November 13, 1967 & 2002

 1967

On this day, the organizers of Miss World Beauty Contest, said that Nigeria’s representative at the beauty contest, 20-year old Rosaline Balogun, a second year Arts student of the University of Lagos, took ill in London, United Kingdom venue of the contest.

Miss Jean Gibbsons, the contest director, said Miss Balogun had influenza and a doctor had refused to allow her to attend the first rehearsal for the finals. According to Miss Gibbsons, Miss Balogun “is sitting shivering in bed with her and a temperature of 101o Farenheit. There is certainly a danger she could miss the judging.”

Meanwhile, Mecca Promotions, organizers of the contest, were trying to find another Nigeria girl to take Miss Balogun’s place and present a Nigerian tribal drum to Lord Mountbatten, former head of Britain’s military force in a ceremony at London’s Savoy Hotel on this day.

NOVEMBER 13, 1967

On this day, William Platinga, captain of the Dutch boat – Jozina – and six members of his crew went to jail to begin a 10-year sentence each after they had pleaded guilty at a Lagos Chief Magistrate’s court to unlawfully importing arms into Nigeria. They were also fined 6,000 pounds each or to go to jail for two years for also importing into the country certain goods, through the port of Calabar, with intent to evade prohibition.

The two sentences were to run concurrently. The six others were: Dirk Dieleman, Dirk Vant Wout, Paul Augustin, Roel of Kerssles, Ruben Otero and Horatio Noqueiria.

After pronouncing sentence, the trial chief magistrate, Mr. Akinyele Martins, ordered that the cases of the double and single-barelled shotguns and cases of cartridges be forfeited to the Nigerian Government and delivered to the Inspector General of Police for disposal. The court also ordered that the 500-ton ship – Jozina – be forfeited to the Nigerian Government and delivered to the Nigerian Navy for disposal.

 

 

NOVEMBER 13, 2002

On this day, President Olusegun Obasanjo granted amnesty to 80 government soldiers who fought in the Biafran conflict on the side of the rebels between 1967 and 1970.

The war, declared in 1967 by the Igbo, was for the independence of part of south-eastern Nigeria. Some one million people were killed.

The pardon wiped out the stigma of dismissal as the soldiers were restored to their former ranks, making them eligible for retirement benefits 32 years after the end of the civil war.

Officials said the presidential pardon, was in the spirit of general reconciliation and to put the sad memory of the war behind Nigeria. The 80 soldiers to receive the presidential pardon were members of the Nigerian army who crossed over to the Biafran side during the civil war.

Southeastern Nigeria, then governed by Col. Emeka Ojukwu, who was himself later pardoned, declared itself an independent state called Biafra following massacres in northern Nigeria in which tens of thousands of people, mainly Igbos from the southeast, lost their lives, following the coups in the late 1960s. The war ended in 1970 with defeat for the secessionists, led by Emeka Ojukwu. The states that had wanted to leave were re-integrated into the country.

Those pardoned were mainly from south-eastern Nigeria although not exclusively Igbo. While a few of them were still in jail most were not. Thirty-six months of fighting followed and more than one million people, mostly Igbos, died in what was then described as Africa’s worst modern war. Ojukwu himself was pardoned in 1981 and that enabled him to return to Nigeria after a 10-year exile in Cote d’Ivoire.

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