Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events



In a communique issued in Paris the banned Gabonese Movement for National Recovery, Morena, announced the formation on 9th August of a government in-exile with Max Anicet Koumba- Mbabinga as prime minister. The government, according to Morena, was formed in accordance with the Constitution of February 1961 which authorised a multi- party system and guaranteed freedoms.

Coup plotter executed

Capt Alexandre Mandja Ngokouta, an army officer accused of plotting to overthrow President Bongo has been executed in Libreville. According to the French agency three other soldiers have received prison sentences with hard labour. The plot was foiled by Bongo's decision not to travel to the OAU summit in Addis Ababa in July.

Second communications station

Georges Rawiri, Gabonese First Deputy Prime Minister in charge of transport, has laid the foundation stone of a new two- antenna communications ground station at Menai, near Franceville, about 450km south-east of Libreville. The new station, which will be linked to the satellites of the Intelsat system in the Atlantic region, has necessitated an investment of about 5bn CFA francs.


Reward for arrest of wanted men

The executive committee of the security network has put out a 10,000 dollar reward to anyone giving information leading to the arrest of Joe Willie and Moses Teapoo. The Minister of National Defence, Maj-Gen Gray D. Allison, disclosed this at a press conference. He said the wanted men are dangerous and enemies of the state. He said Joe Willie, who was among 14 students arrested while leaving the Soviet Embassy on 17th July, escaped from detention at the National Security Agency by what he termed the use of sabotage training he learned in socialist Ethiopia.

Last year the Government put out 500 dollars to anyone giving information leading to the arrest of Moses Teapo, who was linked with the publication of anti- government leaflets in Sinoe county. Minister Allison warned the families of the wanted men to turn them in or they could be arrested until the accused are found.

He said the two were among Liberians sent to Ethiopia to study adult literacy in community but instead did combat and guerrilla training. Minister Allison said the wave of disruptions in schools throughout the country in 1981 was engineered by the returnees from Ethiopia.

Report of arrest of students

The special board of inquiry appointed recently by the Head of State to investigate the matter relating to the arrest of 14 students has released a preliminary report to the public. The 'Footprints' newspaper quotes the Chairman of the Board, as saying that the board considered it expedient and in the interest of all concerned to make the announcement.

According to the 'Footprints', quoting the report, all inquiries and investigations are being conducted with the highest degree of professionalism. It said up to the present, sensitive security information detailing military installations, military capabilities as well as manpower deployment of the Liberian Armed Forces have been presented into evidence.

Ex Minister awaits trial for sedition

Former Finance Minister, Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf, placed under house arrest in Monrovia two weeks ago has been transferred to post stockade to await trial of Liberia. for sedition. According to Justice Minister Jenkins K. Scott, Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf was accused of referring to officials of the Liberian Government as idiots in a speech she delivered 16th July to the Union of Associations of Liberians in the Americas with headquarters in Philadelphia.

Minister Scott said Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf was transferred to common jail because she abused the courtesy known in Liberia by writing and receiving notes while under house arrest. Minister Scott then read the note allegedly written by the accused to a member of the proposed Liberia Action Party requesting that the Philadelphia speech be sought and more copies made for circulation. Destiny is about a few weeks away, the note ended.

Report arrests to Secom

Liberians have been called upon to bring to the attention of Secom (Special Elections Commission) the arrest and detention of leaders and activists of political parties during this transition to civilian rule.

Addressing the nation on current political situation, Chairman Harmon of Secom said it is not in the interest of unity, peace and harmony that the local administration would restrict political activities in the area as long as they conform to the laws of the nation not abuse them

He therefore called on the national security services to be on the alert to ensure that the political activities are within the guidelines and the laws that govern them. Mr Harmon said to deny aspiring politicians and political parties the use of facilities could drive that group underground, a situation he said Secom considers unsafe for the security of the state.

No certificate for LPP

The Special Elections Commission has announced that the proposed Liberian People's Party (LPP) will not be certificated as a political party in obedience to a mandate received from the Interim National Assembly (INA) which is the law- making body of the Transitional Government.

In a letter the (Secom) chairman read from the INA dated 18th July, the lawmaking body advised and directed the Special Elections Commission to deny the issuance of certificate to the proposed LPP.

Politics affects lives of all

The Vice-President of the INA, Dr Harry F. Moniba, has reiterated the Assembly's commitment to return the country to a genuine civilian government. According to an INA press release issued in Monrovia, Dr Moniba was speaking at a reception in honour of Government officials and members of the National Democratic Party

The release further said the INA Vice- President used the occasion to call on Liberia's friends to assist Government in its efforts to ensure the success of the present political exercise. The release quoted Dr Moniba as saying that politics was very important and, therefore, it should claim the attention of everybody since it affects the lives of all.

Plot to kill officials uncovered

The Government has announced that a plot to kill government officials and US citizens residing in the country has been uncovered by the joint security forces.

A LINA (Liberia News Agency) release issued in the capital quotes Army Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Henry S. Dubar as alleging that the plot was to have been carried out on 24th and 25th August this year. General Dubar is further quoted as saying those responsible for the plot were paid by Liberians living abroad, especially in the United States, and supported by some individuals residing in the country.

Speaking at a press conference in Monrovia, the General warned individuals and institutions supporting such actions intended to destabilise the state that the security forces will not hesitate to clamp down to government at the Old Road will not happen again, a reference he made to the incident at Mrs Edith Becklage's house where Elmer Glee Johnson and William Woodhouse opened fire at security forces last year. He added that Government will not wait to be fired at first, but will fire first.

The Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen Gray D. Allison, accused the now banned Liberian People's Party, LPP, and the United People's Party, UPP, of trying hard to bring about chaos in the country. He said there are elements of MOJA (Movement for Justice in Africa), the defunct Progressive People's party, and saboteurs who were trained in Ethiopia under the guise of community development. General Allison then cited the 1979 rice riot in all", he said. Monrovia in which he said more than 125 citizens were killed, adding, there will be no more repetition of the past event.


Ministers sent to farm

President Thomas Sankara has dissolved his government and sent most cabinet ministers to work on collective farms. A presidential decree said only three outgoing ministers would continue to work in Ouagadougou, the capital, as general coordinators delegated to Capt. Sankara, Chairman of the ruling National Revolutionary Council (NRC).

They are the Captain's closest aides who played a key part in the 1983 coup that brought him to power.

The three are Captain Blaise Campore, formerly Minister of State in charge of justice; Major Boukary Jean-Baptiste Lingari, Minister of State in charge of defences and Henri Zongo, formerly in charge of economic promotion. The remaining 19 cabinet members will be put in charge of 25-acre collective farms.

CEAO official expelled

Drissa Keita, Secretary General of the West African Economic Community (CEAO), was declared persona non grata and given 24 hours to leave Burkina Faso. According to a messge sent by Thomas Sankara to his CEO colleagues, the action was taken in response to remarks by Keita, published in the latest issue of the weekly 'Jeune Afrique'.


Pope expresses sadness over S. Africa

The Pope has expressed "deep sadness" over the continuing bloody clashes in South Africa and called for an end to racial discrimination and violence in this apartheid republic.

The Pope was speaking to an open-air Mass before an estimated 200,000 people in Yaounde where he was on a four day visit as part of a tour of African countries.

"In this island of peace (Cameroon) how can one forget those who are in distress?" he asked.

"I am thinking particularly of the numerous victims of the new bloody clashes which have occurred in the past few days in South Africa, and which are a cause of concern for all of Africa and the entire world.

"Let God welcome all those victims to his peace. Let him inspire wisdom, just behaviour, a feeling of respect for the dignity of others and the will to peace in all”, he said.

After touring Cameron, the Pope was due to travel to Zaire where he will carry out the first beautification ceremony conducted in Africa that of a nun who was killed by guerrillas in 1964.

The Pope's African tour started from Togo from where he went to Abidjan, Ivory Coast to open a cathedral which is regarded as the second biggest in the world after St Peter's Cathedral in Rome. The climax of the tour is a visit to Nairobi, Kenya where the Pope will participate in the closing ceremonies of the week-long International Eucharistic Congress, attended by Roman Catholic pilgrims from around the world. From there the Pope will honour an invitation from Morocco's King Hassan to address a meeting of muslim students in Rabat. It will be the Pope's first visit to a predominantly muslim country.


Bank for exclusive use of army officers

Maj-Gen Tunde Idiagbon has stressed that the proposed bank for soldiers is to cater for servicemen in the remotest part of the country.

General Idiagbon said branches of some commercial banks located within certain barracks operate mainly on pay day and as such could not satisfy the day-to-day banking needs of officers and soldiers.

He said: "Military personnel are in dire need of banking facilities to facilitate the prompt and regular payment of salaries and the provisions of full banking services to officers and soldiers alike".

The Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters was defending the planned army bank in Lagos. General Idiagbon said that he was surprised that questions could be asked of the proposed bank. He asserted firstly that Nigeria was "underbanked".

"The opening of as many viable banks as possible to assist our economic revival would certainly be most welcome, subject of course to the fulfilment of all the necessary criteria laid down for the establishment of new banks".

"Besides, military locations are scattered all over the country, not usually within towns or the immediate vicinity of banking services", he said. General Idiagbon argued that as the existing banks were making huge profits and saving jobs of their employees despite the current economic depression, it was wise to set up more banks to create employment.

He also defended the establishment of army school, army colleges, and the army university, saying that they were in no way signs that the military was through the establishment of the schools detaching itself from the rest of society.

General Idiagbon argued that army schools were like university staff schools or similar institutions established in any big organisation, for the welfare of its staff.

Decree 4 undermines education

A retired army General has said that Decree four inhibits development of knowledge and should therefore be abrogated. Retired Major-General James Oluleye made the appeal to the Federal Military Government on the occasion of the launching of a book titled "Military Leadership in Nigeria 1966-1979 written by him.

General Oluleye, who was speaking in his capacity as the author said the more you hear and read, the more you know and learn"

He cited an example of the reaction of some publishers to a book he wrote a year ago on National Defence Policy which is titled "Nigeria: In Eclipse a decade to Armageddon?"

He said two publishers have refused to publish it because of the existence of decree four.

Release of Tai Solarin and others

Eighty five detainees have been granted conditional release by the Federal Military Government (FMG). They include former politicians and members of the banned National Medical Association. Among them are Alhaji Lawal Kaita, who was the last civilian governor of Kaduna State, and Dr Tai Solarin, Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti and Dr Edmonson Akpabio. Others on the list include: Mr Justice Adewale Thompson who was the commissioner of justice in Oyo State; Holashiru Ageda, former chairman of NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation); Lawrence Amu; and Bagudu Bida, formerly general manager of the Kano State Broadcasting Corporation.

Announcing their release at a meeting with media executives in Lagos, the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Maj Gen Tunde Idiagbon, said they would be expected to make themselves available to special investigation panels in future if and when required.

New television complex

A newly completed television house complex of the Ondo State Radio/Vision Corporation has been commissioned in Akure by Governor Bamidele Otiko. Built at a cost of 18,000,000 naira, the complex consists of four modern studios, two transmitters and a master control room. At the ceremony Cdre Otiko advised the staff of the television station to shun any programmes that might cause embarrassment to the people or run contrary to the tenets of the war against indiscipline.

Cooperation with Angola

The Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Maj-Gen Tunde Idiagbon, has stressed the need for Nigeria and Angola to extend their political relations to cover economic issues. The Chief of Staff made the call while exchanging views with the visiting Angolan Foreign Minister, Mr Afonso Van Dunem Mbinda, who called on him at Dodan Barracks. He assured the minister that Nigeria would continue to cooperate and render every assistance to Angola.

The Minister of External Affairs, Dr Ibrahim Gambari also reaffirmed Nigeria's total support for Angola in the fight to preserve her sovereignty and secure the independence of Namibia. Dr Gambari noted that the most glorious area of Nigeria's foreign policy was the recognition of the MPLA and the support for its admission as a member of the organisation of African Unity.

The Angolan Foreign Minister emphasised the need for both countries to explore more areas of cooperation. he said that although much had been achieved in the political field, a lot more had to be done in the economic and cultural sectors. Mr Mbinda expressed gratitude to the Federal Military Government and Nigerians for their continued support for its success.

China to construct railway line

Nigeria has called for help from China for the construction of a railway line, to link the mines area to the location of steel industry in the country.

The country is also seeking co-operation with China in the fields of geological mapping, mineral appraisal and joint mining ventures.

The proposals were made by the Minister of Mines, Power and Steel, Alhaji Rilwanu Lukman, while receiving the Chinese Minister of Geology and Mines, Mr Sun Dau Gang in his office.

Alhaji Rilwanu stated that Nigeria and China are two big countries with wide range of natural resources, thereby creating a lot of scope for geological works.

Replying, Mr Gang, who led a team of Chinese experts to the meeting, said they would meet their Nigerian counterparts for further discussions.

Trade agreement with Italy

Nigeria has signed a trade agreement with Italy totalling 400m dollars. The agreement involved the purchase by the Italians of 40,000 b/d of Nigeria's crude oil and provides for the supply by Italian companies of a number of products including Fiat spare parts valued at about 100m dollars.

The agreement, which was signed by Fiat and the National Hydrocarbons Agency, also provides for the supply of chemical products worth more than 100m dollars.

World bank loan for Ogun

The Ogun State Government is to receive about 26m naira as a loan from the World Bank for its agricultural development project. The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Yahaya Olaniran, said in Abeokuta that the loan will enable the state to embark on an integrated programme for the production of maize, rice, yam and cassava.

The project will provide assistance to small and medium-scale farmers to boost food production.

Edict on religious preaching

The Bauchi State Government has enacted an edict regulating religious preaching. Known as the Religious Preaching Edict, 1985, the edict stipulates the status of religious preachers and the conditions for their operation. It makes it compulsory for all registered religious preachers to obtain licences from Christian and Islamic bodies or permits from sole administrators of where they want to preach.

Under the edict, it is an offence for all preachers to play religious cassettes or use electronic equipment in a manner that con- stitutes public nuisance or indicates con- tempt for other religious denominations. The offence attracts a fine or six months imprisonment or both.


No explanation yet for arrests

The "Free Press" has reported that even though no official reason has been given yet for the arrest on July 12 of Messrs Okudzeto, Obeng Manu, Tommy Thompson and Dr Bilson the government controlled "Ghanaian Times" has carried a report on workers demonstrations against the CIA during which placards linking the arrests to the CIA were carried.

Some of the placards read, "CIA how much money have you paid to Cdr Oppon, Sam Okudzeto, Tommy Thompson and others", Okudzeto, Thompson, Bilson, Now Your Bottom Open".

On the day of their arrest Mr Obeng Manu, a lecturer in law at the University of Science and Technology was busily marking the examination scripts of his students when two gentlemen knocked and entered his sitting room.

"We have instructions to invite you to our headquarters," they said.

With that invitation that cannot be turned down when you realise the source of the invitation is from the government security agencies, Mr Obeng Manu accompanied the gentlemen to Accra where he has been since then.

This is the second time Mr Obeng Manu has been detained under the PNDC regime. For Mr Sam Okudzeto, an Accra legal practitioner, that Friday was a normal working day. He had just returned from lunch and was about to read some briefs when he received an invitation that turned out to be his detention.

Mr Tommy Thompson, the publisher of the Free Press had reported at the offices of the Free Press that Friday.

His concern that day apart from the Free Press, was seeing to arrangements for the funeral of his recently deceased brother. At 12 o'clock midday came the invitation.

Foreign service being purged

Ripples from the CIA affair in Ghana are being felt strongly in the foreign service where a number of home and foreign based officers are quietly and systematically being purged.

According to our reliable sources, the following officers have been affected by the purge. They are Mr Vishnu Wassiamal, former ambassador to Brazil and until recently director of state protocol, Mr L. O. Antwi, principal secretary, Mr Akuffo, head of Chancery at the Ghana mission in Moscow, Mr K. O. Beecham, Principal Assistant Secretary, Mr J. E. Dei, Senior Assistant Secretary, Mr Adarkwa Dadzie, based in Rome, Mr Akrofi, Assistant Secretary, Mr Korsah-Dick, principal Secretary, all based in Accra.

Others are Messrs Bedevo, clerical officer, Amartsen, senior executive officer and Miss Alice Acquah also a senior executive officer in Accra. The rest are Miss Darkwa and Mr Bediako, an accounts officer and senior private secretary based in Moscow.

New coins

The Bank of Ghana has put into circulation three new coins to be used alongside existing cedi notes and coins.

The coins, all made in brass nickel, are circular in shape and are in 50 pesewas, one cedi and five cedis denominations. Explaining the rationale behind the introduction of the new coins, Mr P. K. Djamson, Secretary of the Bank, said the coins would be more economical to mint and more durable than the notes which wear out fast.

Nana Nketsia on Ghana political system

Nana Kobina Nketsia, Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, has urged a careful examination of the traditional Ghanaian political system and to fashion, along that line a system of government for the country.

Speaking on "The Search for the African State System in Ghana A Historical Account", at the Du Bois Memorial House in Accra, Nana Nketsia said democracy which the nation had been searching for, existed in Ghana, before the advent of Europeans.

He said, before the Europeans arrived and alienated the people from their culture through education and so-called civilization, there was no class struggle in the country.

The Chancellor said because of the extended family system to which everyone belonged and shared their fortunes and misfortunes, there were "no excessively rich or excessively poor people".

He said the head of the family had the qualities of a leader which were commonly recognized, and was a patriarchal figure to whom all the members of the family paid respect.

Nana Nketsia said the leader or head of family, who was chosen by all the members of the family, could be removed if he was found to be mentally incapable or if he did something which the family considered wrong according to the values they held.

He said everybody took part in that election or removal since it was believed that "he who serves and is bound to obey must have a voice in the election of the leader".

The Chancellor said since the affairs of the tribe were not in the keeping of a few, it was clear that the country run a very democratic system.

Exchange control rules still on

The Bank of Ghana has stated that all existing exchange control regulations on the declaration of foreign currencies at the Country's entry points are still in force despite the introduction of the operation of foreign accounts by specified local banks on behalf of their customers. All travellers are therefore still obliged by the regulations to declare all foreign currencies on them on their arrival at the entry points.

Mr Kwasi Akompong, Executive Director of Bank of Ghana explained that by the regulations, any amount of foreign currency brought into the country must be declared on the "Form T-5" and that any amount is permitted so far as it is declared. He added that transactions, including the exchange of such foreign currencies into cedis for use must always be indicated on the form at the approved sources.

Mr Akompong further explained that people who declare currencies or obtain. them from the approved sources are always assured of re-exchange of 'excess' cedis into foreign currencies on their exit.

Exchange programme to resume

The exchange of television programmes between the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) will resume as soon as GBCTV goes colour next year. The exchange programme was enforced when both organisations operated black and white televisions some years ago. This was disclosed by Mr Vincent Maduka, Director General of the NTA, when he spoke to newsmen before he flew back to Lagos after attending a meeting of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association in Accra as part of the GBC golden jubilee celebrations.

No fast rules on political evolution

The Chairman of the PNDC, Flt-Lt Jerry John Rawlings has stated that there are no hard and fast rules that could be prescribed as a formula for Ghana's political evolution.

Economically, the problem was being dealt with, now that the Ghanaian had become aware that the only way to arrest the situation was through hard work and dedication.

But politically, Flt-Lt Rawlings points out, "we have to put our heads together to evolve a system that would be acceptable to all, for now and the future".

Flt-Lt Rawlings said this when he received at the Castle, Osu, Osagyefo Oseadeyou Nana Agyemang Badu, Paramount Chief of Dormaa Traditional Area, currently working on his thesis on "The Akan system of government and its contribution to the modern government of Ghana," at the Oxford University, England.

The PNDC Chairman said the issue of a suitable system of government was one that had been eluding the country for a long time. It was time, he said, that the issue was defined and tackled.

On his part, Nana Agyemang Dadu, one time president of the National House of Chiefs, said the thesis, when completed, would be his contribution towards national development.

He said though he had been away, he had been following the significant strides that the PNDC Chairman has been making to arrest the country's economic decline.

Vehicles to be cleared

All vehicles imported into the country must be cleared from the ports within 60 days. A statement issued in Accra said under existing regulations, vehicles not cleared after 120 days stay at the ports from the date of their arrival, would be auctioned outright.

It advised importers whose vehicles have been at the ports for over 120 days to clear them by August 31, 1985 after which they would be auctioned.

Conference on Ghana

The Ghana Democratic Movement (GDM), which is committed to the restoration of democracy in Ghana, will hold an international Delegates Conference in London on August 24, 1985, at the Tufnell Park Hostel, Huddleston Road, off Tufnell Park Road, at 10.30 am.

Topics to be discussed by delegates from America, Canada, Europe, East and West Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific, will include: Economic Reconstruction of Ghana; the Role of the Military in Ghanaian Politics; Politics and Constitutional Development in Ghana; and the Strategy and Programme of Action of the Movement.

Benin deports 15 Ghanaians

Fifteen Ghanaians have been deported from Cotonou by the authorities in Benin. The deportees, all men between the ages of 30 and 35 years, were rounded up in Cotonou for not being in possession of residence permits and escorted to the Ghana-Togo border at Aflao.

They were accompanied by officials of the Ghana Embassy in Benin. Speaking to newsmen, one of the deportees said they were arrested about three weeks ago and placed in custody before being deported. The deportees claimed that they were not allowed to collect their belongings.

Ban on parrots to stay

The ban on the export for parrots which was lifted for a period of one year ending July 31, 1985 has been reimposed.

An official statement in Accra asked parrot exporters, trappers, customs officers, airlines and other transporters, border personnel and law enforcement agencies to take note that the ban is in force and that no parrots may be exported for commercial purposes until further notice.

GDM demonstrates in Germany

The West German branch of the Ghana Democratic Movement has organised a demonstration to protest against the Provisional National Defence Council government in Ghana. Displaying placards some of which read "Rawlings stop killing Ghanaians", "Unity against Dictatorship" "No Military Terrorism and Killings," "We Want Freedom and Justice in Ghana", "Military Rule is Alien", "Soldiers Belong to the Barracks", "Violence is against Life" and "Hand over to us", the Ghanaian demonstrators joined by other African and German sympathisers marched through Osnabruck and later presented a resolution to the Ghanaian Ambassador in Bonn.

The resolution read by Mr Kofi Afrifa, national secretary of the movement in Germany called on the PNDC to take measures to redress what it called "traumatic" economic situation in Ghana.

It asked the military junta to respect the United Nations charter on human rights and thus stop the killings and lift the ban on politics as a first step toward handing over power.

Ghana Airways inaugural flight to Germany

Ghana Airways Corporation on July 31 inaugurated its weekly flight between Accra and Dusseldorf, West Germany via Rome. This is the first direct flight between Ghana and West Germany and the third in Europe (Rome and London) since the corporation was established in July 1958.

In his speech at the Rhein-Ruhr Airport, Mr Adusei Poku, Ghana's ambassador, said that he hoped for a favourable business transaction with the help of his direct flight between the two countries. The normal service for this flight started on 15 August. The picture (left) of Ghanaian officials at the function includes Mr Edusei Poku, Ghana's Ambassador to Germany (eighth from right) and Mr Joachim Peters, Dusseldorf Airport

talking drums 1985-08-19 Nigeria's world soccer princes - the revolutionary cedi