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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 Please note that many outdated links in this archived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: ACAS Alert; R&W Video
Any links to other sites in this file from 1996 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: ACAS Alert; R&W Video
Date Distributed (ymd): 960715
(1) New Alert on Academic Freedom from the
Association of Concerned Africa Scholars;
(2) Announcement of new TV documentary video from
Rights & Wrongs (Globalvision), showing last week and
this in U.S., available on video.
Association of Concerned Africa Scholars
July 2, 1996
Nigeria: Academic Repression
As ACAS members know from our previous alerts, the military
regime in Nigeria has declared war on local democratic forces.
While the killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues brought
this to international attention, recent weeks have seen an
intensification of repression that has gone unnoticed.
In the last month the Abacha regime has targeted university
teachers and students, from the banning of national faculty
and student unions to violent police assaults on peaceful
ACAS has always been a staunch defender of academic freedom
We urge you to take a moment to:
(1) Write, call, or fax the Nigerian Ambassador protesting
academic repression. In your own words call on the Nigerian
government to respect the freedoms of speech, assembly,
association and the collective bargaining rights of Nigerian
students, academics, and all Nigerian citizens and workers.
Demand that the government end violence against peaceful
demonstrations, that it unban the staff and student unions,
and that it negotiate in good faith to resolve the strike.
Ambassador Zubair M. Kazaure
The Embassy of Nigeria
1333 16th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Fax: (202) 775-1385
Tel: (202) 986-8400; 822-1500
(2) Write, call, fax or e-mail your Washington Representatives
and let them know you are concerned about the repression of
academics and all people in Nigeria. Ask them to co-sponsor
and vigorously support the legislation introduced by Senator
Nancy Kassebaum and Representative Donald Payne that calls for
sanctions against Nigeria.
The Honorable [name]
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable [name]
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121
For electronic addresses see our web site:
Please send a copy of your letters to ACAS, so that the level
of our support can be communicated to Nigerian colleagues and
democracy advocates. Below we provide our address, a
background brief and source guide, and suggestions for further
ACAS, 2 July 1996.
Special thanks to Chris Lowe and the Committee on Academic
Freedom in Africa for assistance in producing this Alert.
Background on the Repression of Nigerian Students and
In recent weeks students and university teachers have become
frontline targets of repression by the military government of
General Sani Abacha in Nigeria.
On June 5, police in Ibadan attacked thousands of student
demonstrators who were protesting the assassination of Kudirat
Abiola, wife of imprisoned opposition leader Moshood K.
Abiola. The students were joined by Ibadan merchants as they
marched through town, singing anti-military songs and calling
for international intervention to restore democracy.
This incident was only the most recent violence against
non-violent student protesters since the widely condemned
hanging of nine Ogoni activists, including the writer Ken
Saro-Wiwa, in November of 1995. In 1996 arrests and
detentions of democratic activists, including lawyers who had
defended the Ogoni Nine continue. Murders of and assaults on
regime opponents have also intensified. A climate of
intimidation now exists, leading many to blame the regime for
Abiola's death, directly or indirectly.
Actions against academics have also escalated. On May 16,
Abacha's government banned the national university unions,
including the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the
National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), the
Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and the Senior
Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU). The
teachers of ASUU have been on strike since April 9, demanding
that the government fulfill a 1992 agreement to improve
university funding and instructors'salaries, which currently
average 5000 Naira per month, or about $60 U.S.
Government action against their unions fits a wider pattern of
labor repression. Frank Kokori and Milton Dabibi, the General
Secretaries of the main petroleum workers' unions, remain in
detention without trial. The regime has also dissolved other
trade unions and imposed hand-picked "leaders" on 27 unions.
In addition to targeting the Nigerian Embassy and supporting
the sanctions bill (see our Alert), we urge members to develop
local work on their campuses and communities. Imaginative
examples already abound, including educational events, the
picketing of Shell operations and calls for divestment of
Shell stock, the passage of sanctions statements/bills, etc.
Events during the first week of October -- bracketing Nigerian
Independence Day and the American Committee on Africa
Religious Action Network action ---would be particularly
appropriate. Considerable information on these actions and the
situation in Nigeria is available through our web site:
We have also prepared a 60+page background reading packet for
scholars and activists. If you are interested in receiving
the reading packet and/or are willing to work with us on these
issues, please send the following form (or a printed note) and
mail it to us at the address below.
Tel _____________ Fax ___________
Please check as appropriate:
__ Please send me the Nigerian information packet. I enclose
a check for $6 made out to "ACAS".
__ I am willing to help organize support further ACAS action.
Please contact me.
__ I am already working with a Nigeria democracy support
group. It can be contacted via:
__ I am interested in taking part in solidarity actions for
democracy in Nigeria. Please keep me informed.
ACAS 2 July 1996
ACAS, c/o Bill Martin, 326 Lincoln Hall, 702 S. Wright St.,
Urbana, IL 61801 USA.
RIGHTS & WRONGS
July 11, 1996
Nigeria - A Human Rights Nightmare
Will Sanctions Help Restore Human Rights to Nigeria?
Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa's Fight for Justice
Free elections are held and certified as fair by international
observers. The winning candidate seeks to take office--but
instead is charged with treason and tossed in prison . His
victory is, in effect, "Erased." No, this not a movie--but
events that actually happened in l993 in Nigeria, Africa's
most populated state. Today, western countries are debating
whether to impose sanctions against a country that sells most
of its oil to the United States. This week, Charlayne
Hunter-Gault's public television news magazine Rights & Wrongs
explores the fight for human rights in Nigeria [Beginning July
11 at 10:30 PM on New York's Channel 13, and then for the next
week on stations throughout the country.]
"When world opinion mobilized to topple South Africa's
apartheid system, Nigeria led the charge with funding and
support," notes Co-Executive Producer Danny Schechter. "Today,
Nigeria is itself in the dock of world opinion." Rights &
Wrongs examines evidence of rampant human rights abuses in
Nigeria, as well as a behind-the-scenes political war over
sanctions pitting human rights groups against a small army of
paid professional lobbyists, including Republican Presidential
candidate Bob Dole's National Security Advisor Al Lehn.
Untangling Nigeria's recent history, Rights & Wrongs explains
how moderate candidate Moshood Abiola was elected President in
l993 after Nigeria's military rulers agreed to return the
country to civilian rule. His victory was short-lived. The
government refused to recognize it, and when Abiola insisted
on taking office, he was arrested and accused of treason, a
charge that carries the death sentence if convicted. Concern
for Abiola's safety is set against the background of the l995
execution of environmental activist and poet Ken Saro-Wiwa,
who was hung along with eight colleagues after a trial that
human rights groups denounced as a farce.
Rights & Wrongs highlights the debate on Nigeria through
interviews and statements by that country's Nobel
Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka, Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
who visited Abiola at South African President Nelson Mandela's
request, Amnesty International's Gerald LeMelle, Moshood
Abiola's daughter Hafsat Abiola, and human rights lawyer Gay
McDougall, as well as two Nigerian Ambassadors. The program
also reveals that the Nigerian government has targeted
African-American opinion by providing special trips to black
newspaper editors and representatives.
The closing segment airs the final television interview with
Ken Saro-Wiwa, a leader of the Ogoni people residing in
Nigeria's oil-rich delta, who had been challenging the
practices of the Shell Oil company.
Other statements and interviews on the program include
Innocent Chukwume, an official with Nigeria's Civil Liberties
Organization, and activists Randall Robinson of TransAfrica,
Kakuna Kerina of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and
Mike Fleshman of the Africa Fund. Rights & Wrongs shows videos
provided by Witness and others produced for the Nigerian
Embassy in the United States and the Shell Oil Company. Shell
Oil met with Rights & Wrongs but refused to allow its
executives to go on camera. Nigeria's strong man General
Abacha did not respond to interview requests.
Copies of the tape of this program are available from Rights
& Wrongs for home viewing and outreach. Please visit
Globalvision's internet site at
E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
July 11, l996
Danny Schechter, Executive Producer, for Rights & Wrongs
Rights & Wrongs offers global perspectives and diverse
viewpoints not reported elsewhere. It is produced by
Globalvision Inc. in association with the Independent
Television Service (ITVS) with funding from the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Channel 13/WNET. Review
copies as well as interviews with Charlayne Hunter-Gault and
the program's producers are available.: 212-246-0202
[Note to non-U.S. readers: Although the information in this
posting is U.S.-specific, it is being sent to non-U.S.
addresses as well both for your background information and for
possible forwarding to those of your U.S. contacts you think
would be interested.]
This material is being reposted for wider distribution 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