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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.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: Government Opponents Feared in Danger
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: Government Opponents Feared in Danger
Date Distributed (ymd): 950622

Obasanjo, Other opponents of Military Government
Feared in Additional Danger

Lagos newspapers reported Thursday, June 22, that Nigeria's
former military ruler General Olusegun Obasanjo and his
chief deputy have been charged in a military tribunal
trying suspected coup plotters.  The trial of retired Major-
General Shehu Yar'Adua began on Tuesday and that of Obasanjo
earlier, the reports said.  Spokespersons for the Nigerian
military refused comment except to say that information
would be available after trials of 23 alleged coup plotters,
not including the two former rulers, were completed at the
end of June.  In 1990 a total of 69 people were executed
after their secret trial for the failed bloody rebellion
against then army President Ibrahim Babangida by disgruntled
junior officers. Some other convicted people were given jail
terms.

The following statements have been released by Obasanjo's
family and by the U.S. White House.

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

An appeal from the family of the former Nigerian
head-of-state General Olusegun Obasanjo

Secret trial raises fears for the safety of respected
statesman

We the family of General Olusegan Obasanjo are asking the
international community to intercede with the Nigerian
authorities to demand the release of this respected
statesman, who is chairman of the African Leadership Forum
and a trustee of the Ford Foundation.

Under arrest in Nigeria on unspecified charges, the general
may be undergoing a secret trial and could be facing
execution by the dictatorial government currently ruling the
country.

An outspoken critic of continued military rule and advocate
for democracy, General Obasanjo initially was arrested on
March 13, then released at the behest of former President
Jimmy Carter and other international figures on March 22 and
confined to his home. Allowed no access to outside
communication, he was allowed to see only his wife and
children until he was picked up again on the night of June
13 and taken to an undisclosed location. No word of his fate
was given us until Sunday, June 18 when he was examined by
a doctor at a military site and the doctor reported to us
that he had lost considerable body weight, was excessively
fatigued, and was suffering from high blood pressure.

Since his initial detention, the general has not been
formally presented with any accusations.

We are demanding his release, or, if the authorities persist
in holding him, an open trial with representation by a
lawyer of his choosing and with international observers in
attendance.

General Obasanjo served as military leader in Nigeria from
1978 to 1980, during which time he voluntarily organized
democratic elections and handed over to an elected, civilian
government. Since then, he has served on numerous
international panels and commissions.

June 22, 1995
Issued on behalf of the family by:
Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo (daughter)
Tel: (910) 659-4935
Fax: (910) 764-5818
Distributed via Africa News Online by Africa News Service
(newsdesk@afnews.org)

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

Statement by the Press Secretary, The White House,
Washington, June 21, 1995

The United States condemns the Government of Nigeria's
arrest and continued detention of former President General
Olusegun Obasanjo and is deeply concerned about reports that
the Government plans to try him.  No public charges have
been filed against Obasanjo and no evidence presented to
justify his detention.  These actions again demonstrate the
Government of Nigeria's failure to respect the human rights
and basic civil liberties of its citizens.  Such steps will
only exacerbate tensions in Nigeria and further strain
Nigeria's relations with the international community.

The United States also remains concerned about the secret
trials now underway for 23 alleged coup plotters and urges
the Government of Nigeria to provide due process, including
public trials, for all persons detained or charged in
connection with alleged coup plotting.

The United States reiterates its call upon Nigerian
authorities to fulfill their pledge to return Nigeria
rapidly to democratic civilian government.  The Government
of Nigeria should prove its commitment to press freedom,
respect for civil liberties and freedom of association by
immediately lifting the ban on media houses and political
parties, releasing or charging all detainees, and respecting
due process of law.

In response to the November 1993 military coup, the U.S.
imposed broad visa restrictions on Nigerian nationals who
"formulate, implement or benefit from policies that impede
Nigeria's transition to democracy" as well as their
immediate families.  The U.S. also terminated military
assistance and training programs.  Separately, as a
consequence of Nigeria's narcotics decertification, the
United States has suspended Export-Import or OPIC financing
for projects in Nigeria and ended all direct assistance to
the Nigerian Government.

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

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/oba9506.php