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Nigeria: Recent Documents
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Nigeria: Recent Documents
Date Distributed (ymd): 961005
(1) HRW/Africa Press Release;
(2) Communique: World Congress of Free Nigerians
(1) Nigeria--Caught in State of "Permanent Transition"
Human Rights Watch/Africa, 27 Sept 96
Despite its stated commitment to return Nigeria to civilian
rule by October 1, 1998, the Nigerian government continues to
violate the rights of Nigerian citizens to freely engage in
political activity. Nigerian military rulers first announced
a program to return the country to democratic government over
ten years ago, and in "Permanent Transition," released today,
Human Rights Watch/Africa assesses the transition program and
the steps that have been taken toward its implementation to
date, including an examination of the seriously flawed local
government elections of March 1996. The 52-page report
identifies the impediments to free political activity that
destroy the transition program's credibility, including the
detention and imprisonment of opposition politicians, human
rights and pro-democracy activists, trade unionists and
journalists, as well as restrictions on freedom of
expression, assembly, association and movement.
Human Rights Watch charges that recent reforms announced by
the government including the restoration of a right to appeal
in some cases where it had been denied, the repeal of a decree
preventing the courts from granting writs of habeas corpus in
favor of detainees held without charge, and the creation of a
human rights commission are purely cosmetic, and do not begin
to address the need for fundamental reform and renewal. As a
result, Human Rights Watch calls for the imposition of
additional international sanctions including freezing the
foreign assets of members of the Nigerian military government
to ensure that Nigeria is returned to civilian rule by a
freely elected government as soon as possible.
Repression continues in Ogoniland, birthplace of executed
minority rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Nineteen Ogonis still
await trial before the same Civil Disturbances Special
Tribunal that convicted Saro-Wiwa and eight others and
sentenced them to death in October 1995 executions later
described by British Prime Minister John Major as "judicial
murder." Other suspected sympathizers of Saro-Wiwa's
organization, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni
People (MOSOP), were detained after demonstrations on January
4, 1996, celebrated as "Ogoni Day" since January 1993. Still
more Ogonis were detained before or during the April visit of
a fact-finding team sent by the U.N. Secretary General to
Nigeria, despite assurances by the Nigerian government that
nobody would be penalized for attempting to speak to the team.
While the Nigerian government has put in place token efforts
at "reconciliation" in Ogoniland, it has not made any move to
pay compensation to the families of the executed activists, as
recommended by the U.N. fact-finding team.
International attention has shifted from Nigeria during 1996,
after an outcry following the November 1995 executions of the
Ogoni Nine. Although sanctions imposed following the
executions remain in force, as well as those put in place in
1993, no further measures have been imposed, despite the lack
of genuine progress in returning the country to an elected
government. The Commonwealth, which suspended Nigeria from
membership in November 1995, has halted the implementation of
additional sanctions recommended in April 1996 by the
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), pending further
discussions with the Nigerian government. The Organization of
African Unity has failed to take any measures against Nigeria,
and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, which
held an extraordinary session on Nigeria in December 1995, has
yet to follow this up with further action or recommendations.
Human Rights Watch calls for international pressure to be
maintained and intensified to ensure that the Nigerian
government takes meaningful steps to improve the human rights
situation. Detainees must be released and free expression and
assembly restored in order to ensure a genuine transition to
civilian rule. In particular, Human Rights Watch urges the
imposition of a total arms embargo on Nigeria, and the
freezing of assets held in other countries by members of the
Nigerian armed forces or senior members of the government, and
their families. Human Rights Watch calls specially on CMAG,
which is meeting over the weekend of September 28 and 29, to
urge the Commonwealth member states to implement the sanctions
recommended by CMAG in April, and also to adopt an asset
freeze and arms embargo.
To order additional copies of "Permanent Transition," please
send $6.00 (domestic) or $7.50 (international) to the
Publications Department, Human Rights Watch, 485 Fifth Avenue,
New York, NY 10017-6104. Visa/MasterCard accepted.
Human Rights Watch/Africa 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 and Robert L. Bernstein is the chair of
the board. Its Africa division was established in 1988 to
monitor and promote the observance of internationally
recognized human rights in sub-Saharan Africa. Peter
Takirambudde is the executive director and William Carmichael
is the chair of the advisory committee.
Listserv address: To subscribe to the list, send an e-mail
message to firstname.lastname@example.org with "subscribe hrw-news" in
the body of the message (leave the subject line blank).
Human Rights Watch, 485 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10017-6104
TEL: 212/972-8400 FAX: 212/972-0905 E-mail: email@example.com;
1522 K Street, N.W. Washington D.C. 20005 TEL: 202/371-6592
FAX: 202/371-0124 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
[APIC Note: According to a Pan African News Agency dispatch
dated September 30, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group,
made up of Britain, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, South Africa,
Malaysia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe, decided in its New York
meeting to put sanctions on hold and proceed with a new fact-
finding mission to Nigeria.]
September 29th 1996, Howard University, Washington DC
World Congress of Free Nigerians
During a four-day World Congress of Free Nigerians (WCFN) in
Washington, DC, USA, (September 26 29, 1996) attended by
delegates from Africa, Europe and the Americas, members of the
Congress deliberated on the problems created for their country
by successions of military dictatorships in general and by the
current military dictatorship in particular.
The Congress salutes the courage of the leadership of the
National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), the United Democratic
Front of Nigeria, (UDFN) and other prodemocracy organizations
inside and outside Nigeria who have since the annulment of the
June 12th 1993 elections been championing the struggle for the
restoration of democracy in Nigeria.
The Congress expressed solidarity with the strike action of
the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), now in its
eighth month and called upon parallel organisations of
university academics in the international community to express
their solidarity by coming to the aid of their beleaguered
colleagues in Nigeria.
The Congress expresses its deepest gratitude to the
governments of Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and others, and
nongovernmental organizations who have helped to sustain the
struggle so far.
The Congress agreed on the following resolutions:
1. That the mandate expressed by the Nigerian people on June
12th, 1993 expressed the sovereignty of the people and that
this sovereignty cannot be surrendered.
2. That the political class must not participate in the
ongoing transition programme of the Abacha regime, as
participation in this sham is tantamount to surrender of that
3. That the general civil disobedience by Nigerians already
in place should be continued and widened. This includes acts
of noncooperation with the regime on all matters.
4. That a Parliament-In-Exile (PIE) be established
immediately and that the inaugural meeting of the PIE
shall be held within three months.
5. That the PIE should draw up proposals for a Sovereign
National Conference in Nigeria and a model civilian
constitution for Nigeria to replace unitary constitutions
that have, since 1966, been foisted on Nigeria by military
6. That Nigeria should return to the parliamentary system of
government when democracy is restored to the country.
7. That the PIE will be a unified legislative organ of all
Nigerian prodemocracy groups and will serve as the primary
voice of the alternative to General Abacha and military
8. That the PIE shall set up an all-civilian constitution-
drafting committee to prepare a model draft of a constitution
that restores genuine federalism to Nigeria, for approval by
9. That the PIE shall examine in detail the following
proposals: a) restructuring of the Nigerian federation into
viable selfsustaining regions which shall not be less than six
nor more than ten in number; b) allocation of functions among
federal, regional, and local governments, including provisions
for autonomous areas; and c) revenue allocation and other
10. That the PIE shall enshrine in our constitution that the
minimum rights of all Nigerians shall be in accordance with
the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and
other human rights charters to which Nigeria is a party.
11. That there should be enshrined in our constitution,
drastic deterrents against planned or accomplished overthrow
of democratic government. The statute of limitation would not
be applicable to such crimes.
12. That the PIE shall examine the total restructuring and
reorientation of the military to ensure they return to
constitutional role of defending the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Nigeria, acting under orders of a
democratic civil authority.
13. That the PIE shall set up an international panel of
jurists to draw up an indictment against Generals Ibrahim
Babangida and Sani Abacha, for crimes against humanity by
past and present military regimes under their command.
14. That the PIE shall prepare model bills on human rights,
the political and economic empowerment of women, the
environment, education, science and technology, and the
preservation of our culture and heritage.
15. That the PIE shall set up a committee to prepare model
draft bills on corruption and on drug trafficking.
16. That General Abacha must release immediately all
political detainees, including MKO Abiola, Beko RansomeKuti,
Frank Kokori, Shehu Sani, A. A. Adesanya, Ganiyu Dawodu, Ayo
Adebanjo, and hundreds of others.
17. In view of persistent reports that Ayo Opadokun has been
killed by agents of the Abacha regime and not released as
claimed by the regime, the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) should be called upon to investigate the matter.
18. Congress resolves that the Planning Committee of the
Congress together with such persons as it may coopt (a) to
submit proposals to Head of delegations on the composition of
the PIE and (b) to maintain continuity and sustain contact
among prodemocracy groups and individuals between congresses.
19. As a symbol of our rejection of the military regime, we
henceforth cease to recognise the current Nigerian national
anthem. Henceforth, whenever Nigerians congregate at
nonofficial functions, they should sing the old democratic
anthem, Nigeria We Hail Thee.
20. That, recognizing education as the bedrock of a democratic
society and the key to successful development of a nation,
compulsory and free secondary education, both grammar and
technical, should be provided in all parts of Nigeria.
Adopted 29th September 1996
Participating Organisations: NADECO Abroad, United Democratic
Front of Nigeria (UDFN,) Nigerian Democratic Movement (NDM,
USA), Nigerian Democratic Movement (NDM, UK), Oduduwa Movement
(UK), New Nigeria Forum (NNF, UK), Action Group for Democracy
(AGFD, USA), Egbe Isokan Yoruba (USA), Canadian Organisation
for Human Rights and Democracy in Nigeria (COHDN), Canadian
Association for Democratic Movement in Nigeria (CADMN),
Organisation of Nigerians in the Americas (ONA, USA), Nigerian
Democratic Alliance Inc. (NDA, USA), Nigerian People's Forum
(NPF, USA), Call2Action (USA), Egbe Omo Yoruba (USA), Movement
for the Reformation of Nigeria (MNR, UK), Nigerian Democratic
Task Force (NDTF, USA), The Cocoons (USA), Solidarity Movement
for Southern Minorities (SMSM, UK), Oduduwa Youth Movement
(OYM, USA), Democratic Alliance of Nigerians in Canada (DANIC)
More detailed information on the conference and related issues
can be found on the web site of the Nigerian Democratic
Movement at: http://www.cldc.howard.edu/~ndmorg/ndmpage.html
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational
affiliate of the Washington Office on Africa. 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