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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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: AI on New York Times Ad
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: AI on New York Times Ad
Date distributed (ymd): 951212

Amnesty International USA
304 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington DC 20003
Tel: (202) 544-0200
Fax: (202) 546-7142

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 6, 1995

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA CONDEMNS DISINFORMATION IN
INTERNATIONAL PRINT ADVERTISEMENTS ON NIGERIA

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Amnesty International USA (AIUSA)
expressed outrage over the egregious inaccuracies in an
advertisement placed in the New York Times and other
international print media today, regarding the analysis of
the Ogoni crisis in Nigeria. Amnesty International did not
monitor the trial of the Ogoni Nine. The tribunal was not an
open or just process. The organization has serious concerns
that the evidence against the defendants was coerced through
torture and other illegal means.

"Mr. Orage's facts are wrong, they are misleading, and they
only serve to complicate an already explosive situation in
which justice has not been served to Mr. Orage and his
family, the Ogoni Nine and the Nigerian people," said
William F. Schulz, Executive Director, AIUSA. "Similar ads
are appearing in international newspapers and Mr. Orage
should be public about his sources of funding as that may
give some insight into his credibility."

Amnesty International sent a delegation to Nigeria in
December 1994 but the trial was consistently delayed until
February 1995. The delays ensured that the defendants were
detained without charge or trial for eight months. The
organization did receive reports on the trials from
Nigerian human rights groups, other international human
rights groups and a special observer, Michael Birnbaum QC.
The civilians were tried in a closed military court which
was found unfair by international standards.

Further evidence of the gross unfairness of the trial is
evident in the government's systematic use of violence
against both the defendants and the prosecution witnesses.
Baribor Bera, who was executed and who had been brutally
tortured, was initially a prosecution witness. He was only
charged with murder after refusing to give false evidence.
Nordu Eawo also executed was arrested and taken to the home
of a prosecution witness where he was tortured by other
prosecution witnesses. Physical evidence of torture was
produced at the trial. Two key prosecution witnesses have
alleged that they themselves and additional prosecution
witnesses were threatened and bribed to give false evidence.

"Perhaps people seeking to get to the truth should be asking
why the government had to torture the defendants and
threaten witnesses if the case was so airtight," said Dr.
Schulz.

The Ogoni trials are the latest example of successive
military governments undermining the Nigerian judicial
system. The use of military tribunals including the Special
Disturbances Tribunal circumvents Nigeria's legal process
and safeguards for international standards of due process.
These standards to which Nigeria is committed to include the
African Charter for Human and Peoples Rights and the U.N.
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. /END

********************************************************

The advertisement referred to by Amnesty International took
up two full pages, at an estimated cost of $102,000.
Attributed to the Kobani, Badey and Orage Memorial
Foundation, Box 59241, Philadelphia, PA 19102 Tel: 215-545-
2458, it seems to form part of a large-scale public
relations campaign by the Nigerian government to discredit
executed activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues.

It includes a letter from Desmond Orage, son of one of the
Ogoni chiefs whose murder Saro-Wiwa was charged with
instigating, and a narrative of events which claims that the
trial of Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues was fair and that it
had been "monitored" by international groups including
Amnesty International.

*******************************************************
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.

*******************************************************


URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs95/nig9512.ai.php