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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Nigeria: Free Beko Kuti Campaign
Any links to other sites in this file from 1996 are not clickable,
given the difficulty in maintaining up-to-date links in old files.
However, we hope they may still provide leads for your research.
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

Introduction

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:
ndmorg@cldc.howard.edu.

or to:

"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

************************************************************
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational
affiliate of the Washington Office on Africa. APIC's primary
objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States
around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by
concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant
information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and
individuals.

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URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs96/nig9608.php