Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


Journalists' committee writes to President Doe

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit organisation based in New York and working to defend the rights of its colleagues abroad, has expressed concern over the continued detention of Rufus Darpoh, a former editor of both the Daily Observer and The New Liberian.

A letter to President Samuel K. Doe dated August 2 and signed by the Associate Director Caroline Drake, said that according to their information, Mr Darpoh was arrested on June 17, 1984 in connection with articles he had written for publications outside Liberia which authorities found to be "against the interests of Liberia."

"While we understand that Mr Darpoh may have written articles which were critical of the government," the letter continued, "the committee believe that a truly free press will allow for the dissemination of a wide range of news including news that authorities may not find supportive.

"We sincerely hope that the same spirit which allowed for the re-opening of the Daily Observer will be extended to Mr Darpoh and that he will be allowed to return to his professional responsibilities."


Army boss dies

Major Amadou Sawadogo, Bourkina- Fasso's (formerly Upper Volta) Deputy Army Chief of Staff, has died in a Paris military hospital of wounds suffered in a guerrilla attack last month. He was transferred to the hospital on July 20 after being seriously wounded in an attack in an Ouagadougou suburb.

Major Sawadogo died at the Val De Grace Hospital.

Aid from EEC

The European Commissioner, Edgard Pisani, on a visit to Ouagadougou, has signed an agreement between Upper Volta and the European Community for a total of 1.5m CFA francs. The agreement covers the purchase of cereals, reafforestation and aid to village groupings.

Confusion at Security Council

Upper Volta has reportedly caused confusion at the United Nations Security Council by changing its new name.

The original switch from Upper Volta to Bourkina-Fasso pushed the state from the end of the alphabetical list of Council members to the front, so that the country, now chairing the Council, will have another in October - after Zimbabwe.

But a change of spelling from Bourkina-Fasso to Burkina-Faso which changes the meaning of the country from "Land of Incorruptible Men" to "Popular Democratic Republic of Burkina" is likely to raise more problems.

Nationalisation of land

A Council of Ministers' meeting under the chairmanship of Capt. Thomas Sankara, Chairman of the National Council of the Revolution (CNR) and Head of State, has passed an ordinance on agrarian and land reform which puts an end to the former agrarian and land system of the Burkinabe. The ordinance makes the soil and sub-soil of Burkina the exclusive property of the revolutionary state, which will exploit them in accordance with the interests of the Burkinabe people. The ordinance will permit the Burkinabe revolutionary state to exploit the land of the Burkinabe in order to end its food dependency and to exploit the wealth of its sub-soil in accordance with its own interests.

Co-operation agreements with Cuba

The Cuban-Upper Voltan Joint Co-operation Commission has met in Havana to examine matters relating to co-operation in the sugar industry, health, planning, agriculture, transport, education and commerce.

The parties agreed to send a Cuban mission to Upper Volta as soon as the sugar campaign begins in October-November 1984-85, to study methods of improving crushing techniques.

In the field of health, the Cuban party decided to give drugs and to send two medical teams comprising 19 experts to Upper Volta. In the field of planning, Upper Volta requires two experts specialised in general planning, particularly in stockbreeding, and agriculture. Cuba signed an agreement to send those experts in July or August.

For rural development, Cuba decided to send two zoologists specialised in agri- culture and stockbreeding as teachers and advisers to the school of agriculture at Matourkou and the national school of live- stock and veterinary sciences. An expert will be sent as an adviser to the Minister of Agriculture.


Government's view of Burkina Faso

The Chad national radio, in a commentary in connection with the GUNT breakaway group's meeting in Ouagadougou has described the Sankara Government as inexperienced, incoherent and "as criminal as the Libyan government". A Ministry communique, broadcast by the radio described "Upper Volta" as the new spokesman of Libya.

GUNT breakaway group

The Burkina Faso national radio has broadcast the final communique issued by "the Chad progressive and revolutionary movements, namely the Western Armed Forces. the Original Frolinat, the National Democratic Union and the Fundamental Frolinat" at the end of a meeting held in the Burkina capital, Ouagadougou.

The communique said that the meeting's participants, worried by the recent turn of events and the future of Chad, and per- suaded that military victory alone could not lead to a just and lasting peace, had decided to create immediately the Rally of the Chad Patriotic Forces, RFP.


Injured envoy flown to London

Mr Kevin Burns, British High Commissioner in Ghana, and his three children who sustained serious injuries in a motor accident on the Accra-Ada road have been flown to London for medical treatment. The accident occurred when the Burns family were returning from a trip to Lome, Togo.

On the same plane was the body of Mrs Nan Burns, wife of the High Commis- sioner, who died on the spot during the accident.

A Ghanaian driver of the High Commission also died.

A spokesman for the British High Com- mission described the condition of Mr Burns and his children as "serious but not critical."

The children are Master Aieran James Burns, 20, Miss Siobhan Burns, 19, and Miss Maris-Ines Burns, 15.

BBC's "vicious fabrication"

The Director of Civil Aviation has said in a statement in Accra that a BBC news item about a military jet forcing down an Air Afrique airliner flying from Lome to Abidjan was a "vicious fabrication".

The pilot had been told by the control tower at Kotoka not to continue to Abidjan, he said, because air force ground radio had lost contact with military aircraft on exercise in the area. The airliner had landed on its own accord and had not been escorted by any military aircraft. As soon as contact had been re-established with the military aircraft, the airliner had taken off again.

Asantehene cautions against smuggling

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Opuku Ware II, has appealed to chiefs in the country's border towns and villages to protect the national economy from any further plundering through smuggling.

The Asantehene also called on chiefs to mobilise their people and lead them to undertake various projects to accelerate the pace of development in the rural areas. Otumfuo Opuku Ware was speaking at the swearing of oath of allegiance by Nana Kofi Sono II, Sampahene, who has been elevated to the status of an Omanhene at the Manhiya Palace in Kumasi.

"Adom Wo Wim" appears before Committee

Madam Akosua alias "Adom Wo Wim" made her first appearance before the Special PNDC Sub-Committee on AFRC affairs, on Wednesday August 1, 1984.

Madam Akosua Addae is in the country after successfully petitioning the Special Sub-Committee to review her conviction in absentia, by the AFRC. Madam Addae, who is on bail on her own cognisance, thanked members of the Sub-Committee for the humane manner in which she has been treated since her return to this country.

Sibidow back home

Alhaji S.M. Sibidow, former Secretary General of the Ghana Muslim Council who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in absentia by the erstwhile AFRC Special Court has returned to Ghana from Lome, Togo, to speak on a petition that he had presented to the Special PNDC Sub-Committee on AFRC affairs. Alhaji Sibidow expressed his gratitude to the PNDC for making it possible for him and others like him to return to assist in the National reconstruction exercise. He has been bailed on his own recognisance.

Tribunal chairman acquitted

Mr Kwame Arhin, former chairman of the Ashanti Regional Tribunal, who stood trial before the Public Tribunal has been acquitted, and discharged on charges of corruption and stealing.

The second accused, Mr John Owasu- Ansah, who was also charged with accepting a bribe to influence a public officer, was also freed.

In his ruling, the chairman of the trib- Airways unal, Mr Kofi Bosompem, said after listen- ing to all the evidence, the tribunal had no alternative than to acquit and discharge the two accused persons.

Mr Bosompem pointed out that there were several inconsistencies in the evidence given by Haruna Afoakwa and his father Alhaji DC.

Extradition treaty to be drafted

Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and the Republic of Benin have set up a committee of experts to draft an extradition treaty for the four countries. A communique issued at the end of a two-day meeting of their Ministers of External and Internal Affairs in Lome said that the measure was to enhance their economic and political stability.

The communique said that the committee would meet in Lome within six weeks, to prepare the document, while another meet- ing of the ministers would be held to review the document.

It noted that the security situation in each of the countries was "becoming more disturbing, as evidenced by cases of physical aggression against persons, armed robber- ies, house-breaking, fraud and counterfeiting."

The ministers discussed some common problems which included smuggling, activities of dissidents and illegal trafficking in arms, drugs and currencies.

Financial problems forced me into stealing

A clerical officer, Victor Thompson, of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has told the Taylor Committee probing leakages in this year's GCE examination question papers that financial problems forced him and a colleague into stealing the question papers. Continuing his evidence before the Committee at the State House Conference Hall, Thompson said that Kissiedu, a co- worker of WAEC had told him during a conversation that he (Kissiedu) needed some money to keep his family going as his wife had delivered. He said Kissiedu then told him that he had got some question papers with him.

During cross-examination Thompson told the committee that he did not report Kissiedu because he would have been sacked and since he (Kissiedu) had told him he needed money to keep his family going he did not think it proper to report to the authorities.

Thompson said he took the risk because he needed money. He said Kissiedu had promised to give him part of the money to be realised from the sale of the question papers.

More aircraft for Ghana

The Ghana Airways Corporfation is to purchase two more aircrafts in the next 18 months to improve its West Coast and southern Europe services. Group Captain Frank Okyne, managing director of the corporation also announced that the corporation was also considering the building of a "cargo village" to augment facilities at the existing cargo section to ease congestion at the Kotoka International Airport.

Reacting to criticisms against his outfit, the managing director said the corporation was viable to the extent that it had funds outside the country and that its debt equity was reasonable as an international airline. The managing director further announced that the modern stop-over restaurant at the airport would soon be re-opened to render 24-hour service to travellers.

Democratic youth solidarity

The Democratic Youth League of Ghana (DYLG) has urged the Upper Voltaic youth to stoutly support their government to ensure the success of the August 4 Revolution.

This was contained in a congratulatory message to the Upper Volta (Boukina- Fasso) youth, students and people on the occasion of the first anniversary of their revolution which brought Captain Thomas Sankara to power.

The message said "we are very certain that the revolutionary process in our two countries afford us immense political opportunities to struggle alongside the popular forces in our societies to establish enduring democracies for our peoples which will ensure that they live as human beings who understand and defend their rights and prevent the brutal exploitation and plunder of their human and environ- mental resources."

June 4 Movement message

The June Four Movement has expressed support and solidarity with the leader and revolutionary forces of Boukina-Fasso (Upper Volta) on the occasion of the first anniversary of the August 4 Revolution of that country.

In a message the movement noted with satisfaction the spontaneity with which the people of Boukina-Fasso were determined to evolve a social system that would bring to the suffering masses genuine political and economic independence.

Ghana students on Morocco

The Ghana United Students and Youth Association (GUNSA) has urged African countries dragging their feet on the Western Sahara issue to support the Polisario Front in the supreme interest of African unity.

In a communique issued at the 21st annual GUNSA convention at the University of Ghana, Legon, GUNSA condemned the continued intransigence of Morocco to sit with the Polisario around the conference table to resolve the issue in contravention of the decision of the last OAU Summit.

Agreement on broadcasting with USSR

Radio Ghana has reported the signing in Accra of a two-year co-operation agreement between the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and the Soviet State Committeefor Television and Radio Broadcasting. The agreement, which was outside the main cultural accord between the two countries, provided for an exchange of experts and radio and television materials.

Maritime agreement with the USSR

Accra radio has reported that under a maritime agreement, the Soviet Union would assist Ghana in training cadets at the maritime academy near Accra and by grant- ing fellowships to Ghanaians to study in Soviet maritime institutions.

A Sunday Concord survey has shown. that some 300 foreign nationals might leave the Gongola State Civil Service before the end of the year as a result of the reduction.

The Secretary for Transport and Communications, Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, also appealed for Soviet help in training air traffic control officers and aeronautical engineers and in the provision of flight- handling equipment.

The Soviet Union is said to be especially interested in the development of the Kibi bauxite deposits in Eastern region. About 1,000 Ghanaians are studying in the Soviet Union.


Biya appoints new security boss

President Paul Biya has announced new appointments to the leadership of the country's security services. The appointments are seen as an effort to boost his defences following the abortive coup against his government in April.

The president named Mr Pierre Medjo, formerly a provincial chief in the national security services, to head the presidential guard. The post was held by Col. Rene Meka until the April 6 putsch.


Support for common currency

Africa's five Portuguese-speaking countries, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde and Sao-Tome and Principe have supported a plan to introduce a common currency linked to Portugal's Escudo.

According to Radio Bissau the plan, endorsed at a meeting in Bissau of the countries' foreign ministers, would be submitted for adoption at a Lusophone summit conference scheduled for Sao- Tome this year.

President Joao Vieira of Guinea-Bissau discussed the prospect of an Escudo zone, which would be modelled on the French CFA Franc Zone, during a discussion with Portuguese government officials during a visit to Lisbon last month.


Expatriates quit jobs

The reduction in home remittance allowed expatriate workers in Nigeria introduced in May is reportedly driving some foreigners out of the country. The home remittance was cut from a maximum of 50 per cent to 25 per cent when a revised budget was announced in April this year.

Obasanjo's advice to Govt.

Former Head of State, Lt. General Olusegun Obasanjo has advised the Federal Government to evolve specific goals and strategies that could arrest the current dependence on imported food items and raw materials.

According to him, there is a need for the nation to find a means of transforming herself into an economically viable and socially stable country.

Presenting a key-note address at an agricultural workshop organised by the Ondo State Government in Akure, General Obasanjo urged various governments in the country to collate, analyse and sift past policies of encouraging farmers and revitalise those tested to be good and improve those poorly implemented.

Relations with Britain

In an interview with the Nigerian news agency, Dr Ibrahim Gambari, the Foreign Minister, said that following the Dikko affair, relations with Britain seemed to have stabilised, but everything now depended on whether Britain tried to implicate the Nigerian Government in the trials. "Break- ing diplomatic relations is the last card you play in a diplomatic game" and Nigeria would not take any rash decisions.

US ready to co-operate

The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Thomas William Smith, has assured the Federal Military Government that United States would co-operate with it on the issue of Nigerian fugitives in America.

The Ambassador gave the assurance while exchanging views with the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon, when he paid a courtesy call on him at Dodan Barracks, Lagos.

Mr Smith said that there had been no official request by the Nigerian military administration to his Government on the fugitives in America.

Benefits of colonial public servants

The Federal Military Government of Nigeria is to pay a lump sum of £6.9 million to Overseas Development Administration (ODA) of the British Government as terminal pension to British personnel who served in the Nigerian Government administration before independence in 1960.

There are about 6,000 Britons who have been receiving pension from the Nigerian Government since independence. By an agreement between the British and the Nigerian Governments, the British Government is to take over the payment of the pre-independence pensions while the Nigerian Government was to take charge of the post independence pensions.

Universities get new chancellors

Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari has approved the re- organisation of the Nigerian Universities councils. The Head of State is the visitor to all Federal universities.

A statement from the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Lagos explained that the re-organisation exercise include appointment of new chancellors, pro-chancellors, chairmen and members of the universities councils.

The statement added that chancellors of those universities of technology that had been merged with other universities had been redeployed to fill vacant similar positions.

A list of chancellors and vice chancellors of all the universities is below:

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria

Chancellor: His Highness, Alhaji Aliyu Mustafa, the Lamido of Adamawa. Vice Chancellor: Dr Ango Abdullahi.

University of Sokoto

Chancellor: His Highness, Oba Lamidi Ola Adeyemi, the Alafin of Oyo. Vice Chancellor: Professor Mahdi Adumu.

University of Port Harcourt

Chancellor: His Highness, Alhaji Mustapha Wilkanemi, the Shehu of Borno. Vice Chancellor: Professor S. J.S. Cookey.

Federal University of Technology, Owerri Chancellor: Chief Adetokunbo Ademola. Vice Chancellor: Professor F.N. Ndili.

Federal University of Technology, Minna Chancellor: His Highness, Alhaji Shehu Idris, Emir of Zaria. Vice Chancellor: Professor Jubril Aminu.

University of Lagos

Chancellor: Chief S. Adebo. Vice Chancellor: Professor A. Adesola.

Bayero University, Kano

Chancellor: His Highness, Obi of Onitsha, Ofala Okagbue.

Vice Chancellor: Professor E.V. Emovon.

Attempt to burn Concord

Six persons have been arraigned before a Yaba Chief Magistrate's Court on a two count charge of conspiracy to burn down the Concord Press of Nigeria (CPN) on July 13.

They were also charged with wandering around the company's premises on the same day, under such circumstances as to lead to the conclusion that they were in the premises for an illegal purpose.

The accused persons were: Augustine Nwakwe Amuna alias James Obi, Vincent Ojukwu, Fidelis Omunzurigbe, Akeem Oladipupo, Benjamin Eresaba and Michael Ohwesi. Each of the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges read to them.

Thereafter, chief magistrate Mrs. C.O. Denton, adjourned the case until November 23, and granted the first three accused persons bail in the sum of N3,000 each, while the last three were granted bail at N3,000, with one surety each.

Replacement for NET

It will replace both P&T and the Nigerian External Telecommunications Limited (NET).

The company to be known as Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), would sell the remaining 40 per cent shares to reputable organisations, members of staff and the public. This was disclosed in Ilorin, Kwara State, by the Minister of Communications, Lt- Col. A.A. Abdulahi.

Police protect foreign missions in Lagos

Armed policemen now watch some foreign missions in Lagos to prevent surprise robberies. This is the result of embassies' requests for police protection after attacks on them. Diplomats in the Egyptian Embassy and the Indian High Commission have been victims of such attacks.

The residence of Mr Usman N. Osman, a former top Sudanese Government official, was also visited by armed bandits.

Board to airlift pilgrims

The Nigerian Pilgrims Board (NPB) has completed arrangements to airlift 20,000 pilgrims approved by the Federal Military Government to perform this year's hajj.

The executive secretary of NPB, Ambassador A.M.S. Imam, announced in a release, that only the approved 20,000 pil- grims would be catered for by the board and warned that no arrangement would be made for those pilgrims who are perform- ing the hajj on their own through international routes.

He also stated that the airlifting exercise would start both in Lagos and Kaduna The executive secretary also said that three categories of accommodation would be available for pilgrims based on their location in Mecca.

Pilgrims who stay in Jarwal would pay N90, those who stay in Masfala will pay N115, while those who stay in Jiyad would pay N136, he said.

Meeting on Western Sahara

Nigeria is to initiate another move to reconvene a meeting of the OAU implementation committee on Western Sahara for the next summit of the Organisation. This was stated at Dodan Barracks by the Head of State, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, while receiving a special message from President Moussa Traore of Mali.

General Buhari said that Nigeria was not satisfied with the OAU response to her earlier request to convene a meeting of the committee. He appealed to African nations not to allow any issue to affect the cohesion of the Organisation, stressing that Western Sahara was not an Arab problem, but an African affair.

He appealed to African nations directly or indirectly involved in the conflicts in Western Sahara, Chad and southern Africa. to ensure that the next OAU summit was held on schedule.

On Chad, the Head of State said that Nigeria remained consistent in her support for OAU mediation efforts, adding that the country was willing to assist in any way possible to bring the factions in Chad to the negotiating table.

General Buhari reiterated the commitment of Nigeria to the strengthening of bilateral relations between her and the Republic of Mali. The Malian Minister of Works and Public Utilities Modibo Keita, who delivered the message, had earlier briefed the Head of State on Mali's stand on international and African issues including the bilateral relations between her and Nigeria.

Korea to send agricultural experts

The North Korean Vice-President, Pak Song-chol, has said that his country would send technical experts to help in various agricultural projects. Speaking during a visit to the Peremabiri rice project in Rivers State, Pak said that his country would offer the necessary assistance to reactivate the project. He expressed interest in the development of the relationship between Rivers and North Korea and pledged his country's willingness to help the State in food production.

The Rivers State Governor said that the present administration had plans to utilise every available piece of land in the area for food production. He called for technical assistance from North Korea and other assist the State friendly countries to Government in realising its dream of self- sufficiency in food production.

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr Bukar Sahib said that the Federal Government was determined to strengthen further the present technical agreement between Nigeria and North Korea.

Meanwhile, the Peremaribi community has expressed dissatisfaction with the past government's failure to reactivate the rice project. It also complained that the farm's training programmes were often dominated by non-Nigerians.

The Korean Vice-President also visited the Kpong fruit and vegetable farm managed by Koreans.

Death sentence from three decrees

Details of three latest decrees, the Special Tribunal (Miscellaneous Offences) Decree, the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) (amendment) Decree, and the Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions) Decree, are as follows:

The Federal Military Government is to acquire a 60 per cent share holding in a limited liability company which would handle the country's internal and external telecommunications duties with effect from next year.

The Special Tribunal (Miscellaneous Offences) Decree, otherwise known as Decree No. 20, creates a number of offences and sets up a tribunal for the trial of such offences. The offences include arson of public buildings, damage to public property, tampering with oil pipelines, telephone wires and postal matters, and unlawful exportation of minerals.

Others are destruction of highways, forging and altering negotiable instruments, unlawful exportation of foodstuff, selling prohibited goods, dealing in cocaine, cheating at examinations and unlawful dealing in petroleum products.

Under the Decree, any person convicted of wilfully or maliciously setting fire to a public building or property shall be sentenced to death by firing squad. The Decree also stipulated death by firing squad for any person found guilty of tampering with oil pipelines, electric and telephone cables as well as importing or exporting mineral oil or mineral ore.

According to the Decree, "any person who deals with, sells, buys, exposes or offers for sale, smokes, drinks, or inhales or induces any person to so deal with the drug popularly known as cocaine or any similar drug shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to suffer death by firing squad."


Racism in books

The world Confederation of Organisations of Teaching Profession (WCOTP) has in Lome called on its members to make an evaluation of the curricula and textbooks used in their respective countries in order to eliminate racist concepts from them.

A resolution adopted at the 30th assem- bly of the confederation resolved to help execute programmes mapped out by inter- governmental organisations to eradicate racism and apartheid.

talking drums 1984-08-20 Liberian elections Ghana bishops call for representative government