African press review 22 September 2015

It's D-Day for the president of the Nigerian Senate,  facing indictment for corruption; 4,000 inmates are evacuated from South Africa's Pollsmoor prison after the death of prisoner from a rat-borne disease; and  Burkina Faso's coup leaders are in dire straits as the regular army moves into Ouagadougou to restore "state of order".


We begin in Kenya where Daily Nation leads with news from Burkina Faso, where regular army troops reportedly entered the capital Ouagadougou without resistance and began negotiating the surrender of the coup leaders.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

The paper quotes the deputy head of the Burkinabe police Colonel Alain Ouedraogo, as saying that "all units of the army mobilised on Monday to march on the capital reached Ouagadougou" overnight.

The Nation says he spoke after French ambassador Gilles Thibault tweeted that interim president Michel Kafando, who had been under house arrest, was now "at the French residence".

Kafando had been arrested on Wednesday as Burkina was plunged into turmoil when soldiers from the powerful presidential guard regiment loyal to ex-leader Blaise Compaore detained him and Prime Minister Isaac Zida, himself a former deputy commander of the unit.

Witnesses said the military units were greeted along their march to the capital by crowds of people cheering, according to the Kenyan publication. It also reports that Ecowas mediators said the fate of the coup leaders should be decided by a future Burkinabe leader.

In Nigeria where the papers are leading with news that Senate President Bukola Saraki faces arrest after losing his to bid to stop his trial for corruption.

The Nigerian Tribune reports that the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Yakubu Umar, had ordered the inspector general of police and other security agents to present Saraki before his court unfailingly by 10.00am on Tuesday.

Punch says Nigeria’s third highest official of the federation had already agreed to visit the court today to hear the 13-count charge of false asset declaration levelled against him.

Vanguard reports that, despite the order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal ordering the inspector general of police and other security services to arrest the senate president, police have denied receiving a bench warrant to that effect.

And the Guardian scrutinises the so-called "Code of Many Troubles" behind the attempt to uproot Senator Abubakar Olubukola Saraki from the pinnacle of legislative leadership. According to the paper, formulating a total of 13 charges 13 years after the alleged crime could release a balloon effect on the nation’s polity.

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Nigerians it says, would like to know who discovered these infractions, adding that they need to be convinced that the allegations and attendant prosecution are not products of mischief.

For the publication, there is a question of constitutionality to answer: whether any other officer other than the attorney general of the federation could file charges in court on behalf of the Code of Conduct Bureau.

In South Africa where the Mail and Guardian has a spread on the evacuation of at least 4,000 inmates from Pollsmoor prison after the death of at least one prisoner from a disease related to rat infestation. The journal quotes the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) as saying that the infection, known as leptospirosis, is carried in rat urine and conditions at the prison were likely to facilitate more infections.

The shocking revelations were made in a documentary aired by the Al Jazeera TV channel, in which several rights campaigners condemned the continued “inhumane conditions” at the facility describing them as a matter of national concern.

One official of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) told the broadcaster that cells built to accommodate 30 people were holding as many as 80, while one warden was being made to look after up to 70 inmates at a time.

The Pollsmoor prison has been the subject of much scrutiny of the past few months, according to the Mail and Guardian. The paper recalls that a Constitutional Court judge expressed deep shock about the “extent of overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, sickness, emaciated physical appearance of detainees” after visiting the prison in September.

The Johannesburg publication also collected the reaction of correctional services department to the Pollsmoor prison scandal. He told the paper that South Africa was dealing with an inhumane and brutal past, admitting that prisons were still a microcosm of  society. 

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