The Nigerian government has released 314 prisoners to mark the country's 16th independence anniversary. Sixty-six?
The Nigerian government has released 314 prisoners to mark the country's 16th independence anniversary. Sixty-six of the prisoners were granted reprieves on the grounds of old age and ill health while the remaining 238 had served a minimum of two years.
SYNOPSIS: The focal point of celebrations marking the anniversary was Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos where the Head of State, Lieutenant-General Olusegun Obasanjo, reviewed a military parade.
The anniversary coincided with the launch of a new draft constitution for the country. The new constitution will undergo public debate before it is adopted. It makes provision for a return to civilian rule in 1979.
It was the first independence celebration for Lieutenant-General Obasanjo as Nigeria's military ruler.
Last year, the salute was taken by the late Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed, who was originally responsible for setting 1979 as the year for the return to civilian rule. General Mohammed was assassinated in an unsuccessful coup attempt in February. Thirty people were later executed for their part in the coup.
As in previous years, both primary and secondary schoolchildren took part in the parade. Many were younger than the nation itself which has seen four successful military coups in its 16 years of independence.
The climax of the Lagos parade was the firing of a 21-gun salute in honour of the new Head of State.