Human Rights Watch has learned that a lawyer hired by the Nigerian group Environmental Rights Action (ERA) to secure the bail of one of its staff, has also been arrested, by men suspected to be members of the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS).
Mr. Bamidele Aturu was detained last Friday, May 29, 1998, when he went to the Surulere police station to seek the release on bail of Isaac Osuoka, an environmental activist with ERA and coordinator of Oil Watch Africa who was arrested May 26. Osuoka and Aturu have been transferred from the Surulere police station in Lagos to the office of the Lagos State commissioner of police.
"Bamidele Aturu appears to have been detained solely for carrying out his professional duties as a lawyer," said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, condemning the latest arrest. "Isaac Osuoka himself seems to have been arrested solely because he was found in possession materials of denouncing human rights abuses in the Niger Delta. All detainees have a right to counsel, and the Nigerian government is flying in the face of international law with these arrests."
Human Rights Watch calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Bamidele Aturu and Isaac Osuoka and all other Nigerian political prisoners.