Nigeria’s military government continues to violate human rights

olisaaToday, the ICJ received news of the arrest of Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (photo), the President of the Civil Liberties Organization. This arrest is the latest in a series of disturbing developments occurring in Nigeria.

On 2 June 1995, Dr. Beko Ranmsome-Kuti, Chairman of the Campaign for Democracy, a coalition of groups calling for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria, was arrested. On 7 June, the trial of 23 civilians and military officers alleged to have been involved in a coup attempt began in Lagos. The trial is being held in camera, before a military court.

These latest actions by the Military are believed to be part of a continuous strategy of the military government to silence opposition.

Following the aborted presidential elections of 12 June 1993, the Military Government of General Sani Abacha has embarked upon the indiscriminate arrest and detention without trial of politicians, pro-democracy and human rights activists, and prominent community and labour leaders.

As of today, the government also has in its custody, among others, Chief Moshood Abiola, who is widely believed to have won the aborted 1993 elections. Chief Abiola, arrested one year ago and later charged for treason, remains in prison under appalling conditions.

Chief Frank Ovie Kokori, leading trade unionist, Mr Alao Aka-Bashorun, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association and one of the lawyers representing Chief Abiola; Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa, leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People; former Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo and his former aide Major General Shehu Musa Yar’adua are being held under house arrest with their fate unknown.

The ICJ is alarmed by the systematic erosion of the Rule of Law in Nigeria and the refusal of the military government to respect the will of millions of Nigerians to live in a democratic society.

The ICJ is concerned about the indiscriminate arrest of innocent citizens, the continued detention without trial of pro-democracy activists, opposition leaders, and the trial before unconstitutional courts of persons charged with offences and urges the military to release with immediate effect all those detained.

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