Annual Report: Nigeria 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Nigeria 2013

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  • On 30 April, Patrick Okoroafor was released from prison after 17 years. He had been unfairly sentenced to death for robbery, at the age of 14, after an unfair trial.

Children's rights

Twelve states failed to enact the federal Child Rights Act into law. The country's remand homes remained overcrowded and under-resourced. Police continued to detain children in police cells with adults.

Communal violence

Inter-communal violence continued in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria and claimed the lives of more than 100 people.

  • In March, renewed clashes over land between ethnic groups in Benue State displaced up to 15,000 people.
  • More than 60 people were reportedly killed between 6 and 7 July in clashes between Fulani herdsmen and villagers in Riyom, Barkin Ladi and other Local Government Areas in Plateau State. On 8 July, mourners, including Senator Gyang Dantong and Majority Leader of the Plateau House of Assembly, Gyang Fulani, who were attending the funeral of some of those killed, were attacked by unidentified gunmen. On 10 July, clashes continued between Christians and Muslims in nine different communities in Plateau State, leaving about 50 people dead.

Death penalty

In September, the High Court of Lagos State declared the mandatory imposition of the death penalty to be unconstitutional, in a case brought in 2008 by the Legal Resources Consortium (LRC), assisted by Nigerian NGO LEDAP (The Legal Defence and Assistance Project).

But the death penalty remained mandatory in Nigeria's penal laws for a wide range of crimes. There were approximately 1,002 inmates on death row by the end of 2012 including people who were juveniles at the time of the crime. Many were sentenced after blatantly unfair trials or after spending more than a decade in prison. The Federal Government said in 2012 that the moratorium on the death penalty in place the previous year was “voluntary”. Courts continued to pass death sentences.

  • In October, the Governor of Edo State signed the death warrants of two death-row inmates in Benin Central Prison in Benin City, Edo State, despite an ongoing appeal. The executions were still pending at the end of the year.
  • On 13 July, Olatunji Olaide was released from the Kirikiri Prison in Lagos after spending 23 years on death row for car robbery. The Court of Appeal declared him innocent on 5 June, and acquitted him.

Forced evictions

Forced evictions and illegal demolitions continued across Nigeria. The homes of tens of thousands of people in four different communities in Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja were demolished in 2012. Hundreds of thousands remained at risk as state governments continued to issue threats of mass demolitions.

  • In July, between 10,000 and 20,000 people were forcibly evicted from their homes in Abonnema Wharf in Port Harcourt, when the settlement was demolished without adequate notice or consultation, or compensation or provision of alternative housing. Residents had to sleep in cars, with friends or by the side of the road. Hundreds remained homeless.
  • On 16 July, dozens of houses and structures were demolished in Makoko settlement in Lagos, with more than 2,000 people displaced with no alternative accommodation or adequate compensation, according to Nigerian NGO SERAC (Social and Economic Rights Action Centre). One person was killed when police opened fire at a peaceful protest against the demolitions. The officer was reportedly arrested.
  • On 16 August, Mpape settlement in Abuja was partly demolished without adequate notice or consultation, despite an ongoing High Court case to prevent the demolitions. Mpape is one of 19 communities to be demolished as part of the “Abuja Master Plan”. NGOs estimated that one million people could be made homeless if the plan goes ahead.

Freedom of expression

Intimidation of and attacks against human rights defenders continued.