Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Warning to Ivory Coast

The Government has launched a strong protest to the Ivory Coast Government for allowing the use of Ivorian territory by dissidents as a base from which to carry out acts of subversion, sabotage and banditry against Ghana.

A statement issued in Accra said the Government was in possession of evidence which establishes beyond all reasonable doubt that some of the dissidents who were captured, trained and planned in the Ivory Coast, and crossed into Ghana at various points with the aim of coming to overthrow the Government of Ghana. While in the Ivory Coast, they had the co-operation of certain elements in the Ivorian security forces.

According to the statement, the Government has again reminded the Ivory Coast authorities of their duty to take measures to prevent the use of their territory by Ghanaian dissidents to plan the destabilization of Ghana. The obligation arises out of the principles of international law and the dictates of good-neighbourliness. The obligation is even more compelling in circumstances in which political asylum is granted to known political agitators who are wanted for crimes committed against the people and Government of Ghana.

The statement said while dissidents continue to operate freely from neighbouring countries, the Government of Ghana will remain unconvinced of the genuineness of declaration by these states of friendship and goodwill towards Ghana. It pointed out that Ghana reserves the right to take such measures as are necessary to convince her neighbours of the necessity for friendly co-operation, and they will be solely responsible for the consequences of such measures.

The Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Dr Obed Asamoah, has launched a similar protest to the Togolese Government while on a visit to Togo.

Gen Quainoo's account on infiltration

The force commander, Maj-Gen Arnold Quainoo, has announced that operations are still going on against the dissidents who infiltrated the country. He did not, however, say what the nature of these operations are. Giving his account of events leading to the capture and execution of Giwah and co. Maj-Gen Quainoo said a group of dissidents led by Cpl Giwah entered the country on Thursday (22nd March) from the Ivory Coast through Kwamikrom from the Ivorian side of the border, and went to a small border guard post at Gonnokrom where they attempted to continue their journey by road to Ghana.

In an encounter with the border guard and police personnel at the post, the dissidents stabbed a guardsman to death. They later attempted to escape but were captured in an ambush. He said some of the dissidents landed by sea at Ningo-Prampram but they were detected by the police, PDCS and villagers, and captured by a combined police and military police force.

Accra demos

Demonstrators in Accra marched to the embassies of the Ivory Coast, Togo and the US to protest against the alleged involvement of the countries in Egypt. the events in which 11 dissidents were killed by government forces. A report in the Nigerian Concord said that the demonstrators handed over protest letters to senior officials at the three embassies.

Soldiers beat managing director to death

Mr John Ofori Wilson the Managing Director of Seagull Fisheries is reported to have been taken from his Ringway Estate home in Accra by armed soldiers, beaten to death and his mutilated body dumped behind the Kumoji Hospital on Rangoon Avenue.

No official explanation has been given for the death nor have any official investigations been instituted. Unconfirmed reports from Accra state that the soldiers who came for Mr Wilson said he was a "dissident" and the operation was part of the security operations in which L/Cpl Giwa and Sgt. Malik and others were caught and executed.

The Giwa executions

Our attention has been drawn to the inaccuracy in what Mr Kojo Smith who was described in a Network Africa programme as a spokesman of the Ghana Democratic Movement, the exile organisation opposed to the Rawlings regime was reported by us to have told his audience on the above executions.

Mr Kojo Smith rather stated in that programme that L/Cpl Giwa and co were lured to Ghana by Flt.-Lt. Rawlings and not handed over by the Togolese authorities. We sincerely regret the error.

Ghana's exports to Egypt

The Government of Ghana has approved in principle a draft trade agreement under which Ghana will export 120,000,000 cedis worth of timber and timber products to Egypt in exchange for cotton of the same value. The agreement has been forwarded to the Public Agreements Review Board for signature.

The Secretary for Trade, Mr Ato Ahwoi, gave this hint when the Egyptian Minister of State for foreign affairs, Dr Boutrus Ghali visited the country. He said Ghana has been importing cotton from the United States to feed her textile factories and hoped within the framework of the agreement Ghanaian personnel of the Cotton Development Board would undergo training in the cotton industry in Egypt.


Co-operation with Egypt

Upper Volta and Egypt have expressed their desire to strengthen bilateral relations and to consolidate the existing cooperation between them in the economic, technical, cultural, and political fields. In a joint communique signed by Butrus Ghali, Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Araba Diallo, his Upper Volta counterpart, at the end of Ghali's three-day visit, they agreed to devote special attention to increasing the volume of trade between the two countries, as well as economic co-operation in accordance with the Lagos Plan of Action.

To this end, they decided to reactivate the trade and agricultural cooperation draft agreements signed between the two countries on June 10th, 1969 and February 27th, 1982 respectively. They also agreed to do everything to make the air transport agreement between the two countries more vigorous.

The two ministers expressed their happiness over the agreement signed between the Egyptian fund for technical assistance and the Upper Voltan Government on February 21st, 1982. The Egyptian side reaffirmed the readiness of Egyptian technicians and experts to take part with their Upper Volta brothers in the economic development of their country.

In the cultural field, the two parties jointly agreed to initiate negotiations for the drawing up of a programme for implementing the Egyptian-Upper Voltan cultural agreement of May 13th, 1972 in order to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries.


July date for lifting ban

The government has approved the 90-day extension requested by the national constitutional advisory assembly. The advisory assembly request was further recommended by a special committee set up by the Head of State to study the request which the asembly said they needed to publicize the revised constitution.

The approval of the request was announced by Foreign Minister T. Ernest Eastman, following a meeting of the executive committee of the People's Redemption Council and Cabinet, with the Head of State presiding, at the Unity Conference centre.

The Government also approved that the ban on politics be lifted on July 26th this year... At the end of the meeting, Minister Eastman also announced that the inauguration of the president will be held on the first Monday in January 1986.

World Bank rebuilding loan

The World Bank has approved a credit facility of 11,400,000 dollars for Liberia to undertake road maintenance in various parts of the country. A release from the UN Development Programme office in Monrovia said the road maintenance project was aimed at improving Liberia's road network and strengthening the Ministry of Public Works road main- tenance scheme. The release said part of the money would be used to upgrade the Ministry's administrative staff and provide technical assistance in the area of road maintenance.


Why French troops are in Chad

The French Prime Minister on an African tour has remarked in the Ivory Coast that French troops were in Chad because the borders of that country had been violated by Libya. The Prime Minister said that Paris wanted to assert the principle of inviolability of state borders. He thought there would be no military solution to the Chad problem, and it was up to the Chad people themselves to solve their differences.

The French Defence Secretary, Jean Gatel, also arrived in Ndjamena last week and visited the military garrison of Abeche to inspect the troops involved in the Manta operation in which 3,000 French soldiers are taking part. This visit took place on the eve of the Prime Minister's one-day visit to Chad.

Flights to Sudan resumed

An agreement has been reached between the civil aviation authorities in Sudan and Chad to restore a weekly flight for Chad Airlines to Sudan via Ndjamena, Abeche, Geneina and back, on the request of the Republic of Chad. A delegation of the Chad civil aviation authority has ended a four day visit to the country during which agreement was also reached to aid the Chad civil aviation authority in the framework of bilateral relations.

It is worth mentioning that the Sudanese airlines authority, which has been transformed into a company, runs a flight from Khartoum to Ndjamena once weekly.


France's relations with Ivory Coast and Gabon

Military co-operation between France and the Ivory Coast is "remarkable" and the Ivorian authorities are satisfied with it, Jean Gatel, France's Secretary of State for Defence, has stated. Gatel, who was in Abidjan, held a long discussion with Jean Konan Banny, the Ivorian Minister of Defence, during which the different aspects of military co-operation between the two countries were reviewed.

The French Secretary of State said the military co-operation was in three forms: The presence of 480 soldiers from 43rd infantry battalion of Marines; technical assistance by 80 officers and non-commissioned officers; and the training of 235 Ivory Coast nationals in various French military schools.


Special tribunal to try politicians

The special military tribunal to try public officers alleged to have engaged in corrupt practices is empowered to summon any person considered likely to give useful evidence, according to the Recovery of Public Property (Special Military Tribunal) Decree 1984 published in an official gazette in Lagos.

The decree states that after the tribunal has made its findings, the chairman shall announce the findings and shall impose the appropriate penalty prescribed by the Decree.

The Decree stipulates that the tribunal may impose a penalty of not less than 21 years imprisonment on any person convicted, or a sentence of life imprisonment in cases where a person has assets to the value of not less than 1,000,000 naira or its equivalent in any other currency or combination of currencies. In fixing the period of imprisonment, the tribunal shall take into consideration the magnitude of the difference between the means of the offender immediately before such a person assumed public office and when he relinquished the office.

According to the Decree, a tribunal shall comprise a chairman who shall be an officer in the armed forces not below the rank of colonel or its equivalent, three other offices of the armed forces not below the rank of lieutenant-colonel or its equivalent, and a serving or retired High Court Judge. The Decree states that the tribunal shall have jurisdiction to try any public officer or other persons charged with any offence under the decree and shall have power to award any of the penalties specified.'

There are 475 politicians who have been detained since the military takeover on New Year's Day.

A report in the London Guardian speculated that the tribunal might satisfy public demand for the blood of politicians who are alleged to have amassed millions of naira through abuse of political power.

The tribunal is composed of seven men from the army, five each from the navy and air force and six judges.

The Guardian report observed that Nigerians are worried about the dangers of retaining the new law which follows another decree which has suspended some human rights and is being used to detain people whom the report explained would not be viewed as enemies of the state.

Bar association is unhappy

The National Concord has reported that the Nigerian Bar Association was unhappy about the decree and might consequently ask the six judges appointed to serve on the special tribunals not to serve.

The paper reported the Association as "shocked and disappointed" by the provisions of the decree which outline the trial procedure and penalty for politicians found guilty of embezzlement.

Members of the National Executive of NBA were quoted by the paper as saying: "It appeared as if the Federal Military Government had secretly decided on who is guilty among the detained politicians".

The executive members were also reported to be furious that the minimum penalty according to the decree is 21 years in jail and also about the preponderance of military men on each tribunal.

"Where in the world do you get a minimum of 21 years in jail for misappropriating a sum that may not be more than N100? We consider the penalties outrageous" the Concord quoted the members as saying.

The appointment of only six judges to serve on the tribunals alongside 17 military men was also seen by the executive of the NBA as "an attempt to clothe predetermined cases in legality especially when the panelists were receiving secret briefings from Dodan Barracks" the Concord reported.

New Ambassadors

A woman and eight senior military officers are tipped for ambassadorial postings to be made public this month.

The lone woman on the list is Miss Aduke Alakija, a lawyer and member of the governing council of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).

According to the Guardian, the military men whose names were con- stantly mentioned include: Major-General Abdullahi Shelleng, a governor during the Murtala Obasanjo regime. He will most likely go to Ethiopia. Major-General Zamani Lekwot, a former governor and general officer commanding the 82 division in Enugu. He may be posted to Senegal; Rear-Admiral Benson Okujagu who was retired in January as flag officer commanding the navy's western command at Apapa. He has been tipped to go to India; Major General Tony Hannaniya is being suggested to man the high commission in London. He was the general officer in command of the army's 1 division in Kaduna; Brigadier Harrison Eghagba, former commander of the army's engineering corp. He is being suggested for one of the neighbouring African states; Retired Colonel Sani Bello who was a governor in Kano when Obasanjo ruled. He is being considered for posting to Zimbabwe; and Group Captain Usam Jibrin has been tipped for an East African country. He may go to Kenya or Sudan. Mr Jibrin was a governor in Kaduna.

Aliens with Nigerian passports

Fifty five Chadians have been convicted at the Ignatius Road regime. magistrate's court in Lagos for being in possession of Nigerian passports suspected to have been stolen or illegally obtained. Four others, who claimed to be Nigerian, were granted bail in the sum of 200 naira each. According to the prosecution, the accused persons were arrested while trying to leave for Jiddah. All those convicted pleaded guilty, but explained that their passports, which they bought at 2,000 naira each, were given to them in the night by an unidentified person.

Chief magistrate I.H. Sotonu wondered how the culprits were able to get duly signed and stamped Nigerian passports issued in Lagos, while Nigerians find it extremely difficult to obtain the same passports.

Pilots re-apply for jobs

Majority of the 287 dismissed pilots and flight engineers of the Nigeria Airways have re-applied for their jobs as directed by the airline's management. The management according to New Nigerian has however, imposed certain conditions for their re-absorption.

One of the conditions is that the pilots would be made to sign a letter of undertaking that they shall be of good behaviour and will not go on strike in future.

Others are that employees shall retain their existing salaries and that any further review shall depend on the Federal Military Government's income policy.

Salary increase can't be met

Head of State, Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari, has said that it is unrealistic to demand a salary increase for workers because the nation's economy is too weak to sustain such an expenditure. Addressing a 12-man delegation of the Nigerian Labour Congres (NLC) at Dodan barracks, General Buhari promised that a detailed account of the country's finances will be published so that all Nigerians would be aware of the extent to which the politicians ruined the economy.

He explained that the various governments in the country could no longer sustain free education and health services, and therefore Nigerians should see nothing wrong in paying for such services. On the IMF loan, the Head of State said that Nigeria needed the money to purchase raw materials for local industries and to honour the commitments of the past

He, however, emphasised that the loan would only be accepted if the conditions were favourable. General Buhari urged the NLC to always examine the nation's problems objectively with a view to finding solutions to them.

Earlier, the President of the NLC, Alhaji Ali Ciroma, had frowned on the retrenchment of workers by some State governments and the reintroduction of fees in schools and hospitals. He noted that workers' salaries had become unrealistic in view of the reduction in the purchasing power of the naira.

Alhaji Ali Ciroma also stressed the disadvantages of the IMF loan which he said included the possible devaluation of the naira and subsequent demand for salary increase. He pledged the co-operation of the NLC with the Military Administration and said that the Congress would not do anything that would work against the interests of the Government and the people of Nigeria.

Special naval base established

A special naval base near Escravos River Bar has been established to protect strategic mineral resources and industries located in the Delta area, as well as to provide effective maritime defence. "The idea to set up such a base came as the result of illegal lifting of the country's crude oil by pirates.

Offer to mediate in Libya Sudan "conflict"

The permanent representative to the UN, Maj-Gen Garba, has appealed to Sudan and Libya "to seek solutions to their immediate differences within the established and recognised principles of international relations as well as in accordance with the Charters of the UN and the OAU. Nigeria, as a great unity, could not afford to remain indifferent to any development capable of leading to further tension in any part of Africa," Gen Garba said.

Nigeria ratifies WAEC convention

Nigeria has ratified the convention establishing the West African Examinations Council, (WAEC), as an international organisation.

Addressing the annual meeting of the council in Lagos, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Alhaji Yarima Abdullahi, expressed the hope that the convention would help to foster co-operation among member-countries.

Alhaji Abdullah said that this was necessary because the council had always been regarded as a beacon in regional co-operation having lasted 32 years and still waxing strong.

He pointed out that WAEC had demonstrated its determination and capacity to contribute significantly to educational evaluation and assessment in West Africa and to positively influence the development of curricula relevant to the needs and aspirations of member-countries.

Car assembly problems

Nigeria has lost millions of naira as a result of illegal liftings of its crude oil products which reached alarming proportions in 1982. Head of State, Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari, who disclosed this while receiving the president of ELF oil company of France, M Pecquer, at Dodan barracks, said that the Federal Military Government had decided to consider only known and credible customers for Nigerian oil in order to ensure effective monitoring.

General Buhari stressed the determination of the Administration to continue its investment in the exploration and development of the oil industry in spite of the recession. M Pecquer had earlier briefed the Head of State on the activities of his company in Nigeria and its future development plans.

Nigeria co-operates with Egypt

Nigeria and Egypt have emphasised the importance of increasing the volume of trade between them in compliance with the Lagos Plan of Action. A communique issued in Lagos at the end of a three-day visit to Nigeria by the Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Butrus Ghali said that the two countries discussed the need to take active steps to implement the agreement on economic scientific and technical co-operation signed between them in January 1982.

During the visit Dr Ghali held discussions with the Minister of External Affairs, Dr Ibrahim Gambari. The communique said that the two Ministers agreed that the joint Egypt Nigeria commission established in that agreement "should meet at the earliest convenient date". The communique noted with satisfaction the growth of the number of Egyptian technicians and experts "working side by side" with their Nigerian counterparts in the fields of medicine, engineering, port services, teaching and industrial projects.

First petrochemical plant

The foundation stone of the country's first petrochemical plant has been laid in Kudana by the Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Prof Tam David West. The plant, which is located close to the Kaduna refinery, will produce 30,000 tonnes of linear alkyl benzene annually.

talking drums 1984-04-09 The military - servants or masters Guinea's post Sekou Toure coup