Sentenced to six months in prison for taking part in a banned demonstration, lawyer and activist Michèle Ndoki of the opposition Mouvement pour la Renaissance du Cameroun (MRC) faces the death penalty in other cases.
ECOWAS frets over growing terrorist attacks amid dwindling funds
There have been attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire in recent times, while intelligence agencies have warned that a “credible terrorist’s threat” faced all the 16 member countries in the West African sub-region.
I must sadly inform you that as an organisation, ECOWAS is going through financial difficulty owing largely to dwindling sources of income
The warning followed a deadly attack launched on a hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso that claimed 28 lives and injured 56 in January this year followed by another in March, on Cote d’Ivoire’s three hotels in the beach resort city of Grand-Bassam that killed 16 people.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for both attacks that reports say targeted foreign nationals.
“[The attack] has buttressed by the fact that more of our countries are now facing threats of terrorism,” ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman said.
“We, therefore, need to be proactive with training to combat terrorism,” she said at the bloc’s bi-annual tripartite meeting of training centres of excellence in Ghana’s capital, Accra.
“I must sadly inform you that as an organisation, ECOWAS is going through financial difficulty owing largely to dwindling sources of income.”
The regional bloc relies heavily on community levies, but Suleiman told security agencies that, “this levy is often not remitted or delayed,” putting the commission “under pressure and forcing it to reprioritise its activities”.
Meanwhile, police have called on Ghanaian to remain calm after a controversial Nigerian prophet, TB Joshua, claimed that imminent terrorist attacks would hit Ghana and Nigeria.
According to the prophet, who urged his congregation to pray for the two countries, the planned attacks will target public gatherings and would happen on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday in April, drawing mixed reactions from the public, with some urging people to disregard the “false prophesy”, while others appear to believe it.
But police assured the public, in a statement on Monday that “all the requisite operational strategies, including intelligence gathering and tactical deployment of personnel have been unfolded to nib any breach of the peace in the bud”.
It also called for closer co-operation between security agencies and the public to fight “the scourge of terrorism” and control violent crimes, while urging people to be vigilant, and report any suspicious parcels or questionable characters in public places.