2000 Annual Report on The Human Rights Situation in Nigeria

consequent upon the ignominious death of the bespectacled despot,General Sani Abacha, on June 8, r99g, the military had no opfion than to withdraw from governance following consistent opposition by civil society groups. But the process thai ushered in General olusegun obasanjo'i civilian regime was anilitarized one, marked by the restriction oi political participation, absence of a workingprocess{ed constitution andthe unabatingviolation of the rights of citizens. Although, the cDHR, in coilaboration with other civil society groups opposJd the fraudulent transition programme, the politicians saw it is an opportunity to have their own portion of the national cake.

About two years into the civilian experiment, those then opposed to the dubious process have been vindicated.

The fact is apparent; nothing has changed. Nigeria, under the administration is plagued by unceasing, unending, excruciating and heart-rending fuel scarcity, food shortages, geometric increase in rate of inflation and other ills. The conditions of citizens appear precarious and the future appears bleak based on the fact thii the crop of leadership that the nation has, are minispiecing, mindless and more vicious in their thieving and looting habits.

 

The indicators for this ascertion can best be summarized from the mind-boggling items in this report, either of the polity, economy, education, human rights orthe embarrassing rise in violent crime wave.

No doubt, the fragile structures upon which the Fourth Republic was laid are now fast rottening-being perishable items-in the absence of a re-invention of the state which the Sovereign National Conference would have achieved. And the presidentls caught by abysmal ignorance of modern people-oriented state engineering. He has become a mere pawn in the hands of Lay-tongued officials of international finance capital as represented by the World Bank. Paris ClLrb and the International MonetaryFund.

Beginning from the local government councils, Nigerians during the year were inunda::d rr'ith the reports of the mismanagement of council funds, in-fighting amongst councillors and brazen gran. Tlt states did not fare any better. Thousands of workers were thrown to the streets in the name of rationalizing the wo rk force while the r e m aining few were not paid. Yet, those at the helm of affairs at the state levei did not stop their mindless lootings. State Governors were hardly present in their states. They were seen more around Heathrow, Gatwick or John F. Kennedy International Airports,in their often stated facile excuse of "discussing with foreign investors" than they were seen in their constituencies.

On the national scale, there were greater official ineptitude thievery and downright inconmpetence

The tale of the National Assemble was a sordid one. In fact, the legislators spent the substantial percentage of their time on the disbursement of allowances. allocation of contracts and other frivolities. The Senate menmbers shot'themselves in the leg when they instituted a seif-probe. Their shady deals came to public knowledge and ended the tenure of Dr Chuba Okadigbo as Senate President. Other Senate ,officials were also consumedinthe process. Learning from the Senate lesson. the lower House, House of Representative could not instltut: anr probe. Despitepersistentcalls for a probe into the House. ALhaji Ghali Na'aba the House of Representatives' Speaker saw it as optional'. The dubious practices continue at the National Assembl1.. thus inflicting terrible agonies and pains on the citizens.

The Judiciary did not escape the bug either. With the several murmurs of judicial corruption, inefficiency  and sometimespartisanship with entrenched interests, the Chief Justice of the Federatlon. ,lustice Mohammed Uwais promisedto take a closerlook at the Justice (rtd) Kayode Eso Panel Report on corruptjudges. Sucha promise was not carried out till date. Though'Bayo Manuwa, a judge of the Ikeja Judicial Division was dismissed for "professional miscconduct'' by Lagos State government, it was based on therecommendation of the Judicial S ervice Commission.

The General Olusegun Obasanjo executive arm of government continued with its mission to deliver Nigeria to theWorld Bank and Inrernational Monetary Fund through visionless and mindless  economic policies which led to an unenviable downward slide in our crirrency value, run-away inflation, private 'pocketisation' of national wealth under the dubious policy of rationalization, privatization, deregulation and liberalization.

In last year's Annual Report, we described the political parties as "makeshift electoral vehicles". Today, since the weather has become more inclement, coupled with the controversial second-term ambition of the political jobbers, the 'vehicles'have since become rickety.

Although the uniform has changed, the character traits, reminiscent of the jack-boot days, have not actually left the contemporary holders of State power. Instead, it has come in sharper and more fatal forms. Extra-judicial killing, arbitrary arest and detention without trial, torture and deg-rading treatment and other human rights abuses are still being perpetrated on daily basis, withoutthe state orits securityapparatus showing anyremorse. More than ever, the gnashing ofteeth continues in a nation, touted as the 'Giant' of Africa.