Nigeria: Promotional Mission, 1997


The Mission was undertaken by Prof. E.V.O. Dankwa, Vice-Chairman of the Commission and Mr. Atsu-Koffi Amega, a member of the Commission. Dr. Essombe Edimo Joseph, Legal Officer at the Secretariat of the Commission accompanied the Mission.

The Mission was to be undertaken with the terms of reference stated below:

  1. Resolve amicably communications against Nigeria brought before the Commission.
  2. Present to the Commission the human rights situation in Nigeria.
  3. Meet with as many members of civil society as possible with the view to making the work of the Commission known; and encourage them in their human rights work.


  1. The programme for transition of power from the military to civilians should be followed.
  2. Nigerians should be allowed to freely decide on those to govern them.
  3. The Constitution should be published for everyone to know their future fundamental law, and express views on it.
  4. While we encountered divergence of opinion on whether the executive obeys the orders of the Courts, it is important to emphasise that respect by the executive of the orders of the Courts is essential and fundamental to a stable society without which sustainable development is impossible.
  5. The ambit of ouster clauses is very wide, and thought should be given to the narrowing of its scope.
  6. The number of bodies exercising judicial power seems to be on the high side. Equality of treatment suggests their reduction.
  7. A dialogue between government, the oil companies and the communities from which oil is produced is essential. The degradation of the environment from oil exploitation is real; and it is important that the communities in those areas are made to feel that this damage is compensated for with tangible benefits. The suggested approach is likely to produce a harmonious relationship which will be beneficial to all parties in this enterprise.
  8. There is grave danger of "national security" considerations resulting in arbitrary arrest; and so even under a military regime detention without trial should not be treated lightly. There should be regular review of all detainees who should also have access to medical facilities as well as contact with the outside world. The observance of the United Nations Minimum Rules For The Treatment of Prisoners is consistent with implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and the former should be applied to detainees.
  9. We single out the Ogoni 19, and ask that they be brought to trial. Meanwhile the conditions under which they live should be improved. In particular their food ration should be improved. Generally we recommend short remand periods.
  10. Nothing should be done by government to erode the high standard of freedom of expression manifested in newspapers.
  11. Whatever legal impediments stand between Chief M.K.O. Abiola and freedom, we appeal to the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to exercise his authority as the fountain of Justice and order his release.