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1995 - Mr Major’s Comments on Ken Saro-Wiwa

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on Ken Saro-Wiwa, made in an interview on 9th November 1995.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if Nigeria could stay in the Commonwealth following the trial of Ken Saro-Wiwa].

PRIME MINISTER:

It was a bad trial, a bad judgement and an unjust sentence and the Commonwealth will make that point very clear to Nigeria when it asks for clemency, but my principal concern at the moment is to save the lives of the people who are presently under threat and we will use all our endeavours to do that. I don’t think going beyond that and uttering threats of what might happen subsequently is a helpful way of securing that primary interest - saving the lives of the people who are at present at risk.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if anyone else could exert pressure on Nigeria].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think a number of countries can exert influence, certainly the leaders of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, President Mugabe of course, President Mandela self-evidently and others will all have a particular role to play and I believe they will play that role.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about whether Nigeria’s actions would just be forgotten about].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, of course not but one needs to remember that the Commonwealth concern about Nigeria and other countries was on our agenda before the sentences on Mr Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues; it isn’t something that has just blown up at a result of that particular trial and those particular sentences, it was on the agenda beforehand and has been for some time so self-evidently we will be looking to see what can be done.