Annual Report: Nigeria 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Nigeria 2010

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Death penalty

At least 58 people were sentenced to death. At the end of the year, around 860 men and 11 women were on death row. Hundreds of them had not received a fair trial.

No steps were taken to implement the recommendations made in 2004 by the National Study Group on the Death Penalty and in 2007 by the Presidential Commission on Reform of the Administration of Justice to adopt a moratorium on executions. In February, however, at the fourth session of the UPR, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that Nigeria continued to exercise "a selfimposed moratorium" on executions.

In June, the Governor of Lagos state pardoned and released three death row prisoners. A further 29 prisoners in Lagos state had death sentences commuted to life imprisonment and eight others to various prison terms.

Kidnapping was made a capital offence in six states – Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo – and a bill to this end remained pending in Delta state.

Violence against women

Violence against women remained pervasive, including domestic violence, rape and other forms of sexual violence by state officials and private individuals. The authorities consistently failed to exercise due diligence in preventing and addressing sexual violence by both state and non-state actors, leading to an entrenched culture of impunity.

While some states in Nigeria have adopted state legislation to protect women from discrimination and violence, the UN Women's Convention had yet to be implemented at federal and state level almost 25 years after its ratification.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Human rights abuses against individuals suspected of same-sex sexual relations continued. Nigeria's Criminal Code penalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults. Islamic law in Nigeria criminalizes "sodomy" and in some states makes it punishable by death.

The Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008, which would introduce criminal penalties for marriage ceremonies between people of the same sex and for people witnessing or helping to formalize such marriages, was debated by government but not passed into law.

Freedom of expression

Human rights defenders and journalists critical of the government faced increased intimidation and harassment. At least 26 journalists were arrested by the State Security Service or police. Some were released after a few hours while others were detained incommunicado for up to 12 days. In addition, media offices were raided, TV stations shut down and journalists threatened and beaten by police and security forces.

  • In September, Bayo Ohu, Assistant News Editor of The Guardian newspaper, was killed in his home in Lagos in suspicious circumstances. Apart from his mobile phone and laptop, nothing was stolen.
  • In November, three journalists were arrested in Port Harcourt after they published a story about a shooting incident in Bundu, Port Harcourt. One was released after two days, the other two after five days. They were charged with publishing false news.

In November, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights urged the federal government to withdraw the Nigerian Press Council and the Practice of Journalism in Nigeria Bill 2009, which would restrict freedom of expression if passed into law.

By the end of 2009, the Freedom of Information Bill, first presented in 1999, remained pending before the National Assembly.