151/96 Civil Liberties Organisation / Nigeria Summary of Facts 1. In March 1995, the Federal Military Government of Nigeria announced that it had discovered a plot to overthrow it by force. By the end of the month, several persons including civilians and serving and retired military personnel had been arrested in connection with the alleged plot. 2. A Special Military Tribunal was established under the Treason and Treasonable Offences (Special Military Tribunal) Decree, which precluded the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts. The Military Tribunal was headed by Major-General Aziza, and composed of five serving military officers. The tribunal used the rules and procedures of a Court-Martial, and no appeal lay from its judgement. The tribunal??ÂÂs decision was only subject to confirmation by the Provisional Ruling Council, the highest decision making body of the military government. 3. The trials were conducted in secret, and the suspects were not given the opportunity to state their defence or to have access to lawyers or their families. They were not made aware of the charges against them until their trial. The Federal Military Government appointed military lawyers to defend the suspects. 4. Thirteen civilians tried by the tribunal were convicted for being accessories to treason and sentenced to life imprisonment. These were: Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, Mallan Shehu Sanni, Mr Ben Charles Obi, Mrs Chris Anyanwu, Mr George Mba, Mr Kunle Ajibade, Alhaji Sanusi Mato, Mr Julius Badejo, Mr Matthew Popoola, Mr Felix Mdamaigida, Miss Rebecca Onyabi Ikpe, and Mr Moses Ayegba. Miss Queenette Lewis Alagoe was convicted as an accessory after the fact and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. The life sentences were later reduced to 15 years imprisonment. 5. The communication alleges that since their arrest, the accused have been held under inhuman and degrading conditions. They are held in military detention places, not in the regular prisons, and are still deprived of access to their lawyers and families. They are held in dark cells, given insufficient food and no medicine or medical attention. Complaint 6. The Complainant alleges violations of Articles 5, 7(1)(a), 7(1)(c), 7(1)(d) and 26 of the African Charter. Procedure 7. The communication is dated 19th January 1996 and was received at the Secretariat on 29th January 1996. 8. At the 20th Session held in Grand Bay, Mauritius, in October 1996, the Commission declared the communication admissible, and decided that the planned mission to Nigeria should take it up with the relevant authorities. The Mission took place between 7th and 14th March 1997 and the report was submitted to the Commission. 9. The parties were kept informed of all the procedures. Law Admissibility 10. Article 56 of the Charter reads: Communications... shall be considered if they:??ÂÂ? Article 56(5) Are sent after exhausting local remedies, if any, unless it is obvious that this procedure is unduly prolonged. 11. This is just one of the seven conditions specified by Article 56, but it is the one that usually requires the most attention. Because Article 56 is necessarily the first to be considered by the Commission, before any substantive consideration of communications, it has already been the subject of substantial interpretation; in the jurisprudence of the African Commission, there are several important precedents. 12. Specifically, in four decisions the Commission has already taken concerning Nigeria, Article 56(5) is analysed in terms of the Nigerian context. Communication 60/91 (Decision ACHPR/60/91) concerned the Robbery and Firearms Tribunal; Communication 87/93 (Decision ACHPR/87/93) concerned the Civil 1

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