A military court in Burkina Faso on Wednesday handed down a life prison term to former president Blaise Compaore over the 1987 assassination of revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara.
Applause erupted in the courtroom as the long-awaited verdict was read out, bringing the curtain down on a case that has afflicted the impoverished and volatile state for 34 years.
The court also issued life terms to Hyacinthe Kafando, an officer suspected of having led the hit squad, and General Gilbert Diendere, an army commander at the time of the assassination, which coincided with a coup that brought Compaore to power.
Compaore, who lives in exile in Ivory Coast after being toppled by public protests in 2014, and Kafando, who has been on the run since 2016, were tried in absentia.
The six-month trial was avidly followed by many in the landlocked Sahel nation, for whom Sankara’s bloody death remains a dark blot on the country’s history.
A fiery Marxist-Leninist who blasted the West for neo-colonialism and hypocrisy, Sankara was shot dead on October 15, 1987, little more than four years after coming to power as an army captain aged just 33.
He and 12 colleagues were killed by a hit squad at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.
Discussing the leftwing icon’s death was taboo throughout the 27-year reign of Compaore, Sankara’s comrade-in-arms.
The court in the capital Ouagadougou found Compaore, Kafando, and Diendere all guilty of harming state security.
Compaore and Diendere were also found guilty of complicity in murder, and Kafando of murder.
Their sentences exceeded the request of military prosecutors.
They had sought 30 years for Compaore and Kafando and 20 years for Diendere, who is already serving a 20-year term over an attempted military coup in 2015.
Eight other accused were given jail terms ranging from three to 20 years, while three defendants were acquitted.
In its closing statement, the prosecution recounted in grim detail a plot to ambush Sankara and his closest followers.
Sankara headed to the National Revolutionary Council meeting for a rendezvous with death, for “his executioners were already there,” it said.
After Sankara entered the meeting room, the hit squad burst in, killing his guards, the prosecution said.
“The squad then ordered president Sankara and his colleagues to leave the room. They would then be killed one by one.”
Ballistics experts told the trial Sankara had been shot in the chest at least seven times by assassins using tracer rounds.
But the defendants said the victims died in a botched attempt to arrest Sankara after he and Compaore fell out over the direction the country’s revolution was taking.
Compaore boycotted what his lawyers dismissed as a “political trial,” while an attorney for Diendere said his client’s life term was “excessive” given that he had attended the trial and contributed to proceedings, while the two other chief accused were absent.
Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara, who attended the trial throughout, hailed the outcome.
“The judge has handed down his verdict in line with the law, and everyone appreciates this,” she said.
“It is something that we had requested — justice and truth,” she said.
“Our goal was for the political violence we have in Burkina Faso to come to end. This verdict will give many people cause for thought.”
Guy Herve Kam, the Sankara family’s lawyer, said the culmination of a decades-long legal fight made him “proud” to be both a Burkinabe and a lawyer.
Prosper Farama, another Sankara lawyer, said, “Our hope is that this odious crime never happens again in either Burkina Faso or elsewhere in Africa.”
One of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina has a long history of political turmoil since it gained independence from France in 1960.
Reminders of that instability came during the trial, when proceedings were briefly suspended after a coup on January 24 that deposed the elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
Kabore was toppled by rebel officers angered over his failure to roll back a nearly seven-year-old jihadist insurgency.
The campaign has claimed some 2,000 lives and displaced some 1.8 million people.
The trial resumed after new military strongman Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba restored the constitution and swore an oath.
2023: Ensure Party Primaries are not Influenced by Highest Bidders, President Buhari Charges New NWC
With the Emergence of New National Working Committee NWC of the All Progressive Congress, President Buhari has enjoined the New leadership led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu to promote internal democracy and equal opportunities and ensure that party primaries are not influenced by “highest bidders” going into the 2023 elections.
Speaking on Saturday at the Eagle Square Abuja Venue of the National Convention President Muhammadu Buhari called on members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to remain united and strong and also support the New leadership of the party.
In his words, “This Convention is coming at a crucial time when we prepare for another round of a general election. Therefore, the need to remain strong and united for the Party to exploit the rich and abundant potentials at its disposal cannot be overemphasized. We appreciate the right to hold different opinions and aspirations, however, such differences must not be to the detriment of the Party.
“l passionately appeal to you all to support the incoming National Working Committee (NWC) to promote unity and avoid sentiments that are capable of causing disaffection and disunity. For those aspiring for party and public offices, your failure to realize such aspirations for Party offices or to fly the Party’s flag, should not be a basis for a campaign of calumny against the party. We should have the spirit of sportsmanship and always support the party to succeed.”
He commended the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee for steering the ship of the party this far including; reconciling aggrieved party members, purchasing a new party secretariat and launching an aggressive membership drive that saw three governors defecting into the APC, among others.
“I want to congratulate us all for being part of this history-making event and to specially appreciate the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) which has been on a rescue mission under the leadership of His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, the Yobe State Governor, for successfully piloting the affairs of the Party in the last 18 months and organizing this Convention to elect a new National Working Committee that will take over from the Caretaker Committee.
“I am glad the Party under the Caretaker Committee has bounced back to life with the reconciliation of several key and critical stakeholders and groups who had hitherto left the party or were on the verge of leaving the Party. The reconciliation process gave the aggrieved stakeholders a true sense of belonging and assurance.
“It is gratifying that the Party recorded massive and unprecedented defections under the Caretaker Committee administration. APC received three sitting Governors, a Deputy Governor, Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and State Assemblies, and other key officials from opposition parties who defected along with millions of their supporters.
“I am impressed to learn that the membership registration and revalidation exercise undertaken by the Caretaker Committee, has recorded over 41 million members. This has proved that we are indeed Nigeria’s leading and largest political party. It also exhibits our numerical strength and the potential to win elections at all given times fairly and squarely.”
The President who adduced reasons for his recent intervention in the affairs of the party, assured that it was not intended to muzzle dissenting voices.
“Recently, l had cause to intervene in the leadership crisis which was about to cause confusion in the Party. Such internal disputes are common in young democracies such as ours, but we must avoid overheating the polity and not allow our differences to tear and frustrate the Party.
“Like I said earlier, it does not do anybody or the Party any good, when we, as leaders, go down so low and resort to backstabbing and name-calling in the media.
“We should learn how to resolve our differences without jeopardizing our personal relationships and the fate of the Party. I want to thank the Progressives Governors’ Forum for heeding to my advice and suggestions in settling the leadership dispute,” the President said.
President Buhari called on all politicians and the electorate to abide by the new Electoral Act “ to promote the process of election, enhance transparency, fill in existing gaps and add value to Nigeria’s democracy for our democracy to thrive.”
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Hon. Angulu Harps On Media Collaboration to Deliver on Core Projects.
The Federal Capital Territory Secretary on Transportation Hon. Zakari Angulu Dobi has called for a robust Collaboration with the Media as strategic partners in the quest to accelerate the development and efficient management of the Transportation sector in Abuja, the Nation’s capital.
Speaking with a session of the Media in his office on Tuesday 15 March 2022, Hon. Angulu particularly noted that in recognition of the important role the media plays in society, the Transportation Secretariat will always remain very open for media practitioners across the country and beyond.
According to him, the Transportation Secretariat and media practitioners as stakeholders in the Abuja project can always come together to rob minds and exchange thoughts on how best to improve the public transport system within the Nigeria Capital.
In his words, “Since I assumed office as the Secretary Transportation Secretariat, I have enjoyed your support, and I am saying this from my heart, as I have read so many write-ups in respect to the Transportation secretariat. I believe that things should be done most simply.”
“I did tell myself that my office and by extension Transportation Secretariat will always remain very open for the members of the Press. Be assured that each time you are in the Secretariat, you will have my attention. I remain your subject, I’m completely your subject, and I remain your servant.”
“I see politics as one game that if you use it well, you get exposed to life. It is not all about accumulating power, and looking down on the people, it should be struggling for this power to impact positively on the lives of the people.”
“I want to say that so long as I live and remain in government here in FCT Administration and anywhere else, you don’t need an appointment to see me or do business with me”. he concluded.
It will be recalled that Hon. Angulu who just marked 100 Days in Office as the mandate secretary of the Transportation Secretariat has been able to carry the inventory and status of some notable projects within the nation’s capital with includes the Nyanya Transport Terminal, the Abuja Metro Rail, and other projects that will enhance public transportation within the city with a resolve to complete all projects within the time available.
FLOODS: FCTA Set To Remove All Structures Obstructing Waterways.
As part of proactive measures to prevent perennial Flooding crises in the Nigeria Capital, The Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA, has disclosed its plans to commence demolition of illegal structures in Utako and parts of Gwarinpa water way areas of the territory to have way for free flow of drainage water across the City.
The Director FCT Development Control Department Tpl Muktar Galadima who disclosed this in Abuja during a sensitization exercise, stated that the department remains committed to maintaining the original design of Abuja master plan, by ensuring the city is devoid of illegal structures that are capable of defacing the nation’s capital and also serve as a catalyst to the perennial flooding crises experienced in some parts of the city.
According to him, Some of the areas in the Utako District had been recently marked for demolition, which he further said would be handed over to the Nigerian Police Force to build its Utako Police station after the successful demolition and cleaning exercise.
In his words, “the reason why we have to visit Utako again is because the police force have a plot there that is about 2 hectares and they have submitted their design to develop the place and we processed the plan and granted approval to them to commence development. and we were involved in the process of negotiation and compensation of the people that were affected but thought it wise that it would be important to sensitize the people occupying the area so it will not be some sort of impromptu action.”
” There was an understanding between the Nigeria Police Force, the Indigenous Communities and the FCT Administration in this context the Development Control.
Within the process of development some of the indigenous houses will be affected and we have met with them and resolved that some of them can stay with their kids and kinsman, while others will find a way on how the Police Force can accommodate them in such places.”
” One of our major objective as government is to assure the citizens of the territory of their safety and their wellbeing also. Taking a Look at some of the places, one would see that there’s a stream channel that is gradually being constructed by the owners of the corner shops in that area and in liaising with the federal housing authority we went there to sensitize the people that this development can not be accepted because it is constituting a blockage to natural water channel and it is an illegal development because the owner of plot from the federal housing authority have written to us to come and partner with them to see how to clear the nuisance within the Gwarinpa estate.
“They do not need any compensation and they about 35 structures to be demolished and we have served them notice before now.”
NAICOM unveils real-time platform for deep penetration, efficiency
ShareThe National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), has automated insurance industry activities with the unveiling of a new platform to deepen the...