UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Nigeria: Free Beko Kuti Campaign Date distributed (ymd): 960815
FREE BEKO KUTI CAMPAIGN, COMMUNIQUE 01, August 8, 1996
REMEMBERING DR. BEKO RANSOME-KUTI AND MALLAM SHEHU SANI
On August 2, 1996, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, medical practitioner, chairman of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), and of the Committee for the the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Nigeria and a past president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), turned 56. Rather than spend the day quietly with his family and friends in the comfort of his home in Ikeja, he was to be found in solitary confinement in prison in a northern town called Katsina, courtesy of the military dictatorship of Sani Abacha. Beko, ill and unable to shake a nagging fever, having lost a lot of the little weight he ever had, with little appetite for food, has little or no visitation rights.
He was arrested on July 27, 1995, and after a fifteen minute trial, sentenced on his 55th birthday, August 2, 1995 by the Patrick Aziza kangaroo court, first to life imprisonment for "faxing Colonel Bello-Fadile's alleged coup-trial defence statement to major countries with a view to having the British and various governments to invade Nigeria". He was also sentenced to 2 years in prison for the charge of "accessory after the fact to felony" for faxing a July 12 letter by Mallam Shehu Sani (CD Vice Chairman).
Sani, 35, himself arrested in March 1995 in connection with the alleged coup, had been sentenced earlier to 7 years in prison for "running an unlawful organization, the Campaign for Democracy", and then to life in prison for "accessory after the fact". The latter sentence was based on the same July 12 letter smuggled out to Dr. Kuti to inform him of the circumstances of his (Sani's ) impending conviction, and plans to implicate Dr. Kuti and the CD. All their convictions were consolidated and commuted to 15 years each in October 1995 following world-wide outrage and condemnation of the trials, and appeals for clemency. 39 other convictions were similarly commuted.
If there is one example of serious injustice that characterizes the Abacha junta, apart from the Saro-Wiwa/Ogoni 9 judicial murders of November 10, 1995, it is the cases of Beko Ransome-Kuti and Shehu Sani in connection with the alleged coup plot. It should be noted that the main alleged coup plotters had been arrested between February and April 1995, and sentenced in early July 1995, without anyone of them remotely referring to Dr. Kuti or Shehu Sani's involvement. In fact, on June 22, July 4, July 17 and July 26, 1995 Beko had issued press releases denouncing the conduct of the trials without any fear of his own involvement being an issue, except when it became clear that some frame-up was being cooked up.
Following Beko's arrest on July 27, the Aziza tribunal was re-convened on August 2 specifically to try and sentence Beko, and immediately recessed once again. The ridiculous, malicious and unconscionable situation of denying family men and human beings their liberty based on faxing documents and running an organization, the CD, that is patently lawfully (and continues to be so) therefore represents crimes against humanity if there was one.
Background Information on Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti
Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti started his human right work as a concerned physician fighting for the ill and afflicted to have access to good medical care. When he returned from Manchester University in 1963 as a young medical doctor, he immediately joined a children's hospital where he started organising his colleagues to the realisation that medical care is the right of all citizens - and not just elites - rather than a favor.
Beko comes from a strong background of human rights activism. His mother, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, was at the forefront of anti-colonial struggle in Nigeria. She organized Nigerian women to fight for their right to vote and be voted for. She waged many battles against indiscriminate taxation of women. One of those battles in 1948 led to the abdication from the throne of a tyrant king in Abeokuta, one of the major towns in Western Nigeria.
Rev. Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, late patriarch of the Kuti family, was also fully involved in the campaign for human rights in pre-independence Nigeria. An educationist, he formed the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and waged protests against the colonial masters who sought to deprive teachers their right to protest and go on strike.
The popular musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, is Beko's elder brother; both have obviously picked up where their parents left off. Fela, as he is known the world over, is recognized for using his music to fight tyranny, oppression and injustice, and in fighting all forms of human rights abuses in Nigeria and the whole of Africa.
Miss Nike Ransome-Kuti, Beko's soft-spoken daughter, a lawyer, has on numerous occasions championed the cause of the release of her father, uncle and numerous other Nigerians clamped in detention for various government-fabricated offences. She continues to be an effective spokesperson in the current travail facing her father.
Over the years, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti has been detained by various military governments in Nigeria - the Obasanjo, Buhari/Idiagbon, Babangida and now Abacha regimes - all in his crusade either for better medical care in Nigeria or for respect for human rights, and has suffered personal deprivations, torture and other indignities. "His thin frame, spectacles and sometimes barely audible voice belie his charisma when denouncing tyranny" (Dave Peterson, of the National Endowment for Democracy, Op-Ed, Washington Times, September 11, 1995, Page A17).
The world, excluding the Abacha regime, wishes Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti well, his present circumstances notwisthstanding, and prays that God continues to give him strength to bear the injustice visited on him and Shehu Sani, among others. We also pray the same God to visit judgement on those whose hearts have been closed to the suffering of Nigerians, attention to which Beko and Shehu have constantly sought.
What we demand:
We demand the release of Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Mallam Shehu Sani, Bashorun Moshood K. Abiola, Chief Frank Kokori and others whose only real offence has been their opposition to the intimidating tactics of the military junta, as well as calling for the wishes of the Nigerian people to be respected. They are being held hostage to the military government's intransigence.
What you can do:
1. Write to :
Alhaji Ibrahim Muhammed Jarma, Controller-General of Prisons, Nigerian Prison Service, PMB 16, Garki FCT, Abuja, Fax: 234-9-2344634
Chief Michael Agbamuche, Attorney General & Minister of Justice Federal Ministry of Justice, Old Federal Secretariat, Abuja, Nigeria
Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, Minister of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Broad Street, Lagos, Nigeria
to protest Dr. Beko Kuti's solitary confinement, demanding better medical care and wider visitation rights.
2. Write to
General Sani Abacha, State House, Abuja, Nigeria Fax: 234 -9-5232138
to protest Dr. Beko Kuti's and Mallam Shehu Sani's imprisonment, as well as the several others held against their will.
3. Write to
Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, c/o Miss Nike Kuti, 8 Imaria St., Anthony Village, P.O. Box 7247, Lagos, Nigeria
or Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, c/o Nigerian Prison Services, Headquarters Office, P.M.B. 16, Garki-Abuja, Tel: 234-1-4966555 Fax: 234-1-4960363 (Attention: Controller of Prisons, Katsina)
to wish him well during his illegal imprisonment, and and to ask him to keep strong in the face of injustice. Copies of such letters may also be faxed to 202/806-4632 (USA) or to 181-2448682 (UK) if you wish.
4. Send check or money order to
"Free Beko-Kuti Campaign" c/o P.O. Box 91291, Washington, DC 20090, USA ; or
"Free Beko Kuti Campaign" c/o P.O. Box 848, London, SE1 4LL, UK
to be used to support the families of Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti and Mallam Shehu Sani, for their daily upkeep, to travel back and forth to their locations of imprisonment and to fund the further dissemination of this campaign. Miss Nike Kuti is the Chairperson of the "Free Beko Kuti Campaign" International Committee.
5. Disseminate the circumstances of the imprisonment of Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti and Shehu Sani as widely as possible.
Issued by the International Committee, "Free Beko Kuti Campaign". Chairperson: Miss Nike Ransome-Kuti (Nigeria) ===================================
For further information, or to send in your donations, kindly write to or call:
"Free Beko Kuti Campaign"International Committee, c/o P.O. Box 91291, Washington, DC 20090, USA Tel: 202/806-6617 (Prof. Mobolaji Aluko); Fax: 202/806-4632; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Free Beko Kuti Campaign" International Committee, c/o P.O. Box 848, London, SE1 4LL, UK Tel: 181-2448644 (Dr. Kayode Fayemi); Fax: 181-2448682
=================================== More detailed information on the Beko Kuti case, and a wide range of other documents on the Nigeria pro-democracy movement, are available on the web site of the Nigerian Democratic Movement at: http://www.cldc.howard.edu/~ndmorg/ndmpage.html
Message-Id: <199608151420.HAA21763@igc3.igc.apc.org> From: email@example.com Date: Thu, 15 Aug 1996 10:17:50 -0500 Subject: Nigeria: Free Beko Kuti Campaign
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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