores and on airport roads during both daylight and evening hours. Law enforcement authorities usually respond slowly or not at all, and provide little or no investigative support to victims. U.S. citizens, Nigerians, and other expatriates have experienced harassment and shakedowns at checkpoints and during encounters with Nigerian law enforcement officials. Traveling outside of major cities after dark is not recommended due to both crime and road safety concerns. There are regular reports of piracy off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea. Armed gangs have boarded both commercial and private vessels to rob travelers. The Nigerian Navy has limited capacity to respond to criminal acts at sea.
U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Nigeria are strongly advised to enroll through the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By enrolling, you make it easier for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to contact you in case of emergency.
U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos for up-to-date information on any restrictions. The U.S. Embassy in Abuja is open Monday – Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos is open Monday – Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The U.S. Embassy in Abuja can be reached by telephone, including after-hours emergencies, at +234(9) 461-4000. The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos can be reached by telephone, including after-hours emergencies at +234(1) 460-3600 or +234 (1) 460-3400.
Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line at-1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
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