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Cablegate: Human Rights Roundup, June 2005

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001132

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KCOR KIRF ELAB NI HUMANRIGHTS
SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS ROUNDUP, JUNE 2005

1. This cable is a roundup of various incidents that
impacted human rights in Nigeria, organized by section
of the annual Human Rights Report. These incidents
have not been reported in other cables, or are updates
of previously reported items.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Section 1 - Respect for the Integrity of the Person
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. On March 28 in Ilorin, Kwara State, a policeman
attempting to extort a bribe from a truck driver opened
fire, wounding an 18-year-old girl who was selling
bread nearby.

3. In April in eastern Benue State, the site of
numerous communal clashes in the past, an estimated 10-
20 people were killed in fighting between ethnic Tivs
and Fulanis, reportedly sparked by the rape of a Tiv
girl by a Fulani cattle herder. Many Fulanis fled into
neighboring Taraba State. The state police command
deployed additional mobile policemen to the area to
prevent further violence.

4. On May 1 in Kubwa, an Abuja satellite town, police
beat bus driver Gabriel Agbane while arresting him.
When Agbane's family went to the police station the
next day, they found him unconscious. Police released
him to the family, who took him to a hospital, where he
died four days later. Police announced to journalists
that Agbane had been drunk during the arrest, had not
been healthy, and had fainted on his own.

5. On May 2 in Yauri town, Kebbi State, police fired
into a crowd of protesters, killing four people. The
protesters had gathered at the local emir's palace to
register their grievance at involvement of the police
in armed robberies: residents had apprehended several
armed robbers and turned them over to the police, only
to find out that the robbers were themselves police
officers. After the shootings, the crowd set fire to a
police station and a police car, while police fled to
neighboring villages.

6. On May 18 on a Zamfara State highway, taxi driver
Malam Danjariri was shot dead during a scuffle with
three police who had demanded a 20 naira (about USD
0.15) bribe from him. Riots erupted in the Zamfara
State capital, Gusau, in which three persons were
killed. One policeman was charged with culpable
homicide and dismissed from the police force, while the
other two officers were demoted.

7. On May 26, a Shari'a Appeals Court in Kaduna
overturned amputation sentences that had been passed in
2003 against six Zaria men who had been accused of
stealing a cow and a motorcycle. The Appeals Court
ruled that the lower court had erred in convicting the
men solely on the basis of police testimony, without
allowing the men to defend themselves. The men also
had not had access to legal representation, as required
by the Kaduna State Shari'a code.

8. On May 27, 25-year-old Awwalu Ibrahim received 80
lashes with a horsewhip after confessing to consumption
of alcoholic beverages and smoking marijuana. After
the court passed the sentence, a court physician
verified that Ibrahim's health was adequate for him to
receive the punishment, and it was carried out in
public. Afterwards, Ibrahim told journalists that he
thanked God for the punishment, and he promised not to
commit the offense again.

---------------------------------------
Section 2 - Respect for Civil Liberties
---------------------------------------

9. In early May, seven university students were
arrested and charged with sedition for distributing
leaflets critical of Jigawa State Governor Saminu
Turaki. The students, members of a group called the
New Salvation Movement, accused the governor of
"frivolous" foreign travel and failure to develop the
state's educational sector. The students pled not
guilty and were detained awaiting trial.

10. On May 14, a rally in Jos, Plateau State, to
announce the presidential campaign of Zamfara State
Governor Ahmed Sani was cancelled by police for
"security reasons." Note: It is not uncommon for
Nigerian police to use "security reasons" as an excuse
for banning opposition group events. End Note.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Section 3 - Respect for Political Rights: Citizens'
Right to Change Their Government
--------------------------------------------- ------

11. On April 12, an Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC) spokesman announced that the GON had
seized property worth about USD 700 million from
financial criminals since its inception. The spokesman
did not indicate how the property was disposed.
12. On May 31, the Senate approved a Code of Ethics,
but expunged a rule from the draft code that stated
"senators and their staff shall not accept money or any
gift meant for inducement in the course of performance
of their official duties." Several senators commented
that the practice of gift-giving is "enshrined in
Nigerian culture." Senator Ahmed Aruwa (ANPP, Kaduna)
argued that "there is a certain amount of money that
must change hands in the course of duty as a senator."

13. On May 31, an Assistant Superintendent of Police
at Force Headquarters in Abuja, Marius Ameh, was
arrested and charged with receiving a 10,000 naira
(about USD 75) bribe to release a detainee on bail.
Ameh was also charged with pocketing the 5,000 naira
(about USD 38) bail money.

14. On the weekend of June 4-5, the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested 27 Bauchi
State government employees for their role in embezzling
281 million naira (about USD 2.1 million) of state
government funds. On June 7, seven more persons were
arrested.

15. Also on the weekend of June 4-5, the EFCC arrested
five Kebbi State government employees, including the
state Commissioner for Agriculture, for embezzling up
to 3 billion naira (about USD 22 million) of state
government funds through schemes involving fake
vouchers and the private sale of state bonds.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Section 5 - Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and
Trafficking in Persons
--------------------------------------------- ---

16. Kano State announced in May that commercial
motorcycle taxis could no longer take women as
passengers because, it claimed, the transport of women
on motorcycles was contrary to Shari'a (Islamic law).
The state government did not cite any specific Koranic
references in announcing the ban. Both Muslim and non-
Muslim women were affected by the ban.

17. On May 8, Sunday Ehindero, the acting Inspector-
General of Police, announced that since September 2003,
180 Nigerien children had been intercepted and returned
to authorities in Niger.

-------------------------
Section 6 - Worker Rights
-------------------------

18. On March 30, President Obasanjo signed the Trade
Unions (Amendment) Bill of 2005 into law,
decentralizing Nigeria's labor unions, which had
previously been loosely joined under the Nigerian Labor
Congress (NLC). In April, the Organisation of African
Trade Union Unity (OATUU) protested that because the
new law criminalized picketing and strikes, it was in
violation of ILO Convention 98, which gives workers the
right to strike.

19. On April 12, doctors in Borno State went on strike
seeking a 22 percent pay raise. The state government
responded by directing all medical doctors and
consultants in ministries and parastatals to report for
duty at the specialist hospital in Maiduguri.

CAMPBELL

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