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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Nigeria: Recent Documents, Part 1
Any links to other sites in this file from 1995 are not clickable,
given the difficulty in maintaining up-to-date links in old files.
However, we hope they may still provide leads for your research.
Nigeria: Recent Documents, Part 1
Date Distributed (ymd): 950611

June 12, 1995 marks two years since annulment of
presidential elections in Nigeria by the country's military
regime, after the completed count but before official
announcement of the results.  As the military crackdown on
opponents has intensified in recent weeks, a variety of
human rights and pro-democracy groups have issued statements
and organized demonstrations calling for an end to human
rights abuses and installation of democracy.  In Washington,
groups joining in organizing a series of demonstrations at
the Nigerian Embassy, as part of a informal coalition known
as the International Roundtable on Nigeria, included
TransAfrica, the Service Employees International Union
(SEIU), the Nigerian Democratic Movement, Amnesty
International and others.

Two statements on the current situation, by HRW/Africa and
by Dr. Mobolaji Aluko of the Nigerian Democratic Movement,
follow in this posting and the next.

NEW YORK, NY  10017-6104
TEL: (212) 972-8400
FAX: (212) 972-0905

June 8, 1995

Nigeria: Human Rights Watch/Africa Denounces Arrests of
Human Rights and Pro-Democracy Activists and Continuing
Disintegration of Rule of Law


Melissa Crow (202)371-6592,x136[w]/(202) 234-9031[h], Janet
Fleischman (202)371-6592,x114 [w]/(301)565-5257[h], Susan
Osnos (212)972-8400x216[w]/(203)622-0472[h]

As the second anniversary of the annulled June 12, 1993
presidential election approaches, the Abacha government has
stepped up arrests of human rights and pro-democracy
activists at an alarming rate.  According to Human Rights
Watch/Africa, the government has arrested an increasing
number of its opponents in recent weeks in an effort to
stifle criticism of its repressive regime.  Human Rights
Watch/Africa believes that the most recent wave of arrests
may be an attempt on the part of the government to divert
attention from the closed trial of twenty-three alleged coup
plotters by a military tribunal, in blatant violation of
Nigeria's obligations under international human rights law.
Other government opponents currently in detention include
Chief Moshood Abiola, who is widely viewed to have won the
June 1993 elections, Sylvester Odion-Akhaine, General
Secretary of the Campaign for Democracy, Ken Saro-Wiwa,
president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People,
and numerous other Ogoni activists; trade union leaders
Frank Kokori, Wariebi Kojo Agamene, Francis Addo, and
Fidelis Aidelomon; and journalists Kunle Ajibade, Chris
Anyanwu, Ben Charles, and George Mba.

Human Rights Watch/Africa calls upon the Nigerian government
to facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of all
detainees held solely for the non-violent expression of
their political beliefs and to drop all politically
motivated charges against them.  Insofar as credible
evidence exists for any detainees accused of complicity in
legally recognizable crimes, Human Rights Watch/Africa calls
for them to be tried within a reasonable time by a
competent, independent and impartial court in compliance
with Nigeria's obligations under international human rights

Those human rights activists arrested in the past week
included Olisa Agbakoba, president of the Nigerian Civil
Liberties Organisation (CLO), Tunde Akanni, CLO campaign
officer, Femi Falana, chairman of the National Association
of Democratic Lawyers, and Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, chairman
of the Campaign for Democracy, a pro-democracy group.
Although Agbakoba and Falana were subsequently released,
they were ordered to report to the State Security Services
for questioning.  Other prominent human rights activists are
reportedly "wanted" by the Nigerian government.

Following a May 31, 1995 bomb explosion during the launching
of the family support program of Maryam Abacha, wife of the
current Head of State, in Ilorin, capital of Kwara State in
northwestern Nigeria, the Kwara State police arrested and
interrogated Chief Cornelius Adebayo and at least two other
members of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO).  All
chairmen of local government areas in Kwara State have been
ordered to report to the nearest police stations.  NADECO,
which includes politicians, retired military officials, and
pro-democracy figures who support Abiola's installation as
president, has been accused by the government since mid-May
of plans to foment a new political crisis.  NADECO has
repeatedly denied these allegations.  However, NADECO
members throughout the country have been summoned for
questioning.  Wale Osun, acting secretary-general of the
National Democratic Coalition, has been detained since his
arrest on May 19, 1995.

On Saturday, June 3, 1995, the State Security Services broke
up a meeting of the Democratic Alternative (DA), another
pro-democracy group, in Jos.  They proceeded to arrest and
detain without charge DA President Alao Aka-Bashorun and Dr.
Onje Gye-Wado, a member of the National Coordinating
Committee of the DA.  Caroline Embu, a member of the DA
executive in Jos, and CLO coordinators Edward Daudu and
Steve Aluko were also recently arrested and detained without
charge.  On June 1, 1995, Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, an
octogenarian leader of NADECO and the mainstream Yoruba
political group Afenifere, and some fifty other Afenifere
leaders from nine states, were arrested for holding an
illegal political meeting, although they have reportedly
been released.

These recent arrests have coincided with the start of the
trial of alleged coup plotters by a seven-man military
tribunal headed by Brigadier Patrick Aziza.  On March 10,
the armed forces chief-of-staff announced that the
government had arrested twenty-nine military officers and
civilians in conjunction with a failed coup attempt.  These
individuals included Former Deputy Head of State Major-
General Shehu Yar'Adua.  Former Head of State General
Olusegun Obasanjo, who was arrested on March 13 for alleged
involvement in the coup, is currently under house arrest.
Abacha's critics claim that the government fabricated the
coup plot as an excuse to quell opposition.  The trial of
twenty-three of those arrested, not including Obasanjo and
Yar'Adua, began on June 5, 1995 at the Lagos Garrison
Command and is closed to the public and the press, although
journalists were permitted to take photographs of the
suspects at the first session.  The tribunal is composed of
individuals closely identified with the military regime and
is therefore neither independent nor impartial.

The accused, who have been variously charged with treason,
conspiracy, concealment of treason, and accessory to these
offenses, have also been deprived of other due process
guarantees required under international law.  They have been
denied access to independent and freely-chosen legal
counsel, although they have the option to be represented by
armed forces personnel with legal training.  The findings of
the military tribunal are scheduled to be submitted to the
Chief of Defense Staff, Major-General Abdusalam Abubakar, by
June 30, 1995.  This short time period appears insufficient
for complete presentations of the cases of both the
prosecution and the defense and meaningful consideration of
the issues by the tribunal.  The tribunal's decision is not
subject by review by a higher court, but only to
confirmation by the Provisional Ruling Council, the highest
law-making body in Nigeria.  If convicted, the accused could
be subject that, as happened following an alleged coup plot
in 1986 and a coup attempt in 1990, the accused may be
sentenced to death and hastily executed based on inadequate
evidence following a secret and unfair trial.

The tribunal claims jurisdiction to try both military
personnel and civilians.  Human Rights Watch/Africa opposes
military tribunals for civilians and for military personnel
when the offenses are not specifically military in nature,
as in this case, because military tribunals are
intrinsically not independent and usually not impartial.
The military personnel to be tried by the tribunal include
Colonels Bello Fadile, Lawan Gwadabe, O. Oloruntoba, Rowland
Emokpae, Lieutenant-Colonels S.E. Oyewole, Happy Bulus, M.A.
Igwe, R.D. Obiki, V.O. Bamgbose, O.E. Nyong, C.P. Izuorgu;
Ex-Major Akinloye M.A. Ajayi; Second Lieutenant Richard
Emonvhe; and Staff Sergeant Patrick Usikpeko.  The civilians
include Felix Ndamaigida, Sanusi Mato, Peter Ijaola, Julius
Badejo, and Matthew Popoola.  The suspects have been
detained incommunicado at the Directorate of Military
Intelligence in Apapa, Lagos since their arrests.  The
government is reportedly continuing its investigation of
others who were arrested and detained in conjunction with
the alleged coup attempt, but who have not been charged.


Human Rights Watch/Africa (formerly Africa Watch): Human
Rights Watch is a nongovernmental organization established
in 1978 to monitor and promote the observance of
internationally recognized human rights in Africa, the
Americas, Asia, the Middle East and among the signatories of
the Helsinki accords. Kenneth Roth is the executive
director.  Robert L. Bernstein is the chair of the board,
and Adrian W. DeWind is vice chair.  Human Rights
Watch/Africa was established in 1988 to monitor and promote
the observance of internationally recognized human rights in
sub-Saharan Africa.  Janet Fleischman is the Acting
Executive Director; Alex Vines is the research associate;
Kimberly Mazyck and Urmi Shah are associates; Lisa Alfred,
Alison DesForges, Kirsti Lattu, Bronwen Manby and Lynn
Welchman are consultants; Melissa Crow is the Sophie
Silberberg Fellow.  William Carmichael is the chair of the
advisory committee and Alice Brown is the vice chair.


This material is being reposted for wider distribution
by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's
primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the
United States around African issues and the U.S. role
in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible
policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a
wide range of groups and individuals.  APIC is
affiliated with the Washington Office on Africa (WOA),
a not-for-profit church, trade union and civil rights
group supported organization that works with Congress
on Africa-related legislation.


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