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TITLE:  NIGERIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                            
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


At the end of 1993, Nigeria's military continued to rule the 
country.  Until August 27, General Ibrahim Babangida, who had 
come to power in a 1985 coup, was the head of the military 
regime.  Under Babangida, Nigeria's main decisionmaking organ 
in 1993 was the military-dominated National Defense and 
Security Council (NDSC), which ruled by decree.  Amid 
controversy arising from his annulment of the June 12 
Presidential election, Babangida resigned as President and 
Commander-in-Chief on August 26, installing the Interim 
National Government (ING), headed by businessman Ernest 
Shonekan.  The ING included many members of the earlier 
Transitional Council, which had been responsible for managing 
day-to-day governmental affairs under the oversight of the 
NDSC.  The ING was to organize a new presidential election and 
hand over authority to an elected civilian president by March 
31, 1994.  On November 17, the military forced Shonekan to 
resign, and General Sani Abacha assumed the titles of Head of 
State and Commander-in-Chief.

Abacha established a military-dominated "Provisional Ruling 
Council" (PRC), which ruled by decree, and named prominent 
persons from around the country to head government ministries, 
grouping them into a 32-member "Federal Executive Council" 
(FEC).  Although the FEC included some holdovers from the ING, 
it also included some well-known prodemocracy and human rights 
activists.  The PRC quickly dissolved the national and state 
legislatures and the local councils and replaced elected 
civilian governors with military administrators.  The military 
regime announced it would hold a constitutional conference to 
plot Nigeria's future, including a timetable for return to 
democratic government.  In the interim, the decree suspending 
the 1979 Constitution remained in force.

Nigeria's tightly controlled transition to civilian, democratic 
rule was supposed to end on August 27 with the inauguration of 
a democratically elected, civilian president.  From February to 
April, Nigeria's two permitted political parties, the Social 
Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention 
(NRC), staged presidential nominating conventions at the ward, 
local government, state, and national level.  On June 12, the 
SDP's Moshood K.O. Abiola and the NRC's Bashir Tofa squared off 
in what national and international observers characterized as 
the freest and fairest election in Nigeria's history.  But this 
assessment did not address itself to the process leading to the 
election, whose integrity suffered from the military regime's 
extensive manipulation, including the exclusion of many 
prospective candidates.  From early official and unofficial 
returns it appeared Abiola had won a landslide victory.  
However, before formal results were announced, Babangida again 
usurped the democratic process, annulling the June 12 results.  
Babangida rationalized his action by claiming that he and the 
NDSC had uncovered evidence of massive electoral fraud, but he 
never presented evidence to the Nigerian people and never 
released the June 12 results.  Nigerians in the Southwest 
responded to Babangida's announcement with public protests and 
civil disobedience campaigns.  In July the protests turned 
violent, and more than 100 people were killed.

The bicameral National Assembly was installed in December 1992, 
but the NDSC prohibited it from legislating on most areas of 
national life.  The ING used other bureaucratic and political 
maneuvers to circumscribe sharply the Assembly's authority.  In 
November the PRC dissolved it.  The basis of Nigerian 
constitutional law during 1993 was unclear.  Legal experts 
could not always agree about what document formed the basis of 
law at any particular point during a year when three different 
governments held power.  Questions of which constitution, if 
any, was in effect are largely irrelevant.  All three 
governments derived their authority, directly or indirectly, 
from military power--not from a constitution or a popular 
mandate.  Moreover, all Nigerian constitutions contain 
essentially the same provisions regarding human rights, and 
these form the basis of most judicial decisions, unless, as was 
often the case, a decree specifically nullified a provision or 
ousted judicial authority.

The Government enforces its authority through the Federal 
Security System (the Armed Forces, the State Security Service, 
and the national police) and through the courts.  In 1992 
Babangida announced the creation of the National Guard, which 
was supposed to relieve the military of its internal security 
role in situations in which the police were unable to maintain 
public order.  However, during July's prodemocracy 
demonstrations, the National Guard remained in its barracks, 
and Babangida deployed the army to help quell the 
disturbances.  In late October, the ING failed to fund the 
Guard and announced plans to disperse its personnel to various 
army units for additional training, effectively disbanding the 
organization.  The security forces committed many human rights 
violations in 1993.

Most of Nigeria's 90-million population is rural, engaging in 
small-scale agriculture.  Nigeria depends on oil exports for 
over 90 percent of its foreign exchange earnings and 80 percent 
of its budget revenues.  In order to cope with reduced oil 
revenues, Nigeria adopted an indigenous Structural Adjustment 
Program (SAP) in 1986.  While the SAP was a success in some 
respects, economic conditions for the average Nigerian remain 
very difficult.  The elites continue to prosper, but there is 
widespread unemployment, underemployment, and inflation.  Large 
budget deficits financed by money creation pushed inflation 
into the 80- to 90-percent range during 1993.  The majority of 
the Nigerian population lives in poverty.

Nigeria's human rights record worsened in 1993.  Babangida's 
erratic political course fueled increased economic distress, 
heightened episodic civil unrest in urban areas and interethnic 
violence in some rural areas, resulting in many civilian 
deaths.  The Babangida regime regularly relied on arbitrary 
arrest and detention as a means of silencing its critics.  It 
closed media houses critical of Babangida's nullification of 
the June 12 election and announced a series of draconian 
decrees restricting press freedom.  Like other military 
decrees, they contained clauses prohibiting judicial review.  
Security services routinely harassed human rights and 
prodemocracy groups, journalists, and student activists.  Other 
human rights problems included extrajudicial killings, police 
brutality, dangerous and unsanitary prison conditions, violence 
and discrimination against women, and infringements on freedom 
of speech, press, travel, and political and labor affiliation. 

Shortly after its inauguration, the ING released detained human 
rights activists and pledged to respect press freedoms.  
Activists arrested during antigovernment demonstrations in 
September were formally charged and released on bail.  However, 
other human rights abuses continued, and the ING failed to 
honor its pledge to repeal the draconian press decrees.  The 
PRC permitted the closed media houses to reopen and withdrew 
spurious charges against prominent human rights and 
journalists, but, like the ING, it did not repeal the press 


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

As in previous years, extrajudicial killings and excessive use 
of force by police and security services were common.  The most 
deadly incident occurred in July after the regime deployed 
police and military units to quell prodemocracy protests in 
Lagos.  There were credible reports that security forces may 
have killed as many as 150 people.  The regime asserted that 
the death toll was much lower and that security forces 
intervened only when confronted by violent criminals.  While 
the victims included hoodlums and looters, who used the 
protests as cover to engage in violent criminal activities, 
eyewitness accounts indicated that security forces often fired 
randomly into crowds, killing innocent bystanders and peaceful 

Security forces in eastern Nigeria demonstrated a similar 
willingness to use deadly force when confronted by peaceful 
demonstrators.  In May the Movement to Save the Ogoni People 
(MOSOP), which alleges that the Government is systematically 
violating the Ogonis' human rights (see Section 5), staged a 
peaceful demonstration to protest an earlier violent 
confrontation between MOSOP sympathizers and security forces.  
According to eyewitness accounts, security forces fired into 
the protesters, killing one of them.

Although there are no definitive statistics, Nigerian human 
rights groups maintain that scores of people die annually while 
in police custody.  The claims, though difficult to 
substantiate, are widely accepted by the Nigerian public and 
consistent with other credible reports of police abuse, 
including the use of torture to extract criminal confessions 
(see Section 1.c.).  In March the Civil Liberties Organization 
(CLO) publicized the case of Johnny Eshiet, who died while in 
police custody in September 1992.  The Ikeja police arrested 
Eshiet, a transport driver, after his vehicle was reported 
missing.  The CLO reports that police officers bound Eshiet's 
hands and legs, hung him from the roof of an interrogation 
room, and flogged him with metal wires in an attempt to extract 
a confession from him that he arranged to have his vehicle 
stolen.  An eyewitness reported observing Eshiet lying in a 
pool of blood after the interrogation.  Plainclothes policemen 
took Eshiet to the hospital where he later died.

Police and security services are seldom held accountable for 
the use of excessive, deadly force or the death of individuals 
while in custody.  The Government made no effort to investigate 
the conduct of security forces during July's prodemocracy 
protests and, despite pressure from CLO, there was no effort to 
investigate Eshiet's death.  After the death in 1992 of an army 
colonel, Domven Rindam, at a police checkpoint, however, the 
authorities swiftly arrested and charged three policemen with 
murder.  The celebrated case was pending before a Lagos high 
court at year's end.  Rindam's death led police to dismantle 
most checkpoints, but violent crime in some parts of the 
country prompted police to maintain others.  In June the press 
reported that police killed a 21-year-old truck driver at a 
checkpoint along the Port Harcourt-Aba expressway.  No one was 
charged with the crime.  The attempt to punish Rindam's killers 
contrasted sharply with the Port Harcourt case and raised 
questions about the willingness to investigate extrajudicial 
killings when the victims are nonmilitary.

     b.  Disappearance

No politically motivated disappearances were reported.  
However, government detention practices have the effect of 
causing many detainees to be "missing" for extended periods 
(see Section 1.d.).

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Constitutions in effect under the NDSC, the ING and the PRC 
prohibit torture and mistreatment of prisoners and provided 
criminal sanctions for such excesses, and the Evidence Act of 
1960 prohibits the introduction of evidence obtained through 
torture.  Nevertheless, detainees frequently die while in 
custody (see Section 1.a.), and there were credible reports 
that police seeking to extract confessions regularly beat and 
tortured suspects.  For example, the CLO reported that after 
police from the Adeniji Adele station arrested Uzoma Okorie and 
Godson Erugo they stripped them naked, suspended them by their 
wrists from the roof of a police interrogation room, and 
flogged them.  While beating Ms. Okorie, police placed the neck 
of a beer bottle in her vagina.  The CLO reports that police 
rearrested and beat Okorie and Erugo after they tried to file a 
complaint with the divisional police commander.  In another 
case, the CLO reports that police in Port Harcourt chained the 
hands and feet of detainee Madufuro Igwe, suspended him upside 
down from a ceiling fan, and flogged him with motorbike brake 

In an interview with the CLO, Bertram Igwe, a public relations 
officer of the Rivers State Police Force sought to rationalize 
the use of torture:  "There are helpless situations when you 
know that a suspect is deliberately telling lies and there is 
no other means you can use in cracking the case other than 
softening him."  The Constitutional Rights Project conducted a 
nationwide police powers study that indicates Igwe's sentiments 
are shared by a large number of police officers:  67 percent of 
the officers interviewed conceded that, absent an efficient 
means of investigating a crime, torture becomes the easiest 
means of extracting information from suspects.

Conditions in Nigeria's prisons continue to threaten life.  
Lack of potable water and sewage facilities and medical 
supplies contribute to deplorable sanitary conditions.  Disease 
runs rampant in the cramped, poorly ventilated facilities.  A 
1993 study of the Ikoyi prisons by the Lagos-based National 
Institute of Medical Research revealed that 28 percent of 
inmates had tuberculosis.  The Institute warned that an 
epidemic could break out beyond prison walls unless steps were 
taken to treat inmates.  At most prisons, inmates are seldom 
allowed outside their cells for recreation, and many must 
provide their own food.  In those cases, only those with money 
or whose relatives bring food have something to eat.  Poor 
inmates rely on handouts from others to survive.

There are credible reports that inmates are denied food and 
medical treatment as a form of punishment.  It was widely 
reported, for example, that Beko Ransome-Kuti and Ken Saro-Wiwa 
were denied access to medical care after they were detained in 
July (see also Section 1.d.).  Saro-Wiwa suffers from a heart 
condition, and his health deteriorated during his confinement.  
In some cases, prison officials and police deny inmates food 
and access to medical treatment to extort money from them.

Overcrowding in Nigerian prisons also remains a serious 
problem.  The CLO reported that cells designed to hold four 
inmates at the State Intelligence and Investigation Bureau in 
Port Harcourt often contain more than 30.  In October 1992, the 
Government created a task force on prison decongestion to 
address this problem.  The task force's mandate was to review 
prison conditions, prisoners' jail terms, their conduct, and, 
when appropriate, authorize prisoners' release.  According to 
former Secretary for Internal Affairs, Alhaji Abdulrahman, the 
task force had freed more than 4,000 prisoners since beginning 
its work.  Many of those released had been detained without 
charge or had spent years in prison waiting for trial (see 
Section 1.d.).

While prison authorities are supposed to hand over to foster 
homes children born to women in prison, many children remain in 
detention with their mothers.  Because prisoners are often 
expected to provide for themselves, it is often less costly for 
the Government to keep children in prison with their mothers 
than it would be to place them in foster care.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Nigerian criminal justice procedures call for trial within 3 
months of arraignment for most categories of criminals.  
Inefficient administrative procedures, petty extortion, 
bureaucratic inertia, poor communication between police and 
prison officials, and inadequate transportation still result in 
considerable delays, often stretching several years, in 
bringing suspects to trial.

Police are empowered to make arrests without warrants if there 
is reasonable suspicion of an offense.  These provisions give 
the police powers that are often abused.  Nigerian law requires 
the arresting officer to inform the accused of charges at the 
time of arrest and take him or her to the station for 
processing within a reasonable time.  The suspect is supposed 
to be given the opportunity to engage counsel and to post 
bail.  Credible reports indicate that the police generally do 
not adhere to these safeguards.  Suspects are often held 
incommunicado under harsh conditions for extended periods 
without charge.  Arbitrary detention occurs frequently.  
Relatives and friends of wanted suspects are also commonly 
placed in detention without charge in an effort to induce the 
accused to present themselves to the police.

The State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree of 1984 
(Decree Two) provides that the Government may detain without 
charge persons suspected of acts prejudicial to state security 
or harmful to the economic well-being of the country.  When 
invoked by the Vice President, the Decree suspends the 
detainee's civil liberties and forbids judicial review of 
actions taken within its provisions.  Many Nigerians still 
consider Decree Two the main threat to their basic freedoms 
because the judicial ouster clause encourages arbitrary 
detention by allowing officers to make arrests with impunity.  
Also, the definition of what constitutes acts prejudicial to 
state security or the nation's economic well-being can be very 
broadly interpreted.

After July's prodemocracy demonstrations, the regime used 
Decree Two to arrest and silence Beko Ransome-Kuti, Femi 
Falana, and Gani Fawehinmi, leading members of the Campaign for 
Democracy (CD), an umbrella human rights organization which was 
openly critical of the regime's decision to nullify the June 12 
election results.  The CD had called for the July 
demonstrations.  The Government charged the three men with 
conspiracy and sedition and held them in an Abuja prison for 
almost 8 weeks.  The regime ignored two court orders to produce 
the activists in court and, citing its powers under Decree Two, 
did not comply with a court order granting the detainees bail.  
The ING released them on August 30 but did not honor a promise 
to submit legislation to the National Assembly which would have 
repealed Decree Two.  The PRC subsequently withdrew the 
charges, but Decree Two remains in force.

The regime detained Ken Saro-Wiwa, a leading human rights 
monitor and government critic, on three occasions:  for brief 
periods on April 12 and 24, and for several weeks after June 
21.  Saro-Wiwa and MOSOP members maintain that the regime 
invoked Decree Two to detain him in June.  While press reports 
that the regime planned to charge Saro-Wiwa with conspiracy and 
sedition make the MOSOP's contention plausible, the regime 
never publicly invoked Decree Two. 

The above cases were not isolated.  The Government routinely 
detained human rights monitors, journalists (see Section 2.a.), 
and political opponents for making or publishing statements 
critical of the Government.  In 1992 five human rights 
activists, including Beko Ransome-Kuti, Gani Fawahinmi and Femi 
Falana, were detained under Decree Two and charged with 
treason.  The case, which now appears to have become moot, was 
adjourned to February 1994.

Most often the authorities did not charge the detainees with a 
crime, held them for only brief periods, and questioned them 
about their activities and statements.  The regime detained 
Ransome-Kuti without charge on three occasions before arresting 
him in July and charging him with conspiracy and sedition.  
Gani Fawehinmi claimed that the Government had detained him 23 
times since 1969.  Fawehinmi is suing Babangida, who allegedly 
detained him 14 of the 23 times, for damages.  In February the 
regime detained Panaf Olakanmi, a CD member, for 3 days, 
allegedly for possessing seditious materials.  The same month, 
security agents raided the CLO's Lagos headquarters (see 
Section 4) and detained its President, Olisa Agbakoba and two 
others.  After questioning them about their human rights and 
prodemocracy work, security agents warned the three men to 
refrain from engaging in subversive acts.  In March security 
agents detained Funsho Omogbehin, a CLO member.

After the regime nullified the June 12 elections, its arrests 
of human rights and prodemocracy advocates increased.  The 
regime detained leading supporters of Abiola, the apparent 
winner of the June 12 election, including Oyo State politician 
Lamidi Adedibu and former governor of Kano State Abubakar Rimi.

According to credible press reports, the Goverment asked 
Adedibu to sign a statement renouncing his support for Abiola 
and the June 12 elections.  In August security agents detained 
200 prodemocracy activists who staged a sit-in to protest 
military rule and the nullification of the June 12 election 
results.  As the National Assembly prepared to consider a 
motion endorsing an extension of Babangida's rule, security 
agents intervened, frequently detaining members for 
"questioning."  Some members were held for as long as 24 
hours.  The authorities also arrested leading human rights 
monitors and labor leaders in Kaduna and Jos.  They released 
the Kaduna monitors, who were not charged with a crime, after 
several days in detention.  However, they charged the Jos 
activists, who were distributing prodemocracy leaflets, with 
distributing seditious materials and then released them on bail.

Nigeria's total prison population is estimated at 65,000.  
Human rights groups estimate that as much as 46 percent of this 
population is awaiting trial.  A precise figure for the number 
of individuals detained without charge is unavailable. There 
are no credible estimates of the number of political detainees.

There were no known instances of forced exile as a means of 
political control.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Decree One of 1984, the Basic Constitution (Modification and 
Suspension) Decree, the first decree promulgated by the 
military officers who overthrew the civilian regime of 
President Shagari in 1983, left the institutional framework of 
the judiciary relatively intact but established a parallel 
system of military tribunals with sole jurisdiction over 
certain offenses, such as coup-plotting, corruption, armed 
robbery, and illegal sale of petroleum.  A 1991 Decree amended 
Decree One by providing that only sitting or retired civilian 
judges may preside over tribunals hearing nonmilitary cases.

In most cases before the tribunals, the accused have the right 
to legal counsel, bail, and appeal, though some tribunals 
substitute a presumption of guilt for the presumption of 
innocence, and conviction rates in the tribunals reportedly 
exceed conviction rates in the regular courts.  Sentences are 
generally severe.

Convictions for armed robbery by the Special Robbery and 
Firearms Tribunals, as well as convictions under the Treason 
and Treasonable Offenses Tribunal, carry the death penalty with 
no right of appeal.  In the case of armed robbery, death 
sentences are confirmed by the state governor.  Until August 
26, when General Babangida installed the ING, the NDSC was 
responsible for confirming treason sentences.  At year's end, 
it was unclear what organ of the Government had assumed this 
responsibility.  Convictions before the Miscellaneous Offenses 
Tribunal and the Recovery of Public Property Tribunal may not 
be appealed in the regular courts, though there is provision 
for appeal before the Special Appeals Tribunal.

The Government's reliance on tribunals, which operate outside 
the constitutional court system, seriously undermines the 
judiciary's independence and often results in legal proceedings 
that deny defendants due process.  For example, after 1992's 
ethnoreligious disturbances in Zangon Kataf, the regime created 
two special tribunals to try those allegedly involved in the 
riots.  Defendants charged before the tribunals were denied the 
right to appeal the decisions.  In early 1993, the tribunals 
sentenced 15 people to death.  One of the tribunal chairmen, 
retired Justice Benedict Okadigbo, demonstrated little regard 
for due process throughout the hearings.  There were credible 
reports that during the trial of six individuals, including 
retired Major General Zamani Lekwot, Okadigbo expressed his 
unhappiness with the defense attorneys' line of questioning and 
threatened to jail them if they continued.  Human rights groups 
charged that proceedings before the Okadigbo tribunal were 
subject to political influence and that Okadigbo was more 
interested in securing convictions than in securing justice.  
The resignation of a tribunal member, who alleged that the 
other justices regularly met and gave judgments on cases 
without consulting him, lent credence to these allegations.  To 
prevent human rights groups from challenging the tribunals' 
decisions, the regime promulgated a decree which removed the 
authority of the regular courts to hear any case regarding any 
abuse of constitutional rights by the tribunals.  In August 
General Babangida commuted the sentences of those convicted by 
the Zangon Kataf tribunals from execution to 5 years in prison.

The regular court system is composed of both federal and state 
trial courts, state appeals courts, the Federal Court of 
Appeal, and the Federal Supreme Court.  Under the 1979 
Constitution, courts of first instance include magistrate or 
district courts, customary or area courts, Shari'a (Islamic) 
courts, and for some specified cases, the state high courts.  
The nature of the case usually determines which court has 
jurisdiction.  In principle, customary and Shari'a courts have 
jurisdiction only if both plaintiff and defendant agree to it, 
though in practice fear of legal costs, delay, and distance to 
alternative courts encourage many litigants to choose these 

Trials in the regular court system are public and generally 
respect constitutionally protected individual rights.  Lawyers 
in court frequently referred to rights protected by the (then 
suspended) 1979 and (unimplemented) 1989 constitutions, and in 
cases where the Government had no direct interest, these rights 
were generally respected.  They include a presumption of 
innocence, the right to be present, to confront witnesses, to 
present evidence, and to be represented by legal counsel.  Free 
legal counsel is available through the Legal Aid Council for 
persons charged with capital crimes, but the Council is 
inadequately funded to provide assistance to all persons 
charged with lesser crimes.  There is a legal provision for 
bail, but many human rights groups charge that it is 
underutilized.  Bail is denied to those charged with murder, 
armed robbery, and drug offenses.  There are no legal 
provisions barring women or other groups from testifying in 
civil court or giving their testimony less weight.  The 
testimony of women is, however, accorded less weight in Shari'a 
courts.  There is a widespread perception that judges in both 
the regular and Shari'a courts are easily bribed, or "settled," 
and that the courts cannot be relied upon to render an 
impartial judgment.

Despite Nigeria's established legal tradition, the judiciary's 
independence and integrity are also undercut by the 
Government's frequent refusal to respect court rulings.  For 
example, the regime ignored a court order requiring that it 
produce detained human rights monitors Ransome-Kuti, Fawehinmi, 
and Falana, in court (see Section 1.d.).  While some judges, 
like the justice who ordered the regime to show cause for its 
detention of the editors of Tell magazine (see Section 2.a.), 
are prepared to challenge the Government, many are not.  This 
was best illustrated in 1993 by a Supreme Court decision in a 
case challenging the regime's authority to nullify the June 12 
elections.  The Supreme Court ruled that the decrees 
represented the supreme law of the land.

In addition, there is a perception that in cases which touch 
upon important government interests, the Government manipulates 
the courts.  Early in the year, prodemocracy groups threatened 
to file a suit challenging the regime's decision to cancel the 
1992 primaries and extend its rule by 8 months.  The regime 
responded by reminding Nigerians that the decrees on which its 
actions were based contained judicial ouster clauses, 
prohibiting judicial review of its actions.  The regime, its 
spokesmen said, was not subject to any court orders touching 
upon the transition program.  In June, however, the regime 
chose to respect an Abuja high court restraining order 
prohibiting the National Electoral Commission (NEC) from 
releasing the June 12 results.  This decision followed an 
earlier government decision to ignore a court order forbidding 
the NEC from conducting the elections.  The regime's 
selectivity did not escape the notice of Nigerians, many of 
whom charged that the regime's newfound respect for the rule of 
law was rooted in its unhappiness with the election results.  
Shortly afterward, General Babangida nullified the election.

The two civilians and nine army officers, convicted in 
connection with an April 1990 coup attempt after an unfair 
secret trial before a Special Military Tribunal, continued to 
be held incommunicado at year's end.  Otherwise, there were no 
reports of political prisoners in Nigeria.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The 1979 and 1989 Constitutions provide for the rights to 
privacy in the home, in correspondence, and in oral electronic 
communications, but those Constitutions, as noted, were 
suspended throughout the year.  In fact, human rights leaders 
allege that they are regularly followed and that their 
organizations' telephones are cut or tapped by security 
agents.  Given statements made by police officials in late 1992 
and early 1993 that "security agencies (were) monitoring the 
activities of a human rights activist", these claims seem 

Also, in January Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka complained that 
immigration and customs officials harassed him at Murtala 
Muhammed International Airport, and in June Soyinka charged 
that security agents monitored his movements.  Soyinka also 
alleged that a police helicopter frequently hovered around his 

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The 1979 Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the 
press, and the three governments that controlled Nigeria during 
1993 repeatedly reaffirmed their commitment to both 
principles.  In practice, however, the Babangida regime 
regularly violated these guarantees and conducted a vigorous 
campaign to silence its critics in the press.  While the ING 
did not routinely arrest and detain journalists, neither did it 
honor its pledge to repeal decrees limiting freedom of the 
press, nor did it permit media organizations closed by the 
Babangida regime to reopen.  The PRC permitted media houses to 
reopen but did not repeal the objectionable decrees.

Security agents often prevented human rights monitors from 
discussing the Government's human rights record and criticizing 
the transition program.  During April security agents detained 
Abdul Oroh, the CLO's Executive Secretary, and Nimmo Bassey and 
prevented them from speaking at the opening of a new CLO 
chapter in Benin City.  Also in April, Delta State police 
prevented Ken Saro-Wiwa from delivering a lecture and forcibly 
escorted him from the state.  After General Babangida installed 
the Interim National Government, Attorney General Clement 
Akpamgbo announced that reference to the nullified June 12 
election constituted a criminal act.

The Babangida regime regularly detained journalists, often 
charging them with conspiracy or sedition, for publishing 
material critical of the Government or which the Government 
deemed inflammatory.  In March after The Reporter, a northern 
daily, published a front-page commentary titled, "Nigeria's 
prevailing mess:  (Babangida) to blame," the regime proscribed 
the newspaper and jailed its editor, Mallam Hayatu.  Also in 
March, security agents arrested the editors of The News and 
charged them with contempt of court, allegedly for publishing 
sealed court documents.  There are credible reports, however, 
that the regime arrested the editors to punish them for their 
magazine's consistent criticism of government policies.  In 
April the Government arrested Innocent Okoye, editor of The 
Satellite, and Chris Okolie, publisher of Newbreed magazine 
after they printed articles critical of the regime.  The regime 
arrested the editors of Tell magazine in May and again in 
August.  In the second instance, the regime ignored a court 
order to produce the editors in court and provide a 
justification for their detention.  It subsequently released 
the editors but charged them with possessing seditious 
documents.  The PRC dropped the charges on November 30.

The Babangida government waged an aggressive campaign (often 
relying on informers) to silence Tell and The News, magazines 
which consistently published articles critical of the regime 
and its transition program.  In April and May, security agents 
seized thousands of issues of both magazines--at one point 
seizing three successive issues of Tell.  In May security 
agents seized 42,000 copies of an edition of The News which 
contained an article characterizing General Babangida as 
"careless, incompetent, and unprincipled."  The authorities 
frequently detained vendors caught selling either magazine 
without bringing charges.  The regime justified its seizures of 
Tell and The News by alleging that two unpublished decrees 
proscribed the magazines' circulation.

On May 2, the regime promulgated the Treason and Treasonable 
Offenses Decree, which permits it to prosecute "anyone who 
conspires either with himself or any other person in Nigeria or 
outside Nigeria by words or publication to disrupt the general 
fabric of the country or any part of it."  The Government may 
impose the death penalty on individuals convicted under the 
Decree, which is so broadly worded that almost any criticism of 
the Government could violate its provisions.  On May 22, the 
regime, perhaps in response to intense domestic and 
international criticism, reaffirmed its commitment to freedom 
of the press and announced that it was "setting aside" the 
Decree.  The regime did not repeal the Decree, however, and on 
the same day it made the announcement, State Security Service 
agents seized 80,000 copies of The News.  

In June the regime promulgated the Offensive Publications 
(Proscription) Decree, Decree 35, which empowered it to 
proscribe or order the seizure of any publication containing 
any article or material likely to disrupt the transition to 
democracy.  Like the treason Decree, Decree 35 is so broadly 
worded that almost any criticism of the transition program 
could provide sufficient grounds for the seizure or 
proscription of the publication in which it appeared.

Regime attacks on the press intensified after nullification of 
the June 12 election results.  In July it closed six media 
houses, including the Concord group, owned by M.K.O. Abiola, 
the apparent winner on June 12.  All six media houses were 
strongly critical of the regime's nullification of the election 
and repeatedly urged the government to release and respect the 
results.  Secretary for Information and Culture, Uche 
Chukwumerije, claimed the media houses were closed because they 
had "mortgaged their professional ethics for money" and engaged 
in "irresponsible journalism."  Official anger over the media 
houses' criticism is a much more plausible explanation for 
their closure.  The regime permitted two of the media houses to 
reopen, though one was open only "commercially" and restricted 
from publishing.  The Babangida regime promulgated a decree 
banning 10 publications of the other 4 media houses, including 
The National Concord, The Punch, The Sketch, and The Observer.  
The PRC allowed them to reopen in November.

Also in August, the Babangida regime promulgated Decree 43, 
which prescribed new registration guidelines for all newspapers 
and was designed to control the press and silence its criticism 
of the regime.  The guidelines require the payment of 
registration fees of approximately $10,000 and approval of a 
registration application by a newspaper registration board 
whose members are appointed by the Secretary for Information 
and Culture.  The Decree lays out tough penalties, including 
prison terms and fines, for the circulation of unregistered 
newspapers and publication of false statements.  It requires 
also that every issue display the names and addresses of its 
owners, publishers, and printers.  Registration must be renewed 
annually.  In September the Interim National Government 
intimated that it would delay enforcement of Decree 43 until 
December.  It also announced that it was the responsibility of 
the National Assembly, not the ING, to repeal the Decree.  The 
Assembly was not able to do so before General Abacha's military 
regime dissolved it.

Nigeria's universities were closed on May 3 because of a strike 
by the Academic Staff of Universities Union (ASUU, see Section 
6).  In early October, the strike ended and the universities 
reopened.  The Government lifted its bans on the ASUU and the 
National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in 1993.  
Academic freedom is generally respected, although some groups 
allege that government security agents maintain an active 
undercover presence on the campuses and that university 
authorities act at the behest of the Government to suspend or 
expel student activists.  Student political activists continued 
to face harassment from university and security officials.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Although all Nigerian constitutions have provided all citizens 
the right to assemble freely and to associate with other 
persons in political parties, trade unions, or other special 
interest associations, only two political parties were 
permitted in 1993, and the PRC dissolved them on November 18.  
In addition, Abacha's first speech as Head of State declared 
that "all processions, political meetings and associations of 
any type in any part of the country are hereby banned."

The PRC's predecessors did not normally require permits for 
public meetings indoors, and permit requirements for outdoor 
public functions were often ignored.  However, on the authority 
of Decree Five the Babangida regime banned gatherings whose 
political, ethnic, or religious overtones it feared might lead 
to unrest.  In January Osun State authorities, fearing protests 
by prodemocracy activists, banned public demonstrations and 
processions.  In June Bauchi State authorities announced a 
similar ban aimed at preventing prodemocracy demonstrations in 
the wake of the regime's nullification of the June 12 
election.  Open-air religious services away from places of 
worship remain prohibited in most states due to religious 
tensions in various parts of the country.

Nigerians form and participate in a wide variety of special 
interest organizations, including religious groups, trade 
groups, women's organizations, and professional associations.  
Such organizations need not register with the Government and 
are generally permitted free association with other national 
and foreign bodies.  Members of the Nigerian Bar Association 
(NBA) accused the regime of interfering with their right to 
freedom of association, however.  In February 1993, the regime 
promulgated Decree 21, the Legal Practitioners (amended) 
Decree, which empowered Nigeria's attorneys to manage the NBA's 
affairs and conduct elections for its national executive 
committee.  After a disputed presidential election in 1992, the 
NBA was thrown into crisis.  The regime allegedly tried to take 
control of the NBA by backing a candidate (ING Secretary for 
Transport and Aviation and PRC Minister for Power and Steel 
Alhaji Dalhatu) friendly to it but, having failed, used the 
NBA's internal disarray as an excuse to try again by means of 
Decree 21.  The NBA was challenging Decree 21 in court at 
year's end.  

In May the regime banned several political organizations which 
it contended were founded primarily along ethnic, tribal, 
religious, or other parochial lines for the purpose of 
sponsoring various political candidates.  The organizations 
remained banned under the ING and the PRC.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Decree One (suspending most of the 1979 Constitution) and the 
unimplemented 1989 Constitution prohibit federal and state 
governments from adopting an official state religion.  In 
addition, the PRC has made it clear that, whatever emerges from 
the planned constitutional conference, Nigeria will remain a 
secular state.  The 1979 and 1989 constitutional provisions for 
freedom of belief, practice, and education in regard to 
religion are generally respected.  The Government instituted a 
ban in 1987 (which is still in effect) on religious 
organizations on schoolgrounds at the primary level.  
Individual students retain the right to practice their religion 
in recognized places of worship.

Distribution of religious publications is generally 
unrestricted.  There is a lightly enforced ban on published 
religious advertisements, and religious programming on 
television and radio remains closely controlled by the 
Government.  Both Christian and Muslim organizations allege 
that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration 
Department were restricting the entry into the country of 
certain religious practitioners, particularly persons suspected 
of proselytizing.  Religious practitioners operating schools, 
institutions, or medical facilities generally were not 
affected, nor were those seeking renewal of existing residence 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Nigeria's 1979 and 1989 Constitutions entitle its citizens to 
move freely throughout the country and to reside where they 
wish.  They also prohibit expulsion or the denial of exit or 
entry to any Nigerian citizen.  In practice, Nigerians travel 
abroad in large numbers, and thousands are engaged overseas in 
work and study.  Exit visas are not required.

However, the Babangida regime for political reasons 
occasionally prevented travel.  In June the regime seized Ken 
Saro-Wiwa's passport and refused to release Olisa Agbakoba's 
passport, which it had seized the previous year, preventing 
them from traveling to Vienna to attend the World Conference on 
Human Rights.  The regime returned Saro-Wiwa's passport in 
September after his release from detention (see Section 1.d.) 
and Agbakoba's shortly afterwards.  In September authorities 
briefly seized and held Wole Soyinka's passport.  Citizens 
leaving Nigeria have the right to reenter, and citizenship may 
not be revoked for any reason.

Nigerian law and practice permit temporary refuge and asylum in 
Nigeria for political refugees from other countries.  Nigeria 
supports and cooperates with the Lagos office of the United 
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  A Liberian 
refugee camp, with an estimated population of 3,000, continued 
to operate in Ogun state.  There is also an undetermined number 
of Chadian refugees residing primarily in the northern border 
area.  There were no reports that refugees were expelled from 
Nigeria in 1993.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens did not have this right in 1993.  Throughout most of 
1993 the NDSC, headed by General Babangida, remained the 
highest authority in the land.  On August 26, Babangida 
announced that he was leaving office and installed an Interim 
National Government (ING) headed by Ernest Shonekan, a 
civilian.  The ING, which was supposed to organize new 
elections and hand over power in March 1994, included a number 
of officials, civilian and military, from the Babangida regime 
and continued to rule by decree.  The PRC, which took power 
November 17, banned all political institutions and parties.  It 
announced plans for a constitutional conference, but national 
elections before 1995 are unlikely.

After canceling presidential primaries in late 1992, General 
Babangida promulgated Decree 52, which extended military rule 
by 8 months until August 27, 1993, and laid out a new election 
process and schedule.  Presidential candidates were required to 
win nominating conventions at the ward, local, state and, 
finally, the national level before squaring off in June 12 
elections.  The 23 individuals who competed in the canceled 
1992 presidential primaries were banned from contesting the new 

In 1989 the Government created the Social Democratic Party 
(SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC), wrote their 
manifestos, constitutions, and platforms, and gave them the 
exclusive right to contest elections.  From February to April 
1993, the SDP and the NRC conducted nominating conventions 
under the close supervision of the Government.   M.K.O. Abiola 
emerged as the SDP presidential candidate, while Bashir Tofa 
secured the NRC nomination.

On June 12, Nigerians voted in what national and international 
observers judged the freest and fairest election in the 
country's history.  However, this assessment did not take 
account of the process leading to election day which was marred 
by extensive manipulation by the military regime, including the 
exclusion of many prospective candidates.  Early official 
results and unofficial returns appeared to indicate that Abiola 
had won a landslide victory.  However, before the National 
Electoral Commission could announce formal results, an Abuja 
high court issued a restraining order blocking their release.  
The court issued the order after an organization seeking to 
extend military rule filed a suit challenging the election's 
validity.  On June 23, General Babangida nullified the election 
results, claiming that he and the NDSC had uncovered evidence 
of widespread electoral fraud, but he never presented any 
evidence to substantiate his allegation.  Many Nigerians 
believe that he canceled the election because he opposed the 

General Babangida's action in nullifying the June 12 election 
results produced massive public protests and civil disobedience 
campaigns.  It lead to a standoff between Babangida and the 
unofficial winner, Abiola, with strong elements of a struggle 
between military and civilians.  His action also ignited 
longstanding ethnic animosities and briefly raised the spectre 
of civil war.  Subsequently, Olusegun Obasanjo, a former head 
of state, and others played important mediating roles in 
advocating an all-civilian interim government.

The ING, however, proved incapable of dealing with Nigeria's 
problems.  At the urging (some say demand) of General Abacha 
and others, ING Chairman Shonekan resigned on November 17.  
Abacha installed himself as Head of State and established the 
military-dominated PRC.  He also named a largely civilian 
cabinet which included some prominent prodemocracy and human 
rights activists.  Reneging on an earlier promise, Abacha named 
military officers rather than civilians to replace the elected 
civilian governors whom he had dismissed.  Local Government 
councils were left in the hands of civilians, but Nigerians 
will not have an opportunity peacefully to change their 
government at any level until the proposed constitutional 
conference completes its work and a timetable for the return to 
democracy is implemented.

At the party conventions and in the June 12 election, voters 
cast their ballots by a "modified open-secret system."  Under 
this system voters balloted privately but remained at the 
conventions and polling stations while election officials 
publicly tabulated the results.  

Men continue to dominate Nigerian politics.  However, there are 
no legal impediments to political participation or voting by 
women or any other minority group.  One woman served in the 
91-member Senate, and 6 women served in the 589-member House of 
Representatives.  Several women ran for President and at the 
SDP convention one woman, Sarah Jibril, finished fourth in the 
balloting.  One woman held a cabinet position in the Interim 
National Government, and there were two female deputy 
governors.  There is 1 woman in the 32-member FEC, but no woman 
is a member of the PRC.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Human rights groups across a broad spectrum are engaged in the 
vocal and public campaign for the promotion of human rights in 
Nigeria.  Among the most active are: the Civil Liberties 
Organization (CLO); the Committee for the Defense of Human 
Rights (CDHR); the Constitutional Rights Project; the National 
Association of Democratic Lawyers; Human Rights Africa; the 
Legal Research and Resource Development Center; the National 
Association of University Women; the International Federation 
of Women Lawyers; and the Human Rights Committee of the 
Nigerian Bar Association.  A number of prominent authors, 
including Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, artists, educators, and 
jurists, in addition to professional and labor organizations, 
have spoken out frequently on human rights issues.

The Government often interfered with the activities of human 
rights organizations, detaining their members (see Section

1.d.) and preventing them from criticizing the Government's 
human rights record (see Section 2.a.).  Detentions increased 
after the Government nullified the June 12 election.  In 
addition to incidents outlined in other sections of the report, 
in February police and security agents raided the CLO's Lagos 
office and confiscated membership lists, financial statements, 
and the manuscript of a report titled, "Prisoner in the 
Shadows--a report on women and children in selected Nigerian 
prisons."  On the same day, security agents searched the home 
of CLO President Olisa Agbakoba and the home of CDHR member 
Chima Ubani.  Security agents also detained Agbakoba (see 
Section 1.d.).  On occasion, the Government harassed family 
members of human rights leaders.

High-level government officials regularly denounced the 
activities of Nigeria's human rights community, often accusing 
its members of participating in foreign-inspired plots to 
destabilize the country.  There are credible reports that the 
State Security Service engaged in a campaign to discredit human 
rights leaders by distributing leaflets and hanging posters 
alleging that they were interested only in political 
self-promotion or stirring up ethnic divisions (see also 
Section 1.f.).

In June the regime sent a diplomatic note to all diplomatic 
missions and international organizations present in Nigeria 
deploring diplomatic contact with human rights groups, which it 
labeled "subversive."  The note threatened that the regime 
would "take approriate measures to protect its national 
security" if diplomats continued meeting with human rights 
groups.  U.S. and other diplomats continued to meet with such 
groups.  Foreign human rights groups are permitted to visit 
Nigeria.  The Government occasionally responds to domestic 
human rights charges, though often not constructively.  For 
example, the Government often claims that its attacks on the 
press (see Section 2.a.) are a response to irresponsible 

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


There are no laws barring women from particular fields of 
employment, but women often experience discrimination because 
the Goverment tolerates customary and religious practices which 
adversely affect them.  Women do not receive equal pay for 
equal work and often find it extremely difficult to acquire 
commercial credit or obtain tax deductions or rebates as the 
heads of households.

While some women have made considerable individual progress, 
both in the academic and business world, most women are 
underprivileged.  According to a 1990 U.N. Children Fund's 
(UNICEF) report, fewer than 10 percent of Nigeria's women are 
employed in nonfarming occupations.  Though women are not 
legally barred from owning land, under customary land tenure 
systems only men own land, and women gain access to land 
through marriage.  In addition, under law a woman may not 
inherit her husband's property unless she can prove that she 
contributed to the acquisition of the property.  Many customary 
practices do not even recognize a woman's right to inherit her 
husband's property, and many widows are rendered destitute when 
their in-laws take virtually all of the deceased "husband's 
property," often leaving the woman with barely the clothes she 
is wearing.  Polygamy is widely practiced among all Nigerian 
ethnic groups in both Christian and Islamic communities.

Reports of wife abuse are common, especially in polygamous 
families.  Police do not normally intervene in domestic 
disputes, and they are seldom discussed publicly.  In more 
traditional areas, it is questionable whether the courts and 
police actively intervene to protect women who formally accuse 
their husbands if the level of alleged abuse does not exceed 
customary norms in the area.  Purdah, the Islamic practice of 
keeping girls and women in seclusion from men outside the 
family, is prevalent in parts of Nigeria's far north.  A number 
of factors affect the strictness with which seclusion is 
enforced, including the husband's wishes and his socioeconomic 

An estimated 100,000 Nigerian women suffer from vesico-vaginal 
fistula.  Approximately 83 percent of the cases result from 
prolonged labor among underage women.  Another 13 percent 
reportedly result from the primitive Hausa/Fulani practice 
known as "gishiri cut," whereby a pregnant woman is cut open 
through the genital organs, damaging the bladder or rectum, in 
a frantic bid to release the fetus.


The Government's commitment to children's welfare has been more 
sporadic than deliberate, and it devotes only limited resources 
to children's welfare, though the amount of money spent on 
children's health projects has increased in recent years.    
Nigerian laws designed to protect the rights of children, such 
as child labor laws and the 1964 Children and Young Persons 
Act, are often obsolete, inadequate, and seldom enforced.  
Although the law stipulates that "no child shall be ordered to 
be imprisoned" in Nigeria, juvenile offenders are routinely 
denied bail and incarcerated along with hardened criminals.  
Juvenile courts often ignore proper procedures, and there is 
little effort to explain the nature of the offense to 
defendants.  The Government only occasionally condemns child 
abuse and neglect and makes little effort to stop customary 
practices, such as the sale of children into marriage.  "Remand 
homes," as Nigerian reform schools are known, are very 
protective of their inmates, but necessary elements such as 
varied and sufficient food, medical care, health precautions 
and recreation are lacking.

Nigerian law provides that "no child should be engaged or be 
employed in street trading."  However, the Government condones 
street trading, and young boys and girls are prevalent in 
Nigeria's market stalls and hawking a variety of wares in the 
ubiquitous traffic jams.  Inordinate numbers of street children 
are prevalent throughout Nigeria and many, known as "area 
boys," often resort to crime and harassment of traders, 
pedestrians, and drivers.  The Government periodically rounds 
up and detains these children with no regard for due process.

Despite government efforts, labor, political, and other 
problems plague Nigeria's education system, and many children 
go without any formal education.  Parents are often forced to 
remove children from school for economic reasons.  There are 
credible reports that poor families often sell their daughters 
into marriage as a means of supplementing their incomes.  There 
are also reports that many young girls are forced into marriage 
as soon as they reach puberty, regardless of age, to prevent 
"indecency" associated with premarital sex.

The Government publicly opposes female genital multilation 
(circumcision).  Nigeria was one of five countries which 
sponsored a resolution at the 46th World Health Assembly 
calling for the elimination of harmful health practices, 
including female genital mutilation.  However, most Nigerian 
ethnic groups circumcise young females.  Nigerian experts 
estimate that as many as 50 percent of Nigerian 
girls/women--virtually 100 percent in the primarily Christian 
south, and fewer in the Muslim north--have undergone female 
genital mutilation which varies from simple removal of the 
labia minora to removal of the clitoris to the most dangerous 
form, infibulation.  The age at which females are circumcised 
varies from the first week of life to after a woman delivers 
her first child.  Some groups circumcise prior to marriage; 
others during pregnancy, believing that if the head of the 
child touches the clitoris during delivery, the child will 
die.  The Federal Ministry of Health and nongovernmental 
organizations sponsor public awareness and education projects 
to inform communities of the health hazards associated with 
female genital mutilation.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

There is no official policy of discrimination against any of 
Nigeria's 250 ethnic groups, and laws do not favor one group 
over another.  However, Nigeria has a long history of tension 
among its diverse ethnic groups.  Clashes between rival ethnic 
groups in Delta, Rivers, and Taraba States often resulted in 
bloodshed.  Tradition continues to impose considerable pressure 
on individual government officials to favor their own ethnic 
group, and ethnic favoritism persists.

The Ogoni, an ethnic group indigenous to Rivers State in 
eastern Nigeria (Nigeria's oil producing region), charge that 
the Government engages in a systematic campaign to deprive them 
of their land and its wealth.  The Ogonis claim that the 
Government seizes Ogoni property without fair compensation, 
ignores the environmental impact of oil production on Ogoni 
land, and fails to provide adequate social services, such as 
water and electricity.  The Movement to Save the Ogoni People, 
which is campaigning for greater Ogoni autonomy, often 
describes government policy towards the Ogoni as genocide.  
While the confrontation between the Government and the Ogoni 
has occasionaly turned violent (see Section 1.a.) and Ogoni 
concerns about environmental degradation and the quality of 
social services in the oil producing region have some merit, 
accusations that the Government is engaged in a genocidal 
campaign against the Ogoni are unfounded.

     Religious Minorities

Nigerian law prohibits religious discrimination.  Nonetheless, 
it is commonly reported that government officials often 
discriminate against persons practicing a religion different 
from their own.  Religious tensions often lead to violence, as 
in 1992 when clashes between Muslims and Christians in Kaduna 
State resulted in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of deaths.  Many 
Christian leaders allege that the civil disturbance tribunals 
established to try those accused of inciting the Zangon Kataf 
riots were biased against Christian defendants.  The 
composition of the six-member Okadigbo tribunal, which included 
four Muslims, reinforced this impression.  While it is unclear 
if a defendant's religion influenced the tribunal's judgments, 
accusations that the tribunal did not adequately safeguard 
defendants' right to a free and fair trial are credible (see 
Section 1.e.).

     People with Disabilities

The Government called for private businesses to institute 
policies ensuring fair treatment for the 2 percent of the work 
force that it claims is disabled.  It has not, however, enacted 
any laws nor formulated any policy which specifically ensures 
the right of the disabled to work, nor has it mandated what 
action should be taken if employers discriminate against the 

While there is nothing which would indicate systematic 
discrimination against the disabled, disabled workers must 
compete in an economy in which many nondisabled are unemployed 
and underemployed.  In addition, Nigeria's poor infrastructure 
makes it difficult for the disabled to get to work, making them 
less attractive to employers.  Few office buildings have access 
ramps for wheelchairs, and many have elevators that work 
sporadically, if at all.  Public transportation, when and where 
available, is not equipped to handle wheelchairs.

While the Government appears desirous of providing education 
for all handicapped children and adults, Nigeria's economic 
crisis and lack of adequate infrastructure make it difficult to 
allocate sufficient resources to meet the disabled population's 

Section 6  Worker Rights

The Babangida regime and the interim government that succeeded 
it made few changes in labor law.  The interim government 
restructured the Nigeria Labour Congress in August, merging 
unions to reduce the number of affiliates from 41 to 29.

     a.  The Right of Association

Nigerian workers, except members of the armed forces and 
employees designated essential by the Government, may join 
trade unions.  Essential employees include firefighters, 
police, employees of the Central Bank, the security printers 
(printers of currency, passports, and government forms), and 
customs and excise staff.  Primary, secondary, and university 
teachers were added to the list of essential personnel in May.  
They fall into a special category, however, as they are allowed 
to organize but not to strike.  The National Labour Congress 
(NLC), Nigeria's umbrella labor federation, repeatedly called 
on the regime to reinstate unions in all sectors of the economy 
except for the armed forces, firefighters, and police.  Neither 
the ING nor the PRC rescinded the relevant decree.

The vast majority (approximately 72 percent) of the Nigerian 
work force is employed in agriculture.  No agricultural workers 
are unionized.  Domestic workers, most of the informal sector, 
and practically all small industries and businesses remain 
nonunionized.  Approximately 11.5 percent of the total work 
force belong to unions.  Government decrees and policy continue 
to restrict labor freedoms.  In contravention of the 
International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention on Freedom of 
Association, the Government has decreed a single central labor 
body, the NLC, and deregistered all other union federations.  

The Government continued to resist attempts by senior 
government staff to form and register as an independent labor 
association the Senior Staff Consultative Association of 
Nigeria (SESCAN).  It refused to register SESCAN affiliates as 
authorized labor organizations and did not allow employers to 
deduct SESCAN dues from employees' paychecks.

The NLC claims 3.5 million members out of a total work force of 
over 30 million, but this figure is difficult to verify.  
Although the population has grown and the work force has 
increased, endemic economic problems have probably contributed 
to a decline in union membership. 

Under Nigerian labor law, any nonagricultural enterprise which 
employs more than 50 employees is obliged to recognize trade 
unions and must pay or deduct a dues checkoff for employees who 
are members.  The NLC has complained that some employers 
deliberately organize their industries into multiple units 
employing less than 50 workers to avoid unionization.  When the 
NLC called a general strike in August, the regime threatened to 
withdraw the dues checkoff provision and make the payment of 
union dues completely voluntary.  Organized labor condemned 
this proposal, and the ING dropped it when the strike ended.

The right to strike is recognized by law, except in the case of 
essential services as defined by the Government.  There are no 
laws prohibiting retribution against strikers and strike 
leaders.  However, strikers who feel they are facing unfair 
retribution may submit their cases to the Industrial 
Arbitration Court.  Its decisions are binding on all parties.

During 1992 and 1993, a rapidly declining economy and the 
regime's annulment of the June 12 election resulted in a 
growing wave of protracted labor disputes, culminating in the 
NLC's August 28-September 6 general strike and a series of 
general strikes sponsored by the Campaign for Democracy (CD) 
and other government opponents.  Although the security forces 
detained and harassed some of the more outspoken labor leaders, 
they did not make a systematic attempt to stop the strikes.  
There were no mass arrests of striking workers or violent 
confrontations between strikers and the security forces.

In May the regime promulgated the Teaching Essential Services 
Decree, which declared education an essential service.  
Although education-sector unions were not proscribed, the 
Decree called for the dismissal of teachers who participate in 
a strike that is longer than 1 week in duration.  In July the 
regime banned the Academic Staff Union of Universities, which 
had been on strike since May, and issued dismissal notices to 
striking university teachers.  The strikers ignored the 
dismissals, and the regime later rescinded the ban and 
reinstated the strikers without penalty.

The ILO continues to criticize the Nigerian Labor Code, which 
it asserts allows a number of practices that run counter to ILO 
conventions.  These include Nigeria's single trade union 
system, the ban on organizing for certain categories of 
workers, the broad powers of the Government to supervise union 
accounts at any time, and restrictions on the right to strike.

In August 1991, the regime's Decree 32 amended a policy held 
since 1975 which permitted international labor affiliation only 
with the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) and 
affiliated pan-African labor federations.  Decree 32 partially 
repealed the ban by allowing affiliation with non-African 
international labor organizations, but only for training and 
education assistance.

The transition to civil rule program promulgated during the 
Babangida regime made it illegal for the NLC to engage in 
partisan politics.  Despite this, the NLC publicly endorsed the 
Social Democratic Party (SDP), and NLC President Paschal Bafyau 
lobbied vigorously to be named the SDP's vice presidential 
candidate in the June 12 election.  Neither the NLC nor Bafyau 
was sanctioned for their political activities.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The labor laws permit both the right to organize and the right 
to bargain collectively between management and trade unions.  
Collective bargaining is, in fact, common in many sectors of 
the economy.  However, the Government retains broad authority 
over labor matters and can intervene forcefully in labor 
disputes which it feels contravene its essential political or 
economic programs.    

There are provisions against antiunion discrimination in the 
Trade Dispute Act of 1976.  Nigerian law further protects 
workers against retaliation by employers for labor activity 
through an independent arm of the judiciary, the Nigerian 
Industrial Court, which handles complaints of antiunion 
discrimination.  The NLC has complained, however, that the 
Nigerian judicial system is often slow to handle labor cases 
and that this constitutes a denial of redress to those with 
legitimate complaints.  Courts have compelled several employers 
to reinstate fired union activists.

The Ministry of Labor has tried to restrict its role to the 
enforcement of minimum wage and freedom of association laws.  
In January 1991 the Government abolished the uniform wage 
structure for all government entities.  Now each tier of 
government--federal, state, local, and state-owned firms--is 
free to negotiate its own level of wages, benefits, and 
conditions of employment.  As a result, negotiations, 
previously conducted on a nationwide basis under the direct 
supervision of the Labor Ministry, are now conducted on a 
local, often plant-wide, basis with less government involvement.

General Babangida laid the cornerstone for an export processing 
zone in Calabar on November 8, 1991.  As of the end of 1993, 
the regime had not addressed the shape of labor relations 
within the zone.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The 1979 Constitution (and the 1989 Constitution, which formed 
the basis for most jurisprudence during 1993) prohibit forced 
or compulsory labor, and this prohibition has long been 
generally observed in practice.  The ILO, noting that the 1989 
Constitution had been suspended, asked the Government to 
indicate how the ILO Convention against forced labor would be 
enforced in the absence of constitutional guarantees.  The ILO 
has also pointed out that Nigerian legislation regarding 
punishment for illegal strikes, breaches of labor discipline by 
merchant seamen, and compulsory arbitration may be in violation 
of the ILO Convention of the Prohibition of Forced or 
Compulsory Labor.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The 1974 Labor Decree prohibits employment of children under 15 
years of age in commerce and industry and restricts other child 
labor to home-based agricultural or domestic work.  The labor 
law prohibits the employment of children in agricultural or 
domestic work for more than 8 hours per day.  The 1974 Decree 
allows the apprenticeship of youths aged 13 to 15 under 
specific conditions.   Apprenticeship exists in a wide range of 
crafts, trades, and state-owned enterprises.  

Primary education is compulsory in Nigeria, though the law is 
rarely enforced and recent studies show declining enrollment.  
The Government and UNICEF estimate that in 1987 primary school 
enrollment probably peaked at around 61 percent, declined 
steadily thereafter, and may have dropped below 50 percent 
during 1993.  The principal cause for the decline has been 
continuing deterioration of public schools.  This lack of 
sufficient primary school infrastructure has denied some 
families access to education, contributing to the number of 
children on the employment market.

The ILO and UNICEF, in consultation with the NLC, have 
concluded that child labor, while not yet endemic, is on the 
increase in the unregulated and nonunionized informal sector 
and could become a serious problem.  Nigeria's export 
industries do not employ children.  The United Nations has 
proposed a study to determine more precisely the extent of 
child labor in Nigeria.  It also proposes to work together with 
the NLC, nongovernmental organizations, and the Nigerian 
Government to devise strategies to combat child labor abuses.  
Under the provisions of ILO Convention 123, the ILO requested 
the Government to supply it with a list of Nigerian children 
who may be employed in mining.  The regime had not yet 
responded to the request by year's end.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The 1974 Labor Decree establishes a 40-hour workweek, 
prescribes 2 to 4 weeks of annual leave, and sets a minimum 
wage of $14 (450 Naira) per month.  The Government's Structural 
Adjustment Program (SAP), coupled with a high inflation rate, 
has reduced the buying power of many Nigerian workers and led 
many within the NLC to criticize the SAP as an unfair 
imposition on the workers.  The minimum wage as currently 
stipulated does not allow a worker's wages to keep pace with 
inflation nor provide a decent standard of living.  Rising 
inflation is a frequent cause of strikes.  Nigerian labor law 
stipulates that workers are to be paid extra for hours worked 
over the legal limit.  Labor law also states that workers who 
work on Sundays and statutory public holidays must be paid a 
full day's pay in addition to their normal wages.  There is no 
law prohibiting excessive compulsory overtime. 

The 1974 Decree contains general health and safety provisions, 
some aimed specifically at youth and female workers, 
enforceable by the Ministry of Labor.  Employers must 
compensate injured workers and dependent survivors of those 
killed in industrial accidents.  The Labor Ministry, which is 
charged with enforcement of these laws, has been largely 
ineffective, and violations are common and go largely 
unpunished.  Workers have the right to remove themselves from 
dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued 
employment.  However, such requests are rare, as dire poverty 
often compels workers to remain in dangerous jobs although they 
may be fully aware of the possible consequences.

In 1991 Nigeria invited an ILO tripartite team from the 
Committee of Experts (COE) to evaluate the country's labor 
inspection system.  The COE determined that Nigeria was not yet 
fully in compliance with the relevant ILO conventions, as it 
did not maintain adequate statistics on its inspection 
program.  Despite extensive ILO-sponsored training programs for 
factory inspectors, at the end of 1993 the ILO had not yet 
ruled that Nigeria was in compliance.

[end of document]


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