Today In History: September 18th

September 18, 1961

On September 18, 1961, the Governor-General of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe paid the following tribute to the late Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Dag Hammarskjoeld, who was killed when his plane crashed seven miles from Ndola, Northern Rhodesia:

“I am deeply distressed to hear of the death of Mr. Dag Hammarskjoeld while in search of peace for a troubled African country. His death will be a most serious blow to the United Nations Organisation which he has served most faithfully and with unswerving loyalty. This loss will have a far reaching effect in the affairs of mankind which now mourns him.”

Also on the same day, the Prime Minister, Alhaji Sir Abubarkar Tafawa Balewa paid the following tribute to the late Mr. Dag Hammarskjoeld:

“I was most sad to hear of the death of Mr. Hammarskjoeld. In him the world has lost a great statesman. Throughout the years that he had been Secretary-General to the United Nations, Mr. Hammarskjoeld had been doing his best to bring about peace among the nations. He should always be remembered for trying to hold a balance between the East and the West.”

 

September 18, 1998

On this day, General Abdulsalami Abubakar led government withdrew the treason charges against Professor Wole Soyinka and 14 others as a way of seeking national reconciliation.

The announcement was made by Police spokesman, Young Arabamen, who confirmed that the charges were withdrawn on Abubakar’s orders.

The treason charges, filed by the regime of Gen. Sani Abacha in March 1997, claimed that the 15 people were behind a series of bombing against Nigerian military authorities. Professor Soyinka, who denied any role in the bombing, had earlier fled to the United States two years before the charges were filed, fearing he was about to be arrested.

Charged along with Mr. Soyinka were some of the country’s most prominent  opposition leaders at the time, in the likes of Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Olu Falae and General Alani Akinrinade and other members of the National Democratic Coalition, or NADECO

Soyinka, who  remained in exile since then said he would only return home when a sweeping security decree allowing people to be arrested without charge is revoked. However, following the unexpected death of Gen. Sani Abacha on June, 1998 and his take-over reign, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, in the spirit of reconciling the country, dropped all charges of treason against Wole Soyinka and others.

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