Search

 

Cablegate: Southern Nigeria Human Rights Update Through June

VZCZCXRO8545
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0482/01 1791500
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281500Z JUN 07
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9176
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 8980
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 0447
RUEHCD/AMCONSUL CIUDAD JUAREZ 0426
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 0425
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 0407
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 LAGOS 000482

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W
STATE FOR INR/AA
STATE FOR G/DRL
DOE FOR CAROLYN GAY
WARSAW FOR LISA PIASCIK
CIUDAD JUAREZ FOR DONNA BLAIR
ISTANBUL FOR TASHAWNA SMITH
SAO PAOLO FOR ANDREW WITHERSPOON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ELAB KIRF NI
SUBJECT: SOUTHERN NIGERIA HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATE THROUGH JUNE
2007

REF: LAGOS 337

LAGOS 00000482 001.2 OF 004


1. (U) This is a roundup of recent incidents representative
of the human rights situation in southern Nigeria. This
summary is organized according to the sections of the annual
Human Right Report.
---------------------------
Section 1 - Respect for the
Integrity of the Person
---------------------------

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

2. (U) On March 28, Matthew Mato from Benin City was
reportedly killed in a prison in Abuja by police seeking to
restore order. Mato, a former mobile policeman, was in
prison for masterminding the heist of an Abuja bank in
December 2005, but he maintained that his confession to the
crime was obtained through torture.

3. (U) The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Human Rights
and Justice Organization asked the Anambra State government
to investigate the July 2006 death of Chioma Uwa. The NGO
reported Uwa was killed in the cross-fire between a joint
army/police patrol and vigilantes during a sweep of Onitsha.

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

4. (U) Amnesty International reported an attack in Port
Harcourt on May 19 against the family of Bari-ara Kpalap, a
staff member of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni
People (MOSOP). According to the report, four unidentified
men broke in the Kpalap home searching for Bari-ara. These
attackers hit the children and bruised Bari-ara's wife,
Baridi, before departing with a warning they would return.

5. (U) Ethel Godson, a resident of Mbano local government in
Imo State, claimed harassment by police in search of her
husband, who is an official in the Movement for the
Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
Godson claimed the police had burned their house and she had
not seen her husband since October 2005.

6. (U) On March 30, the Supreme Court in a unanimous
decision on the case of Bayo Johnson v Lagos State, upheld
the determination of the Lagos High Court that the holding
charge was legal and constitutional. The holding charge or
remand proceeding allows the police to hold a suspect pending
the conclusion of an investigation and filing of charges.
The NGO Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS), which assisted
Johnson in filing his brief, agreed that the court came to a
reasoned conclusion. However, HURILAWS criticized the law's
abuse by law enforcement, which it said often committed
prisoners to long periods without trial and this has led to
the overcrowding crisis in the nation's prisons.

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

7. (U) The NGO Center for Victims of Extra-Judicial Killings
and Torture (CVEKT) asked Inspector General of Police Sunday
Ehindero to launch an inquiry into the alleged police attack
on the villages of Amaruru and Ihetenansa in Imo State. The
CVEKT reported that on January 24, police killed a man for
refusing to pay a bribe. After incensed villagers set the
local police station ablaze, the next day the police arrived
with reinforcements and razed 100 homes.

8. (U) On June 14, The Police and Community Relations
Committee (PCRC) in Ilupeju, Lagos State, marked the opening
of a new office. The PCRC was created a decade ago to
influence the police force to be more humane in its dealings
with the community. According to news reports, the Ilupeju
Police Division has won five awards as the best police

LAGOS 00000482 002.2 OF 004


station in Nigeria.

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

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

9. (U) The Media for Democracy (MFD) in Nigeria condemned
the May 1 police attack in Akure on cameraman Dare Folorunso
of the Ondo State Radiovision Corporation, who was attempting
to film political protests against the election during the
Workers' Day Celebration. Reports cited Assistant Police
Commissioner Joshua Mumbo as leading 10 policemen in the
attack. Ondo State Nigerian Union of Journalists Chairman
Dele Atunbi also condemned the action, calling it a
confirmation of the Nigerian Police Force's "flagrant
disregard for human rights".

10. (U) In celebration of World Press Freedom Day on May 3,
the MFD condemned the refusal of President Obasanjo to sign
the Freedom of Information Bill (FOIB) and called for his
immediate signature. Former United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees Eduardo Cue, speaking at a tele-conference at
the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, said passing the FOIB would help
curb corruption and give credence to democracy in Nigeria.

11. (U) Reporters without Borders (RWB) reported journalist
Adeola Balogun had received death threats after publishing an
article in the May 22 edition of The Punch detailing a
possible case of baby theft.

12. (U) On May 23, political thugs in Ibadan halted
programming by the radio Broadcasting Corporation Service
(BCOS) of Oyo State. The attack was believed to be
instigated by Governor-elect Adebayo Alao-Akala and his
political patron Lamidi Adedibu, in their attempt to halt the
Local Government Council (LGC) elections declared by Governor
Rashidi Ladoja. Attackers macheted 10 employees and forced
the others to flee, after which the thugs vandalized the
station equipment and antenna.

13. (U) RWB condemned the arrest warrants for Osun Defender
editor Kola Olabisi, reporter Sola Jacobs, and human rights
activist Amitolu Shittu. Judge Jide Falola issued the
warrants after a report in the paper accused the judge of
releasing demonstrators in exchange for bribes.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

14. (U) On the May 29 Inauguration Day, police arrested six
human rights activists in Lagos after they carried a coffin
to mark the death of the regime of President Olusegun
Obasanjo. The activists were members of the Labor and Civil
Society Coalition (LASCO). In Edo State, the National Labor
Congress (NLC) reported the police firing to disperse the
crowd and arresting seven protesters. The police arrested
demonstrators in Ibadan attempting to protest the
inauguration of the Oyo State governor, and dispersed a group
attempting a similar protest in Abeokuta against the
inauguration of the Ogun State governor.

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

15. (U) Human Rights Watch (HRW) observers in Rivers and
Anambra states condemned the April elections as marred by
fraud, intimidation, and violence. HRW reported open rigging
and violence being used to frighten voters. In its report,
HRW called for the vote to be re-run in all states where the
"rights of voters have been systematically violated."

16. (U) On April 26, a coalition of 17 civil society groups

LAGOS 00000482 003.2 OF 004


called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
to investigate the expenditures of the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC). In its statement, the groups
cited the need for an investigation in order to "enable
Nigerians to understand how resources earmarked for the
elections were expended, given the widespread condemnations
which greeted the results."

17. (U) On May 2, Action Congress (AC) Osun State
gubernatorial candidate Rauf Aregbesola accused the police of
arresting over 200 of his supporters on trumped-up charges.

18. (U) On May 10, in an attempt to halt LGC elections,
political thugs associated with Adedibu and Akala stormed the
offices of the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission
(OYSIEC), destroying election materials. The police arrested
10 suspects, including the Deputy Governor-elect, Taofik
Arapaja, but no charges had been filed.

19. (U) On May 10, the Abuja High Court granted Democratic
People's Party gubernatorial candidate Ovedje Ogboru
permission to institute a case against Inspector General of
Police (IGP) Sunday Ehindero. Ogboru planned to protest an
order for his arrest issued by Ehindero, claiming it was an
attempt to prevent him from filing a petition to the
electoral tribunal. Twenty other plaintiffs were also
granted permission to ask the court to release them from
detention.

20. (U) Additional information about the April 2007 election
can be found in mission cables.

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

21. (U) The International Coordinating Committee of National
Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human
Rights, a UN body, chose to defer the re-accreditation of
Nigeria pending fulfillment of its pledge to investigate the
removal of the Executive Secretary of its National Human
Rights Commission (NHRC), Bukhari Bello. The body asked the
GON to provide it with documents concerning the appointment
and dismissal of members of the commission as well as
evidence the NHRC has continued to address human rights
violations since Bello's removal on June 19 of last year.

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

22. (U) In April, Foreign Minister Joy Ogwu chaired the
signing ceremony for the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Ogwu said the National
Assembly, in conjunction with the Convention, was in the
process of finalizing a disability law to guarantee the
rights of the disabled.

23. (U) On May 1, the police arrested two young men in
Uro-Irri, Delta State, who are believed to be connected to a
human trafficking syndicate based in Libya. The two men
reportedly facilitated the transport of a young woman from
Uro-Irri toQibya, and demanded 1 million naira
(approximately $8,000) to assist in her return.

24. (U) On May 23, police in Port Harcourt tear-gassed 25
physically disabled protesters outside the Rivers State
Government House. The delegation was seeking an audience
with Governor Peter Odili to discuss issues of the disabled
who reside in Rivers State.

25. (U) BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights representative

LAGOS 00000482 004.2 OF 004


Mufuliat Fijabi, speaking at a forum in Ibadan, spoke of the
need to campaign to address the issue of violence against
women in Nigeria. Fijabi called on the National Assembly to
pass the Bill to end Violence Against Women.

--------------------------
Section 6 - Workers Rights
--------------------------

26. (U) The International Labor Organization (ILO) reported
over 6,000 children engaged in labour had been rehabilitated
in Nigeria and Ghana between 2004 and 2006. The ILO said
this was part of the U.S. Department of Labor-funded
International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour to
Combat Child Trafficking in West Africa. ILO Director
General Juan Somavia said that in Nigeria, the number of
children repatriated internally were 99 male and 151 female;
while 39 male and 71 female were repatriated outside Nigeria.

-------
Comment
-------

27. (SBU) It is uncertain what priority the Umaru Yar'Adua
administration will place on human rights. Yar'Adua could
signal a new commitment by the government to human rights by
signing the FOIB. A quick passage, followed by a genuine
effort to reform the police and the desultory court process
would also gain support from the Nigerian public, which
dreads dealing with all facets of law enforcement. The
record of the police could be improved over time by promotig
community policing and the need to be more accountable to the
public. In addition, the courts have a role in reform by
prosecuting human rights violators through a more efficient
judicial process.

LATIMER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN SDG: UN Appoints Twenty Eminent Thinkers To Shed New Light On The World’s Greatest Challenges

New York, 21 January 2021 – Twenty prominent personalities, globally renowned for their intellectual leadership in economic and social fields, will form the second United Nations High-level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs, the ... More>>

UN: As COVID Deaths Pass Two Million Worldwide, Guterres Warns Against Self-Defeating ‘Vaccinationalism'

With more than two million lives now lost worldwide to COVID-19, the UN Secretary-General appealed on Friday for countries to work together and help each other to end the pandemic and save lives. In a video statement , Secretary-General António Guterres ... More>>

UN: Violent Attempt At US Capitol To ‘overturn’ Election, Shocking And Incendiary

A group of independent UN rights experts released ... More>>

UN: Guterres To Seek Second Five-year Term
António Guterres will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.... More>>