IRIN-West Africa Update 138, 98.02.04

IRIN-West Africa Update 138, 98.02.04

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for West Africa

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IRIN-WA Update 138 of Events in West Africa, (Wednesday) 04 February 1998

NIGERIA: Alleged coup plotters to be tried this week

A senior Nigerian defence spokesman told reporters on Tuesday a military tribunal would be set up this week to try detainees accused of plotting last December to overthrow the head of state, General Sani Abacha, news reports said.

According to Colonel Godwin Ugbo, those to face trial would be named before the tribunal is convened. Last week the chairman of a special board submitted its report to Abacha detailing its investigations into over 60 military and civilian personnel allegedly involved in the plot. Abacha's deputy, General Oladipo Diya, is among 12 principal suspects held in detention.

Ultimatum to feuding groups

A police commissioner in Osun state in southwest Nigeria warned leaders of two feuding communities to return two kidnapped riot squad officers or face the consequences, according to news reports on Tuesday.Additional police had been sent to Osun state to stem communal violence between rival groups from Ife and Modakeke townships. The groups have been in violent conflict since August when regional authorities decided to move the local council headquarters from one town to the other.

Moves to relocate other council headquarters in the neighbouring Ondo state and in Warri in the west of Nigeria have sparked similar violence.

Osun's military administrator, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Obi has insisted the council relocation was purely administrative and not intended to favour any group.

SIERRA LEONE: Press licenses controversy

The ruling Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) on Wednesday announced that only eight of Sierra Leone's 20 newspapers had had their licenses renewed, AFP reported. Under the 1980 Newspaper Act all papers are required to renew their licenses annually at a cost of US$ 1,000. Some newspapers were reportedly suspended because of their editorial content, it said. However, several newspaper owners refused to heed the January 31 deadline in protest against the "undemocratic" nature of the current government.

Relations between the AFRC and the press have steadily deteriorated since the May 1997 coup. According to press freedom monitors, publications have been routinely suspended and several journalists detained, beaten or forced into hiding.

Two such organisations, Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), said they were concerned for the safety of freelance journalist Anthony Swaray who was arrested on 14 January and has not been heard from since. More recently university student Michael Lawson and an unknown man were arrested in the capital, Freetown, on 30 January for allegedly supplying information to a clandestine radio station, said IFEX.

SENEGAL & MAURITANIA: Fisheries incident averted

Senegalese fisheries minister, Alassane Dialy Ndiaye, said on Tuesday that Mauritania and Senegal were expected to renegotiate a 1983 fishing convention in coming months, AFP reported. Making the announcement, he also said equipment seized from Senegalese fishing boats by the Mauritanian coast guard would be returned. The fishing convention has not been respected by either side since a 1989-1992 border war.

The maritime industry was once the most dynamic sector of Mauritania's economy, but it has been hard hit by declining stocks and over fishing. Stock shortages resulted in a two-month suspension of the industry last year. Moreover, the death of a Seneglese fisherman shoot by the Mauritanian coast guard last November was also related to growing tension surround the declining resource.

Mauritanian Refugees call for restitution of aid

Mauritanian Refugees in Senegal have asked the UNHCR to resume deliveries of medical and food aid until it is safe for them to return home, news reports said on Tuesday. The Association des Mauritaniens Refugies au Senegal (AMRS) said that the suspension of aid constituted a breach of UNHCR's protection mandate and that it was "forcing" refugees to return home.

An estimated 100,000 refugees crossed into Senegal between 1989 and 1992 following a border conflict which resulted in retaliation attacks against black Mauritanians by their fellow citizens. Some 50,000 Mauritanian refugees remain in Senegal.

LIBERIA: France invites Taylor

President Jacques Chirac has invited Liberia's president Charles Taylor on an official visit to France, AFP reported on Tuesday. The invitation was reportedly conveyed by Christian Dutheil de la Rochere, the new French amabssador to Liberia. The date of the visit was still to be fixed, de la Rochere said.

Abidjan, 04 February 1998 1720 GMT


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN West Africa, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN-WA Tel: +225 21 73 66 Fax: +225 21 63 35 e-mail: for more information or subscription. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this report, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the Web at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to . Mailing list: irin-wa-updates]

Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 17:26:29 +0000 (GMT) From: UN IRIN - West Africa <> Subject: IRIN-West Africa Update 138, 98.02.04 Message-Id: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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