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African press review 19 September 2014

There are questions over the death toll after a Nigerian church collapsed and why the tragedy happened. Three men claim they were shopping for arms for Nigerian intelligence in SA. Nigeria's police and army are accused of the routine use of torture. Kenya offers a holidy to a girl mistook for the "White Widow".


In South Africa the press tries to unravel the confusion surrounding the death of 67 South Africans in the collapse of preacher TB Joshua’s Lagos church complex.

More than 80 people were killed and 130 more injured when the Synagogue complex in the Ikotun area of Lagos came down last Friday, according to Mail and Guardian. The paper reports that Nigeria’s refusal to allow South African rescue teams into the site and a lack of cooperation by TB Joshua’s aides is fuelling renewed speculation about the death toll.

Nigeria’s Nation newspaper reacts angrily to what it perceives as the media’s swallowing of the ludicrous explanation given by Joshua and his team. They are claiming that a six-storey building collapsed because a plane circled over it four times.

Controversy has surrounded the Nigerian preacher since he formed his church in1987, according to the JohannesburgStar. The paper reports that Temitope Balogun Joshua aged 51 is a high-school dropout who claims that God asked him to create the Synagogue Church of all Nations as he ended a 40-day fast.

The Star says he claims have divine powers to heal HIV/Aids, cancer, paralysis. He has since included Ebola in the list of diseases he cures through prayer, going on to donate 4,000 bottles of his “powerful anointing water” to help people infected by the virus in west Africa.

Joshua’s fortune is another issue of controversy. The Johannesburg publication says Forbes magazine in 2011 named him one of Nigeria's five richest pastors with an estimated fortune of up to 12 million euros.

Several Nigerian papers also take up the standoff between Abuja and Pretoria over the discovery of 9.3 million dollars (7.2 million euros) in the luggage of two Nigerians and an Israeli when they arrived at Johannesburg airport in a chartered private jet. The trio, currently being held by police, told South African customs the fortune was intended to procure arms for the Nigerian intelligence services.

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

The private jet used to convey the cash was owned by the national president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, who has since denied any involvement in the arms deal. The Nigerian Tribune says the Senate on Thursday summoned the national security adviser, the chief of defence staff and the chief of army staff to explain the suspected scam.

The Nigerian press also takes up the just-published 2014 Amnesty International in which the watchdog has challenged the government to criminalise the use of torture by the police and military as a tool of investigations.

Punch quotes the organisation as accusing the military of detaining at least 5,000 people for terrorism since 2009, when the military launched operations against Boko Haram.
The report, presented to journalists on Thursday in Abuja, is titled “Welcome to hell fire". It accuses Nigerian police and the military of routinely torturing women, men and children – some as young as 12 – using a wide range of methods, including beatings, shootings and rape.

South Africa’s Mail and Guardian says Kenya’s government has offered an all-expenses-paid holiday in Kenya to a 15-year-old American teenager and her family after police mistook her for Samantha Lewthwaite, the British terrorist suspect nicknamed the “White Widow”. The teenager was “harassed by police in Mlolongo”, outside the capital Nairobi, accused of looking like Lewthwaite, the wife of one of four Islamist suicide bombers who attacked the London transport network on 7 July 2005, killing 52 people.

The 30-year-old Muslim convert has been linked to Somalia’s al-Shebab rebels, who have launched a string of attacks in Kenya, including the assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre that claimed at least 67 lives a year ago on Sunday, according to the

Al-Shebab - who are they?


In Kenya meanwhile, the Daily Nation publishes the findings of an independent investigation into the Westgate Mall terrorist attack in which 67 people were killed.

The paper points to systemic failures by Kenya’s security agencies. The study found out that two of the attackers flew from Somalia to Entebbe, Uganda, each transporting an AK-47 rifle, grenades and 30 rounds of ammunition, enough bullets to kill 1,000 shoppers, according to the Daily Nation.


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