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Urgent Interventions

Nigeria : The Consulting Centre for Constitutional Rights and Justice attacked


NGA 001/1103/OBS 062
Attack / Death Threats
November 14th, 2003

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 been informed about the raid conducted by an unidentified armed group in the office of the Consulting Centre for Constitutional Rights and Justice (C3RJ) in Port Harcourt, on October 24th. Mr. Churchill Ibeneche, the Executive Director of the C3RJ and the staff members of the organisation were threatened with death.

According to the information received, about twenty men, armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, made a sudden entry into the Torture treatment Centre of the National Secretariat of the C3RJ at 10 a.m. The group arrived there in a blue bus, forced the office door and vandalized the apartment housing the organisation.

According to the same sources, under gun point, the armed group threatened with death the staff of C3RJ saying that, if they did not move out of the premises within 24 hours, the Executive Director and the staff would be killed. Then, the members of the C3RJ decided to evacuate the office, in the presence of Mr. Bishal Khanal, a representative of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Project Evaluation, with whom a meeting was planned on this day. The armed group came back at the expiration of the 24 hours in order to loot and steel the remaining documents in the office : computer disks, books, files and research materials. The matter has since been reported to the Nigeria Police but no one was arrested till now in connection with this attack.

Since this date, the staff of C3RJ has been unable to come back to the office and all human rights projects of the Centre, including assistance to the victims of torture, are currently interrupted.

The Observatory is very concerned by this situation which puts the lives of C3RJ staff members at very grave risks. The Observatory fears that this attack may be linked with the planned visit of Mr. Bishal Khanal to C3RJ, and more generally, considers this attack to be an unacceptable act of reprisal against the activities of the Centre.

The Observatory thinks that, considering the massive aspect of the attack and the means used, the authorities should easily identify the authors and bring them to trial.

Actions requested:

i. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the members of the C3RJ in all circumstances, and take the appropriate measures to ensure that they be able to reintegrate their office in security, as well as resume their activities without any obstacles;
ii. Conduct an immediate, independent and impartial inquiry into these events in order to identify those responsible of this attack, so that they be duly judged and sanctioned;
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 provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto o 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.


President of the Republic, His Exellency Olusegun Obasanjo, The Presidency, Federal Secretariat, Phase 2, Shehu Shagari Way,Abuja, Fax: + 234 9 5232136

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

Ministry of Justice, Kanu Godwin Agabi, Minister of Justice, New Federal Secretariat complex Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria; Fax: + 234 9 5235194/ 234 9 523 5208/23495230660.

Ambassadeur, Ayewoh Pius Ikpefuan, Rue Richard Wagner 1, CH-1211, Genève 2, Suisse, Fax: + 4122 734 10 53

Geneva - Paris, November 14th, 2003

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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