Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

People, Places and Events


OAU pays tribute to Olof Palme

The OAU Council of Ministers has sent a message of condolences to the government and people of Sweden on the assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme. The message said that the Council had learnt "with shock, grief and abhorrence" of the assassination of Palme. It added:

"On this sad occasion, the Council of Ministers wishes to recall most vividly Mr Palme's outstanding contribution in the world political arena, the achievement of international peace and security, the promotion of human rights and respect for human dignity. Mr Palme's monumental contribution in the field of disarmament and economic develop- ment of states, particularly those of the Third world, as exemplified in his personal political philosophy as well as through his immense contributions in the board of the Brandt Commission will render him one of the greatest political personalities of our contemporary world. Mr Palme's abhorrence of the odious practice of colonialism and racial discrimination has, beyond doubt, identified him with the noble objective of Africa and his earnest desire for the emancipation of the African continent will always be cherished by Africa and its people.

"The Council of Ministers wishes to express its sincere and profound condolences to His Majesty the King of Sweden, the government and people of Sweden as well as to the be- reaved family for the irreparable loss that they have suffered. The Council of Ministers also wishes to assure them that Africa joins them at this moment of grief."

OAU emphasises military option

The OAU Council of Ministers has debated on the report of the Co-ordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa with renewed appeals to member-states to settle their arrears to the special fund. The Liberation Committee's report noted that 18 member-states were currently without arrears of contribution while 32 states and Morocco owed the total sum of 14,286,679 US dollars to the Liberation Committee as of January 28 this year.

The Committee's current budget stands at 3,300,000 dollars. The report said that there had been a slight improvement on clearance of contributions to the special fund and a total of over 1,000,000 dollars had been received out of arrears.

The report recalled that following his visit to the frontline and neighbouring states the current Chairman of the OAU, Senegalese Abdou Diouf, had appealed to all OAU member- states to pay up their contributions and arrears to the special fund.

On Namibia, the report called on the Reagan administration to respect international public opinion and allow the unconditional implementation of UN Secretary Council Resolution 435 of 1978.

All delegations hailed the increased tempo of the resistance in South Africa by the masses following the call by the African National Congress (ANC) to make apartheid unwork- able and South Africa ungovernable.

It was stressed that there is still need for increased military activities as that remained the only effective weapon that would bring the Pretoria regime to the negotiating table. There was general recognition that in order to bring about effective prosecution of the armed struggle member-states needed to do more. than what they had hitherto done.

US told to stop support for S.A

The Council has recommended that the United States government must be approached by the current OAU Chairman for it to pronounce itself clearly and unequivocally against future military or paramilitary support for the destabilising forces in Angola, that is to say South Africa and its puppets in UNITA.

The Council said that the OAU cannot accept the proviso which reads that: "Any assistance for military or paramilitary operations in Angola should be considered in the context of the prospect for the achievement of an internationally recognised independence settlement in Namibia in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 435, and its effect on the US political, economic and strategic interest in Africa."

OAU budget adopted

The 43rd meeting of the Council of OAU Foreign Ministers has adopted the 1986/87 budget (25,305,171 US dollars) for the OAU'S General Secretariat as well as the report of the advisory committee. Following its discussions, the council accepted the principle of cutting some OAU Secretariat posts and the closure of its regional offices, as proposed by the Secretary General, Ide Oumarou.

The Council also decided that the OAU Secretary General will, in collaboration with the advisory committee and with the help of experts, review the details of the implemen-ation of the administrative and financial reconstruction measures. The African ministers called on this working group to submit their final decision to their next meeting which will take place next June.


Vatsa files appeal

Star character in the sensational coup plot trial, condemned Major-General Maman Vatsa, has appealed against the death sentence passed on him by the special military tribunal

for his role in the abortive coup plot. Reliable sources revealed that his wife flew to Lagos from Kaduna to file the appeal on his behalf.

Another condemned coup plotter, Major Tobias Akwashiki, was also reported to have appealed against the tribunal's judgement. The amended decree setting up the special military tribunal gave seven days of grace within which those found guilty could appeal.

But the chairman of the tribunal, Major- General Charles Ndiomu during the course of his judgement directed that any appeal be filed within 48 hours.

Names of Officers sentenced to death

Thirteen officers condemned to death in connection with an abortive coup plot include Lt- Col Chris Oche, Lt-Col Mike Iyorshe, Lt-Col Musa Bitiyong, Lt-Col Moses Effiong, Lt-Col Emmanuel Obeya, Wg-Cdr Adamu Sakaba, Wg-Cdr Ben Ekele, Cdr A. A. Ogwuji, Sqn- Ldr Marting Luther and Major Bamidele. Also sentenced is the former Minister for Abuja, Maj-Gen Mamman Vatsa.

Another senior military officer, Brig Mohammed Nassarawa, was dismissed from the Nigerian army after being found guilty of not informing the Chief of Army Staff of the plot. Two others were sentenced to life imprisonment, having been found guilty also of concealing information about the coup attempt.

A military tribunal reviewed their testimony, gave its verdict and heard appeals during a four-hour session in a cramped hearing room packed with journalists in a military camp in Lagos, the capital. "We have gone strictly by the letters of the law", said the tribunal Presi- dent, Maj-Gen Charles Ndiomu. Observers from the Ministry of Justice and the Bar Association were allowed to witness most of the trial, he added.

Evidence presented at the hearing indicated that three army lieutenant-colonels Musa Bitiyong, Mike Iyorshe and Chris Oche - hatched the plot last September. That was barely a month after General Babangida, then military chief of staff, ousted the Head of State, Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari, in a smoothly executed palace coup on 27th August (1985)...

General Vatsa, who alone conducted his own defence, made an emotional plea for his life. Denying testimony that he had warned General Buhari to "get rid of General Babangida months before the last coup, he said, "I never held any grudges against any- one, I have made friends for this country in the international world", he said, "and uplifted the image of the Nigerian military with my literary activities. I leave you with smiles, as smiles surprise people", he added cryptically.

The sentences may be appealed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and must be approved by the 28-member ruling Military Council.

'Change sentences to life imprisonment'

Nigerian authors in Lagos have urged the Federal Government to commute the death sentences passed on last December's coup plotters to life imprisonment.

Speaking at the launching of a new monthly magazine called 'McQuick', the secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Mr Odia Ofeimun, said that it would further demonstrate government's human rights if it heeded the association's plea for leniency. Mr Ofeimun pleaded particularly for Maj- Gen. Maman Vatsa, whom, he said, was one of the moving forces in the creation of a literary culture.

Students condemn sentences

Nigerian students have condemned the recent death sentence passed on the alleged coup plotters.

The students said the trial and the military judicial process is a total negation of the democratic principles and the ethics of natural justice.

A statement by the National Association of Nigeria Students spokesman, Mr Fayemi Johnson, explained that when the Federal Government announced the uncovering of the coup plot, the students called for an open trial. The statement said their call was dismissed and regarded as being against military justice and national security.

The students also said neither coups nor execution of coup plotters can reduce the political instability and socio-economic crisis confronting Nigerians.

Jakande cleared of three out of four

Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, former Governor of Lagos State was cleared of three of the four allegations made against him.

Chief Superintendent of Police John Ewordi, who investigated all the four allegations. absolved Alhaji Jakande while giving evidence before the Uwaifo Review Panel.

He, however, said that the onus of proof in respect of the fourth allegation rested on the former governor himself.

In this particular allegation, Alhaji Jakande was alleged to have enriched the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) to the tune of N14 million.

Both the prosecution and the investigating police officer based the charge on a publica- tion in the Nigerian Tribune in which Chief Obafemi Awolowo was quoted to have said that the Lagos State branch of the defunct UPN made a total contribution of N14 million to the National Secretariat.

The witness told the panel that while records of the Lagos State branch of the defunct party showed that only N11,770,000 was made available to the national body, the party leader stood by his earlier pronouncement that it was N14 million.

Mr Ewordi quoted Chief Awolowo as having stated that "he made photocopies of the receipts and tellers in respect of the amount he spoke of "adding that" soon after the change of government in 1983, security men made away with documents he could have used to substantiate."

Atta, Nwobodo in hospital

Two former civilian governors of the second republic are on admission at different hospitals in Lagos, The Herald reported that Alhaji Adamu Atta of Kwara State is on admission at Creek Military Hospital, Ikoyi and Chief Jim Nwobodo of Anambra State is now at the General Hospital, Lagos Island. Nwobodo, who was admitted over a month ago, is being treated for three different ailments - peptic ulcer, insomnia and pains in his left foot.

Atta was taken to the Creek road hospital sometime in the last fortnight. The Herald was, however, not told why he was on his sick bed. Hospital sources said Nwobodo is scheduled to undergo a "barium meal" test soon to determine what type of peptic ulcer he has. Doctors there suspect that he might be suffering from duodenon ulcer and infection of the small intestines.They said that Nwobodo was responding well to treatment.

Plain clothes policemen and prison warders kept watch over him in a ward on the ground. floor of the hospital. Nwobodo is serving a 21-year jail term. Atta is also serving a 21-year jail term.

Bakin Zuwo to the rescue

A strong protest made by the former civilian governor of Kano State, Alhaji Bakin Zuwo, has saved an 11-year-old boy from serving a prison term in Benin prison with hardened criminals.The drama started when the former governor, now serving his prison terms in Benin, sought audience with the chief judge of Bendel State who was on routine visit to the prisons. When the audience was granted, the former governor brought the primary five pupil before the chief judge and said it was illegal to keep such a juvenile in prison custody.

He called on the chief judge, Mr Justice J. A. Oki to look into the facts of the boy's case "because it is wrong to keep such a youth in the midst of hardened criminals". Justice Oki agreed with Bakin Zuwo's view that the boy was too young to be in Benin prison custody. He then ordered that the boy be transferred to Sapele Juvenile Detention Home immediately.

Identity card scheme

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Lt-Col John Shagaya, has said that while his Ministry hopes to start implementing the national identity cards' scheme in the first quarter of next year, the fate of the project will be decided after a cost-benefit analysis. He restated, however, that virtually all the equip- ment and materials needed for the implementation of the scheme have been procured and are waiting their shipment to Nigeria.

Colonel Shagaya explained that the bulk of additional investment needed for the scheme was in terms of local fundings for capital infrastructure and recurrent expenditure.

Akinyemi invited to visit Bulgaria

External Affairs Minister Professor Bolaji Akinyemi has been invited by the Bulgarian Government to visit Bulgaria.

Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomer Popou revealed this while speaking with the airport correspondents.

Mr Popou, who had earlier visited Cameroun Republic, stopped over in Lagos to hold talks on the relationship between his country and Nigeria. The minister reiterated Bulgarian support for the liberation struggle of the blacks in South Africa.

General Obasanjo arrives

Retired General Olusegun Obasanjo, a member of the Commonwealth Contact group on South Africa has arrived in the country and refused to give a progress report on the group's visit to the racist enclave.

He told newsmen at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja that he would brief Nigerians about the group's activities.

The group, according to him, arrived at this decision because it thought the little chances it had of succeeding might be jeopardised by press coverage.

Dr Onu leaves OAU

OAU Secretary General, Ide Oumarou, has announced in Addis Ababa that Dr Peter Onu, assistant Secretary-General for political affairs, had left the service of the organisation. Mr Oumarou paid tribute to Dr Onu for his dedicated service to Africa throughout his career

When Mr Justice Oki asked for the facts of the case, he was told that the boy was sentenced to two years imprisonment for stealing by an Oredo area customary court two months ago.

The chief judge was further told that the police had put the boy's age at 16 during the trial.

13-year stay at the OAU headquarters. Mr Oumarou said: "He would be leaving a vacuum which would be difficult to fill. We owe him a lot for having saved the OAU image from the serious crisis that shook it."

Dr Onu served as the interim Secretary General of the OAU for two years when the organisation was facing serious financial and political problems.


UAC ordered to submit papers

The Office of Revenue Commissioners has ordered the management of UAC Ghana Limited to submit to it, immediately, details of import licences issued to various divisions under the UAC between 1981-1984 and how they were used. It further ordered the management to submit extracts of minutes taken at meetings held to discuss the absorption of the divisions.

The order was given when the Chief Accountant of the company, Mr T. J. Stanwell, in a reply to a question, said that import licences were issued directly to the divisions and not through the UAC because "the UAC holds exclusive dealership in certain merchandise" Explaining the relationship between the UAC and its subsidiaries, Mr Stanwell said until 1976 when the UAC absorbed them, the" divisions operated as limited liability companies. Since then the "UAC Ghana Limited takes care of all their tax affairs", he said.

Danquah memorial lectures

Professor Reginald F. Amonoo, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ghana, Legon, has stated that the consciousness of unity and the desire to live as one entity lies in the development of a monolingual state. He said nationhood, in this context is muchstronger than a state which is developing with a multilingual franca. Professor Amonoo was delivering a paper in the 19th series of the JB. Danquah Memorial lectures organised by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences at the British Council Hall. The theme for this year's series is "Language and Nationhood: Reflections on Language situations with particular reference to Ghana" Speaking on the topic, "Language, Culture and Nationhood". Professor Amonoo who is also a fellow of the Academy said language is an instrument for thought but it is, however, doubtful whether a particular language could determine a particular philosophy

He therefore pointed out that human perception of life and of the universe is not conditioned by any particular language adding that languages create exclusive in groups, based on similar speech, habits, accents and dialects

Nevertheless, the Dean was of the opinion that languages are closely associated with ministry. peoples and their cultures and noted that prejudices based on linguistics is stereotyped and often portrays negative images of strangers He said language is an important means of self manifestation, a crucial aspect of human behaviour and a means of relating to people around us and the world.

Arrest of tribunal chairmen

The office of the Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) has ordered the arrest of Cheikh Ibrahim Amartey and Addo Aikins, chairman of one of the public tribunals pending investigations into allegations of abuse of power. The two persons are alleged to have illegally caused the arrest and detention of some members of the June 4th Movement

June 4 Movement revival

The Chairman of the PNDC, FI-L. J. J. Rawlings, who is also the National Chairman of the June 4th Movement, (JFM) has received a report from a review-committee set up and tasked to evaluate the activities of the movement.

The committee, made up of members of the June 4th Movement and supporters, and chaired by Capt. Kojo Tsikata, has submitted recommendations for the reorganisation of the leadership structures and the formulation of an action programme aimed at reviving the move- ment as a whole.

Arafat's message to Rawlings

Dr Obed Asamoah, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, received a special message from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader, Mr Yasser Arafat, on behalf of the PNDC Chairman. Fit-Lt. J. J. Rawlings, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The contents of the message which were not disclosed, was delivered by a special envoy of the PLO leader, Mr Samir Baker.

Receiving the message, Dr Asamoah said Ghana believes in the aspirations of Palestinians, especially in their right to self-determina- tion and a homeland and would continue to remain friendly with the PLO

Dr Asamoah noted that in the United Nations (UN) and other internations! fora, Ghana had always supported the fight of the PLO and continued to condemn the illegal occupation of Arab lands by Israel and its aggression against the PLO

'Don't order goods without approval

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has ordered that no ministry, department or government agency should place order for the importation of goods either directly or through agents without a written approval of the ministry

A statement issued by the ministry explained that it has observed with much concern that these bodies engage the services of accredited public or private agents to import goods for which they have been issued with import ell manifestation, a crucial aspect of human licence,

As a result, the goods arrive in the country before relevant notification is sent to the ministry for funds and that, according to the statement was seriously disrupting the smooth operations of government finances e budgetary allocations might not have been made for such orders

The ministry has therefore directed that with immediate effect any ministry, department or agency issued with an import licence, and which intends to order goods from overseas should clear such imports with it. It warned that no funds would be released to cover orders placed either directly or through public or private agents without approval from the ministry

Indutech 86 opens

FM-Lt Jerry Rawlings, PNDC Chairman has opened Indutech 86 Fair and welcomed genuine foreign investors with capital injection and technical know how to joint ventures with Ghanaians. He however made it clear that Ghana would not tolerate Ghanaians as mere frontsmen in such ventures. He said while every effort should be made to ensure that the public sector of the economy pays its way by becoming more efficient and productive government at the same time is looking after the private sector to play a dynamic role in the resuscitation of Ghana's economy

He said $249 million would be needed t rehabilitate key industries like Bonsa Tyme Company, Ghana Rubber estate, Ghana Sugar estate, GIHOC Brick and Tile, Vegetable Oil Mills and some textile industries

He said while government was committed as a rehabilitation programme it could not shoulder the burden alone. Jerry Rawlings told Ghanaian industrialists and scientists to move along with his regime, identifying and price ing areas of activity which can cut down imports

He said his government had instituted financial measures necessary to create atmosphere for industrialists to look to outside countries for markets. About 500 local firms and 26 foreign firms are represented at the Fair

Economic co-operation with socialist countries

Ghana's State Committee for Economic Co-operation is being developed to eme more effective co-operation with the socialist countries, according to radio Ghana A member of the Provisional National Defence Council, Mr P. V. Obeng, was cited as having said this at a meeting in Moscow with of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance

Mr Obeng expressed Ghana's interest in developing relations with the CMEA. He vol CMEA technical experts to visit Ghana t assess the best forms of economic cooperation


President's visit to US

President Paul Biya spent the first full day of his official working visit in the US capital, February 26, meeting with top officials of the Reagan administration and Washington-based multilateral financial institutions. He also attended ceremonies to mark the signing of bi-lateral aid and investment treaties.

A White House meeting between President Biya and President Reagan took place on February 27.

Secretary of State George Shultz met with President Biya for an hour in the morning of February 26. Later, Cameroonian and US officials signed agreements providing for more than 18 million dollars in US economic development assistance and bilateral investment treaty designed to encourage US business people to invest in Cameroon.

The aid agreements were signed during a meeting between Biya and Mr Peter McPherson, administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Afterwards, McPherson praised Cameroon for helping provide food aid to Chad during the drought in 1985, for its effective implementa- tion of development programs, and for the efficient use of its petroleum and other natural resources.

Asked by reporters about the meeting, Changes to Liberian McPherson said he and President Biya had a "very good discussion" about the various judicature development programs in Cameroon.

"We're really quite pleased with what is going on there; the program has been effective, and we think the government does a good job on things," he said. US bilateral assistance to Cameroon currently totals more than 20 million dollars a year, according to McPherson, and has been at that level for the past few years.


Emergency food requirements

Mauritania has estimated its need for emergency food aid at 100,000t of cereals for 1986. Mauritania's emergency plan, which was presented to financial backers on February 20 by Maj Nohammed Mahmoud Ould Deh, Permanent Secretary to the Military Committee for National Salvation (CMSN), puts the country's need in cereals at 98,321t. It will also required 9,913t of powdered milk, and 9,248t of butter.

This plan, which consists of two parts - one for emergency aid and the other for develop- ment project aid - gives priority to the protec- tion of crops. The plan also provides for the training of farmers in the use of phyto-sanitary products as well as giving a new impetus to the agricultural production through a market gardening programme. The government, Ould Deh pointed out, will pursue its efforts to give priority to the "food for work" projects, in order to stimulate production.

Concerning animal breeding, the pasture land should be satisfactory this year, Ould Deh stated. Efforts will centre on the fight against animal diseases and the improvement of the cattle situation in the northern part of the country, the worst drought-hit area of Mauritania. Finally, the plan provides for the setting up the community feeding centres and health centres.


Investigation into intended destination of vessel

The government is investigating to ascertain whether the ship which was heading for West Africa and seized by the French authorities was actually destined for Liberia to overthrow the Liberian government. According to the Footprints newspaper, this was disclosed by two government officials whom the paper did not name.

President Samuel Kanyon Doe has signed a legislative enactment repealing Decree No 43 of the former People's Redemption Council. According to the Act, Decree No 43 which establishes the people's special court on narcotics has been repealed and the court dissolved.

An Executive Mansion release said with the dissolution of the people's special court on offences against properties and narcotic drugs, Criminal Court C of the First Judicial Court of Montserrado County is hereby reinstituted in its stead.

The release further states that according to the Act, Criminal Court C shall have jurisdic- tion on offences against property and narcotic drugs, and that all persons charged with any offences shall enjoy the right of jury trial, except if a jury trial is waived, and if convicted, that person or persons shall have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia. This court shall in no way exercise any jurisdiction on civil matters, directly or in- directly, the release concluded,

Plea of guilty in treason trial

One of the defendants in the ongoing treason trials, Anthony McQuee, has pleaded guilty to the charge of treason, while James Holder and Robert Philips pleaded not guilty. McQuee, after pleading guilty, asked the President for clemency. He also asked all religious leaders in the country and around the world to beg for pardon for him and others who were implicated in the 12th November abortive invasion.


Fuel crisis worsens

Guinea Bissau is reported to be facing a crisis in fuel supplies. According to a dispatch from Anop (Portuguese News Agency) Bissau has practically run out of diesel fuel and there are long queues for petrol. If this situation continues, as well as worsening the already critical economic situation in Guinea Bissau, it could also affect airlinks with Lisbon.

According to TAP (Portuguese Airline) there is only enough fuel to last until end of March. If this situation is not remedied the national airline company will probably be obliged to reduce its flights to Bissau from two to one a week. This is only one aspect of the difficult economic situation in Guinea Bissau which has just been analysed by a mission from the World Bank.

Recently, experts from the IMF proposed a drastic devaluation of Guinea Bissau's currency, redundancies in the civil service and austerity, but Guinea Bissau does not seem willing to follow this recipe, given its social cost. High inflation and a fall in investment are keeping the economic outlook sombre.

Soviet naval ship visitsGuinea Bissau

The capital of the Republic of Guinea Bissau greeted with a salute a large anti-submarine ship Sobraxitelnyy of the USSR navy, which arrived on an official friendly visit. During their stay in the country the Soviet seamen met leaders of the Guinea Bissau party and government, representatives of public organisations, and working people from Bissau and other cities in the republic and took part in a state reception to mark the 68th anniversary of the Soviet army and navy.


Mayor returns from exile

Mr Emmanuel Dioulo, the former mayor of Abidjan, who was once tipped to succeed the 80-year-old President Felix Houphouet-Boigny has returned home a year after fleeing the country at the height of the embezzlement scandal. He arrived in style on board the same Concorde supersonic plane bringing the President back from a trip to Europe.

Mr Dioulo, aged 49, who was accused of having stolen some £48 million in a coffee trading scandal, has always denied the charges.

talking drums 1986-03-10 Information blackout spreading aids-2 in Ghana - Babangida - Coup plotters executed in Nigeria