Nigeria: Recent Documents, 10/5/96

Nigeria: Recent Documents, 10/5/96

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.

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Human Rights Watch, 485 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10017-6104 TEL: 212/972-8400 FAX: 212/972-0905 E-mail:; 1522 K Street, N.W. Washington D.C. 20005 TEL: 202/371-6592 FAX: 202/371-0124 E-mail:

[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 popular mandate.

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 dictatorships.

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 dictatorship.

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 Congress.

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 constitutional matters.

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:


Message-Id: <> From: Date: Sat, 5 Oct 1996 10:25:10 -0500 Subject: Nigeria: Recent Documents

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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