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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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: Legislative Action Alert
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: Legislative Action Alert
Date Distributed (ymd): 951230

Washington Office on Africa
Special Action Alert on Nigeria Sanctions
December 29, 1995

ISSUE: In response to the hanging last month of nine Nigerian
activists, bills have been introduced in both the Senate and
the House that would intensify pressures against the Nigerian
military regime. These bills fall short of the comprehensive
sanctions demanded by Nigerian pro-democracy groups and many
other groups around the world. But they do include new
measures that go beyond the Administration's actions to date,
including a ban on all new U.S. investment in Nigeria and a
freeze on the personal assets of top officials of the Nigerian
regime. Chances for passing such measures, or stronger ones,
depend on whether the momentum of public pressure for action
continues to build.

ACTIONS: Advocacy should focus on the U.S. Congress. Contact
your Senators and Representative and ask them to sign on as
co-sponsors of Sen. Nancy Kassebaum's S.1419 or Rep. Donald
Payne's H.R. 2697. If they have already done so (see list
below) express your thanks. Tell your legislators that you are
concerned that international pressures against the Nigerian
military regime have so far been too little and too late. Ask
them what stronger actions they are planning to promote human
rights and democracy in Nigeria. You may want to send a copy
of your letter to Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

[Note to non-U.S. readers: This posting is provided both
for your background information and for possible forwarding
to those of your U.S. contacts you think would be interested.]

WHEN: In January.


The Honorable ________
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable _______
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Secretary of State Warren Christopher
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
Fax: (202) 647-6434

BACKGROUND: Since the Nigerian military regime hanged
environmental and human rights leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight
of his fellow activists on Nov. 10, there has been an
unprecedented wave of protest around the world, by literally
hundreds of organizations. Saro-Wiwa, a leader of the Ogoni
people in the Niger Delta, had led protests against Shell Oil,
whose operations have contaminated the land in this oil-
bearing region. Last year he was jailed and charged with
instigating the murder of four Ogoni leaders. According to
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human
rights organizations, the military tribunal which condemned
him was marked by torture of witnesses and other abuses. Saro-
Wiwa and his colleagues were executed despite appeals for
clemency from many world leaders.

Previously, in March 1995, the Nigerian military government
imprisoned former Nigerian head of state General Olusegun
Obasanjo and others for an alleged coup plot. It has also
detained numerous human rights activists. In 1993 its
predecessor, also a military regime, cancelled the June 12,
1993 presidential election before the counted results had been
announced officially. Chief Moshood Abiola, the reported
winner, was arrested for treason on June 12, 1994 after
declaring himself president. Obasanjo and Abiola are still in
detention, along with other alleged coup plotters, Ogoni
activists, trade unionists, human rights activists and other
opponents of the government.

While the United States and other governments have criticized
the Nigerian military regime, cut off aid, restricted arms
sales, and imposed visa restrictions on Nigerian officials,
they have until now relied on "quiet diplomacy" rather than
turning to stronger sanctions measures. In the wake of the
execution of Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues, President Nelson
Mandela of South Africa, who had also invested his prestige in
quiet diplomacy, supported suspension of Nigeria from the
Commonwealth and called for oil sanctions. The call for oil
sanctions has been endorsed by a wide range of individuals and
organizations, including Nobel Prize winners Wole Soyinka and
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace, the
Sierra Club, TransAfrica, the Washington Office on Africa, and
many other international and Nigerian groups.

Co-sponsors of S. 1419 as of Dec. 29, 1995 include: Leahy (D-
VT), Feingold (D-WI), Jeffords (R-VT), Simon (D-IL), Wellstone
(D-MN), Pell (D-RI), McCain (R-AZ), Gregg (R-NH), Chafee (R-
RI), Cohen (R-ME) , Harkin (D-IA) , Kohl (D-WI), Thomas (R-
WY), Snowe (R-ME).

Co-sponsors of H.R. 2697 as of Dec. 29, 1995 include: Ackerman
(D-NY), Bishop (D-GA), Chabot (R-OH), Collins, B.R. (D-MI),
Dellums (D-CA), Engel (D-NY), Faleomavaega (D-AS), Fattah
(D-PA), Frazer (I-VI), Furse (D-OR), Hilliard (D-AL),
Houghton (R-NY), Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Johnston, H. (D-FL),
Lantos (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), McKinney (D-GA), Meek
(D-FL), Mfume (D-MD), Moran (D-VA), Norton (D-DC), Owens
(D-NY), Pelosi (D-CA), Porter (R-IL), Rangel (D-NY), Salmon
(R-AZ), Scott (D-VA), C. Smith(R-NJ), Waters (D-CA), Wynn

This material is produced and distributed by 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. WOA's educational
affiliate is the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC).


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