Thursday, August 27, 1998Internationally-known Nigerian journalist, Christine Anyanwu, released from prison in June 1998 only after the death of dictator Gen. Sani Abacha, will be the guest speaker at the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalist's (CCPJ) Annual Meeting in Toronto on 17 September 1998. The speech will be one of her first public appearances anywhere in the world. Anyanwu's case attracted worldwide attention after a special military tribunal secretly sentenced her to life in prison in 1995 along with three other journalists for reporting on an alleged coup plot against Abacha. The sentence was subsequently commuted to 15 years. The other three journalists, Ben Charles Obi of "Weekend Classique", Kunle Ajibade of "TheNews", and George Mbah of "Tell", were released in July after international pressure on Nigeria's new head of state Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar came to fruition. All of the journalists, like many prisoners in Nigeria, suffered various illnesses in prison and Anyanwu was in danger of going blind if she was not released. She is currently receiving treatment in the United States. Anyanwu, Editor-in-Chief of the now-defunct "The Sunday Magazine (TSM)", has been honoured with several press freedom prizes, including the prestigious UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, bestowed each year on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May. She heads to Canada after a trip to Paris to officially receive the award in early September. Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka accepted the award on her behalf at a UNESCO ceremony in Europe. While welcoming the release of Anyanwu and other journalists, the CCPJ remains concerned about the fate of other detained journalists in Nigeria. Not least is the case of Niran Malaolu, the Editor of "The Diet" newspaper who was sentenced to 25 years in prison this spring for reporting on an alleged coup plot in December 1997. Instead of being released along with other journalists, Malaolu's sentence was commuted to 15 years in July. His case is eerily similar to the one that sent Anyanwu and the others - popularly known as "the innocent four" to jail on a 15-year sentence. All members of the media and the public are welcome to attend Anyanwu's speech at 8pm. The CCPJ's Annual Meeting begins at 7pm on 17 September 1998 in the Rotunda, Main Floor, Metro Hall, 55 John St. (at King St.) in Toronto. If you are attending Anyanwu's speech, please RSVP by e-mail to the CCPJ at [email protected] For more info, contact the CCPJ at 489 College St. #403, Toronto, ON M6G 1A5, tel: + 416 515 9622, fax: +416 515 7879, e-mail: [email protected]
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