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Urgent Interventions

'Nigeria: Continuous harassment against human rights defenders


NGA 001/1202/OBS 070
Harassment/Seizure of passports
10th December 2002

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of FIDH and OMCT, requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Nigeria.

Brief description of the situation :

The Observatory has received with deep concern information related to acts of harassment carried out by members of the State Security Services against human rights defenders in Nigeria.

On December 3, 2002, Mr. Tajudeen Abduraman, a member of Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (Lagos) on his way out of the country to London. His travel passport was confiscated and he was reportedly ill-treated and manhandled. He was later released, but his passport has not been yet returned to him.

On December 6, 2002, Ms. Iheoma Obibi, the Executive Director of Alliances for Africa, a regional human rights and development organisation, was arrested by State Security Services at the Murtala Muhammed Airport on his way out of the country to London. Although she was released that day, her passport has not been yet returned to her.

On December 6, 2002, officials of State Security Services raided the offices of Women Aids Collective, a women rights NGO in Enugu, seeking to arrest the Executive Director to the organisation, Mrs. Joy Ezeilo, who was absent when this facts occurred. They left with a message that they will come back to get her in the near future.

The Observatory recalls that 200 copies of a report published by OMCT and Nigerian NGO the Centre for Law Enforcement Education (CLEEN), entitled “Hope betrayed? A report on Impunity and State-Sponsored Violence in Nigeria,” based on the input of some 60 local NGOs, have been seized on October 14, 2002 by the customs office in Lagos. Furthermore, a researcher, Idris Bawa of the National Human Rights Commission and two persons who collaborated in drafting the report, Ms. Isioma Ojugbana and Ms. Ijeoma Nwachukwu, both members of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in Lagos have been subjected to harassment by Security Services agents.

This wave of arrests against human rights defenders has been denounced by various Nigerian Human Rights Groups among those Legal Resources Consortium (LRC), Centre for Law Enforcement Education (CLEEN), Project Alert, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and Legal Defence And Assistance Project (LEDAP). All have expressed their preoccupation concerning the recurrent use of threats and intimidation against members of the civil society.

The Observatory expresses its support to the Nigerian Human Rights associations and condemns this climate of hostility against human rights defenders aimed at dissuading them to carry out their human rights activities and their fight against impunity.

Actions requested:

i. Put an end to all forms of harassment and threats all human rights defenders and their organisations in Nigeria;

ii. Return their passports to Mr. Tajudeen Abduraman and Ms. Iheoma Obibi;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its article 1 which provides that “every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international level and article 12(2) which states that « The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present declaration. »;

iv. More generally abide by the Universal declaration on Human Rights and Covenants and international Conventions ratified by Nigeria.


- His Exellency Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Republic, The Presidency, Federal Secretariat, Phase II, Shehu Shagari Way,Abuja; Fax: 234 9 523 21 36 (press office), Email:

- Alhaji Sule Lamido, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maputo Street , Zone 3 Wuse District, Abuja, Nigeria ; Fax: 234 9 523 02 08.

- Kanu Godwin Agabi, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, New Federal Secretariat complex Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria; Fax: 234 9 523 52 08 / 234 9 5230660.

- Alhaji Uman Musa Yar’adua, Governor, Office of the Military Administrator, Katsina, Katsina State, Nigeria.

Geneva - Paris, 10th December 2002

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken, quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a joint FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the Emergency Line: Fax : 33 (0) 1 55 80 83 92
Tel. : FIDH 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 OMCT : + 41 22 809 49 39
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