Hundreds of pro-democracy activists were arrested; many of them were prisoners of conscience, some of whom were still in custody at the end of the year. An estimated 600 people from the Ogoni ethnic group, many of whom were also prisoners of conscience, were arbitrarily detained without charge or trial. Many detainees were badly beaten and held in life-threatening prison conditions. At least 11 soldiers arrested in 1990 continued to be held in administrative detention. At least 50 people were reportedly extrajudicially executed by the security forces in Ogoniland. There was a dramatic increase in the use of the death penalty, with at least 100 people publicly executed. The military government headed by General Sani Abacha continued to prohibit all political activity. In May the newly formed National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), comprising former civilian and military political leaders, demanded that the military government hand over power to the winner of the annulled presidential elections in 1993, Chief Moshood K.O. Abiola. NADECO leaders and Moshood Abiola were arrested and charged with treason. Pro-democracy protests in major southern cities led to widespread arrests and clashes with police in which dozens of people were killed. Trade unionists took prolonged strike action which paralysed parts of the country and threatened oil exports, Nigeria's main foreign currency earner. Following the murder in May of four leading members of the Ogoni community in Rivers State in the southeast, there were reports of extrajudicial executions by the security forces and mass arrests among supporters of an Ogoni organization which campaigned against environmental damage by oil companies. Journalists, human rights and environmental observers who attempted to monitor events in Ogoniland were obstructed by the authorities; some were detained. In September the government promulgated decrees which extended already draconian powers of detention, formally proscribed 15 newspapers and journals, dissolved the executives of the oil unions and the Nigerian Labour Congress, and removed the jurisdiction of the courts to challenge government authority and actions. The Attorney General was dismissed for criticizing the decrees. In October a further decree specifically removed the power of the courts to issue writs of habeas corpus or any other orders to the authorities to produce detainees before them. Hundreds of people were detained for political reasons during the year. Most were prisoners of conscience and were released without charge. In April three journalists on Newswatch magazine were detained after publication of an article critical of the government. A week later they and three others were charged with sedition and criminal intent to cause fear, alarm and disaffection, but the next day the charges were withdrawn and they were released. Hundreds of members of the Ogoni community, many of whom were prisoners of conscience, were reportedly detained without charge or trial. In the weeks after the murder of four leading members of the Ogoni community on 21 May, soldiers arrested Ogoni indiscriminately and detained them at Bori military camp in Port Harcourt or at Kpor in Ogoniland. Most were subsequently released without charge but about 30 remained in incommunicado detention without charge or trial at the end of the year. They included prisoners of conscience Ken Saro-Wiwa, a writer, and Ledum Mitee, a lawyer, both leaders of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People and former prisoners of conscience, who had been briefly detained in January apparently to stop their political campaigning. In a press conference, the authorities accused them of inciting youths to murder the Ogoni leaders. Initially reported to be held in leg irons, Ken Saro-Wiwa was denied hospital treatment prescribed by a military doctor for a heart complaint. In June NADECO leaders who called for the military government to stand down were arrested. Six former members of the disbanded Senate, including Ameh Ebute, former President of the Senate, were arrested and charged with "treasonable felony", which carries life imprisonment. They were granted bail in July but five were rearrested in September and briefly redetained. Four others arrested and charged with treasonable felony were also released on bail. Among them was Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, President of the Campaign for Democracy and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, who was detained in June and again in September. None of their trials had taken place by the end of the year. An earlier case of treasonable felony against Dr Ransome-Kuti and several other human rights activists, including the lawyer Chief Gani Fawehinmi, was struck out by the courts in January for lack of evidence. Chief Moshood Abiola was arrested on 23 June at his home in Lagos by hundreds of armed police after he had declared himself head of state. He was detained incommunicado in harsh conditions and moved to several different places of detention. The government ignored two orders in June by the High Court in Lagos to produce him before the court and justify his detention. On 6 July Moshood Abiola was brought before a Federal High Court in Abuja, the capital. This court was appointed by the military government especially to try his case and could not be considered independent of government influence. He was charged with treason and refused bail despite his ill-health. On several occasions the authorities ignored court orders that he should be given regular access to his family and lawyers and continued to deny him hospital treatment. In November the Federal Court of Appeal in Kaduna granted his release on bail; the authorities did not release him and in December the court allowed a stay of execution of the order on security grounds pending an appeal to the Supreme Court. His trial had not started by the end of the year. In August at least 40 people, mostly students, were detained following violent protests in and around Benin City. Some were reportedly beaten. In October, 12 were charged with criminal offences, including armed robbery and arson, and released on bail. Some appeared to have been prisoners of conscience. Further NADECO leaders, including Chief Anthony Enahoro, a 71-year-old former government minister, were among 20 pro-democracy activists detained in Lagos and Kaduna in August and September. Some were released without charge but the government said that he and others were being held for "economic sabotage" and acts prejudicial to state security. In December Chief Enahoro was released unconditionally. Chief Frank Ovie Kokori, Secretary General of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, and three other oil workers' leaders were reportedly still detained incommunicado and without charge at the end of the year. At least 11 soldiers arrested after a coup attempt in April 1990 continued to be held in incommunicado detention, apparently under a decree allowing indefinitely renewable administrative detention. Six prisoners who had been sentenced to death after an unfair trial by a special court were unconditionally released in March. Major-General Zamani Lekwot and five other members of the Kataf ethnic group had been convicted of murder in February 1993, in connection with religious riots in Kaduna State in 1992, by a Civil Disturbances Special Tribunal (see Amnesty International Reports 1993 and 1994). In August 1993 their death sentences had been commuted. Many of those arrested during the year were reportedly beaten and held incommunicado in harsh conditions – with inadequate food, over-crowded and insanitary cells and no washing facilities, exercise or fresh air. In late June at least 60 Ogoni boys and youths were being held in two small, bare cells with no toilet facilities in Bori military camp. They had been arrested in early June and reportedly beaten. At least 50 Ogoni were believed to have been killed and many wounded by the security forces in late May and June when soldiers reportedly attacked towns and villages in Ogoniland. Troops apparently fired at random, killed, assaulted and raped civilians, and destroyed homes. The twin villages of Uegwere and Bo-ue were reportedly attacked at night several times between 4 and 8 June: Nbari Vopnu, Lebari Eete and eight other people, including a 10-year-old boy, were reportedly killed. In the village of Buan, a pregnant woman, Leyira Piri, was apparently shot dead and six other people critically wounded. Other villages where people were shot dead by soldiers included Yeghe and Okwali. The military commander reportedly acknowledged that his men had killed six youths, but there was no judicial inquiry into these deaths nor into the many others alleged to have occurred in Ogoniland in 1993 and 1994 as a result of ethnic conflict and security operations. Dozens of people were reportedly killed by police during pro-democracy demonstrations in the cities, for example, during riots in Lagos and Ibadan on 18 July. Some were reported to have been unlawfully killed – they were not involved in violent activities or posing a threat to the police. Following violent protests in Benin City and Ekpoma in Edo State in August, in which the homes and properties of government supporters were destroyed, at least four and possibly more people were allegedly killed by the security forces. There was a dramatic increase in the use of the death penalty. The authorities were apparently reinstating a policy of mass executions: hundreds of prisoners had been executed under military governments in the mid-1980s, but none in the two years leading up to the 1993 presidential elections, when civilian state governors had been in office. During the year, at least 100 people were executed. Executions took place in Akwa Ibom, Borno Enugu, Imo, Kano and Lagos states. Execution was by firing-squad, and executions were frequently held in public before large crowds. Most of those executed had been convicted by Robbery and Firearms Tribunals, special courts which do not guarantee a fair trial and from which there is no right of appeal. Between February and June, 30 prisoners convicted of armed robbery were publicly executed in Akwa Ibom State, some within days of being sentenced. On 24 May, four prisoners, including a woman, Elizabeth Oleru, were executed before large crowds at a race course in Kano. On 2 August, 38 prisoners were executed before a crowd of 20,000 people in Enugu, in the southeast. One of them, Simeon Agbo, survived and stood up an hour later, bleeding profusely, to protest his innocence and plead for water. Police reportedly threw him onto a lorryload of corpses and his subsequent fate was unknown. Amnesty International urged the government to release pro-democracy activists and members of the Ogoni ethnic group who were prisoners of conscience. It also urged the government to end the practice of indiscriminate arrests and detention without charge or trial. Amnesty International called for immediate measures to be taken to protect the Ogoni people from attacks, and urged a thorough investigation into reports of extrajudicial executions in Rivers State. Amnesty International expressed its concern about the use of mass, public executions, and urged the commutation of all death sentences. In November Amnesty International published a report, Nigeria: Military government clampdown on opposition, detailing one of the most serious human rights crises Nigeria had faced for decades. In December Amnesty International delegates visited Nigeria, but were denied access to detained prisoners of conscience and were not allowed to carry out independent investigations in Ogoniland. Amnesty International called on other governments to use their influence with the Nigerian authorities to bring an end to the human rights violations taking place in Nigeria.

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