Renewed Crackdown on Freedom of Expression

[1]This report does not describe in detail the many incidents of political violence and other human rights violations directly related to the elections, as these are documented in separate reports.See Human Rights Watch report "Testing democracy: political violence in Nigeria," April 2003; and Human Rights Watch briefing paper "Nigeria at the crossroads: human rights concerns in the pre-election period," January 2003.

[2]See for example Human Rights Watch reports " 'Permanent transition': current violations of human rights in Nigeria," September 1996, and"Transition or travesty? Nigeria's endless process of transition to civilian rule," October 1997.

[3] Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

[4]For details of election-related violence in Nigeria, see Human Rights Watch reports listed in footnote 1.

[5] Pre-election violence is documented in the Human Rights Watch report "Testing democracy: political violence in Nigeria," April 2003.Human Rights Watch subsequently carried out further research in Nigeria on violence which took place during the actual election period; the findings of this research will be published in a forthcoming report.

[6] Foreign and Commonwealth Office press release, April 29, 2003.See also Human Rights Watch letter to Jack Straw, May 2, 2003.

[7] White House statement on Nigerian elections, May 2, 2003.

[8] Human Rights Watch research carried out in Nigeria, July 2003, and information gathered from a range of sources, including human rights organizations and members of opposition parties.

[9] Extract from a letter by the CNPP to U.S. President Bush, quoted in "Bush arrives today, coalition of parties oppose visit," The Guardian (Lagos), July 11, 2003.

[10] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, July 8, 2003.

[11] See "Nigerian police arrest 25 at protest over Bush's visit," Panafrican News Agency, July 15, 2003.

[12] See for example "Police stop Buhari rally in Kano," Daily Trust, September 23, 2003, and "IG queries Kano police command over Buhari rally," The Guardian, September 25, 2003.

[13] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with human rights activists, journalists, and other eye-witnesses of the demonstrations, July 2003.

[14]Human Rights Watch interview, Mararaba, August 8, 2003.

[15]Human Rights Watch interviews, Mararaba, August 8, 2003.

[16]Human Rights Watch telephone interview, July 1, 2003.Also see "Riot police fire tear gas at protesters on second day of Nigerian strike," AFP, July 1, 2003.

[17]Human Rights Watch telephone interview, July 1, 2003.

[18]Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with sources in Port Harcourt, July 9 and 10, and November 7, 2003.See also letter to the Rivers State Commissioner of Police by the Civil Rights and Development Organisation (CRIDO) on the killing of IzuchukwuNzenwefe; and "Police clamp down on Rivers labour leaders," ThisDay, July 3, 2003.

[19]Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with human rights activists and journalists in Lagos, July 8, 2003.See also "Nine feared killed as protest turns violent in Lagos," The Guardian, July 8, 2003, and "Gone with the strike!", The Vanguard, July 13, 2003.

[20]Human Rights Watch telephone interview, July 8, 2003.

[21] "Lagos police to arraign arrested fuel price hike protesters today," The Vanguard, July 10, 2003.

[22]Ibid, and Human Rights Watch telephone interviews, July 2003.In their testimony to a Senate inquiry on this matter, the police said that according to their records, eight people had died during the protests in Lagos, but claimed that seven of them had a died as a result of fatal motor accidents.Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources, Report on the Alleged Killings during the Strike over Price Increase of Petroleum Products.

[23]Human Rights Watch interview, Abuja, July 20, 2003.

[24]Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources, Report on the Alleged Killings during the Strike over Price Increase of Petroleum Products.

[25]Ibid.

[26]Human Rights Watch interviews with Lawrence Alobi, Commissioner of Police for Operations, Abuja, July 23 and September 17, 2003.

[27]Human Rights Watch interview with Chief Akin Olujinmi, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abuja, August 8, 2003.

[28]"Nigeria's 2003 elections: a people under siege," letter to President Bush by the Concerned Youth Alliance of Nigeria.

[29]Opposition political parties also independently protested President Bush's visit to Nigeria.

[30]Human Rights Watch telephone interview, July 8, 2003.

[31]Human Rights Watch interview, Abuja, July 20, 2003.

[32]Human Rights Watch interviews, Abuja, July 20, 2003, and telephone interview, October 13, 2003.

[33]The 31 included Mustapha Mohammed Bello, Happy Asuquo, AbubakarSuleiman, Samuel Olayemi, Idris Ahmed, AlriruAjayi, BasseyUko, TolaBalogun, LinusOsemobo, BasseyEtim, Michael Okike, UsenSani, AbubakarSalisu, Sani Ali, Rachel Okoloba, SaheedO.Shokunbi, Benson Ojeaga, YusufGaruba, AbubakarBalagun, LivinusOnwude, GebmiOluranakinse, Julius Isakunle and nine others.

[34]Human Rights Watch interview, Abuja, July 20, 2003.

[35]Human Rights Watch telephone interview, October 13, 2003.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Human Rights Watch interviews with Lawrence Alobi, Commissioner of Police for Operations, Abuja, July 23 and September 17, 2003.

[39] Human Rights Watch correspondence with U.S. embassy in Abuja, July 10, 2003.

[40] Human Rights Watch interview, Abuja, July 22, 2003.

[41] Letter from CLO to the Inspector General of Police entitled "Extortion, indiscriminate arrests and detention by police officers in Enugu," March 1, 2003.

[42] Letter addressed to the Inspector General of Police by OkechukwuNwanguma's solicitors, and statement by the CLO South-East Chairman entitled "CLO's southeast coordinator under threat by the police," dated May 1, 2003.

[43] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, May 6, 2003.

[44] Letter to Human Rights Watch from Solomon E. Arase, principal staff officer to the Inspector General of Police, October 14, 2003.

[45]Letter to Innocent Chukwuma of CLEEN from Panalpina World Transport (Nigeria) Ltd, October 11, 2002.

[46]Human Rights Watch telephone interviews, October 2002 and September 2003.See also OMCT press release "Hope detained! A report on the human rights situation in Nigeria is blocked at the country's customs, while its contributors are being harassed," October 14, 2002.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, October 7, 2003.See also CDD press release, "CDD chairperson arrested and international passport seized by Nigeria's State Security Service," December 6, 2002, and "My encounter with Nigerian SSS," Weekly Trust, December 13, 2002.

[49] Human Rights Watch correspondence, December 2002.See also "Rights groups allege clamp-down on members," The Vanguard, December 9, 2002.

[50]Human Rights Watch report "The 'Miss World riots': continued impunity for killings in Kaduna," July 2003.

[51] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews and correspondence, July and August 2003.

[52] Human Rights Watch letter to the Kaduna State governor, September 16, 2003.

[53] Analysis of data gathered by Media Rights Monitor, the monthly journal of Media Rights Agenda, between June 2002 and September 2003.Human Rights Watch has not been able to verify all these cases.

[54]The Kano State governor at the time was Rabi'uMusaKwankwaso.He was appointed Minister of Defence in the federal government after the 2003 elections.

[55] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews, July 31, 2002, and subsequent correspondence, September-October 2003.

[56]See for example "Nigeria pressures BBC outlet amid row over reporting," AFP, August 6, 2002, and "Nobody died when Obasanjo visited Kano, says Presidency," ThisDay, July 31, 2002.

[57] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews, July 31, 2002.See also "Nobody died when Obasanjo visited Kano, says Presidency, ThisDay, July 31, 2002.

[58]Human Rights Watch interviews, Kano, February 1, 2003, and letter to the Inspector General of Police by lawyers acting on behalf of Mutara Abba Kabara's father, August 10, 2002.

[59]Human Rights Watch telephone interviews, September 2003.See also press release by the Centre for Research Education and Development of Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights (CREDO), June 27, 2003.The statement mentions that "the security agents also largely succeeded in preventing the export of the magazine, which usually sells in tens of thousands in Africa, Europe and the United States."

[60]See "Tell alerts of fresh censorship," Daily Independent online, June 25, 2003.

[61]Human Rights Watch interviews in Port Harcourt, December 20, 2002.

[62]Charles Taylor accepted President Obasanjo's offer of asylum after stepping down from power in Liberia in July 2003.He has been living in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, southeastern Nigeria, since August 2003.Despite the fact that Charles Taylor has been indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Nigerian government has still not handed him over for prosecution.

[63]Human Rights Watch correspondence, October 23, 2003.

[64]See "SSS men bundle journalist out of Aso Rock," Daily Champion, September 18, 2003, and "Monitor reporter expelled from presidential villa," Daily Trust, September 18, 2003.

[65]See "The pains of journalists in Nigerian democracy," Daily Independent, September 2, 2003.

[66]Human Rights Watch telephone interviews and correspondence, October 2003.

[67]Human Rights Watch telephone interview, October 6, 2003.

[68]Human Rights Watch interview, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, July 12, 2003.

[69]Human Rights Watch interview, Port Harcourt, July 14, 2003, and correspondence, October 23, 2003.

[70]Human Rights Watch correspondence, October 10, 2003.

[71]See Human Rights Watch report "The O'odua People's Congress:fighting violence with violence," February 2003.The OPC is not purely a self-determination group.It has also taken on characteristics of a militia group and self-appointed vigilante group.

[72]O'odua, or Oduduwa, is the ancestor of the Yoruba race.

[73]Human Rights Watch interview, London, June 23, 2003.

[74]Ibid.

[75]Biafra was the independent republic proclaimed in 1967 in the Igbo areas of eastern Nigeria following the end of the First Republic by two military coups in 1966.The ensuing civil war, known as the Biafran war, claimed between 500,000 and two million lives before it came to an end with a federal victory in 1970.EmekaOdumegwuOjukwu, who led the Biafran movement, resurfaced onto the political scene more recently and stood as a presidential candidate in the 2003 elections, for the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).Although he stood little chance of winning nationwide, many people in the southeast, including election observers, believed that APGA candidates would have won a significant number of votes in the Igbo heartland, had it not been for extensive rigging and intimidation by PDP candidates and their supporters.

[76]In an interview with Newswatch, MASSOB leader Ralph Uwazuruike said: "At the beginning, we said we would not allow elections in the South-East if an Igbo man was not allowed to be the president as done in the West in 1998 [] We withdrew from that position and I made it public that we were no longer interesting in pursuing that position.""All Igbo politicians want Biafra," Newswatch, June 23, 2003.

[77]See Human Rights Watch report "The OPC:fighting violence with violence," February 2003.

[78]See "Seven pro-Biafran campaigners killed in Nigeria: police," Agence France-Presse, March 30, 2003.In the same article, a police spokesman claimed that MASSOB members had opened fire on the police.MASSOB have denied this.

[79]See interview with Ralph Uwazuruike in "All Igbo politicians want Biafra," Newswatch, June 23, 2003.

[80]Ibid.

[81]"MASSOB accuses police of killing 17 of its members," The Vanguard, June 17, 2003.

[82]Ibid.

[83]Elections for the National House of Assembly took place on April 12, 2003; elections for the president and governors on April 19, and elections for state houses of assembly on May 3.

[84]The seven MASSOB members are Augustine O. Obidimma, NgagozieF.Mbamalu, OkechukwuOnyia, Samuel A. Chukwu, OsitaOkeke, KenechiUwajuake, and Peter Eziagu.Human Rights Watch has not been able to confirm the charges against them.Human Rights Watch interview, Abuja, July 20, 2003, and telephone interview, October 6, 2003.

[85] Unless otherwise indicated, the information on this case is based on Human Rights Watch interviews in Kaduna, July 25, 2003, and telephone interview with sources in Kaduna, October 9 and 14, 2003.

[86] Since 2000, Sharia has been extended to cover criminal law in twelve of Nigeria's thirty-six states.In practice, it is applied selectively and inconsistently.The issue has become highly politicized, and clerics and others have accused state governors of using Sharia purely for political gains.

[87]Ruling of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in the Kaduna Judicial Division holden at Kaduna on Thursday the 26th day of June, 2003, before the Hon.JusticeA.M.Liman Judge (Suit no. PHC/KD/CP/ 23/03).

[88] Human Rights Watch telephone interviews, September 30, 2003; letter to Chief Broderick Bozimo, Minister for Police Affairs from NOPRIN, August 29, 2003; and Media Rights Agenda press release "MRA condemns arrest and detention of police Sergeant MusaUsman," August 31, 2003.See also "Travails of police Sergeant Musa," ThisDay, September 2, 2003.

[89] Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights at its 32nd Ordinary Session in Banjul, October 17-23, 2002.

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