HC Deb 13 October 1943 vol 392 cc868-9
41. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action is being taken to honour the award made in 1892 of £11,420, arising out of the kidnapping of Ja Ja of Opobo, and to be paid to the heirs and successors of the chiefs of Opobo in Nigeria not before 30 years but before 50 years after 1892; and what attempt has been made to determine the right payees?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Dominions (Mr. Emrys-Evans)

I have been asked to reply. The matter is under active consideration and I will arrange for the hon. Member to be informed when a decision is reached.

Mr. Sorensen

May I ask whether another 50 years is to elapse before they get a report? Does the Minister not appreciate that this matter is of some concern to the people of Nigeria? They hold Ja Ja in very great respect, and should they not have as high a respect for the hon. Gentleman? Could we not expect a report in the near future, seeing that this matter has already been going on for a long time?

Captain Alan Graham

May I ask whether it was to remedy the shortage of Church of England chaplains that the Ja Ja was kidnapped?

Sir H. Williams

May I ask whether the Minister has taken into account the great solicitude of the hon. Member for the rights of inheritance?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

There has been a long research through the records, but the particulars have not yet been found. The search is continuing, but this case goes back to the days before the Colonial Office controlled Nigeria and when it was under the control of the Foreign Office.

Mr. Sorensen

Is it not a fact that this award was made in 1892 and that the heirs and successors of Ja Ja are entitled to the money? Therefore, will the matter be treated with as much seriousness as it would be if it concerned a British official in this country?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

I can definitely give that assurance. Every effort is being made to find the record, but it has not been possible to find it so far.

Captain Poole

May I suggest that search be made in the usual channels?