267. Following the examination of the initial report of Nigeria insofar
as it related to the application of articles 6, 7, 9 and 14 of the Covenant
in Nigeria, the Committee, at its 1499th meeting, on 3 April 1996, adopted
certain urgent recommendations. These included the abrogation of all decrees
establishing special tribunals or revoking normal constitutional guarantees
of fundamental rights or the jurisdiction of the normal courts as well
as the adoption of urgent steps to ensure that persons facing trial were
afforded all guarantees of a fair trial (see document CCPR/C/79/Add.64,
paras. 11 to 13).
268. The dialogue with Nigeria continued during the fifty-seventh session.
At its 1526th and 1527th meetings (fifty-seventh session), held on 24
July 1996, the Committee adopted the following concluding comments:
269. The Committee welcomes the opportunity to resume the dialogue with
the Government of Nigeria through a high-ranking delegation that included
members of the newly established National Human Rights Commission.
2. Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Covenant
270. The Committee notes that the continuation of the military regime
and in particular the suspension of constitutional guarantees of rights
by decrees of that regime are an obstacle to the effective implementation
of rights protected under the Covenant.
271. The Committee notes also that the failure of the Government to undertake
an analysis of laws and procedures, including customary laws to assess
the compatibility with the Covenant, has prevented the effective implementation
of rights protected by the Covenant.
272. Inter-ethnic and inter-religious violence which persist in Nigeria
appear to affect adversely the enjoyment of rights and freedoms protected
by the Covenant.
3. Positive aspects
273. The Committee notes the measures that have been taken by the Government
since the fifty-sixth session to overcome some obstacles to the enjoyment
of rights which were identified by the Committee. It appreciates that
the newly enacted Civil Disturbances (Special Tribunal) (Amendment) Decree
removes military personnel from the Civil Disturbances Tribunal and provides
for the right of appeal from its sentences and convictions. It welcomes
the repeal of Decree No. 14 of 1994 (which precluded courts from issuing
writs of habeas corpus) by the State Security (Detention of persons) (Amendment)
(No. 2) (Repeal) Decree, adopted on 7 June 1996. It also notes that a
panel has been established to review cases of detention under Decree No.
2 of 1984.
274. The Committee welcomes the fact that municipal elections have been
held; that political parties have been registered; that preparations are
proceeding for national elections; and that the year for these elections
has been announced.
275. The Committee welcomes the adoption of Decree No. 22 of 1995, establishing
the National Human Rights Commission which has been given certain responsibilities
regarding the promotion and protection of human rights.
276. It further welcomes the establishment of a Ministry of Women's Affairs
and Social Welfare. It also welcomes measures taken to promote the participation
of women at all levels of the political, economic and social life of the
277. The Committee also welcomes the willingness of the Nigerian Government
to undertake an analysis of the legal system in the light of its obligations
under the Covenant and to seek the technical assistance from the Centre
for Human Rights in this process.
4. Principal subjects of concern
278. The Committee notes with deep concern that measures have not been
adopted to address all the issues of concern identified by the Committee
at its fifty-sixth session and to implement the urgent recommendations
in its preliminary comments (see CCPR/C/79/Add.64). In particular, the
Committee is concerned that the Government of Nigeria has not abrogated
the decrees establishing special tribunals or those revoking normal constitutional
guarantees of fundamental rights as well as the jurisdiction of the normal
courts. The Committee deplores the statement of the delegation that the
decrees are not to be abrogated because they pre-dated the entry into
force of the Covenant in Nigeria and are an essential part of military
rule in Nigeria. The Covenant precludes measures derogating from the State
party's obligations other than in the limited circumstances provided for
by article 4 which have not been applied in the case of Nigeria.
279. The Committee expresses its grave concern that the continuation of
Military Government and rule by Presidential decrees which suspend or
override constitutional rights and which are not open to review by the
courts are incompatible with the effective implementation of the Covenant.
280. The Committee wishes to reiterate that there remain fundamental inconsistencies
between the obligations undertaken by Nigeria to respect and ensure rights
guaranteed under the Covenant and the implementation of those rights in
Nigeria. It is further concerned that there is no legal protection of
rights in Nigeria, as a consequence of the non-applicability of the 1989
Constitution and the adoption of Decree No. 107 of 1993 that re-established
the 1979 Constitution, while excluding the application of the section
dealing with basic rights. Another concern of the Committee is the number
of decrees suspending or restoring previous laws, with exceptions in some
cases. The result appears to be uncertainty as to which rights may be
invoked and which are suspended.
281. The Committee must repeat its earlier expression of serious concern
in relation to the establishment by decree of special tribunals which
operate without observing the requirements of fair trial as required by
article 14 of the Covenant.
282. The Committee is concerned that, under Nigerian law, the death penalty
may be imposed for crimes which do not constitute "the most serious
offences" as required by article 6 of the Covenant and that the number
of death sentences passed and actually carried out is very high. The fact
that sentences of death are passed without the safeguard of fair trial
violates the provisions of articles 14 (1) and 6 of the Covenant. Public
executions are also incompatible with human dignity.
283. The Committee notes with concern that, following the introduction
of measures to overcome certain specific violations of rights in regard
to the composition of special tribunals and the right of appeal, no compensation
has been offered to victims of the human rights abuses which had already
occurred under the previous measures.
284. The Committee is deeply concerned by the high number of extrajudicial
and summary executions, disappearances, cases of torture, ill-treatment,
and arbitrary arrest and detention by members of the army and security
forces and by the failure of the Government to investigate fully these
cases, to prosecute alleged offences, to punish those found guilty and
provide compensation to the victims or their families. The resulting state
of impunity encourages further violations of Covenant rights.
285. The Committee is disturbed at the poor conditions in places of detention
that include severe overcrowding, lack of sanitation, lack of adequate
food, clear water and health care, all of which contribute to a high level
of death in custody. The Committee emphasizes that it is incompatible
with the Covenant to hold prisoners under conditions which do not meet
the basic guarantees provided in article 10 of the Covenant as well as
in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners,
despite its adoption of prison regulations, contained in chapter 366 of
the Prisons Act (1990).
286. The Committee is concerned at the large number of persons detained
without charge, and the lengthy periods of pretrial detention which are
incompatible with article 9 of the Covenant. It is particularly concerned
that incommunicado detention is commonly ordered and often for indefinite
periods and without access to judicial review, in violation of article
9 of the Covenant.
287. The Committee is seriously concerned at violations of the right to
freedom of expression, as exemplified by the adoption of a number of decrees
suspending newspapers, as well as the arbitrary arrest, detention and
harassment of editors or journalists.
288. The Committee notes with concern the extent of restrictions to the
freedom of association and assembly in law and in practice. The Committee
is concerned by numerous reports it received according to which members
of unions were harassed and intimidated, sometimes even arrested and detained,
that the dissolution of certain unions has been ordered by the Government.
289. The Committee is concerned by the arrest and detention of officers
of human rights organizations, involving violations of articles 9 and
22 of the Covenant and interfering with the free exercise of the significant
role played by such organizations in the protection of human rights.
290. The Committee takes note of allegations by a Nigerian non-governmental
organization (Civil Liberty Organization) that two of its officials were
prevented by the State Security Service from attending the fifty-sixth
session of the Committee and had their passports impounded. It regrets
that despite a letter by the Chairman giving details of these allegations,
an investigation was not completed before the fifty-seventh session and
that no information could be provided about the circumstances alleged.
Preventing persons from leaving their country violates article 12 (2)
of the Covenant and is incompatible with the State's obligation to cooperate
with the Committee to prevent them from leaving in order to attend meetings
of the Committee.
291. The Committee expresses its concern about the situation of women
in Nigeria, particularly as regards their low level of participation in
public life and the continued application of marriage regimes which permit
polygamy and do not fully respect the equal rights of women. It expresses
particular concern about the widespread practices of forced marriage and
of genital mutilation of girls.
5. Suggestions and recommendations
292. The Committee recommends that immediate steps be taken to restore
democracy and full constitutional rights in Nigeria without delay.
293. As already recommended by the Committee, all decrees revoking or
limiting guarantees of fundamental rights and freedoms should be abrogated.
All courts and tribunals must comply with all standards of fair trial
and guarantees of justice prescribed by article 14 of the Covenant.
294. The Committee recommends that a review of the legal framework for
the protection of human rights in Nigeria be undertaken in order to ensure
that the principles of the Covenant are incorporated into the legal system
and that effective remedies are provided in case of violations of rights.
295. The Committee also recommends that Decree No. 107 of 1993 and any
other measures which abrogate or suspend the application of the basic
rights enshrined in the 1979 Constitution, be abrogated, so that the legal
protection of these rights is restored in Nigeria. The Committee recommends
that the State party ensure that there is no such abrogation or derogation
in future other than in strict compliance with article 4, in time of public
emergency which threatens the life of the nation and which is officially
proclaimed and communicated to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
296. The Committee requests the State party to take effective measures
to implement the full and equal enjoyment by women of rights and freedoms
protected by the Covenant. These measures should ensure the equal participation
by women at all levels of the political, social and economic life of the
country. The Committee recommends that steps should be taken, in particular
through education, to overcome certain traditions and customs, such as
female genital mutilation and forced marriages which are incompatible
with the equality rights of women.
297. The Committee recommends that the State party consider the abolition
of the death penalty. Until its abolition the State party must ensure
that the application of the death penalty be strictly limited to the most
serious crimes as required by article 6 (2) of the Covenant, and that
the number of crimes for which the death penalty is imposed be reduced
to the minimum. Urgent steps should be taken to ensure that persons facing
trials are afforded all the guarantees of a fair trial as explicitly provided
for in article 14 (1), (2) and (3) of the Covenant and to have their conviction
and sentence reviewed by a higher tribunal in accordance with article
14 (5) of the Covenant.
298. The Committee recommends that the Nigerian authorities take effective
measures to prevent arbitrary, extrajudicial and summary executions as
well as torture, ill-treatment, and arbitrary arrest and detention by
members of the security forces, and to investigate any such cases in order
to bring before the courts those suspected of having committed or participated
in such crimes, to punish them if found guilty, and to provide compensation
to victims or to their families.
299. The Committee recommends that urgent steps be taken to release all
persons who have been detained arbitrarily or without charges and to reduce
the period of pre-trial detention. The practice of incommunicado detention
should cease. Compensation should be provided in the cases indicated by
article 9 (5) of the Covenant.
300. The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary
measures to ensure that the conditions of detention of persons deprived
of their liberty fully meet article 10 of the Covenant and the United
Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The overcrowding
of prisons should be reduced by overcoming delays in the trial process,
by considering alternative forms of punishment, or by expanding the number
of prison places.
301. The Committee recommends that the legislation and the practice relating
to the exercise of the freedom of expression be revised and amended in
order that they comply with the provisions of article 19 of the Covenant.
302. The Committee also recommends that measures be taken to ensure that
the right to form and join trade unions be respected as required by article
22 of the Covenant and that the plan calling for trade union elections
in October 1996 be implemented.
303. The Committee recommends that attention be given by the federal and
state authorities to the situation of persons belonging to minorities,
so that their rights as enshrined in article 27 of the Covenant be fully
protected. In this regard, due consideration should be given to the Committee's
General Comment No. 23 (50).
304. The Committee wishes to emphasize that the consideration of reports
submitted under article 40 of the Covenant takes place in public meetings
and in the presence of representatives of the State party concerned. Representatives
of non-governmental organizations, whether internationally or locally
based, are entitled to attend the meetings at which reports are being
considered and to provide information to members of the Committee on an
informal basis. The Government of Nigeria should ensure that individuals
(including members of non-governmental organizations) are not prevented
from leaving Nigeria to attend the Committee's sessions, should conduct
immediate investigations into the allegations mentioned in paragraph 290
above, and should inform the Committee of the result of these investigations.
305. The Committee recommends that the Government of Nigeria should ensure
that the National Human Rights Commission (or other agency) take steps
to inform and educate the community about the rights and freedoms protected
by the Covenant and the Constitution and about the remedies available
in case of violation of rights. It should seek the assistance of the Technical
and Advisory Services of the United Nations Centre for Human Rights in