Country Reports on Human Rights Practices  - 2003
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
February 25, 2004

Nigeria is a federal republic composed of 36 states and a capital
territory, with an elected president and a bicameral legislature
drawing their authority from the 1999 constitution. In April,
President Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was
reelected to a 4-year term after being declared winner in elections
that international and domestic observers stated were marred by
serious irregularities and fraud, including political violence. At
year's end, opposition parties continued to challenge the election in
court. The elections also resulted in the ruling PDP winning 70
percent of the seats in the national legislature and 75 percent of
the state governorships. Although the judicial branch remained
susceptible to executive and legislative branch pressures, the
performance of the Supreme Court and decisions at the federal
appellate level were indicative of growing independence. State and
local judiciary were significantly influenced by political leaders
and suffered from corruption and inefficiency more than the federal
court system.

The Federal Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is tasked with law enforcement
and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) officially reported
directly to the President. Internal security is the duty of the State
Security Service (SSS), which reports to the President through the
National Security Advisor. Police were unable to control ethno-
religious violence on numerous occasions during the year, and the
Government continued its reliance on the army in those cases. While
civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the
security forces, there were some instances in which elements of the
security forces acted outside the law. Security forces committed
several serious human rights abuses.

The country's market-based economy grew 3.3 percent in real terms in
2002, and most credible estimates project a slight decline to 3.2
percent growth during the year. Inadequate infrastructure, endemic
corruption, and general economic mismanagement hindered economic
growth. Most of the population of approximately 130 million were
rural and engaged in small-scale agriculture, which accounted for
only 42 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Increased
unemployment was a problem. Much of the country's wealth remained
concentrated in the hands of a small elite. Corruption,
nontransparent government contracting practices, and other systems
favored the wealthy and politically influential, including: A banking
system that impeded small and medium investor access to credit; and
regulatory and tax regimes that were not always enforced impartially.
Wages and benefits have not kept pace with inflation. The
International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 91 million
citizens lived below the poverty line and were subject to
malnutrition and disease.

The Government's human rights record remained poor, and the
Government continued to commit serious abuses. Elections held during
the year were not generally judged free and fair and therefore
abridged citizens' right to change their government. Security forces
committed extrajudicial killings and used excessive force to
apprehend criminal suspects, and to quell some protests. There were
several politically-motivated killings by unknown persons during the
year. Security forces regularly beat protesters, criminal suspects,
detainees, and convicted prisoners; however, there were fewer
reported incidents of torture by security agents than in previous
years. Impunity was a problem. Shari'a courts sentenced persons to
harsh punishments including amputations and death by stoning;
however, no amputation or stoning sentences were carried out, and one
of the judgments was dismissed on appeal during the year. Prison
conditions were harsh and life threatening, and conditions
contributed to the death of numerous inmates. Security forces
continued to arbitrarily arrest and detain persons, including for
political reasons. Prolonged pretrial detention remained a serious
problem. The judicial system often was incapable of providing
criminal suspects with speedy and fair trials. Government authorities
occasionally infringed on citizens' privacy rights. The Government at
times limited freedom of speech and press. The Government continued
placing limits on freedom of assembly and association, citing
security concerns. Some state governments placed limits on some
religious rights, and some government programs discriminated between
religious groups. The Government occasionally restricted freedom of
movement for security reasons in areas of unrest and used lethal
force at checkpoints. Domestic violence and discrimination against
women remained widespread. Female genital mutilation (FGM) remained
widely practiced in some parts of the country, and child abuse and
child prostitution were common. Intercommunal violence remained a
problem. Some militant members of the Ijaw ethnic group in the oil-
producing Niger Delta region continued to commit serious abuses,
including unlawful killings and kidnappings, leading to violent
reprisal attacks by the Itsekiri ethnic group. Ethnic and regional
discrimination remained widespread, and localized discrimination and
violence against religious minorities persisted. Some restrictions on
worker rights continued. Some persons, including children, were
subjected to forced labor. Child labor continued to increase.
Trafficking in persons for purposes of prostitution and forced labor
was a problem, and collusion of government officials in trafficking
was alleged. Vigilante violence continued throughout the country,
particularly in parts of the South.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life There were no political
killings by security forces; however, national police, army, and
security forces committed extrajudicial killings or used excessive
force to apprehend criminals and to disperse protestors during the
year, when crowds were perceived by police as possibly becoming
violent. Multinational oil companies and domestic oil producing
companies subcontracted police and soldiers from area units
particularly to protect the oil facilities in the volatile Niger
Delta region. Freelance security forces and former security forces
accounted for a portion of the violent crime committed during the
year. Police were instructed to use lethal force against suspected
criminals and suspected vandals near oil pipelines in the Niger Delta

The Federal anticrime taskforce, also known as "Operation Fire for
Fire," was among the most frequent human rights offenders. Operation
Fire for Fire was established in response to widespread public calls
for the Government and police to address violent crime more
vigorously. Police and anticrime taskforce personnel involved
committed extrajudicial killings in the apprehension and detention of
suspected criminals, and were instructed to use deadly force to
subdue violent criminals. According to Inspector General of Police
Tafa Balogun, from March 2002 until November, police killed more than
1,200 criminals and arrested more than 2,800. There were widespread
complaints that Operation Fire for Fire has given a largely untrained
police force broad latitude in using deadly force. In most cases,
police officers were not held accountable for excessive or deadly
force, or for the deaths of persons in custody. They generally
operated with impunity in the apprehension, illegal detention, and
sometimes execution of criminal suspects (see Section 1.d.).
During the year, police, military, and anticrime personnel continued
to regularly use lethal force against suspected criminals. For
example, on May 2, a police officer reportedly opened fire on a
commercial bus in Ado Ekiti, mistakenly killing two students, while
searching for a fugitive. The policeman was arrested and detained but
had not been formally charged at year's end. On August 4, police
reportedly killed three robbery suspects in Enugu State. The
policemen alleged that the suspects were robbing passengers in a bus
when they were caught. The policemen have not been arrested or
detained for the killings. On August 12, a police officer shot three
suspects, accused of killing a police officer, while the suspects
were in a jail in Kubwa. Police were investigating the shooting at
year's end.

On September 8, the Bauchi State Police Command reported that police
killed nine suspected armed robbers in various parts of the state:
Four were killed in two separate shoot-outs, while the remaining five
were killed while in custody in a police van to prevent their escape.
The policeman accused of the 2002 shooting of Ikenna Asikaburu, an 18-
year-old student in Lagos, was dismissed from the force, but no
compensation has yet been paid to the family.

Criminal suspects died from unnatural causes while in official
custody, usually as the result of neglect and harsh treatment (see
Section 1.c.). On May 12, a police sergeant allegedly tortured to
death Haruna Mohammed while he was in custody in Bauchi. Mohammed was
being held on suspicion of stealing $75 (10,000 naira) from the
Speaker of the State House of Assembly. The Bauchi House of Assembly
formally petitioned the state police commissioner for an
investigation. There were no further developments by year's end.
There were only a few cases in which members of the police were held
accountable for abuses. Harsh and life-threatening prison conditions
and denial of proper medical treatment also contributed to the deaths
of numerous inmates.

Security forces committed other unlawful killings during the year.
Due to the large number of civilian deaths by police, armed police in
public arguments often found themselves in the middle of large crowds
that occasionally took revenge. In many cases, police accidentally
killed persons while attempting to disperse crowds. For example, on
January 24, a gin seller called police to assist in collecting a
debt. In the ensuing argument, a policeman shot and killed the
debtor's pregnant wife. The officer was taken into custody and was
awaiting trial at year's end.

On May 14, in Edo State, a policeman argued with a commercial
motorcycle rider, and a crowd formed. The policeman attempted to
disperse the crowd by firing into the air, but killed two persons. An
investigation was pending at year's end. Violence and lethal force at
police and military roadblocks and checkpoints continued during the
year. For example, on May 19, police shot an Ebonyi State Medical
student at a checkpoint after being arrested for refusing to pay a
$0.08 (10 naira) bribe. The policeman was arrested.
On June 25, a policeman shot and killed the driver of a commercial
bus in Jigawa State, after the driver refused to pay a $0.15 (20
naira) bribe. Police were investigating the shooting at year's end.
On September 8, soldiers shot a motorcycle operator who refused to
pay a $0.15 (20 naira) bribe at a checkpoint in Delta State. The
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR) reported that
military officials originally tried to claim that the individual was
an armed robber to cover-up the incident. The Nigerian Bar
Association called upon the Chief of Army staff to financially
compensate the family of the deceased and discipline and prosecute
the responsible soldiers. One soldier was transferred. Police and
military personnel used excessive force and sometimes deadly force in
the suppression of civil unrest, property vandalization, and
interethnic violence, primarily in the oil and gas areas of the
States of the Niger Delta and in Plateau State (see Sections 2.b., 5,
and 6.b.). Although less frequent than in previous years, there were
reported occurrences of summary executions, assaults, and other
abuses carried out by military personnel and paramilitary mobile
police across the Niger Delta. The Ondo State government had not
released its report into the 2002 killing of four women on oil
production platforms by year's end.

In mid-August, the Government began "Operation Restore Hope," a joint
task force comprised of approximately 5,000 army, naval, air force,
and mobile police personnel under the command of Army General Zamani,
in response to violence in the Niger Delta region (see Section 5).
Military personnel and youths have had repeated small-scale
skirmishes, with total estimated casualties on both sides reaching
1,000 for the year. Many human rights organizations have accused the
military and police of harassment, extortion, and excessive use of
force during Operation Restore Hope. In response to public pressure
or formal requests from state governments, the Federal Government
continued to deploy the army in troubled areas during the year. In
September, after 2 years, the Government withdrew military forces
from Plateau State. During the elections, the military was deployed,
along with paramilitary and police, to maintain order in population
centers throughout the country. There were reports that soldiers from
some units committed serious abuses while performing this policing
role, although the number of such incidents decreased from the
previous year. The Benue Commission established in 2002 to
investigate the October 2001 killing of approximately 200 civilians,
rape, extortion, and looting in Benue State by soldiers had not
published its report and findings by year's end.

No action was taken against security forces in the following 2002
cases: The January killing of 3 persons in Bayelsa State; the
February killing of 15 youths in Delta State; the March killing of up
to 25 persons in Katsina State; the April killing of Flight Sergeant
Augustine Ogbolu in Ondo State; the May killing of University of
Lagos students Gbenga Akinmogan and Shakirat Owolabi; the June
killing of Agene Akinrinde in Lagos; the June killing of Oluwatosin
Adelugba at a Lagos checkpoint; the August killing of John Osazuwa in
Edo State; and the October Joint Security Taskforce killing of 6
civilians during a communal clash in Plateau State.

No action was taken against security forces in the reported 2001
cases. On February 24, the Federal High Court ruled that Mohammed
Abacha, former President General Sani Abacha's son, could be arrested
and tried for the 1996 attempted murders of Abraham Adesanya, leader
of Afenifere, and Alex Ibru, publisher of the Guardian newspaper.
Abacha was confined to the city of Kano at year's end.

There were several killings by unknown persons that may have been
politically motivated. For example, on February 22, unknown persons
shot and killed Uche Ogbonnaya, an opposition All Nigerian Peoples
Party (ANPP) Senatorial candidate in Imo state, in his home in
Owerri. On March 5, unknown persons killed Marshall Harry, a National
Vice Chairman of the ANPP who formerly was a prominent member of the
ruling PDP. Shortly before his death, Harry alleged that Rivers State
Governor Peter Odili's men were intimidating political opponents and
called on police to protect his party members from these "political
thugs." Although some arrests were made in connection with the
killings, no one was formally charged. Harry's daughter, an
eyewitness to the killings, publicly stated that the persons arrested
were not the perpetrators. There were no known developments in the
following 2002 cases of politically motivated killings by unknown
assailants: the June killing of magistrate Maria Theresa Nsa in Cross
River State; the August killing of Victor Nwankwo in Enugu State; the
October killing of gubernatorial candidate Dele Arojo; and the
October killing of Professor Chimere Ikokwu in Enugu State. In
October 2002, 11 of 27 suspects were charged with the murder of
Justice Minister Bola Ige. The trial of 6 of the 11, including
Senator Iyiola Omisore, who was elected in Osun State while in
detention, started in March at an Ibadan high Court. The trial
started and stopped several times, and two judges resigned due to
pressure and threats. The remaining five persons charged were still
in detention pending the start of their trial at year's end.Killings
carried out by organized gangs of armed robbers remained common
during the year. In most southeastern states, state governments
supported vigilante groups, the most well-known of which was
the "Bakassi Boys," officially known as the Anambra State Vigilante
Service. Like most vigilante groups, the Bakassi Boys killed
suspected criminals rather than turn them over to police. The
influence of the Bakassi Boys diminished during the year.

Other organized vigilante groups in large cities, particularly Lagos
and Kano, continued to commit numerous killings of suspected
criminals. These vigilante groups engaged in lengthy and well-
organized attempts to apprehend criminals after the commission of the
alleged offenses. For example, on February 16, a vigilante group in
Kano along with police killed three suspected robbers in a shoot-out.

On October 30, the Akwa Ibom State Police Command officially
authorized the formation of vigilante groups by local communities for
the purpose of hunting down armed bandits.
No action was taken against members of vigilante groups who killed or
injured persons during the year or in previous years, although police
reportedly harassed members of such groups. Unlike in previous years,
there were no reports of "torture chambers" operated by the Bakassi
Boys. Reports of street mobs apprehending and killing suspected
criminals diminished during the year, and there were no developments
in cases from previous years. The practice of "necklacing" criminals
(placing a gasoline-soaked tire around a victim's neck or torso and
then igniting it, burning the victim to death) also declined.
Politically-related violence occurred throughout the country from
January through May. For example, on February 16, a clash between
ANPP and PDP supporters in Benue State left seven persons dead.

During the May 3 state elections in Delta State, eight persons were
killed at the polls: five in Burutu, two in Ozoro, and one in Oleh.

There were no developments in the following 2002 cases: the June
killing of 2 persons in Delta State during a local PDP caucus; the
July killing of 4 to 8 persons in primary-related violence in Bayelsa
State; the unconfirmed killing of 50 persons in Bayelsa State in
violence between two rival gangs; and the August killing of the Kwara
PDP chairman.

The trial for the September 2002 murder of Barnabas Igwe, Chairman of
the Anambra State branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, and his
wife did not begin by year's end.
Lethal interethnic, intraethnic, and interreligious violence occurred
at diminished levels from previous years (see Section 5). Sporadic
communal violence continued between Tivs, Jukuns, and other tribes in
Adamawa, Kogi, Edo, Delta, Nassarawa, and Plateau States during the
year, killing hundreds of persons.

During the year, rivalry and fighting between and among rival student
affinity groups, commonly known as cults, in higher institutions led
to the killing of persons and destruction of property. Cultism was on
the rise, especially in the South and Middle Belt States, and seemed
to coincide with the end of the 6-month national strike by university
educators that kept most universities closed during the school year.
For example, cultists killed a lecturer and four students at the
University of Ilorin in Kwara State during the first 2 weeks of May.

Between July 6 and July 8, eight students were killed at Ebonyi State
University, just 2 weeks after it reopened, forcing the school to
close indefinitely.There was no resolution in the 2002 cases
involving deaths in cult clashes.

b. Disappearance
There were reports of politically motivated disappearances during the

On May 24, government security operatives detained one of the imams
from the Kaduna Central Mosque for allegedly inciting violence in
advance of President Obasanjo's May 29 inauguration. His supporters
won a decision from the Kaduna High Court ordering the Government to
produce him in court. The Government did not respond to the order,
and the Imam remained at year's end missing, presumed to be in

On July 10, Mobile Police abducted Anambra State Governor Chris
Ngige, forced his resignation, and held him for 5 hours. Ngige, a
member of the ruling PDP, had allegedly pre-signed an undated
resignation letter and had given it to Chris Uba, his political
godfather. (A political godfather uses bribery and blackmail to help
another person to obtain political office in exchange for receiving
favors, usually contracts). Uba, with the aid of the Deputy Governor
Okey Udeh and others, attempted to forcibly remove Ngige from office.
On August 7, as prescribed by the 1999 Anambra State Constitution, a
seven-member panel was convened to investigate allegations of "gross
misconduct" by Udeh. On August 25, the Federal High Court ordered the
panel to halt proceedings based on a motion filed by Udeh. The panel
ignored the order and submitted its findings to the State House of
Assembly. On September 9, the State House of Assembly voted to
impeach Udeh. Udeh filed another suit with the Federal High Court
claiming that his impeachment was unconstitutional, questioning the
jurisdiction of the panel and State House of Assembly to move for his
impeachment. On September 16, the Anambra State High Court issued an
ex-parte order to terminate the previous Federal High Court order
ceasing impeachment proceedings. On September 20, the Federal
Government agreed to abide by the terms of the ex-parte order pending
a ruling from a superior court. Legal proceedings were pending at the
time of this report.

Members of ethnic groups in the oil-producing areas continued to
kidnap foreign and local employees and contractors of oil companies,
allegedly to press demands for increased redistribution of wealth
generated by joint ventures with the state-controlled petroleum
corporation. Most often the kidnappers simply demanded ransom likely
to be used for personal gain, or to finance armed aggression between
rival ethnic factions in the Niger Delta, particularly the Ijaw and
Itsekiri. In all instances, the victims were released unharmed after
negotiations between the captors and the oil firms or after the
intervention of security forces. In previous years, the firms usually
paid ransom and promised improved conditions; however, during the
year, the major oil producers have refused ransom demands.Some
kidnappings, particularly in the Delta, appear to have been part of
longstanding ethnic disputes over resources. Due to limited manpower
and resources, police and armed forces rarely were able to confront
the perpetrators of these acts, especially in the volatile Delta
region. For example, on January 14, unknown assailants kidnapped the
Edo State ANPP Chairman from his office in Benin City and held him
for 2 days.
On January 28, unknown assailants kidnapped the traditional ruler of
Aiyetoro Ota in Ogun State and held him for 3 weeks.

On July 31, armed Ijaw youths kidnapped and later released a local
Chevron worker outside of his home in Warri. Chevron reportedly
refused to accede to ransom for any kidnapped employee, local or
expatriate, at the request of the Government.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or

The Constitution prohibits such practices, and the law provides for
punishment of such abuses; however, during the year, police,
military, and security force officers regularly beat protesters,
criminal suspects, detainees, and convicted prisoners. Police
regularly physically mistreated civilians in attempts to extort money
from them. The law prohibits the introduction into trials of evidence
and confessions obtained through torture. In some cases, persons died
from torture in custody (see Section 1.a.).

Different formulations for criminal law of Islamic Shari'a were in
place in 12 northern states (see Section 2.c.). Shari'a courts
delivered "hudud" sentences such as amputation for theft, caning for
fornication and public drunkenness, and death by stoning for
adultery. No state prescribes hudud punishments for apostasy. Because
no applicable case has been appealed to the federal level, federal
appellate courts have yet to decide whether such punishments violate
the Constitution (see Section 1.e.). Caning is also a punishment
under common law in the Northern region Penal Code and has not been
challenged in the courts as a violation of the Constitution. In some
cases, convicted persons are allowed to choose to pay a fine or go to
jail in place of receiving strokes of the cane. These sentences were
usually carried out immediately, while all sentences involving
mutilation or death allow 30 days for appeal.

On October 1, a Shari'a court in Zamfara State sentenced Shafaiatu
Tukur to 30 cane strokes and a $60 (8,000 naira) fine for arson.
Tukur was given the option of a 5-year prison sentence instead. Her
decision had not been announced by year's end.Stoning and amputation
sentences have been overturned on procedural or evidentiary grounds,
but not on constitutional grounds. For example, on September 25, the
Katsina State Shari'a Court of Appeal overturned Amina Lawal's
conviction of adultery on the grounds that she had not been allowed
an appropriate defense by the lower court. No death sentences were
carried out during the year.

During the year, there were at least 44 cases in 5 states with
sentences of stoning or amputation pending appeal or sentence
implementation. No stoning or amputation sentences were carried out
during the year.There was no update in the 2002 charge that 20
Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra
(MASSOB) activists were detained unlawfully and tortured in Imo
State.During the year, security forces beat persons. For example, on
January 25, a suspected rapist briefly escaped custody in Ogun State.
Four policemen in a neighboring compound caught the suspect and beat
him severely. No investigation occurred by year's end.

On December 8, after an attempted impeachment of the Speaker of the
House, mobile policemen beat three state legislators in the Ekiti
State Assembly while clearing the chambers to maintain order.
No investigation occurred in the 2002 beating of five commercial
motorcycle operators in Lagos by police officers and soldiers, or in
the 2002 alleged beating of 800 women trespassing on the grounds of
the headquarters of Shell and Chevron-Texaco by security forces.
Security forces beat journalists during the year (see Section 2.a.).

On September 5, two policemen were arrested in Lagos for allegedly
raping prostitutes they had arrested. Although there were numerous
ethnic clashes during the year (see Section 5), the number of persons
who were beaten or injured severely was lower than in previous years.
The military was able to respond quickly, due largely to the fact
that military units were already deployed in some areas when violence
broke out. Police generally lacked the resources to control communal

Hamza Al Mustapha, Muhammed Rabo Lawal, Colonel Yakubu, Ishaya
Bamaiyi, and James Danbaba remained in detention under the secular
criminal system as suspects in the attempted murder of Ibru. The
trial slowly moved forward during the year, with five witnesses
testifying for the prosecution and bail formally being denied for the
suspects. Lateef Shofolahan, Mohammed Aminu, and Barnabas ("Rogers")
Msheilia were released from detention during the year. Prison and
detention conditions remained harsh and life threatening. Most
prisons were built 70 to 80 years ago and lacked functioning basic
facilities. Lack of potable water, inadequate sewage facilities, and
severe overcrowding resulted in unhealthy and dangerous sanitary
conditions. Some prisons held 200 to 300 percent more persons than
their designed capacity. The Government acknowledged overcrowding as
the main cause of the harsh conditions common in the prison system.
The Comptroller-General of Prisons stated on September 23 that 40,447
inmates were held in a system of 148 prisons and 83 satellite
prisons, and he redesignated prisoner capacity, declaring the new
capacity to be 44,556 prisoners. Some human rights groups estimated a
higher number of inmates, perhaps as many as 60,000. Excessive
pretrial detention contributed to the overcrowding (see Section
1.d.).Disease was pervasive in the cramped, poorly ventilated
facilities, and chronic shortages of medical supplies were reported.
Prison inmates were allowed outside their cells for recreation or
exercise only irregularly, and many inmates had to provide their own
food. Only those with money or whose relatives brought food regularly
had sufficient food; petty corruption among prison officials made it
difficult for money provided for food to reach prisoners. Poor
inmates often relied on handouts from others to survive. Beds or
mattresses were not provided to many inmates, forcing them to sleep
on concrete floors, often without a blanket. Prison officials,
police, and security forces often denied inmates food and medical
treatment as a form of punishment or to extort money from them. Harsh
conditions and denial of proper medical treatment contributed to the
deaths of numerous prisoners. According to the NGO Prisoners
Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), dead inmates promptly were
buried on the prison compounds, usually without notifying their
families. A nationwide estimate of the number of inmates who die in
the country's prisons was difficult to obtain because of poor record
keeping by prison officials. PRAWA and other NGOs alleged that prison
conditions were worse in rural areas than in urban districts.

In January, 56 inmates in Lagos were placed in intensive care in
Lagos prisons after a tuberculosis outbreak. There was no update on
their condition by year's end. In practice, women and juveniles were
held with male prisoners, especially in rural areas. The extent of
abuse in these conditions was unknown. In most cases, women accused
of minor offenses were released on bail; however, women accused of
serious offenses were detained. Although the law stipulates children
shall not be imprisoned, juvenile offenders were routinely
incarcerated along with adult criminals. There was no formalized
procedure regarding the separation of detainees and convicted
prisoners, and the method of confinement depended solely on the
capacity of the facility; as a result, detainees often were housed
with convicted prisoners. The Ministry of Justice worked to create a
judicial administration committee to address the questions of
overcrowding, prison conditions, and rehabilitation. The NHRC also
urged the Government and police not to detain persons in civil cases.

The Government allowed international and domestic NGOs, including
PRAWA and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),
regular access to prisons. PRAWA and the ICRC published newsletters
on their work. The Government admitted that there were problems with
its incarceration and rehabilitation programs and worked with groups
such as these to address those problems. Unlike in previous years, no
NGOs reported problems with access to prisons.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile The Constitution prohibits
arbitrary arrest and detention; however, security forces generally
did not observe these prohibitions. Police and security forces
continued to use arbitrary arrest and detention.

The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) is tasked with law enforcement, and
the Inspector-General officially reported directly to the President.
Each state unit was commanded by an Assistant Inspector General. The
Constitution prohibits local and state police forces. The NPF
continued its aggressive anti-crime campaign dubbed "Operation Fire
for Fire," which was responsible for human rights abuses and did not
noticeably decrease the incidents of violent crime nationwide (see
Section 1.a.). Corruption was rampant, usually taking the form of
bribes at highway checkpoints, and more than 250 police were arrested
during the year and another 300 dismissed from service for
corruption. In addition, more than 30 officers around the country
were arrested in connection with armed robbery.

Police and security forces were empowered to make arrests without
warrants based on a reasonable suspicion that a person had committed
an offense; they often abused this power. Under the law, police may
arrest and detain persons for 24 hours before charging them with an
offense. The law requires an arresting officer to inform the accused
of charges at the time of arrest and to take the accused to a police
station for processing within a reasonable amount of time. By law,
police must provide suspects with the opportunity to engage counsel
and post bail. However, police generally did not adhere to these
procedures. Suspects routinely were detained without being informed
of the charges, denied access to counsel and family members, and
denied the opportunity to post bail for bailable offenses. Detainees
often were kept incommunicado for long periods of time. The provision
for bail often was arbitrary or subject to extrajudicial influence.
In many parts of the country, there was no functioning system of
bail, so suspects were held in investigative detention for sustained
periods of time. Numerous suspects alleged that police demanded
payment before they were taken to court to have their cases heard. If
family members attended court proceedings, police often demanded an
additional payment.
There were several politically-motivated arrests during the year. For
example, in December 2002, police arrested Festus Keyamo, the leader
of Movement for the Actualization of the Future Republic of the Niger
Delta. Amnesty International reported that Keyamo was held
incommunicado; denied medical assistance, adequate food, and clothes;
and was likely detained for his political beliefs in seeking autonomy
for the Niger Delta region. On February 3, police released Keyamo.

On April 13, security agents arrested and detained James Bawa Magaji,
an ANPP senatorial candidate, for 7 days for "protesting and
reporting" the discovery of ballot boxes to the Kaduna Police
Command. Magaji and ANPP supporters discovered that ballot boxes were
kept in the warehouse of the state government instead of Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC).

On April 19, security agents arrested UNPP Gubernatorial Candidate in
Katsina State, Colonel Abdul Mummin Aminu, for electoral malpractices
after Aminu reported to the police that ballot boxes had been taken
to the home of the local government chairman instead of the INEC
counting center. When diplomatic and international election observers
arrived, the house containing the boxes was burned to the ground.
Aminu was released four weeks later.

Security forces detained journalists on a few occasions during the
year (see Section 2.a.).
On September 11, security agents arrested Ali Rugange, a politician
with the opposition ANPP, a photographer, and their driver for taking
pictures in an attempted survey of personal properties belonging to
the Vice President in Adamawa State. The two were not charged and
Rugange filed suit for unlawful detention. Police stated the arrest
was for "attempted mischief." A local court awarded Rugange $385
(50,000 naira) to be paid by the police for wrongful arrest.

During the year, police arrested labor leaders during strikes (see
Section 6.b.).

There were no updates in the following 2002 cases: the February suit
against the Anambra State Police Commissioner alleging illegal arrest
and detention filed by attorney Olusoga Omotayo; the June suit
against five police officers and a traditional ruler in Enugu filed
by Ibrahim Onuomada, a PDP youth leader; and the September raiding of
MASSOB's headquarters by mobile policemen with alleged arrests of
more than 1,000 members. Members of the Oodua People's Congress (OPC)
continued to be arrested and detained without trial. Although
relations with police were markedly improved and OPC operated freely,
they reported that 30 to 50 members were placed in custody during the
year. Others were charged as armed robbers and tried accordingly.

Persons who happened to be in the vicinity of a crime when it was
committed normally were held for interrogation for periods ranging
from a few hours to several months. After their release, those
detained frequently were asked to return repeatedly for further
questioning. For example, on February 13, 17 persons were detained
and on February 18, 14 more were detained in the investigation into
the Idumagbo explosion in Lagos, in which 33 persons died. The
persons detained were neighbors to the explosion site and employees
of neighboring companies, and detentions lasted from 2 days to
several weeks. Lengthy pretrial detention remained a serious problem.
Serious backlogs, endemic corruption, and undue political influence
continued to hamper the judicial system (see Section 1.e.). On
September 23, the Controller-General of prisons stated that 25,380,
approximately 63 percent, of prisoners were detainees awaiting trial
who had not been charged; other sources placed the number as high as
80 percent. Some had been waiting as long as 12 years, while many had
approached the maximum length of their sentences. Multiple
adjournments in some cases had led to serious delays. The NHRC urged
the courts, the Ministry of Justice, and police to expedite cases
awaiting trial. Police cited their inability to securely transport
detainees to trial on their trial dates as one reason why so many
were denied a trial. The NHRC reported that some detainees were held
because their case files had been lost. Some state governments
released inmates detained for significant periods of time without
trial, including 100 inmates in Edo State and 17 inmates in Akwa
Ibom, during the year.

There were no developments in the 2002 suit filed by hundreds of
inmates awaiting trial in Lagos challenging the constitutionality the
criminal procedure invoked by magistrates to remand them to prison
without standing trial. Most remained in detention at year's end.

Ismaila Gwarzo, national security advisor to former President Abacha,
remained restricted to his hometown in Kano State at year's end.

The Constitution prohibits the expulsion of citizens, and the
Government did not use forced exile. Many citizens who had lived
abroad due to fear of persecution under previous military regimes
continued to return to the country during the year.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the
judicial branch remained susceptible to executive and legislative
branch pressure. Decisions at the federal level were indicative of
greater independence. The judiciary was influenced by political
leaders particularly at the state and local levels. Understaffing,
underfunding, inefficiency, and corruption continued to prevent the
judiciary from functioning adequately. Citizens encountered long
delays and frequent requests from judicial officials for small bribes
to expedite cases.

The Ministry of Justice implemented strict requirements for level of
education and length of service for judges at the Federal and State
level. However, there were no requirements or monitoring body for
judges at the local level, and this led to significant corruption and
miscarriages of justice.

The recommendations of the 1993 Esho Panel, set up to investigate
corruption in the judiciary, called for the "withdrawal" of 47
judicial officials. No judges have been removed for irregularities
cited in the Panel's report; however, Justice Usman Kusherki was
removed on January 23 for his July 2002 aborting of the ANPP national
convention. During the PDP convention the 21 PDP governors threatened
to take their states' votes away from the president if he did not
make certain concessions. For nearly 24 hours it appeared that the
Vice President was thinking about breaking ranks and fighting against
the president for the nomination. In the middle of the night,
Obasanjo contacted this judge to get an order to stop the convention
so that he would not have to give in to the governors to get his
nomination. The judge refused and was dismissed within weeks,
purportedly due to his actions regarding the ANPP convention 7 months

The regular court system is composed of federal and state trial
courts, state appeals courts, the Federal Court of Appeal, and the
Federal Supreme Court. There are Shari'a (Islamic) and customary
(traditional) courts of appeal in states that use those bases for
civil or criminal law, including in the Federal Capital Territory
(Abuja). Courts of the first instance include magistrate or district
courts, customary or traditional courts, Shari'a courts, and for some
specified cases, the state high courts. The Constitution also
provides that the Government establish a Federal Shari'a Court of
Appeal and Final Court of Appeal; however, the Government had not yet
established such courts by year's end. The nature of the case usually
determined which court had jurisdiction. In principle, customary and
Shari'a courts had jurisdiction only if both plaintiff and defendant
agree; however, in practice, fear of legal costs, delays, distance to
alternative venues, and individual preference caused many litigants
to choose the customary and Shari'a courts over other venues. In some
states, cases involving only Muslims must be heard by a Shari'a
court. Other states with Shari'a law still permitted Muslims to
choose common law courts for criminal cases; however, societal
pressure forced most Muslims to use the Shari'a court system.
According to the Constitution, persons charged with offenses have the
right to an expeditious trial. Criminal justice procedures call for
trial within 3 months of arraignment for most categories of crimes;
however, there were considerable delays, often stretching to several
years, in bringing suspects to trial (see Section 1.d.). Most
detainees were poor and could not afford to pay the costs associated
with moving their trials forward, and as a result they remained in
prison. Wealthier defendants employed numerous delay tactics and in
many cases used financial inducements to persuade judges to grant
numerous continuances. Such practices clogged the court calendar and
prevented trials from starting.

Trials in the regular court system were public and generally
respected constitutionally protected individual rights in criminal
cases, including a presumption of innocence, and the right to be
present, to confront witnesses, to present evidence, and to be
represented by legal counsel. However, there was a widespread
perception that judges easily were bribed or "settled," and that
litigants could not rely on the courts to render impartial judgments.
Many courts were understaffed, and personnel were paid poorly. Judges
frequently failed to appear for trials, often because they were
pursuing other means of income. In addition, court officials often
lacked the proper equipment, training, and motivation to perform
their duties, again primarily due to inadequate compensation.
In both common law and Shari'a courts, indigent persons without legal
representation were more likely to have their sentences carried out
immediately upon being sentenced, although all accused persons have
the right to appeal. The Government instituted a panel of legal
scholars to draft a uniform Shari'a criminal statute to replace
divergent Shari'a statutes adopted by various northern states;
however, states continued to apply their individual codes.There were
no legal provisions barring women or other groups from testifying in
civil court or giving their testimony less weight; however, the
testimony of women and non-Muslims usually was accorded less weight
in Shari'a courts. In violation of mainstream Shari'a jurisprudence,
some Khadi judges subjected women to harsh sentences for fornication
or adultery based solely upon the fact of pregnancy, while men were
not convicted without eyewitnesses unless they confessed. There were
no developments in the 2002 Human Rights Violations Investigation
Panel (HRVIP) recommendations regarding the possible reversal of the
Auta Tribunal's conviction Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni-9 in 1995. There
were no reports of political prisoners.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home or

The Constitution prohibits such actions; however, authorities at
times continued to infringe on these rights.
Mobile police reportedly raided Movement for the Survival of the
Ogoni People (MOSOP) leader Ledum Mitee's residence, claiming they
were searching for hidden weapons. A search of the residence did not
yield any weapons. Mitee was not arrested.

Police and security forces continued the practice of placing
relatives and friends of wanted suspects in detention without
criminal charge to induce suspects to surrender to arrest. Human
rights groups called for police to end the practice. Purdah, the
practice of keeping girls and women in seclusion from men outside the
family, continued in parts of the country, which restricted the
freedom of movement of women.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press;
however, the Government at times limited these rights. Some
journalists practiced self-censorship. The Government owned and
controlled most of the electronic media and some publications;
however, there was also a large and vibrant private domestic press
that frequently was critical of the Government. There were two
national, government-owned daily newspapers in English, the New
Nigerian and the Daily Times. The New Nigerian published an
additional Hausa edition. Several states owned daily or weekly
newspapers that also are published in English. They tended to be
produced poorly, had limited circulation, and required large state
subsidies to continue operating. By year's end, there were more than
10 major daily newspapers, 5 weekly newsmagazines, and several
sensational evening newspapers and tabloid publications.

Because newspapers and television were relatively expensive and
literacy levels were low, radio remained the most important medium of
mass communication and information. There was a government-owned
national radio broadcaster, the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria,
which broadcast in English, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, and other languages;
51 state radio stations broadcast in English and local languages. The
NBC, the body responsible for the deregulation and monitoring of the
broadcast media did not license any new private radio stations during
the year. There were eight private radio stations operating during
the year.

The National Television Station, NTA, was federally owned, and 30
states also operated television stations. There were nine privately
owned television stations that broadcast domestic news and political
commentary. There were two private satellite television services. The
law requires that local television stations limit programming from
other countries to 40 percent and restricted the foreign content of
satellite broadcasting to 20 percent; however, the Government did not
restrict access to, or reception of, international cable or satellite

International broadcasting, principally Voice of America and British
Broadcasting Corporation, as well as Deutsche Welle and others,
broadcast in English and Hausa and were an important source of news
in the country. During the year, two international broadcasting
organizations reported that their accreditation renewals initially
were denied but they later were allowed to reapply.

During the year, there were cases of threats against and attacks on
the press. On August 22, police arrested The Source reporter, Lawson
Heyford, after he reported on communal clashes in Rivers state.
Police detained Heyford for 4 days and was reportedly interrogated
about his naming alleged responsible parties.

On August 30, police severely beat Daily Independent newspaper
photographer, Akintunde Akinleye, on live television during the
celebration of the Lagos traditional ruler's coronation. He regained
consciousness and was released from the hospital one week later. Vice
President Abubakar Atiku publicly apologized for the assault and paid
compensation. In 2002, Zamfara State Government rescinded the fatwa
death sentence issued by the Deputy Governor on Isioma Daniels, one
of the journalists responsible for an article about the Miss World
Pageant that sparked violence in Kaduna (see Section 2.c.). Several
small Islamic groups announced forgiveness of the journalist during
the year.

There were no further known developments in the following 2002 cases:
the February beating of a journalist by 10 policemen in Lagos or the
arrest warrant for the Daily Times' managing director and editor for
publishing negative stories about the Kogi State Governor.

There were no further known developments in the reported 2001
cases.Editors reported that government security officers sometimes
visited or called to demand information about a story or source;
however, journalists and editors no longer feared suspension or
imprisonment for their editorial decisions. Local NGOs suggested that
newspaper editors and owners underreported actual human rights abuses
and killings due in part to self-censorship. State broadcasters and
journalists remained important tools for governors; these officials
used the state-owned media to showcase the state's accomplishments
and to promote their own political goals.

On February 4, Senator Jonathan Zwingina announced that the Senate
had repealed Decree 60 creating the Press Council, which was charged
with the enforcement of professional ethics and the sanctioning of
journalists who violated these ethics. However, on July 14, the House
of Representatives announced new rules for journalists covering the
National Assembly that requires all material to be cleared before
On June 30, security operatives bought hundreds of copies of TELL
magazine in Abeokuta, Ogun State, in an attempt to limit the
circulation of the magazine, which carried an article alleging
corruption by the President and Vice President.

On November 24, three editors from the weekly news magazine the
Insider were arrested and charged on November 26 with sedition and
criminal defamation in relation to an article published in the
magazine alleging the involvement of government officials in
questionable oil deals. The three were released on bail and the case
adjourned until 2004.

On December 28, the Deputy Governor of Kano State sued the Sun
newspaper for libel. The paper alleged the deputy governor's
involvement in a bribery scandal. Many journalists cited the libel
laws as the main reason they practiced self-censorship. While private
television and radio broadcasters remained economically viable on
some advertising revenues and business interests of the owners',
despite the restrictions that the Government imposed on them,
government-sponsored broadcasting companies complained that
government funding and advertising were inadequate for their
needs.Foreign journalists who sought to enter the country to cover
political developments generally have been able to obtain visas;
however, they sometimes experienced multiple month-long delays, were
issued only single entry visas, and forced to pay bribes to expedite
visa processing. In March, the SSS briefly detained and harassed New
York Times reporter Somini Sengupta and her two photographers in
connection with reporting on clashes between Ijaw youths and the
military near in Delta State.

There were no developments in the 2002 government announcement that
Time (International) magazine reporter Stephen Faris was subject to
arrest for publishing a "false" report, which President Obasanjo's
investigative panel concluded was intended to damage the nation's
international image.

The Government did not restrict Internet access, although unreliable
and costly telephone service limited access and hindered service
providers. Government-owned NITEL operated an Internet Source
Provider (ISP) that competed with dozens of privately owned ISPs. The
Government continued to restrict academic freedom by controlling
curriculum at all levels including mandating religious instruction,
and the quality of secondary education remained poor. Student groups
alleged that numerous strikes, inadequate facilities, and the rise of
cultism (or gangs) on campuses, particularly in the South, continued
to hamper educational progress (see

Section 1.a.). On several occasions during the year, police forces
harassed and arrested students during protests (see Section 2.b.).

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Constitution
provides for freedom of assembly, and the Government generally
respected this right, although some limits remained. In areas that
experienced communal violence, police and security forces permitted
public meetings and demonstrations on a case-by-case basis.

The Government continued to nominally require organizers of outdoor
public functions to apply for permits, although both government
authorities and those assembling often ignored this requirement.

The Government retained legal provisions banning gatherings whose
political, ethnic, or religious content might lead to unrest. Open-
air religious services away from places of worship remained
prohibited in many states due to fears that they might heighten inter-
religious tensions. The Ondo State ban on open-air religious events
remained in effect during the year, and the Kaduna State government
ban on processions, rallies, demonstrations, and meetings in public
places still was being enforced on a case-by-case basis. A security
forces committee ban on all political, cultural, and religious
meetings in Plateau State continued to be implemented on an ad hoc

The Government denied the opposition ANPP permits to hold rallies for
their presidential candidate on multiple occasions. In some cases,
the Government allowed the rally within a few days of the originally
requested date. On September 23, Governor Shekarau of Kano State
authorized an ANPP rally in contravention of a denial from the
Inspector General of Police. During the rally, police tear-gassed
ANPP supporters.
During the year, police killed 6 persons in Abuja, at least 10
persons in Lagos, and 6 students in Port Harcourt when dispersing
otherwise peaceful protests.

On December 3, six members of the United Action for Democracy were
arrested and beaten in Lagos when they attempted to hold a rally to
protest the government's hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting. The activists filed suit on December 29 to
protest both the detention and the beating.
Unlike in the previous year, police did not disrupt meetings of the
OPC and allowed the organization to operate freely.

Police reportedly harassed members of MASSOB, MOSOP, and other
groups. On March 29, anti-riot police killed seven MASSOB members in
Imo state after reportedly disrupting a MASSOB meeting.

No action was taken against security forces who killed or injured
persons while forcibly dispersing protests in 2002 or 2001, including
the March 2002 raid on a weekly religious crusade in which the Enugu
State Governor was implicated.

The Constitution provides for the right to associate freely with
other persons in political parties, trade unions, or special interest
associations, and the Government generally respected this right in
practice. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that
INEC used a stringent interpretation of constitutional requirements
to block political parties from registering. The Constitution allows
the free formation of political parties, and the number of parties
registered with INEC increased to 31 in 2002.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and while the
Federal Government generally respected religious freedom, there were
some instances in which limits were placed on religious activity to
address security and public safety concerns. Some state governments
restricted these rights in practice in certain respects.

The Constitution prohibits state and local governments from adopting
an official religion; however, some Christians alleged that Islam had
been adopted as the de facto state religion of several northern
states that have reintroduced criminal law aspects of Shari'a and
continued to use state resources to fund the construction of mosques,
the teaching of Kadis (Muslim judges), and pilgrimages to Mecca
(Hajj). However, government funds also were used by some states to
pay for Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem. In general, states with a
Christian or Muslim majority favored the majority faith. Both the
federal and state governments were involved in religious matters,
including the regulation of mandatory religious instruction in public
schools, subsidized construction of churches and mosques, state-
sponsored participation in the Hajj, and pilgrimages to Jerusalem.
Muslims in some predominately Christian states complained about
religious discrimination. Approximately half of the population is
Muslim, approximately 40 percent Christian, and roughly 10 percent
practiced traditional indigenous religions or no religion. The
Constitution provides that states may elect to use Islamic (Shari'a)
customary law and courts, and some states interpreted this language
as granting them the right to expand the jurisdiction of their
existing Shari'a courts to include criminal matters (see Section
1.e.). By year's end, 12 northern states had adopted variations of
Shari'a-based criminal law--Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kano,
Katsina, Kaduna, Jigawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Borno, and Gombe. Adherence to
Shari'a provisions was compulsory for Muslims in some states and
optional in others and enforcement varied by locale. Adherence to
Shari'a provisions was not compulsory for Christians in any of the 12

Christian and Islamic groups planning to build new churches or
mosques are required to register with the Corporate Affairs
Commission (CAC). The CAC did not deny registration to any religious
group during the year; however, some religious groups experienced
delays in obtaining permission from local zoning boards to build
houses of worship. Many nascent churches and Islamic congregations
ignored the registration requirement, and a small number had their
places of worship shut down because of enforcement of zoning laws.
Some persons claimed that enforcement of these laws was selective.
Christians in the predominantly Muslim northern states continued to
allege that local government officials used zoning regulations to
stop or slow the establishment of new churches. Officials responded
that many of these new churches were being formed in residential
neighborhoods not zoned for religious purposes. State officials said
the certification boards were dealing with a large backlog of cases
for all persons, regardless of religious faith. Muslims continued to
complain that they were denied permission to build mosques in
predominantly Christian southern states. The Government does not
prohibit or discourage conversion from or to a particular religion,
and unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that persons
were arrested for conversion. There was no further action in the 2002
case of two men brought to trial in Zamfara State for converting from
Islam to Christianity by year's end. The law prohibits religious
discrimination; however, reports were common that state and local
government officials discriminated against persons practicing a
religion different from their own, notably in hiring or awarding
contracts, and private businesses frequently were guilty of informal
religious and ethnic discrimination in their hiring practices and
purchasing patterns. As religious differences often correspond with
ethnic differences, discrimination at the local level is often a
mixture of religious and ethnic biases. There was no update in the
2002 case of 21 nurses fired for not wearing "Shari'a compliant
dresses" in Bauchi State.

On February 19, members of a Muslim youth organization disrupted
three secondary schools in Ibadan, protesting that girls were not
wearing appropriate head coverings; several persons were injured. A
similar invasion occurred the following week, and 51 persons were
arrested and 39 arraigned on charges of public disturbance. All were
released on bail, and no trial date had been set by year's end.

Several northern state governments continued to ban public
proselytizing during the year to avoid ethno-religious violence,
although it is permitted by the Constitution. The Katsina and Plateau
State governments maintained a ban on public proselytizing for
security reasons during the year; however, some groups were allowed
to carry out activities despite these formal bans, which generally
were enforced on a case-by-case basis. Both Christian and Muslim
organizations alleged that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the
Immigration Department restricted the entry into the country of
certain religious practitioners, particularly persons suspected of
intending to proselytize. According to the Constitution, students
were not required to receive instruction relating to a religion other
than their own; however, public school students in many parts of the
country were subjected to mandatory Islamic or Christian religious
instruction. State authorities claimed that students were permitted
to decline to attend these classes or to request a teacher of their
own religion to provide alternative instruction. However, there were
no teachers of "Christian Religious Knowledge" in many northern
schools, and there were reports that in Enugu and Edo States Muslim
students could not access "Islamic Religious Knowledge" in the public
schools. Although distribution of religious publications generally
remained unrestricted, the Government periodically continued to
enforce a ban on published religious advertisements. There were
reports by Christians in Zamfara State that the state government
restricted the distribution of Christian religious literature.
Although expanded Shari'a laws technically do not apply to non-
Muslims, some non-Muslims, especially in Zamfara State, have been
affected by certain social provisions of the laws, such as the
separation of the sexes on public transportation. There also were
reports that girls in government schools in Kano State were forced to
wear the hijab.

A number of states sanctioned private vigilante Shari'a enforcement
groups known as Hisbah. Zamfara State vested the local vigilante
group with full powers of arrest and prosecution because the state
believed police were not enforcing the Shari'a laws. Jigawa State
also mobilized a statewide Shari'a enforcement committee to arrest,
detain, and prosecute Muslim offenders. Informal Shari'a enforcement
groups may have been used for some law enforcement functions in other
northern states as well. There were no further developments in the
investigations into the violence in Kaduna regarding the Miss World
Pageant in 2002.

Religious differences often corresponded to regional and ethnic
differences. For example, the northern region was predominately
Muslim. Many southern ethnic groups were predominantly Christian,
although the Yoruba were approximately 50 percent Muslim. Both
Muslims and Christians were found in large numbers in the Middle
Belt. In many areas of the Middle Belt, Muslim Fulani tended to be
herders, while the Muslim Hausa and most Christian ethnic groups
tended more toward farming or urban living. It often was difficult to
distinguish religious discrimination and tension from ethnic,
regional, economic, and land use competition. Often religious
tensions underscored what were predominantly ethnic and economic
confrontations during the year (see Section 5). The Middle Belt
experienced recurring ethno-religious violence during the year but
overall violence decreased markedly from 2001 levels.

Ethno-religious conflict continued in many parts of Plateau during
the year. Repeated outbreaks of violence caused dozens of deaths and
resulted in the destruction of places of worship, shops, and homes.
Existing tensions between Christians and Muslims caused minor
incidents, such as a traffic accident, to escalate into communal
violence. For example, on June 9, in Numan, Adamawa State, a non-
local Muslim water hawker stabbed and killed a Christian woman in a
disagreement over the price of water. The woman had refused to pay
and the seller stabbed her in view of her family. The woman's family
retaliated and over the next 2 days, eight persons were killed, one
mosque and four churches were burned, numerous houses were destroyed,
and hundreds of persons fled the town.
In September, at Ahmadu Bello University in Kaduna State, a female
Christian student was accused of blasphemy, which led to non-lethal
clashes between Muslim and Christian students.

There were no developments in the 2002 or 2001 incidents of
interreligious violence.

For a more detailed discussion, see the 2003 International Religious
Freedom Report.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel,
Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government
generally respected them; however, police occasionally restricted
freedom of movement by enforcing curfews in areas with ethno-
religious violence.

In the months leading up to and during the elections, police in the
Federal Capital Territory limited the number of Muslims entering
Abuja to attend Friday Juma'at prayers at the National mosque because
of the Government feared the gathering would become a spontaneous
rally or riot in favor of opposition presidential candidate Buhari.

Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Warri North, Warri South, and Warri
Southwest experienced numerous curfews in response to inter-ethnic
conflict during the year. Mobile police and military personnel manned
checkpoints and restricted movement for 12 hours during the day,
which reportedly calmed Warri town. Roadblocks and checkpoints
routinely were used by law enforcement agencies to search for
criminals and to prevent persons traveling from areas of conflict to
other parts of the country where their presence might instigate
retaliatory violence. There were no reports that government officials
restricted mass movements of individuals fleeing ethnic unrest.
Security and law enforcement officials continued to use excessive
force at checkpoints and roadblocks and engage in extortion and
violence (see Section 1.a.).

The law provides that women are required to obtain permission from a
male family member before having an application for a passport
processed; however, this provision was not enforced strictly. Some
men take their wives' and children's passports and other
identification documents with them while traveling abroad to prevent
their family from leaving the country. There were confirmed reports
that persons were questioned upon entry or exit to the country at
Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos. These persons, some
of whom are community or political activists or had been opponents of
the Abacha regime, remained in immigration computer systems as
individuals to be questioned by immigration or security officers.
During the year, CDHR reported that Dr. Tajudeen Abdul Raheem,
Chairperson of the International Government Council of the Centre for
Democracy and Development (CDD), received his passport and an apology
from police officials after being detained in 2002 trying to leave
Murtala Mohammed Airport.

During periods of ethno-religious violence, numerous persons were
displaced from their places of residence (see Section 5). The Red
Cross estimated in April that more than 57,000 citizens were
displaced due to different ethno-religious clashes, including 11,000
from a clash between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Adamawa State in
March. The local Red Cross also accused the Government of not
providing sufficient aid to those displaced in the fighting.

In March, August, and September, tens of thousands of persons were
displaced in the Niger Delta region in Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers
States due to continued ethnic and communal conflict.

No arrests were made after unknown gunmen assaulted displaced Tivs
attempting to return to Taraba State in 2002. Unlike in the previous
year, there were no reports that non-Tiv residents attached Tivs
trying to return to their homes in Benue. Officials in Benue
estimated that as many as 6,000 Tiv IDPs were unable to return to
their homes in other states. Other observers estimated that fewer
than 1,000 persons remained.

The Lagos office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
estimated that 12,000 refugees, mostly ethnic Fulani herders, were in
Cameroon at year's end. The refugees had fled eastern Benue and
Taraba States following ethno-religious clashes between the Tiv and
Jukun peoples in 2002. Approximately 5,000 Fulani returned during the
year. No new Ogoni refugees arrived in Benin during the year, which
has a population of approximately 235 Ogoni refugees. The UNHCR
stated that there was "violence, insecurity, and a discrepancy in
sharing resources, but it is not directed at the Ogoni", and it is
safe for the Ogoni to return.

The law provides for the granting of asylum and refugee status to
persons who meet the definition in the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating
to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. In practice, the
Government provided protection against refoulement and granted
refugee status or asylum. The Government cooperated with the UNHCR
and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees through
the NCR, its Federal Commissioner, and the National Emergency
Management Agency (NEMA). The Eligibility Committee (on which the
UNHCR had observer status), which governed the granting of refugee
status, asylum, and resettlement, and reviewed refugee and
resettlement applications met in November. The Committee granted
1,983 asylum seekers refugee status; 16 cases were rejected, with
1,124 cases pending at year's end.

There were an estimated 9,000 recognized refugees living in the
country. At year's end, 400 refugees were repatriated from the
country to Sierra Leone. Remaining refugees included others from
Sierra Leone, Liberia, Chad, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of
the Congo. The NCR reported that it provided education and health
service programs to the refugees. The NCR reportedly also set up
micro-credit programs for refugees in the areas of trading, poultry
and fish farming, and cassava processing.

The U.N. Commissioner for Refugees in the country announced on June
24 that a refugee camp in Lagos State was holding 2,700 refugees from
5 countries in facilities designed to hold 1,200. One problem
resulting from the cramped conditions was an impending population
explosion as large numbers of teenage girls were pregnant.

The Government provided temporary protection during the year. In
June, the Government agreed to resettle 5,000 Liberian refugees from
the Nicla refugee camp in Cote d'Ivoire. Due to deteriorating
conditions and voluntary departures at the Nicla camp, 3,000 Liberian
refugees were resettled to Ogun state at year's end.

To restore stability to Liberia, the Government provided asylum for
Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, during the year.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to
Change Their Government

The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their
government peacefully through periodic free and fair elections held
on the basis of universal suffrage; however, citizens' right to
change their government was abridged during National Assembly
elections held on April 12 and presidential and gubernatorial
elections held on April 19. State assembly elections were held on May
3. Local elections were due to be held in 2002 but were postponed
indefinitely again in June.

Voter registration was carried out in 2002, and there were charges
that millions of eligible voters were unable to register due to an
apparent shortage of registration materials. In addition, there were
allegations of improper hoarding of registration materials by
politicians. A final voters list, required by law for the elections,
was not published. In January police arrested three men allegedly
planning to print 5 million fake voter registration cards prior to
the presidential and parliamentary elections.

Voters turned out for the legislative elections in much larger
numbers than in 1999; however, widespread fraud marred the elections.
The turnout was significantly less (under 50 percent) for the
presidential and gubernatorial elections, which were also marred by
widespread fraud. A total of 31 parties participated in the April 12
National Assembly elections, and 19 parties had presidential
candidates in the April 19 presidential election. The European Union
observer mission categorized the presidential elections as extremely
poor, stating that in the worst six states, elections effectively
were not held, and in the rest of the country the elections were
seriously marred. All major independent observer groups,
international and domestic, had negative statements about the
fairness of elections and cited problems throughout the country.
Types of reported fraud included ballot stuffing, intentional
miscounting, underage voting, multiple voting, intimidation, and
violence, including political killings (see Section 1.a.). There were
numerous attempts to kill members of political parties during the
election year. There also were several cases of politically-motivated
arrests (see Section 1.d.). All parties participated in the
misconduct; observers cited violations by the ruling PDP
significantly more than others. Some election tribunal cases to
adjudicate disputed elections were still ongoing at year's end;
however, more than 90 percent of the cases that had been decided were
simply dismissed on technicalities.

The President, Vice President, and other national and state officials
serve 4-year terms, with limits of two elected terms per office. The
next state and national elections are scheduled for 2007.
Actions by the Government's INEC during the election year raised
serious rule of law questions. In Federal Court of Appeals hearings
on an election tribunal case brought by a losing presidential
candidate, INEC argued that it could not provide the court with
official documents--such as the National Register of Voters,
candidate lists for the election and the vote tally sheets--which the
court had subpoenaed. Some of those documents are required by law to
be compiled before a general election and not providing those and the
others to the court even months after the election also made it
appear INEC was ignoring the subpoena.

The Constitution outlaws the seizure of the Government by force and
contains provisions for the removal of the President, Vice President,
ministers, legislators, and state government officials for gross
misconduct or medical reasons. Several public officials were
scrutinized closely by the press and public and legislative
investigators. In August 2002, the House of Representatives
introduced a "resign or be impeached ultimatum" to President
Obasanjo, but the effort eventually failed. Most of the opposition to
the President came from legislators within his own party. In August
and September, there was discussion of impeachment of the House
Speaker, Bello Masari. In addition to the impeachment threat, public
criticism of the President has been frequent and, at times, harsh.
The President did not resort to force or intimidation to stifle the
impeachment threat or the public criticism against him; however, more
than half of the incumbent legislators of the President's party were
not renominated for election.

On July 10, Mobile Police detained Anambra State Governor Chris
Ngige, forced his resignation, and held him for 5 hours. Ngige, a
member of the ruling PDP, allegedly gave Chris Uba, his political
godfather, a pre-signed an undated resignation letter. Uba, with the
aid of the Deputy Governor Okey Udeh and others, attempted to
forcibly remove Ngige from office. On August 7, a seven-member panel
convened to investigate allegations of "gross misconduct" by Udeh
under the state Constitution. On August 25, the Federal High Court
ordered the panel to halt proceedings based on a motion filed by
Udeh. The panel ignored the order and submitted its findings to the
State House of Assembly. On September 9, the State House of Assembly
voted to impeach Udeh. Udeh filed another suit with the Federal High
Court claiming that his impeachment was unconstitutional. On
September 16, the Anambra State High Court terminated the previous
Federal High Court order ceasing impeachment proceedings. On
September 20, the Federal Government agreed to abide by the terms of
the order pending a ruling from a superior court. Legal proceedings
were pending at year's end.

The political system remained in transition. The three branches of
the Government acted somewhat independently. The Senate and the House
of Representatives acted on budget review and oversight, an election
reform initiative, and resource allocation; however, legislative and
executive ineffectiveness and inability to compromise resulted in
little substantive legislation. There were continued calls for a
national conference to reexamine the constitutional and political
structure of the country.

In 2001, the President signed an electoral law that extended the
tenures of local governments by rescheduling local elections in 2003.
State governors and state assemblies contested the provision as an
infringement on the states' constitutional power to control local

In 2002, the judiciary issued several important constitutional
decisions that define federalism based on the rule of law, including
that the National Assembly lacked the authority to extend the tenure
of local governments and the decision that delimited the distribution
of oil revenues.

There are no legal impediments to political participation or voting
by women. Men continued to dominate the political arena, and NGOs
continued to protest the limited representation of women in the
political process. Although there were more than 500 ministerial and
National Assembly positions, there were only 3 female ministers, 3
female senators, and 12 female representatives. The PDP waived the
party filing fees for women seeking PDP nominations for various
political offices to encourage more female candidates.

There are no legal impediments to participation in government by
members of any ethnic group. The Constitution mandates that the
composition of the federal, state, and local governments and their
agencies, as well as the conduct of their affairs, reflect the
diverse character of the country to promote national unity and
loyalty. This provision was designed as a safeguard against
domination of the Government by persons from a few states or ethnic
and sectional groups. The Government was an example of this
diversity: President Obasanjo is a Yoruba from the southwest, the
Vice President is a northerner, and the Senate President is an Igbo.
The Government also attempted to balance other key positions among
the different regions and ethnic groups. The Senate used its
oversight role to reject many of President Obasanjo's ambassadorial
appointments and insisted on three nominees from each state for each
appointment. The political parties also engaged in "zoning," the
practice of rotating positions within the party among the different
regions and ethnic groups to ensure that each region was given
adequate representation. Despite this effort, there were more than
250 ethnic groups, and it was difficult to ensure representation of
every group in the Government (see Section 5). Many groups complained
of insufficient representation. Middle Belt and Christian officers
dominated the military hierarchy. Some persons in the North believe
that the northern Hausa were underrepresented in the military.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally
operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing
their findings on human rights cases. Government officials generally
were cooperative and responsive to their views. Criticism of the
Government's past human rights' record was abundant in various media;
however, during the year the Center for Law Enforcement Education
(CLEEN) sued the Government in Federal Court over the seizure of more
than 2,000 copies of the report "Hope Betrayed? A Report on Impunity
and State-Sponsored Violence in Nigeria" in 2002, which the court
recognized as a potential human rights violation. At year's end, the
court had not heard the case.

Human rights activists continued to complain that President Obasanjo
and members of his Government did not meet with them as frequently as
they did during the early years of his administration.

The Catholic Secretariat continued to hold a monthly open forum in
Lagos on various subjects relating to past and present human rights
issues. Discussion panels included a number of NGOs, media, and
religious leaders. Each session ended with recommendations to the
Government on how best to resolve these issues. The Government had
not responded to any of these recommendations by year's end.

The NCR's report from it's 2002 fact-finding mission to assess Ogoni
living conditions in Ogoniland was pending at year's end.

The ICRC was active, with offices in Abuja and Lagos under the
direction of a regional delegate. Its primary human rights activities
during the year involved the training of prison officials on human
rights, sanitation, and prisoner health (see Section 1.c.).

The Commission of Inquiry into Communal Clashes in Benue, Nassarawa,
Plateau, and Taraba States completed its investigation, but its
report was not made public by year's end. A number of groups
continued to call for a full investigation into the 2001 killings of
civilians in Benue by soldiers.

The NHRC, which was tasked with monitoring and protecting human
rights in the country, enjoyed greater recognition by and
coordination with NGOs, and worked to establish its credibility as an
independent monitoring body. The NHRC was chaired by retired Justice
Uche Omo, included 15 other members, and had zonal affiliates in each
of the country's six political regions. Since its inception, the NHRC
has been denied adequate funding to do its job properly. The NHRC
created a strategic work plan for the year and inaugurated steering
and coordinating committees for the national action plan to be
deposited with the UNCHR in December 2002.

During the U.N. Commission for Human Rights (UNCHR) in March and
April, the NHRC was selected to become a member of International
Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC).

The HRVIC, commonly known as the Oputa panel, was a one-time
commission to investigate human rights abuses from 1966 to 1999,
presented its findings to the President in 2002 and recommended
compensation for victims of the worst human rights abuses; no one was
compensated by year's end.

In 2002, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Professor
Jerry Gana, reported that the Government would wait for all pending
lawsuits, including one filed in 2002 by former Head of State Ibrahim
Babangida that sought to ban the implementation of the panels'
findings, to be decided before determining whether to publish the
panel's recommendations.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Disability,
Language, or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on community, place
of origin, ethnic group, sex, religion, or political opinion.
However, customary and religious discrimination against women
persisted, social discrimination on the basis of both religion and
ethnicity remained widespread, and ethnic and regional tensions
continued to contribute to serious violence both between citizens and
the security forces and between groups of citizens.

Domestic violence was a problem. Reports of spousal abuse were
common, especially those of wife beating. Police normally did not
intervene in domestic disputes, which seldom were discussed publicly.
The Penal Code permits husbands to use physical means to chastise
their wives as long as it does not result in "grievous harm," which
is defined as loss of sight, hearing, power of speech, facial
disfigurement, or other life threatening injuries. A women's rights
group estimated that spousal abuse occurred in 20 percent of adult
relationships. In more traditional areas of the country, courts and
police were reluctant to intervene to protect women who accused their
husbands formally if the level of alleged abuse did not exceed
customary norms in the areas. Rape and sexual harassment continued to
be problems.

Studies conducted by the U.N. development systems and the World
Health Organization estimated the FGM rate at approximately 60
percent among the nation's female population. While practiced in all
parts of the country, FGM was more predominant in the southern and
eastern zones, and local experts estimated the prevalence may be as
high as 100 percent in some ethnic enclaves in the south. Women from
northern states were less likely to undergo FGM; however, those
affected were more likely to undergo the severe type of FGM known as
infibulation. The age at which women and girls were subjected to the
practice varied from the first week of life until after a woman
delivers her first child. Women's Center for Peace and Development
(WOPED) believed that the practice was perpetuated because of a
cultural belief that uncircumcised women were promiscuous, unclean,
unsuitable for marriage, physically undesirable, and were potential
health risks to themselves and their children, especially during

The Federal Government publicly opposed FGM; however, it took no
legal action to curb the practice. There were no federal laws banning
FGM. Because of the considerable problems that anti-FGM groups faced
at the federal level, most refocused their energies to combat FGM at
the state and local government area (LGA) level. Bayelsa, Edo, Ogun,
Cross River, Osun, and Rivers States have banned FGM. However, once a
state legislature criminalized FGM, NGOs found that they had to
convince the LGA authorities that state laws were applicable in their
districts. The Ministry of Health, women's groups, and many NGOs
sponsored public awareness projects to educate communities about the
health hazards of FGM. They worked to eradicate the practice;
however, they had limited contact with health care workers on the
medical effects of FGM.

Prostitution was a serious social problem, particularly in urban
areas. A number of states enforced existing laws or introduced laws
to combat prostitution. All states that have adopted Shari'a have
criminalized prostitution, and this ban was enforced with varying
degrees of success. Prostitution was not illegal in Lagos State;
however, authorities used statutes that outlaw pandering as a
justification to arrest prostitutes.

There was an active market for trafficking in women (see Section

In some parts of the country, women continued to be harassed for
social and religious reasons. Purdah continued in parts of the far
north (see Section 1.f.).

Women also experienced considerable discrimination. There are no laws
barring women from particular fields of employment; however, women
often experienced discrimination because the Government tolerated
customary and religious practices that adversely affected them. The
Nigerian NGOs Coalition expressed concern about continued
discrimination against women in the private sector, particularly in
access to employment, promotion to higher professional positions, and
in salary inequality. There were credible reports that several
businesses operated with a "get pregnant, get fired" policy. Women
remained underrepresented in the formal sector but played an active
and vital role in the country's informal economy. While the number of
women employed in the business sector increased every year, women did
not receive equal pay for equal work and often found it extremely
difficult to acquire commercial credit or to obtain tax deductions or
rebates as heads of households. Unmarried women in particular endured
many forms of discrimination.

While some women made considerable individual progress both in the
academic and business world, women remained underprivileged. Although
women were not barred legally from owning land, under some customary
land tenure systems only men could own land, and women could gain
access to land only through marriage or family. In addition, many
customary practices did not recognize a woman's right to inherit her
husband's property, and many widows were rendered destitute when
their in-laws took virtually all of the deceased husband's property.
Widows were subjected to unfavorable conditions as a result of
discriminatory traditional customs and economic
deprivation. "Confinement" was the most common rite of deprivation to
which widows were subjected, and it occurred predominately in the
East. Confined widows were under restrictions for as long as 1 year
and usually were required to shave their heads and dress in black. In
other areas, a widow was considered a part of her husband's property,
to be "inherited" by his family. Shari'a personal law protects
widows' property rights. An NGO reported that several any women have
succeeded in protecting their right in Shari'a courts. Polygyny
continued to be practiced widely among many ethnic and religious
groups. Women were required by law to obtain permission from a male
family member to get a passport (see Section 2.d.).

Women were affected to varying degrees by the adoption of various
forms of Shari'a law in 12 northern states. In Zamfara State, local
governments instituted laws requiring the separation of Muslim men
and women in transportation and health care. In practice, the
testimony of women was not given the same weight as that of men in
many criminal courts (see Section 1.e.).


While the Government increased spending on children's health in
previous years, it seldom enforced even the inadequate laws designed
to protect the rights of children. Public schools continued to be
inadequate, and limited facilities precluded access to education for
many children. The Constitution calls for the Government, "when
practical," to provide free, compulsory, and universal primary
education; however, compulsory primary education rarely was provided.
In many parts of the country, girls were discriminated against in
access to education for social and economic reasons. When economic
hardship restricted many families' ability to send girls to school,
many girls were directed into activities such as domestic work,
trading, and street vending. The literacy rate for men was 72 percent
but only 56 percent for women. Rural girls were even more
disadvantaged than their urban counterparts--only 42 percent of rural
girls were enrolled in school compared with 72 percent of urban
girls. Many families favored boys over girls in deciding which
children to enroll in secondary and elementary schools.

While most schools in the north traditionally have separated children
by gender, it was required by law in Zamfara, Sokoto, and Kebbi State
schools (see Section 2.c.).

Cases of child abuse, abandoned infants, child prostitution, and
physically harmful child labor practices remained common throughout
the country (see Sections 6.d. and 6.f.). The Government criticized
child abuse and neglect but did not undertake any significant
measures to stop customary practices harmful to children, such as the
sale of young girls into marriage. There were credible reports that
poor families sold their daughters into marriage as a means to
supplement their incomes. Young girls sometimes were forced into
marriage as soon as they reached puberty, regardless of age, to
prevent the "indecency" associated with premarital sex. Human rights
groups reported an increase in sexual assaults and rapes of young
girls, especially in the North, and attributed the increase to a fear
of AIDS and a resulting desire for young virgins.

FGM was commonly performed on girls (see Section 5, Women).

Persons with Disabilities

While the Government called for private business to institute
policies that ensured fair treatment for persons with disabilities,
it did not enact any laws during the year requiring greater
accessibility to buildings or public transportation, nor did it
formulate any policy specifically ensuring the right of persons with
disabilities to work. The Government ran vocational training centers
in Abuja to provide training to beggars with disabilities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The country's population was ethnically diverse, and consisted of
more than 250 groups, many of which spoke distinct primary languages
and were concentrated geographically. There was no majority ethnic
group. The four largest ethnic groups, which comprised two-thirds of
the country's population, were the Hausa and Fulani of the north, the
Yoruba of the southwest, and the Igbos of the southeast. The Ijaw of
the South Delta were the fifth largest group, followed by Kanuri in
the far northeast, and the Tiv in the Middle Belt.

The Constitution prohibits ethnic discrimination by the Government.
Nonetheless, claims of marginalization, particularly by members of
southern minority groups and Igbos, continued; in particular, the
ethnic groups of the Niger Delta continued their calls for high-level
representation on petroleum issues and within the security forces.
Northern Muslims accused the Government of favoring Yorubas or
Christians from the Middle Belt for those positions. Traditional
linkages continued to impose considerable pressure on individual
government officials to favor their own ethnic groups for important
positions and patronage.

Societal discrimination on the basis of ethnicity was practiced
widely by members of all ethnic groups and was evident in private
sector hiring patterns, de facto ethnic segregation of urban
neighborhoods, and a continuing paucity of marriages across major
ethnic and regional lines. There was a long history of tension among
some ethnic groups (see Section 2.c.).

Ethnic minorities, particularly in Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, and Akwa
Ibom States, have claimed environmental degradation and government
indifference to their status in the Delta despite the fact that most
of oil wealth comes from the Niger Delta region. Groups such as the
Ijaw, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko, and Ogoni continued to express their
unhappiness about their perceived economic exploitation and the
environmental destruction of their homelands, and incidents of ethnic
conflict and confrontation with government officials and forces
continued in the Delta area (see Sections 1.a. and 1.b.). Other
ethnic groups saw the Kaiama Declaration by Ijaws, which claimed the
entire Delta to be the property of the Ijaw, as threatening their
rights. Disparate organizations of armed youths from a variety of
ethnic groups continued to take oil company personnel hostage in the
Delta Region (see Section 1.b.). Many oil companies continued to rely
on local police and, in some cases, military troops to protect their
facilities and personnel. The oil companies usually financially
supported these security forces. Local youths claimed that the
security personnel engaged in unlawful killings and other human
rights abuses (see Section 1.a.).
Tensions flared in March with attacks on oil production facilities
near Escravos, Delta State, and kidnappings of oil company personnel
by Ijaw youths. The practice of bunkering, the diversion of oil
production to the black market by all parties in the conflict,
occurred frequently. Approximately 15 percent of the country's total
yearly production was shutdown as a result of the violence initiated
by Ijaw youths. Inter-ethnic fighting also displaced tens of
thousands of local inhabitants. Violence ended in the region in
April; however, hostilities renewed in August and continued at year's

On March 14, Ijaw militants involved in the theft of oil from
pipelines and based in the Delta State community of Okenrenkoko
clashed with military personnel. The military claimed it was
responding to an armed threat from criminals; Ijaw communities
accused the military of provoking hostilities through a premeditated
attack. The violence led to the death of several soldiers, at least
10 Ijaw militants, and possibly some Ijaw civilians. Ijaw communities
claimed that the military attacked Okenrenkoko, destroyed several
homes and killing several villagers.

On April 11, approximately 200 Ijaw militants in speedboats raided
the Itsekiri town of Koko, Delta state and reportedly killed 50
persons. The Ijaw militants destroyed more than 55 buildings,
including the Koko Local Government building.

On August 13, fighting broke out in Warri town between rival Ijaw and
Itsekiri militants. The local Red Cross reported that military
efforts to quell the fighting, which lasted more than 7 days,
resulted more than 100 deaths, civilian and combatant. The Government
had not restored order in the region by year's end.

Competing economic aspirations among smaller ethnic groups related to
the control of state and local governments led to violent conflicts
during the year.

Conflict over land rights and ownership continued among members of
the Tiv, Kwalla, Jukun, and Azara ethnic groups; each of these groups
resided at or near the convergence of Nassarawa, Benue, and Taraba
States. The Tiv, who were thought to have migrated to the country
later than other inhabitants of the disputed area, were regarded as
interlopers by the "indigenous" ethnic groups despite the fact that
they predominate in much of Benue and parts of other states.

Violence between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Adamawa State lasted
for 2 weeks in March, resulting in as many as 110 deaths, and 21,000
displaced from their homes.

Communal violence between members of the Ogori and Ekpedo ethnic
groups in Kogi and Edo states began over boundary and land disputes.
On July 2, Ogori youths from Kogi reportedly attacked Ekpedo villages
near Agenebode, Edo, burning 99 houses. On July 20, Ekpedo youths
killed and mutilated an Ogori community leader visiting an Ekpedo
village to discuss the dispute in retaliation. Kogi and Edo state
governors declared the disputed land a "buffer zone," and the matter
has been referred to the National Boundary Commission.

Communal violence occurred in Plateau State, resulting in more than
80 deaths during the year as local communities continued to compete
for scarce resources. The State Government reported that criminals
and hired mercenaries from other areas of the country, Chad, and
Niger added to the violence after being hired and induced by some
communities to attack rival villages in the state. For example, 65
persons were killed in April, a village chief was killed by bandits
in May, and 3 persons were killed in June and 15 more in July.

The violent border dispute in the east between Cross River and Akwa
Ibom States flared during the year. Communal violence abated between
Jukun-Kuteb (Taraba State). Ife-Modakeke, Osun state experienced
renewed communal violence, but was diminished in nature compared with
previous incidents.

There were no developments in previous years' incidents of ethno-
religious violence.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The Constitution provides all citizens with the right to form or
belong to any trade union or other association for the protection of
their interests, and workers exercised this right in practice;
however, several statutory restrictions on the right of association
and on trade unions remained in effect.

According to figures provided by the National Labor Congress (NLC),
total union membership was approximately 4 million. Less that 10
percent of the total work force was organized. With the exception of
small number of workers engaged in commercial food procession, the
agricultural sector, which employed the majority of the work force,
was not organized. The informal sector, and small and medium
enterprises, remained largely unorganized.

The Government has mandated a single-labor-federation structure for
workers, with service and industrial unions grouped under it. The NLC
was the only central labor federation permitted by law. Trade unions
are required to be registered formally by the Government and a
minimum 50 workers are required to form a trade union; only 29 trade
unions had been formally recognized by the Government at year's end.
The labor movement was composed of both junior and senior staff
workers; however, nonmanagement senior staff members were barred from
joining the trade unions while junior staff workers, primarily the
blue-collar workers, were organized into the 29 industrial and
service unions that were affiliated with the NLC.

The senior staff workers were organized into 21 associations that
comprised the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which claimed a membership
of approximately 400,000 to 600,000. The TUC, which was composed
primarily of white-collar workers, was not officially sanctioned by
the Government and was prohibited by statute from affiliation with
the NLC; it was also denied a seat on the National Labor Advisory
Council (NLAC). These legal restrictions diluted the bargaining
strength of workers. The ILO Committee of Experts has repeatedly
cited these and other restrictions, including: requiring all
registered labor unions to affiliate with a single central labor
federation (the NLC); establishing a minimum of 50 workers to form a
trade union; providing for the possibility of compulsory arbitration;
giving the registrar broad powers to supervise trade union accounts;
and giving the Government discretionary power to revoke the
certification of a trade union due to overriding public interests.

Several labor associations disassociated themselves with the TUC
following complaints that the TUC had misled its constituents during
the gasoline price strike in June. At least 8 of the TUC's 29
associations left it to form the Congress of Free Trade Unions

Workers, except members of the armed forces and employees designated
as essential by the Government, may join trade unions. Essential
workers included government employees in the police, customs,
immigration, prisons, federal mint, central bank, and the
telecommunications sector. Employees working in designated export
procession zone (EPZ) may not join a union until 10 years after the
start-up of the enterprise (see Section 6.b.).

The Maritime Workers Union was active at year's end.

The Constitution prohibits anti-union discrimination, and there were
no reports of such practice. Complaints of anti-union discrimination
could be brought to the Ministry of Labor for mediation,
conciliation, and resolution.

The NLC and labor unions were free to affiliate with international
bodies; however, prior approval from the Minister was required. The
NLC had affiliated with the Organization of African Trade Unions and
the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The labor laws provide for both the right to organize and bargain
collectively between management and trade unions, and collective
bargaining occurred throughout the public sector and the organized
private sector. The Labor Minister could refer unresolved disputes to
the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) and the National Industrial
Court (NIC). Union officials questioned the effectiveness of the NIC
in view of its inability to resolve various disputes stemming from
the Government's failure to fulfill contract provisions for public
sector employees. Union leaders criticized the arbitration system's
dependence on the Labor Minister's referrals. The Labor Minister made
several referrals to the IAP during the year. The IAP and NIC were
active; however, both suffered from a lack of resources.

Workers had the right to strike; however, certain essential workers
were required to provide advance notice of a strike. A worker under a
collective bargaining agreement could not participate in a strike
unless his union complied with the requirements of the law, which
included provisions for mandatory mediation and for referral of the
dispute to the Government. The law allows the Government discretion
to refer the matter to a labor conciliator, arbitration panel, board
of inquiry, or the NIC. However, in practice the law does not appear
to be enforced; strikes, including in the public sector, were
In January, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) commenced
a 6-month strike to protest, among other things, the nonpayment of
research allowances and the nonimplementation of an agreement reached
in 2001 to re-admit 49 dismissed lecturers of the University of
Ilorin who had previously participated in a strike. ASUU suspended
the strike on June 18 following the intervention of the IAP.

On March 31, the NLC directed all public sector employees to commence
a 3-day warning strike to protest federal government refusal to pay
an agreed upon 12.5 percent salary increase (see Section 6.e.). The
strike followed the expiration of a 2-week ultimatum. Organizers
called off the strike on April 1 after the Government agreed to
prepare a supplementary budget the National Assembly to accommodate
salary increases.

On June 30, NLC, joined by senior staff associations under the
umbrella of the TUC, commenced a nationwide strike action to protest
increases in gas prices. In the 10-day national strike, there were 18
confirmed killings of protestors by security forces. Security forces
forcibly dispersed several demonstrations, arrested union leaders,
and brutalized a journalist in Abuja. The strike was suspended
following an agreement reached between government and labor leaders.

During the year, the Medical and Health Workers Union went on strike
for 3 days regarding salary increases and payments of other
allowances. They reached an agreement with the Ministry of Health,
resolving the issue.

The Anambra State Government reached an agreement with public sector
unions on the modalities for the payment of outstanding arrears
during the year. The Government paid several months arrears; however,
salaries were in arrears again at year's end. The state civil service
was nearly paralyzed as many workers declined to work until salary
arrears were paid.

During the year, smaller strikes continued in the oil sector,
particularly in the Niger Delta. The National Union of Petroleum and
Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and its senior staff counterpart
Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria
(PENGASSAN) were particularly concerned about the increasing use of
contract labor and the number of indigenous workers in management
positions. On February 15, NUPENG and PENGASSAN branch units in
Chevron and Shell staged warning strikes that lasted 5 days to
protest an alleged plan to severely cut jobs and replace indigenous
employees with third country nationals.

There were no developments in the following 2002 strikes: the January
general strike protesting the Government's 15.3 percent fuel price
hike; the February police strike demanding payment of 1-year's wage
arrears; the May strike by the Nigerian Union of Railwaymen (NUR)
over the nonpayment of 3 months' salary; and the July strike by the
Lagos State Truck Owners Association, Port Harcourt dockworkers, and
Shell (SPDC) contract workers.

There were no laws prohibiting retribution against strikers and
strike leaders, but strikers who believed they were victims of unfair
retribution could submit their cases to IAP, with the approval of the
Labor Ministry. The IAP's decisions were binding on parties but could
be appealed to the NIC. In practice the decisions of these bodies
infrequently carried the force of law. Union representatives
described the arbitration process as cumbersome and time-consuming,
and an ineffective deterrent to retribution against strikers.

On October 3, the Inspector-General of Police in Abuja called
President of the NLC Adams Oshiomhole in for questioning following a
3-hour meeting in Lagos on how to mobilize against higher fuel
prices. Later in the month, as the fuel price crisis deepened, six
leaders of the NLC were arrested as they picketed filling stations
selling gasoline at above the official price. The leaders were
detained and refused bail for 1 week.

The Government retained broad legal authority over labor matters and
often intervened in disputes seen to challenge key political or
economic objectives. However, during the year, the NLC increasingly
spoke out on economic reform, fuel price deregulation, privatization,
globalization, tariffs, corruption, contract workers, and political

EPZs in Calabar, Cross River State, and Onne Port, Rivers State,
operated during the year. Workers and employers in these zones were
subject to national labor laws, which provided for a 10-year amnesty
on trade unions, strikes, or lockouts following the commencement of
operations within a zone. In addition, the law allows the EPZ
Authority to handle the resolution of disputes between employers and
employees instead of workers' organizations or unions. The ILO has
criticized the EPZ Decree for not allowing any unauthorized person to
enter any EPZ consequently making it very difficult for workers to
form or join trade unions since union representatives are not allowed

c. Prohibition of Forced or Bonded Labor

The law prohibits forced or bonded labor; however, there were reports
that it occurred (see Section 6.f.), and enforcement of the law was
not effective.

The Government does not prohibit specifically forced and bonded labor
by children; however, the prohibition on forced labor extends to
children. There were reports such practices occurred (see Section 5
and 6.d.).

d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment

Child labor remained a problem. The law prohibits employment of
children less than 15 years of age in commerce and industry and
restricts other child labor to home-based agricultural or domestic
work. The law states that children may not be employed in
agricultural or domestic work for more than 8 hours per day. The
Decree allows the apprenticeship of youths at the age of 13 under
specific conditions.

Economic hardship resulted in high numbers of children in commercial
activities aimed at enhancing meager family income. The ILO estimated
that approximately 12 million children between the ages of 10 and 14
(25 percent of all children) were employed in some capacity. Children
frequently were employed as beggars, hawkers, and bus conductors in
urban areas. The use of children as domestic servants was common.

There were reports of forced child labor (see Section 6.f.). There
were occasional reports of forced child labor, including child
slavery rings operating between Nigeria and neighboring countries.

The Labor Ministry had an inspections department whose major
responsibilities included enforcement of legal provisions relating to
conditions of work and protection of workers. However, there were
fewer than 50 inspectors for the entire country, and the Ministry
conducted inspections only in the formal business sector, in which
the incidence of child labor was not significant.

Private and government initiatives to stem the growing incidence of
child employment continued but were ineffective. UNICEF operated
programs that removed young girls from the street hawking trade and
relocated them to informal educational settings. UNICEF reported that
the program had minimal success. In conjunction with the ILO, the
Government formulated a national program of action in support of
child rights, survival, protection, development, and participation;
however, the program did not show any results by year's end due to
logistical problems and changing personnel in the Ministry. A child
rights bill was passed by the legislature during the year; however,
there were no noticeable changes by year's end. ILO statistics
indicated that the incidence of child labor is still on the increase,
in spite of programs designed to reduce it.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The law sets a minimum wage, which was reviewed infrequently. Real
private sector wages greatly exceeded the minimum wage. The minimum
wage was $56.70 (7,500 naira) per month (with a 13 month year as the
law mandates an extra month's pay for the Christmas holiday). Ghost
workers (who appeared on the employment rolls but not on the job)
remained a significant problem that was not addressed fully during
the year. The Government directed each State administration to
establish its own salary structure based on its ability to pay and in
accord with the national minimum wage; however, in August, the
Government and the NLC signed an agreement to increase the public
sector wage by up to 12.5 percent for junior grades, representing
half of the 25 percent earlier agreed upon. Many state governments
have stated they are not in a position to pay the increase without
massive layoffs or the elimination of ghost workers. The issue of the
minimum wage caused several labor disruptions throughout the year,
and remained unresolved in several states (see Section 6.b.).

In September, the Government announced an agreement to implement
sliding scale wage increases for all federal civil servants
retroactive to July 1, under which the lowest paid workers would
receive the 12.5 percent increase while those at the top would get 4
percent; however, this increase had not been paid by year's end.

The law forbids any employer from granting a general wage increase to
its workers without prior government approval; however, in practice
private sector wage increases generally were not submitted to the
Government for prior approval.

The law mandates a 40-hour workweek, 2 to 4 weeks annual leave, and
overtime and holiday pay, except for agricultural and domestic
workers. There is no law prohibiting excessive compulsory overtime.
The law also establishes general health and safety provisions, some
of which were aimed specifically at young or female workers. It
requires that the factory division of the Ministry of Labor and
Employment inspect factories for compliance with health and safety
standards; however, this agency was greatly underfunded, lacked basic
resources and training, and consequently neglected safety oversight
of many enterprises, particularly construction sites and other
nonfactory work. The Ministry often failed to reimburse inspectors
for expenses incurred in traveling to inspection sites, and safety
oversight of many enterprises often were neglected. The law requires
employers to compensate injured workers and dependent survivors of
those killed in industrial accidents. The Labor Ministry, which was
charged with enforcement of these laws, has been ineffective in
identifying violators. The Government has failed to act on various
ILO recommendations to update its program on inspection and accident
reporting. The Labor Decree did not provide workers with the right to
remove themselves from dangerous work situations without loss of

The law applies to legal foreign workers; however, in practice, not
all multinational companies respected these laws in practice.

f. Trafficking in Persons

On July 14, President Obasanjo signed a bill into law prohibiting
human trafficking; however, trafficking in persons remained a
problem. The country was an origin, transit, and destination country
for trafficked persons, with an active, growing market for
trafficking in women and children within the region and to Europe.
The July law also created the National Agency for Prohibition of
Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), which was active at year's end.
President Obasanjo selected a Special Assistant for Human Trafficking
and Child Labor in June.

The National police have an anti-trafficking unit, and official anti-
trafficking units have been created in all 11 states. Immigration has
anti-trafficking units as well. Many states that arrest traffickers
were forced to release them when victims and their families refused
to testify. The Government prosecuted only a few persons for
trafficking during the year.

On September 28, immigration officers arrested 6 suspects in a child
trafficking syndicate and repatriated 116 Beninois boys. The boys,
aged 5 to 17 years, had been trafficked to work in a quarry in Ogun
State. The U.N. reported that the boys' families were promised annual
fees of $36.42 and other gifts in return for their labor. Once in the
country, the boys suffered poor working conditions, were inadequately
fed, and given salaries of $1.56 per month. Some of the boys had been
held against their will for up to 5 years. The traffickers were
awaiting trial at year's end. Approximately 380 children were
repatriated to Benin during the year.

There were no developments in the 2002 cases against a high chief who
since has been stripped of his title, the trafficker arrested for
trafficking 10 teenage girls, the 30 trafficking cases pending in Edo
State; or the reported 2001 cases of trafficking.

The full nature and scope of the trade remained unknown, but
immigration and police officials throughout Europe continued to
report a steady flow of Nigerian women lured and sold into
prostitution in Europe, particularly Italy, the Netherlands, and
Spain. In September, 562 trafficking victims had been deported to the
country since the beginning of the year; over the past 3 years, 1,660
persons were returned to the country from Europe and North America.
Nigerian Interpol claimed that some women entered the sex trade
independently, were not controlled by syndicates, and were
economically motivated. Numerous human rights organizations claimed a
majority of women entered the sex trade independently, were
controlled by syndicates, were economically motivated, and were
culturally pressured to do so to provide for families back home.
These groups further claimed that the sex trade was inculcated into
the culture and was an acceptable social practice for many young
women; although, most women were unaware of the conditions in which
they would be placed. However, several women's rights organizations
reported that hundreds of women migrated to Europe in response to job
offers as domestic workers or waitresses. Upon arrival, many were
forced into prostitution to pay off debts. In addition, there was
evidence that crime syndicates may use indebtedness, secret rituals,
threats of beatings and rape, physical injury to the victim's family,
arrest, and deportation to persuade those forced into and practicing
sex work from attempting to escape or from contacting police and NGOs
for assistance.

Nigerian girls are also reported to be trafficked to the United
Kingdom as sex workers; however, the trade to the United Kingdom was
reportedly less than that to other European countries.

Incidents of child trafficking in Lagos and other major cities during
the year were suspected to be commonplace. Unlike in the previous
year, there were no confirmed reports of smuggling children to the
U.S. during the year. Child traffickers received a monthly payment
from the employer, part of which was to be remitted to the parents of
the indentured child servant. Traffickers took advantage of a
cultural tradition of "fostering," under which it was acceptable to
send a child to live and work with a more prosperous family in an
urban center in return for educational and vocational advancement.
Often the children in these situations only worked and did not
receive any formal education; however, many families who employed
children as domestic servants also paid their school fees. Other
children were forced to serve as domestics or to become street
hawkers selling nuts, fruits, or other items. There were credible
reports that poor families sold their daughters into marriage as a
means of supplementing their income (see Section 5).

According to ILO reports, there was an active and extensive trade in
child laborers. Some were trafficked to Cameroon, Gabon, Benin, and
Equatorial Guinea to work in agricultural enterprises. Other children
were coerced into prostitution (see Section 5). Authorities also have
identified a trade route for traffickers of children for labor
through Katsina and Sokoto to the Middle East and East Africa. The
eastern part of the country and some southern states such as Cross
Rivers and Akwa Ibom were the points of trafficking of children for
labor and, in some cases, human sacrifice. The country remained a
destination for the trafficking of Togolese children.

Children from neighboring countries also were trafficked to the
country for work as domestic servants.

The Government has conducted few investigations into the involvement
of government officials in trafficking; however, allegations of such
involvement reportedly were widespread. Some returnees have alleged
that immigration officials actively connived with syndicates. In
2002, the Assistant Inspector General of Police investigated
allegations of the collusion of customs officials in trafficking;
however, there were no reports and investigation continued during the
year. In 2002, the Government announced it was investigating a former
customs officer and two others suspected of trafficking children in

The Government provided support to international NGOs, which protect
victims. Nigerian embassies in destination countries provided
assistance to victims, and the Foreign Ministry created a position to
facilitate victim repatriation. Regional centers to monitor child
rights violations have been established.

There was federal and state government acknowledgement of
trafficking, and prevention efforts were underway at all levels.
Awareness campaigns, undertaken by NGOs, the U.N., prominent
politicians, state governments, and members of the press continued to
gain widespread attention. The issue of trafficking in persons for
commercial sexual exploitation to Europe initially raised the
awareness of trafficking, and the awareness of child trafficking for
forced labor was growing. For example, Imo State continued to promote
a comprehensive anti-trafficking campaign.

Police attempts to stem the trafficking of persons were inadequate,
and frequently the victims of trafficking were subjected to lengthy
detention and public humiliation upon repatriation.
Uchennna Okonkwor