Nigeria: Time to end contempt for human rights

November 5, 1996

Nigeria: Time to end contempt for human rights

c) By refusing to allow for the courts to order the production of detainees before them, including by writ of habeas corpus - Article 9(4) of the ICCPR; Article 6 of the ACHPR

d) By not allowing defendants sufficient time or facilities to prepare their defence properly in communication with counsel of their own choosing - Article 14(3)(b) of the ICCPR; Article 7(1)(d) of the ACHPR

e) By subjecting them to life-threatening prison conditions and failing to provide for proper and prompt medical examination - Articles 7 and 10 of the ICCPR; Article 5 of the ACHPR; Principle 24 of the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment; Rule 91 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

f) By failing to provide for a thorough and impartial investigation into the death in detention of Clement Tusima in August 1995, who was due to be tried along with the 19 surviving Ogoni prisoners - Principle 34 of the UN body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment

4 Detentions of other prisoners of conscience, including human rights activists

Many human rights activists have been detained without charge or trial by the present Nigerian government as prisoners of conscience. Most have been held in harsh prison conditions, often being denied access to essential medical treatment. Those detained without charge or trial include Olatunji Abayomi, head of Human Rights Africa, Chima Ubani, General Secretary of Democratic Alternative and Abdul Oroh, Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO). The three men were arrested in 1995 at the time of the secret treason trials which led to 43 people being convicted.

Also detained without charge or trial are two trade unionists. Frank Kokori, General Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), was detained in 1994, and Milton Dabibi, General Secretary of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), in 1996, after being involved in 1994 in the two month oil workers´ strikes against the imprisonment of Moshood Abiola and continued military rule.

Between December 1995 and May 1996, a large number of human rights activists were detained solely in connection with their legitimate activities in defence of human rights. They included: Chief Gani Fawehinmi, lawyer and leader of the National Conscience Party; Femi Aborisade, Director of Organization of the NCP; five leading members of the NCP in the north, namely Biodun Olamosu, Taiye Babalola, Biodun Odemeyi, Baba Ramota and Samibonu; Femi Falana, lawyer and President of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers; three student leaders of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, namely Anthony Fasayo, Demola Yaya and one other; and Nosa Igiebor, Editor-in-Chief of the independent Tell magazine. Also in June 1996, Nnimmo Bassey of Environmental Rights Action and the CLO was detained.

Other prisoners of conscience who have been detained are: Ayo Opadokun, Secretary General of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), who was arrested in October 1994 and has been detained without charge or trial since that date; and Chief Moshood Abiola, the winner of the aborted presidential election of June 1993, who was arrested in June 1994 after declaring himself president and calling upon the present military government to stand down. In the following month, he was charged with treason and treasonable felony, both of which Amnesty International believe to be politically-motivated charges. Treason is a capital offence; treasonable felony is punishable by life imprisonment. He has not yet been brought to trial. Frederick Eno, a personal aide to Moshood Abiola, was arrested in August 1994. Ayo Adebanjo, Ganiyu Dawodu and Abraham Adesanya, three senior members of NADECO, were detained for political reasons in June 1996 following the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. In July 1996, the Nigerian authorities ignored an order by the Federal High Court, Lagos, for the immediate release of Ayo Adebanjo, Ganiyu Dawodu and Abraham Adesanya and for payment of compensation for their unlawful detention.