African press review 30 January 2015

Will the AU join forces against Boko Haram? Why did Goodluck Jonathan get stoned? Why did Indonesia execute two Nigerians? Will Kenyan MPs be charged with murder? And a South African radio reporter displays a certain lack of tact.


Will the African Union (AU) send a multinational force to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria, where the jihadist group continues to terrorise the north of the country?

Leaders gathered at the AU summit in Addis Ababa are discussing the possibility. Curiously, the Nigerian press this morning is not.

Punch does report that Chadian soldiers have driven Boko Haram insurgents from Malumfatori town in the north east. Punch says the recapture of the town, which lies near the borders of Chad and Niger, followed two days of fighting.

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The story is given less prominence than the news that President Goodluck Jonathan’s convoy was stoned again yesterday by aggrieved youths in Jalingo, Taraba State. Jonathan was there as part of his campaign to secure reelection in voting next month. Previously protesters stoned his convoy in Katsina and Bauchi states.

Punch says the windscreens and windows of some vehicles in the convoy were smashed before security forces used tear gas and horsewhips to disperse the youths. The paper pictures the Nigerian president with his head in his hands looking decidedly glum.

The Sun, meanwhile, leads with a rather confusing story headlined: “How residents sabotage anti-terror war in Borno.”

The paper says coordinated attacks by Boko Haram in Borno State confirmed claims that there are moles in the north east who divulge military operations to insurgents. There were also hints that the armed forces may have intended to dislodge terrorists in order to clear the entire region for peaceful polls next month. Sources told the Sun that this week’s jihadist attacks were a desperate attempt to create an escape route for Boko Haram commanders.

The most callous aspect of the attacks, it reports, was the conscription and deployment of child-soldiers, teenage female suicide bombers and animals to frustrate troops.

The leader in the Guardian considers the execution, for drug-trafficking of two Nigerians in Indonesia, saying it is regrettable, a dent on the image of Nigeria and an embarrassment.

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"While the outrage of many Nigerians who cringed at the news of the killing of their compatriots is understandable," the paper says, "the lessons are that crime does not pay and the arm of the law is very long."

Daniel Enemuo and Chibuike Okafor paid the supreme price for their crime. Twelve other Nigerians are reported to be on death row.

The Lagos-based daily This Day Live also focuses on the executions. Many Nigerians have run afoul of these stringent laws, it says, and, not surprisingly, none had been spared. Unfortunately, that has not served as deterrence for others.

In Kenya the lede story in several papers is about the possibility of murder charges being lodged against Members of Parliament. The Standard report that day-long chaos gripped the town of Narok in South Rift county after protesters barricaded major roads to press for the release of five area MPs arrested after violence on Monday that claimed two lives. As bonfires and boulders blocked roads, a Nairobi court released the MPs on bail with a warning by prosecutors that the charges facing them could be scaled up to include murder.

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The Daily Nation tells readers that the five MPs were released under a bond of 500,000 Kenyan shillings each, after the director of public prosecutions abandoned an application to have them held in custody for seven days. He cited the violence in Narok for his change of heart.

It was the second successive day of protests against Governor Samuel Tunai.

In South Africa the Sowetan leads with a cautionary tale for journalists who comment on murder. 5FM traffic reporter Sol Phenduka and the station's breakfast show manager Brendon Lombard have been suspended following remarks made on air on Thursday morning.

Phenduka was talking yesterday about the murders of the Van Breda family in Stellenbosch.

Sixteen-year-old Marli van Breda survived the attack.

His comments, which included his saying she was “gorgeous” and that he would “like to axe her out” but that he “wouldn't X her”, have been seen as insensitive, with social media accusing him of making jokes too soon after a tragic event.

The family was attacked in their home in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Father, mother and an older brother were killed. A second brother survived.

5FM apologised to listeners who were offended.

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