140/94-141/94-145/95 Constitutional Rights Project, Civil Liberties Organisation and Media Rights Agenda / Nigeria Summary of Facts 1. Communication 140/94 alleges that decrees issued in 1994 by the military government of Nigeria proscribed The Guardian, The Punch and The Concord newspapers from publishing and circulating in Nigeria. The Decrees are titled: The Concord Newspapers and African Concord Weekly Magazine (Proscription and Prohibition from Circulation) Decree No. 6, The Punch Newspapers (Proscription and Prohibition from Circulation) Decree No. 7 and The Guardian Newspaper and African Guardian Weekly Magazine (Proscription and Prohibition from Circulation) Decree No. 8, all of 1994. The military government had earlier closed down The Guardian and The Concord publications whose premises were still being occupied and sealed off by armed security personnel and policemen, in defiance of court orders. 2. Furthermore, the military government of Nigeria arrested and detained 6 pro-democracy activists, Chief Enahoro, Prince Adeniji-Adele, Chief Kokori, Chief Abiola, Chief Adebayo and Mr Eno. At the time the communication was brought, they were in detention and no charges had been brought against them, except Chief Abiola, who was charged with treason and treasonable felony. The health of the detainees was deteriorating in detention. 3. The military government allegedly sent armed gangs to the houses of five leading pro-democracy activists, namely Chief Ajayi, Chief Osoba, Mr Nwankwo, Chief Fawehinmi, and Commodore Suleiman. The gangs broke into the houses, destroyed property and attacked the alleged victims. 4. Communication 141/94 alleges that the Federal Government of Nigeria, through Decrees Nos. 6, 7, and 8 of 1994, restrained and restricted the right of Nigerians to receive information and to express and disseminate their opinions. The complaint also alleges that the government violated the proprietary rights of owners of (newspaper) companies by the said decrees. 5. Further objection to Decrees 6, 7 and 8 of 1994 are that they contain clauses that oust the jurisdiction of the courts, thus prohibiting them from entertaining any action in respect of the decrees. 6. Communication 145/95 elaborates on the facts stated above. It alleges that at about 3.00 am on Saturday, 11th June 1994, scores of heavily armed security operatives (agents of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria), stormed Concord House, the premises of Concord Press Nigeria Limited and African Concord Limited, publishers of, among others, the weekly African Concord news magazine; Weekend Concord, a weekly newspaper; Sunday Concord, another weekly newspaper, and a community-based weekly published in each state of the Federation, Community Concord. 7. The security agents stopped production work on various publications, drove out the workers and sealed off the premises. On the same day, at about the same time, the exercise was repeated by other heavily armed security agents of the Federal Military Government at the premises of Punch Nigeria Limited, publishers of the newspapers The Punch, Sunday Punch, and Top Life. The security agents also stopped production work on The Punch, drove out the workers, sealed off the premises and detained the editor, Mr Bola Bolawole, for several days. 8. On 15th August 1994 at about 12.30 a.m., about 150 armed policemen stormed Rutam House, the premises of Guardian Newspapers Limited and Guardian Magazines Limited, publishers of the newspapers and news magazines The Guardian, The Guardian on Sunday, The African Guardian, Guardian Express, Lagos Life, and Financial Guardian. 9. The policemen ordered that the production of the Monday edition of The Guardian, which was then in progress, be stopped. They ordered all the workers out and sealed off the premises. Later in the day, 15 journalists in The Guardian group were arrested and detained briefly before being released on bail. Security agents were still searching for senior editorial staff of the newspapers. 10. Acting through their solicitor, Gani Fawehinmi, the publishers of all the newspapers instituted separate legal actions before two Federal High Courts in Lagos against the Government of Nigeria over illegal invasion of their premises and closure of their newspapers. They challenged the sealing off of the newspapers premises as a violation of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 36 of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1979, and Article 9 of the African Charter as incorporated into Nigerian domestic 1

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