Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Coup plotters go to jail

One hundred and thirty one members of Cameroon's Republican Guard have been sentenced to various prison terms in Yaounde for their part in last month's coup attempt against President Paul Biya. A total of 181 soldiers appeared before the Yaounde military tribunal in the third trial since the 6th April rebellion was crushed by loyalist troops after two days of fighting which left 70 persons dead.

One man was sentenced to 20 years in jail and another 130 to terms ranging from five years to 10 years at the end of the four-day trial which took place behind closed doors, the sources said. The other 50 were acquitted. As in the two previous trials, the identities of the accused were not disclosed.

A total of 1,053 people were detained by security forces in the days that followed the coup attempt. 35 persons were executed following the first trial four weeks ago in Mbalmayo, about 60 km south-west of Yaounde. Eight more persons were sentenced to death in a second trial in Mfou, near Yaounde, but the sources could not confirm whether the sentences were carried out. Sixty-three persons were acquitted in the first two trials.

Meanwhile Yaounde radio has now reported the figures issued by the military tribunal in connection with the trial of the 6th April coup plotters. Of 1053 people arrested 617 had been freed immediately. Concerning the other 436 cases 46 death sentences had been passed, three in absentia, and two sentences of life imprisonment, prison terms of between two and 20 years had been passed on 183 of the accused, another 183 had been freed and 22 cases had been referred for further investigation.

Confirmation from Biya

Those who resorted to arms in disregard to honour and law have been tried by the country's justice and condemned with neither softness nor hatred. The law - just the law - was applied to all.

For the real convicts, the punishment is commensurate with their crimes against the nation. For the less guilty ones, those who allowed themselves to be led into that action without understanding the extent of the harm they were going to do, they will now begin a period of remorse and tomorrow a period of redemption, without ever forgetting those dark hours. All the measures have been taken so that Cameroon will never go through such a black time again. Now we must look to the future resolutely.

In an address to the nation, President Biya reiterated his determination to lead the country firmly on the path of progress and national unity, without failing in the face of duty for a single day, or yielding to foreign pressure.

"To countries friendly to Cameroon, I repeat that we will never accept the slightest interference in our internal affairs, and we will not allow a single Cameroonian - a living vestige of the past - to oppose his million compatriots who are working for the harmony and the development of the country", he added.


Decree on confiscated properties

The People's Redemption Council (PRC) has issued a decree providing for the return to their owners of certain properties confiscated by Government following the April 12, 1980 coup. According to decree No 86, former decrees Nos 7, 11, 17, 18 and 19, promulgated by the PRC earlier, are hereby repealed subject to the excep- tion set forth in section two.

According to an Executive Mansion press release, Decree No 86 says all properties confiscated by the Liberian Government following the April 12, 1980 revolution are hereby returned to their original and rightful owners except for the following: The properties of the late William Tolbert and Bennie Warner, President of the True Whig Party and Vice-President respectively of the defunct regime; and all properties of the defunct True Whig Party and those of any political party or organisation which existed before the revolution will not be returned.

According to the decree, the Liberian Government still retains ownership of all business entities whose ownerships were guaranteed by it. Funds contracted out by Government for management operational purposes and all funds which were managed and being run by the now dis- solved Bureau of Reacquisition, are still under the strict control of the Government of Liberia.


IGP explains road blocks

The Inspector General of Police, Mr S.S. Omane, has explained that road blocks mounted by the police are to ensure the security of the state and not to harass the public. He said by the nature of their work, the police are bound to take certain measures which may seem unpopular and tend to embarras the public but they are in the interest of the people and the state.

Speaking to the GBC (Ghana Broad casting Corporation) in Accra on the number of police roadblocks encoun tered in the cities and urban areas in the night, even before curfew hours, Mr Omane explained that the police have the right to mount roadblocks whenever and wherever these become necessary.

On the behaviour of the policemen on duty at roadblocks, the Inspector General of the Police said that any policeman who goes on road checks is thoroughly examined to ensure that he is fit. Also non-commissioned officers go round to make sure that those on duty actually perform the duties they are assigned.

Asked about the refusal of police men to explain to the public the rationale behind such unusual road blocks, the Inspector General of the Police explained that by doing so, the police would be defeating the very purposes for which those exercises are carried out.

He gave the assurance that officers who go on patrol duty will be advised on the need to be patient with certain public officers whose work takes them through curfew hours.

5th Battalion won't be disbanded

The Force Commander, Maj-Gen. Arnold Quainoo, has thrown more light on the restructuring of the Ghana armed forces, especially the army. According to him this will involve the amalgamation of certain units by way of manpower and equipment. There is therefore no truth in rumours that the 5th Battalion at Tamale is being disbanded.

Addressing a durbar of the officers and men of the 4th Battalion in Kumasi as part of his tour of military units in the city, General Quainoo explained that this battalion is being converted into a training battalion to make facilities for training more available. He made it clear that the restructuring exercise is only to make the army a tight and an effective fighting force.

The Force Commander hinted that welfare schemes are being worked out for soldiers during the after services; these include housing, insurance and resettlement.

Fifi Hesse heads GBC

The Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) has approved the recommendation of the University Council confirming Prof Kwame as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Science and Technology. An official statement also announced the appointment of Dr Ben Abdallah as Secretary for Culture and Tourism in place of Asiedu Yirenkyi, who has been assigned special duties in the office of the PNDC. Mr Asiedu Yirenkyi will, however, continue to lecture at the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, Legon.

Also Mr Fifi Hesse has been appointed Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), while Mr Owusu Prempeh, Director of Sound Broadcasting, becomes the Deputy Director-General. The former acting Director-General of the GBC, Dr Kwame Karikari, goes back to the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Ghana, Legon, to strengthen the staff position.

In addition Mr Karikari will perform duties at the PNDC Secretariat. The new Director of the National Film and Television Institute, NAFTI, is Mr Bill Marshal. Mr Kweku Poku, the former Director, reverts to his previous position at NAFTI.

Korle-Bu mortuary

Refrigerators at the Korle-Bu hospital mortuary have broken down because the hospital authorities can't find €7,500 to purchase refrigeration gas.

Hence, while bodies in the mortuary have been decomposing at an alarming rate, the doctors too have been compelled to perform post-mortem examinations without water even to wash their hands. Relatives who go to collect their corpses have to take water along to wash the bodies before taking them away.

Hopes for oil

Petro-Canada International Assistance Corporation (PCIAA) has sunk a second well in the continental shelf off Half-Assini for oil and gas.

The Canadian High Commissioner Mr F. Livingstone told this to newsmen after briefing Flt-Lt. J.J. Rawlings on the progress of the Canadian firms oil prospecting activities. He said that PCIAA had received an additional nine million Canadian dollars to enable it to sink the second well. He stated that the results were most encouraging to Ghana.

Editor of People's Graphic Mr Sam Clegg has been confirmed as editor of the People's Daily Graphic an official announcement has stated.

Mr Clegg has been acting editor since last August when Mr Kojo Yankah, was removed as a result of having published what the government considered as confidential information he was given about the last words of Amartey Kwei, the former PNDC member minutes before he was execu ted by firing squad as a result of having been found guilty of the murder of three High court judges and retired military officer.

Fee for foreign exchange transactions

The Government has decided that with immediate effect, a processing fee of countries. 5% should be paid to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning treasury on the value of certain foreign exchange transactions. This follows the abolition of foreign exchange tax and foreign travel tax.

An official statement said airline tickets, purchases and repurchases of foreign exchange for travel, transfers for medical expenses, private transfers for educational fees, and private unrequested transfers, dues and subscriptions, will attract tax.

The statement advised all travellers to foreign countries, including public officers on government delegations, that the purchase of foreign currency at the banks for these purposes will be allowed only upon production of the treasury receipt covering payment of the processing. It asked companies that sell airline tickets to demand the receipt before issuing tickets.

Potential for honey production

Ghana has the potential to become one of the world's greatest producers of honey, bees-wax and other products of the honey bee.

This is because the Volta, Greater Accra, Brong-Ahafo and Northern regions are among places in Africa with high potentials for beekeeping. This was contained in an address read for the director of Technology consultancy Centre at the University of Science and Technology, Dr J W Powel, at a three-day course on bee keeping at Tsito in the Volta Region.

Nsutaman Association

A two-man delegation from Ghana has arrived for the inauguration of the Nsutaman Association of United Kingdom & Ireland, at the Surrey Hall, Stockwell on Saturday, May 26.

They are Nana Atta Mensah, Amaniehene of Nsuta Ashanti, representing the Nsuta Traditional Council, and Mrs D.S. Brifu, National Chairman of the Nsutaman Kroye Kuo in Accra.

The new Association registered with the Charity Commission as a charitable organisation is particularly concerned with the improvement of rural health in Ghana and the developing countries.

At the inaugural ceremony to be performed by Barima Owusu Sekyere, Asamanhene, funds will be raised towards medical supplies for rural clinics in Ghana and other third world


Award for outgoing French commander

The President of the Republic, Mr Hissein Habre, has held talks lasting about 20 minutes with the outgoing commander of Operation Manta, Brigadier General Jean Poli, who will now be succeeded by General Yves Becho. General Poli was also made an officer of the National Order at a ceremony held at the Presidential palace for the distinguished services he rendered to the cause of the co-opera tion and friendship between France and Chad.

Replying, General Poli said he was very touched by the gesture made in awarding him the honour.

Meanwhile, 150 political prisoners have been freed by the government as evidence of President Hissein Habre's desire to bring about complete reconciliation in Chad.


Jaguar deal stays

The Sunday Observer has reported that Nigeria has formally taken delivery of eight Jaguar jet fighters, part of a disputed £300 million deal on which British Aerospace was reputed to have paid £22 million commission to an unnamed middleman.

Soon after the December 31, 1983 coup the newspaper had widely reported the Jaguar deal as one of those tainted with corruption and the new military rulers were quoted as determined to repudiate the deal unless British Aerospace removed the commission element. British Aerospace has steadfastly refused to make any statements on the matter.

General Domkat Bali, the Nigerian Defence Minister, is reported to have said in London that British Aerospace had refused to renegotiate the price to exclude the commission element, but there had been some "adjustment in kind" relating to training costs.

It is believed that the adjustment in kind refers to the training of Nigerian pilots in Britain to fly the planes the cost of which is expected to be borne by British Aerospace. Defence tops budget list Defence Minister Major-General Domkat Yah Bali has said that the N928.2 million budgeted for defence was not enough.

The allocation gave defence first place on the budget. Mr Bali said the 9.27 percent defence vote would barely provide for defence maintenance needs, welfare and personal costs.

There may, therefore, not be enough money left for capital projects such as ammunition purchases and modernisation, he said.

General Bali said: "The allocation is not even adequate because our needs far outstrip that amount".

Fake currency printed arrested

Negatives of the new currency notes totalling N250,000 have been found in the house of a man suspected to be the king of currency faking syndicate in Lagos. The man, was arrested early last month for allegedly duping Lagos market women of N200,000.

Military policeman carried out the search following a tip that the suspect had a machine for minting the new naira notes.

Buhari writes to Thatcher about Botha

Head of State, Major-General Buhari has personally written to Mrs Thatcher urging her to reconsider her decision to invite the South African Prime Minister, Mr Botha, and halt the visit. According to sources close to the High Commission in London the letter has been delivered to the British authorities.

In it Gen. Buhari noted that the invitation to the racist Prime Minister of South Africa, Mr Pieter Botha to visit Britain and the tour of the British rugby team to South Africa appear to be part of a co-ordinated policy by the British government to give comfort to apartheid.

The Federal Military Government he said was astonished by the British government's action in inviting Mr Botha adding that it was equally astonishing that the British government did not take any decisive action to stop the British rugby team from going to play in South Africa.

Armed robbers strike

A most daring daylight robbery has taken place in Abidjan, leaving three persons dead and three others seriously injured. One of the dead was a member of a five-man armed gang which attacked a rice merchant and made away with millions of CFA Francs. The other two were attendants at the rice merchant's warehouse.

Eye witnesses reported that two members of the gang waiting in two get-away cars during the operation communicated by radiophone with unidentified accomplices. The Abidjan police, who are investigating the incident, believe that the bandits were members of a sophisticated and well organised syndicate which had harassed and robbed wealthy foreigners across the country in recent times.

Rationing of Naira

Many Nigerian families are still suffering due to the inability of commercial banks to satisfy their demand for new currency notes.

Investigations conducted by the New Nigerian last week showed that those who deposited their old money during the exchange exercise are yet to collect new notes from the banks while a lot of people were believed to be unable to clear their last month's salaries thereby causing untold hardship to their families.

When the New Nigerian visited some of the commercial banks in Lagos a civil servant from the Ministry of Defence at the UBA branch, Ijora, said that he had been spending his precious time queuing without success and without money even to pay his fare back to his office.

Students suspend boycott of lectures

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has announced a temporary suspension of the boycott of lectures. In a statement issued in Ilorin, the Association said that it took the decision because of "pressures from the Nigeria Labour Congress", which had promised to take up its case with the Federal Government. The Association, however, said that the total suspension of the boycott would be in the condition that all its demands were met by the Government.

It restated the demands which include a total cancellation of school fees at both Federal and State levels in whatever form, release of all detained students and ASUU leaders and lifting of the ban on all student union activities by school authorities.

The other demands are the cancellation of educational levies imposed on poor parents and the restoration of learning. The Association reaffirmed its preparedness to negotiate with the Government, saying "as far as we are concerned, we are always open for meaningful dialogue on Our demands". The statement was jointly signed by the NANS president, Mr Lanre Arogundade, and the vice-president (national affairs), Mr Ahmed Yusuf.

Vessel detained

A vessel, MT Caspian has been arrested by the Nigerian navy for alleged illegal bunkering at a prohibited jetty and failure to observe compulsory pilotage designed to check and control movement of vessels.

A statement from the office of the Minister of Petroleum and Energy said that four members of the vessel's crew without working permits have been handed over to the police and immi gration departments for interrogation.

The statement did not, however, give an indication as to when the vessel was arrested or the nationality of the arrested crew.

Meanwhile, a court judgement has been given in favour of Nigeria over the ownership of gas oil illegally lifted from the country in September 1983 by a Greek ship, MV Trans. According to the statement, the ship lifted about 2,300 t of gas oil from Port Harcourt. The judgement of the Greek court was received in Lagos last month, the statement said.

Co-operation with Chad

Nigeria and Chad Republic are to set up a joint commission on economic cooperation and prohibit subversive activities in each other's country. This is embodied in a communique on talks in Abuja between the Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, and his Chadian counterpart, Hissein Habre. The two leaders reaffirmed their willingness to extend their co-operation to different fields and to further reinforce the strong relationship existing between their countries through frequent contacts.

On the political situation in Chad, General Buhari and President Habre reviewed the efforts already made by both sides toward finding a peaceful solution to the conflict and agreed to continue to work with dedication toward this end. They resolved that this could best be done through reconciliation among the various groups in Chad. The communique says the Nigerian government will give instructions for the immediate transportation of food aid meant for Chad, as well as fuel regularly imported by oil companies.

The Chadian President thanked General Buhari and the Nigerian people for the cordial and brotherly welcome accorded him and his entourage. President Habre was on a one-day visit.

In another development, the Head of State has restated Nigeria's intention to maintain the already cordial relationship with Cameroon. In a message sent to the Cameroonian leader, Paul Biya, General Buhari said as a member of the OAU Nigeria would not interfere in the internal affairs of any African country. He commended President Biya for his statesman-like efforts to restore peace, stability, and unity in Cameroon. The message was delivered by a delegation led by the former Head of State, retired General Olusegun Obasanjo.

The delegation has since returned to Lagos.


Officials to go on trial

Guinea's military government, in what is seen as a reversal of policy, has decided that top officials of the Toure era are to stand trial for human rights violations of that period.'

The Guinean Prime Minister, Mr Diarra Traore, revealed the decision when he told a visiting group of Guinean exiles that "all those who have the blood of innocent people on their hands will be tried and will pay the price." The Guinean No. 2 man gave no date for the trials and did not name University those to be tried for the deaths of thousands of people in the wave of repression which marked the reign of the late Sekou Toure in the 1970s.

Following the bloodless April 3 take- over, Guinea's military rulers had said that the ousted civilian leaders would only be tried for corruption and economic mismanagement so as to avoid unleashing a wave of bloody reprisals by charging them for the deaths of political detainees.


Former Minister on trial

A former Upper Volta trade minister and nine officials who worked under him have appeared before a military tribunal in Bobo Dioulasso, Upper Volta, on corruption charges.

They are the latest in a series of top officials of previous administrations to be put on trial by the government of Capt. Thomas Sankara on charges of illegal enrichment and misappropriation of funds. Mr Amadou Kiallo, trade Minister in the 1966-80 regime of President Sangoule Lamizana, is being asked by the tribunal to account for six million CFA francs.

Dismissal of Youth and Sports Minister

The chairman of the National Council of the Revolution, Capt. Thomas Sankara, has signed a decree terminating the appointment of the Minister of Youth and Sports, Ibrahima Kone. Capt. Henri Zongo, the Minister in Charge of State Companies, has been appointed to act as the Minister of Youth and Sports.

The following officers have also been removed from the national armed forces Capt. Adama Ouedraogo of the Headquarters and Support Regiment and Capt. Kambou Sie of the national gendarmerie.

Adama Ouedraogo had been Secretary of State to the Presidency in charge of information in the Military Committee of Redress for National Progress that had been in power from 1980 to 1982, and Kambou Sie had been the same regime's spokesman.


End of strike by Dakar

A student strike at Dakar University has ended, following a series of concessions made to the students by the Senegalese Government. The committee representing the students issued a communique calling on all students to return to their courses immediately.

The communique said that the speech made on television by the Minister of Higher Education, Ibrahima Fall, was in accordance with agreements reached between the Government and the students. The conditions for returning to classes had therefore been met.

Among the concessions announced by Mr Fall were a lowering of the pass mark in university examinations, a reduction in bus fares paid by students, and a pledge to tackle the problem of graduate unemployment. Mr Fall had also threatened that the Government would close the University if students did not return to work.


Candidate for OAU top post

The third Deputy Prime Minister, Emile Kassa Mapsi has arrived in Gambia as part of a tour aimed at rallying support for Paul Okumba D'Okwastegue's ambitions to become the Secretary General of the OAU. Kassa, who has already visited Senegal and Upper Volta, met President Dawda Jawara shortly after arriving and later told reporters Gabon was still promoting Paul Okumba D'Okwatsegue for the top OAU job.

talking drums 1984-05-28 Cameroon executions - Buhari - Ghana's PDC-WDCs