EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 44/08/94
21 July 1994
Further information on UA 219/94 (AFR 44/05/94, 8 June 1994) - Prisoner of
conscience / death penalty
NIGERIA: Ameh Ebute, lawyer, former President of the Senate
Chief Polycarp Nwite, former Senator
Onyeka A. Okoroafor, former Abia State Senator
new names: Abu Ibrahim, former Katsina State Senator
The Reverend Dr Maconyemechi O. Nwulu, former Senator
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Senator
The six former Senators named above remain in detention awaiting trial.
Amnesty International is calling for their immediate and unconditional release
as prisoners of conscience, imprisoned because of their non-violent political
The six, arrested between 2 and 6 June 1994, were charged on 14 June with
"treasonable felony" and conspiracy. Treasonable felony is a lesser charge
than the capital charge of treason, and is punishable by life imprisonment.
The charges relate to the secret meeting of former members of the Senate and
the subsequent publication on 1 June of a statement urging General Sani Abacha,
the head of state, to stand down and calling for the restoration of democratic
institutions. The six were remanded in custody to await trial and are detained
at Alagbon Close police station, Ikoyi, Lagos.
They are among hundreds of pro-democracy activists who have been imprisoned
in recent weeks, many following demonstrations and protests, some of which
have resulted in clashes with police. On 18 July, at least 20 demonstrators
were reportedly killed by police during rioting in Lagos.
Many of those arrested have been released without charge; others have been
released on bail to await trial. Founding members of the National Democratic
Coalition (NADECO), a grouping of former political leaders and pro-democracy
activists, have been charged with forming an illegal organization: Chief
Olusegun Osoba, former Ogun State Governor (listed on the original UA), Air
Commodore (retd) Jonah Jang, former Benue State Governor, and Air Commodore
(retd) Dan Suleiman, former Plateau State Governor, were charged on 9 June
and released on bail pending trial. Beko Ransome-Kuti, President of the
Campaign for Democracy and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, was
arrested on 9 June and detained incommunicado until 28 June when he was released
on bail to await trial on charges of treasonable felony, accused of publishing
a pamphlet which declares the military government to be illegal.
Amnesty International is also calling for a halt to the prosecution of all
those, whether in detention or currently released on bail, who have been charged
with treasonable felony or other political offences and who would become
prisoners of conscience if convicted and sentenced to prison terms.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/express and airmail
- expressing concern at the continued remand in custody of Ameh Ebute, Chief
Polycarp Nwite, Onyeka A. Okoroafor, Abu Ibrahim, the Reverend Dr Maconyemechi