African press review 31 May 2013
The African press looks at the discovery in Nigeria of an arms cache allegedly linked to the Lebanese Islamist armed group, Hezbollah.
Several national dailies offer chilling details about the size of the armoury discovered at a private home. In Kano the Nigerian Tribune prints a photograph of the arsenal hidden in an underground bunker in the master bedroom of the residence.
The Daily Trust reports that the arms displayed for public viewing at the site included AK-47 rifles, 200 factory-made hand grenades, dozens of rocket-propelled grenades, over 100 bombs and anti-aircraft missiles.
This Day names a Lebanese national known as Abdul Taher Fadlalla, who is currently out of the country, as the man living in the house.
The Nation reports that the home belongs to Abuja businessman Mustapha Fawaz. He has been arrested along with three Lebanese nationals in connection with the terror plot. Secret service investigators quote the suspects as saying that the weapons were for fighting Israeli and Western interests in Nigeria, according to the paper.
The arrests and arms recovery came as Special Forces stepped up their military offensive in northern Nigeria against the Boko Haram sect. The Sun reports that 50 armed insurgents have been captured in recent days while trying to escape to their stronghold in Borno state capital, Maiduguri, from different locations in the north east .
Punch takes up a ban slapped on same-sex marriages in Nigeria by the House of Representatives. According to the paper, the lower house voted unanimously on Thursday to endorse a 14-year jail term for offenders. Punch says the bill also forbids churches, mosques and any other place in Nigeria to celebrate such unions.
The bill left no options for a fine and sets a 10-year jail sentence for members of gay groups or those engaged in gay processions, according to Punch newspaper. A spokesperson for the House of Representatives told the Nigerian Tribune that they voted in respect of the culture and traditions of Nigeria, stating that lawmakers decided to be on the side of God and the people.
Punch frowns at what is sees as a snub for Nigeria by US President Barack Obama. He won’t be visiting Nigeria during his forthcoming African tour. Barack and Michelle Obama are due to visit Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania between 26 June and 3 July. Punch says the exclusion of Nigeria from the Obamas’ itinerary is apparently a way of delivering a strong message to the country’s rulers on their slack anti-corruption policy and poor human rights record.
In Kenya the papers highlight the rage of lawmakers who are threatening mass tax cuts in response to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s support for reductions in the wages of parliamentarians. According to the paper, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission set MPs' wages at 4,800 euros per month, compared to 7,600 euros earned by members of the previous chamber. The Daily Nation reports that the MP salary saga turned nasty Thursday after legislators threatened to pass laws exempting millions of Kenyans from paying income taxes.
Standard Digital reports that the angry MPs have vowed to slash Uhuru’s salary and substantially reduce budgetary allocations to plunge independent commissions into a cash crisis as retaliation.
According to the paper, the group of lawmakers who have been leading calls for higher salaries have the tacit backing of a majority of parliament. Some frontline MPs told the Standard they could hit back as early as Tuesday, when the National Assembly resumes after a brief break to begin budget approval hearings.
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