Nigerian papers name Saro Wiwa `Man of the Year'

 

EXECUTED Nigerian writer and dissident Ken Saro Wiwa was yesterday named "Man of the Year 1995" by two leading Lagos based newspapers, following the example set by another daily last week.

Saro Wiwa was given the accolade by the Guardian, one of Nigeria's most influential newspapers, and AM News, an independent radical daily critical of the military regime. Earlier, readers of The Punch had overwhelmingly chosen the minority rights activist as their "Man of the Year".

Saro Wiwa and eight other militants of the Ogoni people were hanged last November 10th, after a trial before a special court. They were convicted of murder during a demonstration, but the defence claimed the charges were trumped up by the junta to crush the Ogoni movement.

The execution of Saro Wiwa and his eight colleagues in the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) raised a storm of international outrage.

The Commonwealth suspended Nigeria, while the United States, the European Union and South Africa imposed a series of sanctions on the country.

Meanwhile, the fate of Moshood Abiola, the presidential claimant kept in detention by Nigeria's ruling generals, seems, likely to be a major issue in 1996 as world scrutiny bears down on the military government.

The business tycoon has been detained in a government house in Abuja since June 1994, when he proclaimed himself president in defiance of the military ruler, Gen Sani Abacha.

In Jakarta, a Nigerian special envoy, Mr Alhaji Mohammadu Gambo Jimeta, on Friday attacked Britain's internal human rights record while visiting Indonesia to deliver a special letter to President Suharto from "his brother", the president of Nigeria, Maj Gen Sani Abacha." Mr Jimeta was speaking after meeting the Foreign Minister, Mr Ali Alatas.