Suicide attackers storm HQ of Libya’s election commission, 12 dead

News, Terrorism

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Suicide bombers stormed the head offices of Libya’s electoral commission in Tripoli on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people and setting fire to the building in an attack claimed by the Islamic State militant group.

The assailants also opened fire on employees of the High National Election Commission (HNEC) and fought a gun battle with security forces trying to regain control of the site, officials said.

The attack appeared aimed at derailing efforts to organize elections in Libya by the end of this year, part of a U.N.-led attempt to unify and stabilize the country after years of conflict and political division.

Since December the electoral commission has registered nearly one million new voters across Libya, though no date has been set for polls.

Wednesday’s attack was the first of its kind in Tripoli since 2015. Though security across Libya remains volatile, violence in the capital has recently been limited to localized clashes between armed groups.

Immediately after the attack thick black smoke could be seen billowing from the electoral commission’s offices in the Ghout al-Shaal district west of central Tripoli.

“I saw two suicide bombers myself… they were shouting Allahu Akbar (God is greatest),” said commission spokesman Khaled Omar, who fled the offices with other staff as the attack unfolded.

“A suicide bomber blew up himself inside the commission and the others set a part of the building on fire.”

A security official who spoke to witnesses at the scene of the attack said several gunmen had opened fire on guards while the suicide bombers entered the building, and that some may have later escaped.

Once inside the bombers shot dead employees at close range before detonating explosives, said the official, who asked not to be named.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement on Amaq, its news agency. Two assailants — identified as Abu Ayoub and Abu Toufik — clashed with security forces before entering the building and detonating explosive jackets after running out of ammunition, the jihadist group said.

The health ministry said 12 people had been confirmed killed and seven wounded. Most of the victims were HNEC staff, with at least two security personnel also killed, Interior Minister Abdulsalam Ashour told a press conference.

The fire blackened the commission building, though HNEC head Emad al-Sayah said the electoral database was safe.

“This breach targeted democracy, not just the HNEC,” Sayah told reporters. “The choice and future of Libyans were targeted.”

Libya has been in a state of turmoil since a 2011 civil war resulted in the overthrow of longstanding ruler Muammar Gaddafi by rebel fighters backed by NATO air strikes.

Elections in 2014 were disputed, resulting in rival governments backed by competing military alliances in Tripoli and the east.

Militants linked to Islamic State have carried out suicide bombings across the north of the country, though the group lost most of its fighters in Libya when it was driven out of its stronghold in the central city of Sirte in 2016.

Libyan and Western officials say militants, including fighters loyal to Islamic State and al Qaeda, are now concentrated in remote desert areas, but also have sleeper cells in coastal cities including Tripoli.

On Sunday a joint meeting of the Arab League, European Union, African Union, and United Nations “emphasized the importance of holding parliamentary and presidential elections” in Libya, noting that they were planned by the end of the year.

Some Libyans and foreign officials have questioned the push for new elections, expressing concern about the lack of security as well as legal and logistical challenges.

Writing by Aidan Lewis, Editing by Peter Graff, Richard Balmforth, William Maclean

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The 8th Senate, Not IGP Idris Is The Real Enemy Of Democracy By Bala Ibrahim

APC, News, Politics

In the heat of Police investigations into the crimes Mr. Melaye was being accused of, he was intercepted at the Airport trying to leave the country and was detained by the men of the Nigerian Immigration Service, his passport having been seized. The “distinguished” Senator snatched his passport from the Immigration officers and ran out of the custody of the Immigration Service to the residence of the Senate President who harbored him for some time before he sneaked to his house.


BY BALA IBRAHIM

Bala Ibrahim

The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on Wednesday the 9th of May, 2018, said it made a resolution declaring the Inspector General of Police (IGP) “Enemy of Democracy”. The Senate said by this resolution, the IGP has been rendered unfit to hold any public office henceforth in Nigeria or elsewhere. Obviously, the Senate was irked by the inability of the IGP to appear personally before it in response to its invitation to him in relation to the arrest, escape from custody, hospitalization, and arraignment of one of its own, Senator Dino Melaye.

Mr. Melaye was invited by the Nigeria Police in connection with a criminal offense, and he refused to honor the invitation. A letter was written by the Police to the President of the Senate, Bokola Saraka to intervene and convince Mr. Melaye to respond to the invitation. Still, Mr. Melaye refused to respond.In the heat of Police investigations into the crimes Mr. Melaye was being accused of, he was intercepted at the Airport trying to leave the country and was detained by the men of the Nigerian Immigration Service, his passport having been seized.

The “distinguished” Senator snatched his passport from the Immigration officers and ran out of the custody of the Immigration Service to the residence of the Senate President who harbored him for some time before he sneaked to his house.Mr. Melaye was later arrested at his home and was being taken to court in Lokoja when the convoy was waylaid by hoodlums who distracted the Police and paved way for him to jump out and escape from Police custody.

He was later Re-arrested the same way the hoodlums who masterminded his escape were arrested. They turned out to be his brother and cousin. Both are already facing prosecution at the appropriate courts.He was taken to the National Hospital where he stayed for days before doctors officially certified him fit to be discharged. In fact, doctors’ report has it that there was virtually no health issue that could hinder any of his activities. But the Senator deliberately refused to leave the hospital, causing the Police to take him to the court on a stretcher. The Police were convinced that he was only playing tricks, having observed him to be entertaining his visitors with songs and delirious dance steps.

It was over this matter that the Senate wanted the IGP to appear before it. At a time when the country is being faced with so much security issues that require the rapt attention of the Police chief, he decided to send a representative, a Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operation. The Senate was not impressed; they wanted the man who at that time was in Kaduna state, where over 60 Nigerians lost their lives to gunmen attacks.Why the Senate would not want a representative of the IGP beats the imagination. These are people who are in the red chambers as representatives of about 180 million Nigerians. One would have expected that the principle of representation is already part of their system.

It is also clear, by virtue of the provisions of the Police Act, that a Deputy Inspector General of Police and an Assistant Inspector General of Police are technically IGPs. Since the letter to the IGP was not addressed Ibrahim Idris as an individual, but to the office of the IGP, any of the designated IGPs can as well do. In fact, the DIG in charge of operations is surely the most appropriate to provide all relevant information regarding the Melaye saga. Now, by declaring the IGP “Enemy of Democracy” and unfit to hold public office henceforth, the Senate is only treading a familiar rough ground.

It did same in a matter involving it and the incumbent governor of Kaduna state. The Nigerian courts, in 2004 declared such a resolution null and void. Today, the same El-Rufai that the Senate said is unfit to hold public office is a sitting governor, validly elected by the people of Kaduna state.This 8th Senate, which has the highest number of docked members so far in the history of the Nigerian Senate, including its president Bukola Saraki, has a worrisome penchant for unruly behavior and disregard for law and order. Otherwise, how does one explain away the refusal of a Senator to honor invitation over an alleged crime?

More dramatic was the commissioning of hoodlums to obstruct the process of justice. And most unexpected was the attempt to escape from lawful custody, itself a criminal act. From the same Senate came a senator, who stormed the plenary, wreak havoc, and abduct the Mace. This says a lot about the level of seriousness, sanity and lawful conduct of our Senate members. How does a Senate that perpetrates thuggery and refused to pass the budget, six months after it was presented to them, expect to be taken seriously by serious people?It is important that our Senators do everything within their capacity to uphold the sanctity of the Senate of the Federal Republic by abstaining from uncultured, uncivilized, undemocratic and immature behavior. When they do that, they will command the respect of all.

Mr. Ibrahim writes from Abuja

Our Entire Democracy Is In Danger – Atiku 

2019 Elections, APC, News, Nigeria, PMB, Politics, Power

Atiku Abubakar has condemned the theft of Mace at the Senate describing it as an assault on Nigeria’s democracy.

In a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja and published on Facebook

Atiku Abubakar

, Atiku said he is disappointed.

“I am utterly embarrassed, shocked and outraged by this ugly development because it is not only a threat to a major democratic institution but also represents a grave danger to the survival of our democracy,” he said.

Atiku noted that using illegal and unconstitutional methods to threaten the authority of a key democratic institution is evil and unacceptable.

He wondered how the thugs could force their way into the Senate chamber and steal the Mace.

“If criminals could commit such security breach with impunity, it means that our entire democracy is in danger. Those behind this illegality to avoid creating a monster that could consume them.

“It is unacceptable and reprehensible to subject the National Assembly to this intimidation and humiliation. This attack by thugs should not go unpunished no matter who is involved”, the former vice president added.

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