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  1. Deadly Lassa fever spreads to 'seven Nigeria states'
  2. Iran mocks Djibouti for cutting diplomatic ties
  3. Robbers shoot dead top Nigerian football official
  4. UN troops hit by new allegations of sexual abuse in CAR
  5. Nigeria Islamic court sentences cleric to death
  6. First image of Lupita in Queen of Kwate released
  7. Email stories and comments to - Wednesday 6 January 2016

Live Reporting

By Naziru Mikailu and Farouk Chothia

All times stated are UK

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We'll be back tomorrow

That's all for today from the BBC Africa Live page. Listen to the Africa Today podcast and keep up-to-date with developments across the continent on the BBC News website.

Today’s African proverb: "Blood doesn't quench thirst."‪#‎Hausa‬ proverb sent by Musa Abba Yahaya and Garba Hayat, both in Nigeria.

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

We leave you with this photo of Phikela Ngamlana taking swimming lessons in Soweto, South Africa: 

Phikela Ngamlana (R) gestures as he takes instructions from his swimming teacher Mike Sgwili at Power Park swimming pool in Soweto, January 6, 2016. The latest rolling heat wave to scorch South Africa will persist until Friday over western parts of the maize belt, the South African Weather Service said on Wednesday

Ex-militant Islamist 'killed' in Somalia

 A Voice of America journalist tweets:  

View more on twitter

How do Nigeria's Sharia courts work

Sharia court sign in Nigeria
Getty Images

The BBC's Muhammad Kabir Muhammad explains how Nigeria's Islamic courts work, after a Muslim cleric was sentenced to death for blaspheming Prophet Muhammad in the northern city of Kano:

Anyone who is not satisfied with the judgement of a Sharia court can appeal to the Sharia Court of Appeal in the state within three months. From there the case can be taken to the federal Court of Appeal, which is secular and, finally, to the Supreme Court.

There are judges of the Court of Appeal who are learned in Islamic law and who would be convened by the court's president to hear the case.

The Sharia courts only try Muslims. If a case involves a Muslim and a non-Muslim, the non-Muslim will be given the option of choosing where he/she wants the case to be tried. The Sharia court can only hear the case if the non-Muslim gives written consent.

Amina Lawal, who was found guilty of adultery in 2002 and sentenced to death by stoning, was acquitted by a Sharia Court of Appeal.

Nigeria army displays seized weapons

Nura Muhammad Ringim

BBC Africa, Kaduna, Nigeria

Nigerian army displayed weapons

The Nigerian army says it has recovered weapons and ammunition from robbers, cattle rustlers and other criminal elements in the north-western part of the country. 

The weapons were displayed at a press conference in northern Kaduna city.

Nigerian army displayed weapons

The army and police have been waging a joint operation to tackle cattle rustling and other criminal activity in the region.

It seems the army was called in because the police were battling to cope on their own. 

Nigerian army displayed weapons

France 'meddling' in Benin presidential contest

A group of politicians and union leaders in Benin say they are opposed to Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou standing for the presidency, alleging he was "parachuted in" by former colonial power France, AFP news agency reports. 

Mr Zinsou, a former speech-writer of France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, stepped down last year as head of one of Europe's biggest investment funds to become prime minister of the West African nation in a move that surprised many, AFP reports. 

rench economist and investment banker Lionel Zinsou poses in Paris on February 4, 2015

In November, Mr Zinsou, pictured above, was named presidential candidate of the governing party in elections due on February 28. 

Benin's former head of state Nicephore Soglo is leading the coalition opposed to Mr Zinsou, AFP reports. 

He said there had been a plot to "impose" Zinsou as a candidate and demanded an explanation from France, it adds.  

Benin's government spokesman Alassani Tigri described the allegations as "unacceptable" and said they appealed to "hatred, racism, fear and intolerance". 

"He [Mr Zinsou] is Franco-Beninese like a good number of our countrymen and women... No law of the land excludes his run for the presidency," he said in a statement, AFP reports. 

Ivory Coast names new prime minister

Ivory Coast Prime MInister Kablan Duncan

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara has reappointed Kablan Duncan, pictured above, as prime minister, hours after accepting the resignation of his government.

Mr Quattara is forming a new administration to consolidate stability and promote economic growth in Ivory Coast following his re-election in October. 

He first took power in 2010, ending conflict which killed some 3,000 people. 

UN vows 'tough action' against troops accused of sex abuse

The head of the UN mission in Central African Republic (CAR) has promised to take tough action over allegations that peacekeepers sexually abused four young girls in the capital, Bangui, AFP news agency reports. 

 "We have come to this country to help a population which is already traumatised. It is absolutely unacceptable for even a single peacekeeping soldier to be involved in these awful acts," Parfait Onanga-Anyanga said at a news conference in Bangui, it reports. 

"Where there is doubt we will take the side of the victims," he added, vowing that "the sanctions will be strong when we have established who is responsible". 

Soldiers of the UN force known by its French acronym MINUSCA sit on a vehicle on September 15, 2014 in Bangui as the new UN mission officially took charge of peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic
CAR has been hit by religious conflict since 2013

The girls had been interviewed by investigators from the UN children's agency, Unicef, and the countries from where the troops came - believed to be Gabon, Egypt and Morocco - had also been asked to conduct an investigation, AFP reports. 

It quotes Mr Onanga-Anyanga as saying that the soldiers were "not only those of  Minusca", the acronym for the UN force in CAR. 

But an officer with the French armed forces - the only other foreign military mission in the country - said they were not aware of any new case against them, the agency reports.

Solar backpack entrepreneur brightens pupils' lives

Eco-friendly entrepreneur Thato Kgatlhanye is the founder of Rethaka Repurpose Schoolbags, which designs and manufactures school bags from recycled plastic bags in South Africa.

The bags also have a built-in solar light that charges during the day and can be used by school children living in homes without electricity to study after dark.

She shares her experience as part of our #WomenOfAfrica season:

Women of Africa: Solar backpack entrepreneur brightens children's lives in South Africa

#WomenOfAfrica is a BBC season recognising inspiring women across the continent. 

The second series, Africa's New Businesswomen, introduces eight female entrepreneurs who are finding success in their country - and beyond.

Destruction in battle for Libya oil town

At least four petroleum storage tanks were set ablaze during heavy fighting as the militant Islamic State (IS) group tried to seize coastal export terminals in eastern Libya, the National Oil Company said, the AFP news agency reports. 

The fires broke out at key terminals in Sidra and Ras Lanuf in the so-called "oil crescent" along Libya's northern coast, said a statement by the company, which is loyal to the government based in the eastern city of Tobruk. 

It was not clear whether the fires were still burning or if fighting was continuing for a third successive day.  

"We have lost 10 of our men since the beginning of the IS offensive on the terminals," said Ali al-Hassi, a spokesman for security guards in Sidra, AFP reports.

Ras Lanuf
Ras Lanuf has been hit by conflict since Col Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow in 2011

Amla quits South Africa captaincy

Hashim Amla

Hashim Amla has resigned as South Africa's cricket captain immediately after his side drew the second Test against England.

The 32-year-old had been in poor form but made a double century to inspire his side's fightback after England scored 629-6 declared in their first innings in Cape Town.

AB de Villiers will lead South Africa in the third Test of the series, which starts in Johannesburg on 14 January.

England lead the four-match Test series 1-0.

Read more on the story on BBC sport.

E-learning for Africa held back by power shortage

Educational technology
Educational technology is not going to be any use without affordable power

At least 17 million school-aged children in Africa will never attend school, the US-based Center for Universal Education says.

Many millions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, never start school or learn so little that it is hardly worth them attending, it added. 

Against this backdrop, education, particularly in East Africa, has become a hotbed for e-learning.  

But the ambitions for more educational technology in the continent are being held back by a basic lack of electricity.

Read more in this report by Tom Jackson

Educational technology

E-learning for Africa held back by power shortage

The ambitions for more educational technology in Africa are being held back by a basic lack of electricity.

Read more

Eto'o's coaching stint with Antalyaspor ends

Former Cameroon captain Samuel Eto'o
Getty Images

Former Cameroon captain Samuel Eto'o's stint as interim player-manager at Turkish side Antalyaspor has ended.

He has been replaced by Jose Morais, who was Chelsea's assistant coach under his compatriot Jose Mourinho until December.

Morais, who was linked with taking over at Swansea, also worked with Mourinho at Real Madrid and Inter Milan.

Eto'o took over in early December and won his first two games in charge before suffering two losses and a draw.

Read more on the story on BBC sport

Top marks for South African school for deaf pupils

A South African school for deaf pupils has achieved a 100% pass rate in final-year examinations - for the fifth consecutive year.

All the final-year pupils had also obtained at least one distinction, the Kwathintwa School for the Deaf  in KwaZulu-Natal province said in a statement.

The school's star pupil, Sthembiso Thabethe, got three As.

Principal Mavis Naidoo described the 2015 results as "phenomenal".

“For deaf learners to achieve such commendable results is no easy task. I firmly believe that this proves that all students have the potential to succeed if they have access quality education in a ‘learning enriched school’," she added.

The school was set up by anti-apartheid cleric Archbishop Desmond Denis Hurley, South Africa's News24 site reports.

A pupil in South Africa writing in a book
School leavers take the matric exam in South Africa

Djibouti 'is breaking ties with Iran'

Djibouti has cut diplomatic ties with Iran to show solidarity with Saudi Arabia, its Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf has confirmed, Reuters news agency reports. 

The small Horn of Africa nation, which is home to the US's only military base in Africa, joins Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan in entirely severing relations with Shia-led Iran (see our 12:59 post). 

Djibouti has a mainly Muslim Sunni population. 

Lassa fever 'kills 26' in Nigeria

About 26 people are suspected to have died of Lassa fever in seven states across Nigeria, the BBC Hausa service is reporting.

More than 150 others are feared to have been infected, the head of Nigeria's Centre for Disease Control Abdussalam Nasidi said.

Health officials were still carrying out tests to confirm the numbers. 

"It could be lower but we need to wait for different laboratory tests before arriving at a definite figure," Mr Nasidi added.

Cases had been reported from states in the north and south - including the most populous, Kano, and the oil-rich Rivers State, he said. 

Lassa fever is is transmitted to humans from rodents that harbour the virus. The most common complication of the virus is deafness.  

A multimmate rat
Science Photo Library
The multimmate rat is a carrier of Lassa Fever in West Africa

Cameroon 'to boost oil refinery production'

Cameroon's state oil refinery says it will complete this year the first phase of a project to extend and upgrade its facilities, Reuters news agency reports. 

"The project constitutes a priority, the outcome of which will allow the company to increase its production [and] be more competitive," Sonara said in a statement.  

The central African nation has sought to revamp its Sonara refinery for years. 

However, falling oil prices have cut spending, prompting the government to seek other forms of financing. 

The finance ministry announced last February that it would seek to raise $1.5bn (£1bn) from banks to refinance the refinery and fund other development projects. 

Annual refining capacity will rise to 3.5 million tonnes from 2.1 million when phase one and two are completed, Reuters says. 

Separate figures for each phase were not available.

Iran pokes fun at Djibouti

BBC Monitoring


Although there has been no official confirmation that Djibouti, which has a population of about 920,000, has severed diplomatic ties with Tehran, Iranian sarcasm over the "mighty" nation's reported decision to do so has turned into worries that the African country could raise the fee for Iranian oil tankers going through the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

According to Iranian media reports, Djibouti followed Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan in severing diplomatic ties with Iran after the Saudi embassy in Tehran was set ablaze on 3 January during protests about the execution of Saudi Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Iranian media and officials then began poking fun at Djibouti, with government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nowbakht saying Iran is not worried about Saudi Arabia cutting its ties with Tehran, "even if this move is backed by the great country of Djibouti".

And in a tweet, the editor of the hardline Keyhan newspaper, Hoseyn Shariatmadari, said the Iranian Foreign Ministry has "given 24 hours to Djibouti's diplomats to find their own country on a map".

Kashmiri Shiite Muslims shout slogans as they hold candles and torches during a candle light protest on the outskirts of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 05 January 2016
The cleric's execution has angered Shias around the world

But the jokes soon turned to concern when the conservative Mehr news agency said Saudi Arabia was "likely to use the geographical location" of the African nation to disrupt the path of the Iranian tankers carrying crude oil and increase the costs of Iran's exports to European countries. 

The semi-official Djibouti News Agency quoted a government spokesman as condemning the attack on the Saudi embassy, but there was no specific mention of breaking diplomatic ties.

Facebook appeal saves South Africa lion

A lion in South Africa
Kruger National Park Facebook

A South African lion has been saved after tourists on safari posted images of the animal bleeding from the neck on Facebook, BuzzFeed news reports.

The big cat was spotted by tourists in the popular Kruger National Park (KNP) after apparently being caught in a trap set by a poacher.

They alerted game rangers and posted the images of the injured lion on Facebook. 

Rangers say they have managed to locate the lion and its wound has been treated. 

"It appeared not to be as bad as anticipated and displayed by images," KNP said in a Facebook post.

“Our lion is finding his feet again” and is “doing well”, it added.

KNP  also released the latest picture of the lion below:

A lion in South Africa
Kruger National Park Facebook

Ivory Coast government resigns

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Quattara has accepted the resignation of his prime minister and the government, Reuters news agency reports

"The establishment of a new government will have better coherence as a goal so the government can be more efficient," It quotes Mr Ouattara as saying during a meeting attended by the media. 

Mr Ouattara was elected for a second five-year term in October's election with nearly 84% of the vote.

The resignation of the government after an election is a normal practise to pave the way for the president to make new appointments.  

Morocco's Belhanda joins Schalke 04

Moroccan international footballer Younes Belhanda has moved to German side Schalke 04 on loan.

The 25-year-old midfielder joined from Ukranian champion Dynamo Kiev.

Belhanda played 88 games for the Ukrainians in two and a half years in which he scored 11 goals.

The German team tweeted his arrival:

View more on twitter
View more on vine

A look at Tanzania's newspapers

Most Tanzanian newspapers are leading with a story of the decision by a High Court to suspend the demolition of homes allegedly built illegally in the main city Dar es Salaam. 

The demolitions would have made over 600 people homeless.

The BBC's Clare Spencer, who is on holiday in Tanzania, snapped these photos of the newspapers:

Tanzania newspapers
People reading newspapers in Tanzania

Police detain Zimbabwe lawmaker

An opposition MP in Zimbabwe, James Maridadi, has been arrested for allegedly shooting videos of customs officials and travellers at the Beitbridge border post with South Africa, Zimbabwe's state-owned Chronicle newspaper reports

Nigeria death sentence welcomed

Yusuf Ibrahim Yakasai

BBC Africa, Kano, Nigeria

Kano Sharia police
Islamic courts have their own police force in Kano

Most Muslim residents in the northern Nigerian city of Kano have welcomed the ruling of an Islamic court to sentence to death a cleric for blaspheming Prophet Muhammad.

The residents said Abdul Inyass - a Muslim - had committed a serious crime for which Islamic law prescribed the death penalty. 

Human rights groups have not yet commented on the ruling, but are likely to condemn it. 

Mr Inyass is a preacher of a local faction of the Tijaniya sect, founded in Senegal by Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse, who has a large following across West Africa.

Five other people, including a woman, were sentenced to death in June by the same court. Their sentencing led to some residents celebrating in the streets of Kano.  

The five were found guilty for organising the event where Mr Inyass made the derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad, and for agreeing with what he said and helping him to flee, prosecutor Lamido Abba told the BBC.

They are appealing against the ruling. 

Five witnesses gave evidence against the group, and an audio recording of the preacher was also presented to the court, the prosecutor added.

Mr Inyass, who was arrested in the capital, Abuja, was represented at the trial by a senior lawyer who did not want his identity revealed because of the sensitivities around the case.

A general view of a Sufi shrine in the town of Menzel Bouzelfa in Tunisia
Getty Images

Tijaniya at a glance  

The Muslim Sufi sect of Tijaniya was founded in Algeria in 1784 by Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tijani.

It spread all over the world, with a large following in North and West Africa. It also has followers in South Africa, Indonesia and other parts of the world.

There are other Sufi sects in Islam but Tijaniya is the largest.

They say they have three main daily practices: Asking the forgiveness of God; sending prayers to the Prophet Muhammad and affirming the Oneness of Allah.

Senegalese-born Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse was credited with reviving the sect in the 20th Century. People travel from across the continent to visit his shrine.

They have several factions including the Haqiqa (Realist) group, whose members were convicted of blasphemy in Kano.

Nigeria football official killed

Ibrahim Abubakar

Robbers have shot dead a senior official of Nigeria's Football Federation (NFF), Ibrahim Abubakar, in the capital, Abuja. 

He will be buried according to Islamic rites in his home city of Kaduna.

The NFF announced his death on its Twitter account:

View more on twitter

Kenya's Oscar-winning actress in new film

Nigeria ex-minister charged

Bello Haliru
Mr Haliru was Nigeria's defence minister from July 2011 to June 2012

A former Nigerian defence minister, Bello Haliru Mohammed, has been charged with money laundering. 

He is accused, along with his son Abba Bello Mohammed, of diverting $1.5m (£1m) that was meant to buy weapons for soldiers fighting militant Islamist group Boko Haram, during the rule of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. 

The two men have pleaded not guilty.

The former minister is said to be unwell, and appeared in court in the capital, Abuja, in a wheelchair on Tuesday. 

He and his son are due in court for a bail hearing on Thursday. 

UN troops 'sexually abused' CAR girls

UN troops in CAR
The UN has nearly 20,000 troops in CAR

The UN has been hit by new allegations that its peacekeepers sexually abused four underage girls in Central African Republic. 

 An investigation had been launched into the allegations, a UN spokesman said. 

The latest allegations bring to 26 the number of sexual abuse cases targeting peacekeepers in the CAR, AFP news agency reports. 

"We are really sick and tired of this coming back each time," New Zealand's UN Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen said, after the Security Council discussed the issue at a closed-door meeting in New York, AFP reports. 

It quoted a UN official as saying that some of the abused girls had allegedly been living in a camp in CAR's capital, Bangui, for people who had fled the violence that has hit the country since 2013. 

The peacekeepers were believed to be from Gabon, Egypt and Morocco, but the UN did not confirm this, AFP reports.

Death penalty for Nigeria cleric

Muslim pilgrims gather outside the Prophet Mohammed's Mosque in Medina 24 January 2004.
Prophet Muhammad is buried in the Saudi city of Medina

An Islamic Court in northern Nigeria has sentenced to death a Muslim cleric for blaspheming Islam's holiest figure, Prophet Muhammad. 

Abdul Inyass was sentenced at a secret trial in Kano, the main northern city, to "avoid a repeat of the mob action" seen at a previous hearing of the court, prosecutor Lamido Abba Soron-Dinki told the AFP news agency. 

Mr Inyass caused public outrage in May when he allegedly made derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad to followers as they marked the birthday of the former leader of the Muslim Tijaniyya Sufi order, Ibrahim Niasse, it reports. 

The cleric was arrested in August in the capital, Abuja, where he was in hiding, and was brought back to Kano for his trial, Mr Soron-Dinki told AFP. 

"He has up to a month to appeal the sentence and it is most likely he is going for appeal," he added.

Mainly Muslim northern Nigeria has a parallel legal system, where both Islamic and secular courts operate. 

The secular government has never allowed the execution of anyone convicted by an Islamic court. 

Today's wise words

Our African proverb of the day: Blood doesn't quench thirst. A ‪#‎Hausa‬ proverb sent by Musa Abba Yahaya and Garba Hayat, both in Nigeria

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

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Welcome to the BBC Africa Live page, where we will bring you up-to-date news from across the continent.