Selected Issues Related to Corruption



(Source: Oladimeji Aborisade and Robert J. Mundt. 1999. Politics in Nigeria. New York: Longman.)


(states created in 1996 are marked with an asterisk *)

State                State Capital

Abia               Umuahia

Adamawa              Yola

Akwa Ibom            Uyo

Anambra                Awka

Bauchi    Bauchi

Bayelsa*                Yenagoa

Benue     Makurdi

Borno     Maiduguri

Cross River           Calabar

Delta       Asaba

Ebonyi* Abakaliki

Edo         Benin City

Ekiti*      Ado-Ekiti

Enugu    Enugu

Gombe* Gombe

Imo         Owerri

Jigawa    Ditse

Kaduna  Kaduna

Kano      Kano

Katsina  Katsina

Kebbi     Bernin Kebbi

Kogi       Lokoja

Kwara     Ilorin

Lagos     Lagos

Nasarawa*            Lafia

Niger      Minna

Ogun      Abeokuta

Ondo      Akure

Osun      Osogbo

Oyo        Ibadan

Plateau   Jos

Rivers     Port Harcourt

Sokoto   Sokoto

Taraba    Jalingo

Yobe       Damaturu

Zamfara*               Gusau

Federal Capital Territory     Abuja (national capital)


AIG         Assistant Inspector-General.

CDHR     Committee for the Defence of Human Rights.

CLO        Civil Liberties Organization.

NDLEA  National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

Operation Gbale   A special joint police-military task force established to deal with armed robbery in Oyo state.

Operation Sweep  A special joint police-military task force established to deal with armed robbery in Lagos state.


This Issue Paper provides information on corruption in Nigeria. It discusses various facets of corruption in 1997 and 1998 involving Nigerian government officials, particularly police, prison guards and judges, in their routine dealings with the general public and detained persons. This report does not deal with corruption in the business sector.

International observers agree that corruption in Nigeria has compromised the integrity and effectiveness of the country's justice system, that security personnel routinely carry out abuses against the general public, and that refusal to bribe security personnel has resulted in injury and death in many instances (AI 22 Sept. 1997, 3, 29; United Nations 16 Feb. 1998, 7; Country Reports 1997 1998, 258, 261; Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Mar. 1998). In 1997 the Commissioner of Police for Lagos state admitted to the press that many of the officers under his command were robbers (IPS 24 Feb. 1997; AFP 21 Feb. 1997). A senior police official, speaking in May 1998, stated that police corruption appeared to be on the increase (Post Express Wired 21 May 1998).

There are also indications that civilians have robbed members of the public while wearing the uniforms of security agencies (US Department of State 10 July 1998; Post Express Wired 15 May 1997; ibid. 29 Jan.1998; ibid. 21 Sept. 1998; Olowu 17 Oct. 1998).

Special joint police-military anti-robbery squads, set up in the various states and bearing code-names such as Operation Sweep (Lagos) and Operation Gbale (Oyo), have been singled out as sources of frequent human rights abuses (The Guardian 20 July 1998; Country Reports 1997 1998, 259, 261; Post Express Wired 2 July 1997).

In response to the problem, on 30 October 1998 the president of Nigeria, Abdulsalami Abubakar called for the punishment of corrupt officials in ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) countries ( ibid. 1 Nov. 1998). Other senior Nigerian officials who have publicly spoken out against corruption have been the commissioner of justice for Ekiti state (ibid. 25 Apr. 1997), the administrators of Anambra and Lagos states (ibid. 16 May 1997; ibid. 7 Aug. 1998), the head of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) (NTA Television 20 Jan. 1998), the Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) of Police (Post Express Wired 21 May 1998), and the Inspector-General (IG) of Police (Today 19-25 July 1998) (see subsections 2.2 and 2.4 for further discussion). Further, many police officers have been arrested for abuses connected with corruption. The following sections outline those actions.


2.1               Abuses by Task Forces

There are many published accounts of abuses by members of special law-enforcement task forces or squads. These task forces, sometimes comprised of both police officers and soldiers, were established on a state-by-state basis to deal with crime and are often known by code-names (Country Reports 1997 1998, 261; Freedom Watch Mar. 1997, 3; The Guardian 20 July 1998; Post Express Wired 2 July 1997). Several police officers and soldiers assigned to task forces have been arrested in 1997 and 1998 in connection with extortion and violence against members of the public (IPS 24 Feb. 1997; Post Express Wired 15 Aug. 1997; Vanguard 27 Sept. 1998).

According to a March 1997 newsletter of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Operation Sweep, the task force for Lagos state, had been characterized by extortion, robbery, rape and killings since its inception on 14 May 1996 (Victims Mar. 1997, 1). The Guardian reported on 20 July 1998 that the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) had called on President Abdulsalami Abubakar to dismantle the various task forces, naming in particular Operation Sweep and Operation Gbale (Oyo state). According to documentary sources, members of those task forces had used armed force to extort money from motorists (The Guardian 20 July 1998; Country Reports 1997 1998, 261; Post Express Wired 2 July 1997). Further, the secretary-general of the CDHR told the Nigerian press that killings by members of Operation Sweep had increased since the inauguration of President Abdulsalami Abubakar after the death of Sani Abacha on 8 June 1998 (Guardian 29 Oct. 1998).

In November 1998 owners and drivers of public transportation vehicles in Lagos threatened to strike in response to alleged abuses – including extortion, intimidation, and violence – by members of the "traffic section" of another task force, the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation (The Guardian 14 Nov. 1998). The owners specifically complained of an incident in which task force operatives opened fire on a bus owned by the vice-president of the Lagos State Urban Bus Owners Association (LSBOA) on 21 October 1998, resulting in serious injuries to four passengers ( ibid.). The LSBOA also complained that on the same day, a driver, Timothy Aluko, was seriously beaten after he refused to give 200 Naira[1]1 (N200) to task force operatives, and that on 25 October 1998 four buses were impounded after their drivers refused to bribe members of the task force (ibid.). A task force spokesman responded by stating that the task force now operates a complaints centre and that all Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation operatives wear cards bearing numbers by which they can be identified by members of the public (ibid.). The spokesman added that commercial drivers and their passengers may be victims of persons impersonating task force operatives (ibid.).

In August 1998 the administrator of Anambra state, Rufai Garba, observed that citizens of that state feared members of Anambra's anti-crime task force, Operation Purge (also known as Nkpochapu), as much as they feared criminals (Post Express Wired 7 Aug. 1998). The administrator spoke of extortion of money at roadblocks by Operation Purge members, as well as other abuses such as "gasoline-hoarding" and illegal detention, and added that further abuses would not be tolerated (ibid.).

Analogous task forces in other states include Operation Zaki in Adamawa state, Operation Kwanta Kwanta in Bauchi state (Freedom Watch Mar. 1997, 3), Operation Scorpion in Benue state (Post Express Wired 14 Jan. 1998), Operation Wipe in Edo state, Operation Storm in Imo state, Operation Wedge in Ogun state, and Operation Wipe Out in Rivers state (Freedom Watch Mar. 1997, 3). Operation Sweep and Operation Gbale are mentioned in the following section on roadblocks. Specific examples of abuses carried out by members of other state task forces could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

2.2 Instances of Corruption and Violence at Roadblocks

Extortion of money from motorists at roadblocks or checkpoints appears to be a very common and widespread form of corruption involving law enforcement officials and the military in various parts of Nigeria (Post Express Wired 2 July 1997; The Guardian 20 July 1998; Country Reports 1997 1998, 261; Today July 19-25 1998; AFP 20 July 1998). These roadblocks are sometimes manned by joint teams of police and soldiers (Country Reports 1997 1998, 259; Post Express Wired 2 July 1997; ibid. 7 Aug. 1998). Reports also indicate that police officers and soldiers have been arrested or dismissed in connection with illegal activities at roadblocks in many instances (AFP 11 Aug. 1998; ibid. 24 Aug. 1998; Effect for A Change Mar. 1997, 3; Post Express Wired 2 Jul. 1997; ibid. 9 Aug. 1998; ibid. 21 Aug. 1998; ibid. 31 Aug. 1998; Vanguard 27 Sept. 1998).

The Nigerian press provides evidence that extortion at roadblocks has been systemic and coordinated at high levels within the police (Post Express Wired 6 Oct. 1997). For example, in October 1997 it was reported in the Nigerian press that two unnamed senior officers – a superintendent of police (SP) and a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) – of the mobile police unit (MOPOL 19) in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers state, had issued standing orders that the police officers under their command were to pay them N6,000 daily from each checkpoint in the city, and on Saturdays the amount was to be N8,000 from each checkpoint (ibid.). The money was to be collected from motorists stopped at the checkpoints (ibid.). The article further alleged that the SP and DSP also hired out police officers under their command as private security guards for N1,500 per day per police officer, of which N100 was paid to each police officer whose services were contracted out (ibid.).

Media reports indicate that 113 law enforcement officials and military personnel, including 14 members of Oyo state's Operation Gbale and 8 customs officers, were arrested for extortion at roadblocks on various occasions in the states of Benue, Edo, Enugu, Kano, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Oyo, Plateau and Taraba between January 1997 and August 1998 (ibid. 15 May 1997; ibid. 22 May 1997; ibid. 5 June 1997; ibid. 24 June 1997; ibid. 2 July 1997; ibid. 7 Dec. 1997; ibid. 5 Feb. 1998; Xinhua 14 June 1997; AFP 11 Aug. 1998).

Extortion at roadblocks appears to have resulted in death on numerous occasions. On 24 March 1997 taxi driver Najim Oloko was allegedly killed by a police inspector who shot him in the face after he refused to pay him a bribe at a roadblock on Lagos-Ibadan expressway (Effect for A Change Mar. 1997, 3). The inspector was arrested (ibid.), but further information on this case was unavailable in the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Country Reports 1997 reports that in late November 1997 a policeman killed Solomon Areigbore, a local prince in Delta state, after Areigbore failed to pay a bribe at a roadblock (1998, 259). Areigbore was reportedly shot in the head by a policeman after officers pursued him to his home. By year's end no action had been taken against the officer who allegedly killed Areigbore (ibid.).[2]2 On 18 July 1998 14 people, including a police Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) were reportedly killed in an exchange of gunfire between police and truck drivers after a truck driver was killed at a police roadblock in Ondo state when he refused to pay police a bribe of N20, offering N10 instead (Vanguard 19 July 1998; ibid. 20 July 1998; DPA 20 July 1998; AFP 20 July 1998).

Several policemen in Benue state were arrested and put on trial in connection with the January 1997 shooting death of a Makurdi businessman, Chief Cyprian Okpala (also known as Ceeson) and his travelling companion Chi Dio (Post Express Wired 21 Aug. 1997). Seven mobile policemen were originally arrested and released in connection with the deaths, then rearrested (ibid.). Four other police officers were also charged in connection with the incident (ibid.). The seven officers allegedly shot and killed Okpala and Dio after hearing false information over the police radio from other officers that the two, who were travelling by car, were armed robbers (ibid.). The four police officers, operating in the town of Daudu, had allegedly broadcast the false report after Okpala and Dio paid them a bribe of N20 instead of the N30 they had demanded (ibid.). According to a later report, 10 of the 11 policemen stood trial in connection with the deaths (ibid. 30 July 1998). Of the 10 accused officers, 2 were sentenced to death, 2 were sentenced to prison terms and the other 6 were acquitted (ibid. 9 Aug. 1998).

An NDLEA officer was arrested in connection with the 16 August 1998 shooting death of a vegetable dealer in Borno state who refused to give NDLEA officers N2,000 at a roadblock (ibid. 21 Aug. 1998).

Three police officers were arrested in Jigawa state after one of them allegedly killed the driver and two passengers of a truck they had stopped at a roadblock on 30 August 1998, because they were unsatisfied with the N30 bribe offered by the driver (ibid. 31 Aug. 1998).

Members of the public in Nigeria have complained to the authorities about extortion at roadblocks, and in some cases have taken action against it. For example, residents of the Logo Local Government Area in Benue state asked the state administrator to take action against soldiers stationed in the area who were extorting money from them at roadblocks (ibid. 11 Sept. 1998). At the time of writing no further information on the result of the residents' request was available among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. In Akwa Ibom state, commercial motorcyclists in Uyo, the state capital, complained in an open meeting with State Administrator Group Captain John Ebiye that the local police were extorting money from them, and that motorcyclists who refused to pay the demanded bribe were often taken to police stations where they were detained until they paid N300 to N500 in bribes (ibid. 15 Sept. 1998). The state administrator responded by asking complainants to contact him directly through a special phone line set up to receive complaints (ibid.).

On 13 August 1997 bus drivers in the Ojo Local Government Area in Lagos staged a strike to protest extortion by police and traffic wardens (ibid. 15 Aug. 1997). In August 1998, commercial drivers in the Alimosho Local Government Area in Lagos announced their intention to stage a protest against police harassment, including extortion of money (Vanguard 4 Aug. 1998).

On various occasions Nigerian government and police officials have publicly acknowledged the problem of extortion at roadblocks and announced their intention to take action against it. In May 1997, Lagos state administrator Colonel Mohammed Marwa publicly warned members of Operation Sweep to stop taking money from motorists (Post Express Wired 16 May 1997). On 21 May 1998 Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) of Police Rachel Iyamabo, while addressing members of the Taraba state police in Jalingo, drew attention to the fact that police weapons were being used for criminal purposes and that police officers were extorting money at roadblocks (ibid. 21 May 1998). Observing that corruption and abuse was on the rise in the police force, the AIG warned her audience that officers had been dismissed for such behaviour and that others would be disciplined if necessary (ibid.).

On 23 April 1997 the justice commissioner of Ekiti state, Chief Makanjuola Esan, asked Nigeria's IG of police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, to put a stop to the police practice of extorting money from motorists at roadblocks, stating that it was imposing unfair burdens on commuters (ibid. 25 Apr. 1997).

IG Coomassie took the opportunity of a police graduation ceremony in July 1998 to warn the new police officers against corrupt practices (Today 19-25 July 1998). The IG added that as part of his campaign against police corruption and extortion, he had recently ordered the removal of all police roadblocks (ibid.). However, the order was not implemented, according to the Daily Times, quoted by AFP (AFP 20 July 1998). According to the Daily Times, the order to dismantle the roadblocks was apparently misunderstood or disregarded by the police (ibid.). Nigerian media reports indicate that police roadblocks continued to be mounted after July 1998 (Post Express Wired 7 Aug. 1998; ibid. 21 Aug. 1998; ibid. 31 Aug. 1998, ibid. 15 Oct. 1998).

2.3 Other Instances of Corruption and Violence

On 3 September 1998 a police corporal allegedly shot and killed a 19-year-old dockworker at the Apapa port, near Lagos, when the latter refused to give the corporal a bribe (Vanguard 4 Sept. 1998). Dockworkers at the port burned the police officer's car and stopped work in protest after the shooting (ibid.).

Civilians have also been reported killed by law enforcement officials in connection with disputes over gasoline. Gas station manager Kehinde Ehindero died after being arrested by NDLEA agents in March 1997 when he failed to give them gas, the station being stocked only with kerosene at the time (Country Reports 1997 1998, 259). The NDLEA agent who allegedly killed Ehindero was arrested and released (ibid.). In June 1997 another gas station manager, James Olugbenga Dosumu, reportedly was killed by a deputy superintendent of customs when he refused to give customs officers gas (UN 16 Feb. 1998, 7; Country Reports 1997 1998, 259). No action was taken against the deputy superintendent (ibid.). On 2 November 1998 a member of a federal highway patrol team shot and killed two men at a gas station in Patani, Delta state, after the owner of the gas station refused to give the officers money and demanded that they pay for gas they had taken from his station (Post Express Wired 3 Nov. 1998). Three of the four members of the highway patrol team were subsequently captured by local residents and detained at the Patani police station (ibid.).

2.4 Official Reaction to Instances of Corruption and Violence

The following subsection is based largely on media accounts of official reaction to abuses against the public by law enforcement officials in connection with corruption. None of the sources cited in this subsection mentions roadblocks, but it is possible that some of the disciplinary actions mentioned below stem from violations committed at roadblocks.

The Nigerian police force announced in December 1997 that a special police unit that had been established in February 1994 to investigate corruption in law enforcement agencies had arrested 770-775 law enforcement officials to date (Xinhua 29 Dec. 1997; ibid. 1 Feb. 1998; Post Express Wired 18 Dec. 1997). One of the sources claims that of those arrested, 651[3]3 were police officers, 52 were customs officers, 46 were vehicle inspection officers, and 26 were Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) road marshals (ibid.).

On 20 January 1998, Major General Musa Bamayi, the head of the NDLEA, strongly condemned the practice of some NDLEA agents of extorting money from members of the public by falsely accusing them of committing crimes (NTA Television 20 Jan. 1998). Bamayi did not state how many NDLEA operatives had committed such extortion, nor did he name any operatives in particular or state whether any operatives had been arrested or dismissed (ibid.).

An officer of the NDLEA, Agbo Gilbert Major, was arraigned in court on a charge of having extorted N22,000 from Odoki George on 14 May 1998 in Lagos in exchange for immunity from prosecution on a false charge of drug dealing (Post Express Wired 1 June 1998).

On 16 October 1998 the Idimu police station in Lagos was raided by operatives of the office of the IG of police (Africa News Online/P.M. News 20 Oct. 1998). An unspecified number of police officers assigned to the station were arrested after a large sum of money was found in their possession (ibid.).

Nigerian authorities reported on 24 August 1998 that 170 Lagos policemen had recently been arrested for extortion (AFP 24 Aug. 1998). A Lagos police spokesman was quoted as stating that police officers who demanded money from the public would be dismissed (ibid.).

2.5 Abuses by persons posing as police or soldiers

Commenting on incidents that had taken place in Lagos, a military spokesman was quoted in January 1998 as stating that some of the people wearing military uniforms who extort money from the public might not be soldiers, as "[t]here are a lot of people now wearing uniforms to get immunity" (Post Express Wired 29 Jan. 1998). On 15 September 1998 an 18-year-old armed civilian wearing an army uniform and claiming to be a petroleum task force member was arrested at a gas station in Akwa Ibom state after he solicited a bribe from the gas station's owner (ibid. 21 Sept. 1998).

On 1 July 1998 the local branch of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) complained to Lagos state administrator Colonel Mohammed Marwa that uniformed men, claiming to be members of anti-crime task forces, were extorting money from motorists (Vanguard 2 July 1998). A representative of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation is quoted in a 14 November 1998 article as stating that people have been impersonating task force operatives for years, and that it is possible that some of the recent incidents of extortion and other abuse allegedly carried out by members of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation had been carried out by impersonators (The Guardian 14 Nov. 1998).

A US State Department Consular Information Sheet on Nigeria, dated 10 July 1998, warns travellers that violent crime, sometimes committed by people wearing police and army uniforms, is a serious problem in Nigeria.

In May 1998 it was reported that the AIG of police, Rachel Iyamabo, stated that some police officers were cooperating with armed robbers (Post Express Wired 25 May 1998). A Nigerian professor of public administration, Bamidele Olowu, stated that it is common knowledge in Nigeria that armed robbers use police weapons and sometimes borrow uniforms from the police, a situation he attributes in part to the fact that low pay drives police officers to seek additional sources of income (17 Oct. 1998).

2.6 Civilian Legal Action Against Police

Recently there have been two cases reported of Nigerian civilians launching lawsuits against the police for alleged misconduct. Vanguard reports that the family of a nine-year-old boy who claims to have been shot and seriously injured by members of Operation Sweep during a riot on 7 October 1998, had launched a lawsuit for N10.5 million in damages against the Lagos commissioner of police, the state's attorney-general, and the administrator of Lagos state, Colonel Mohammed Marwa (8 Nov. 1998; Africa News Service 9 Nov. 1998). The nine-year-old plaintiff is not identified by name, but his father is Azubike Ebuzoene (Vanguard 8 Nov. 1998).

In another case the Constitutional Rights Project, a Nigerian human rights organization, filed a lawsuit in November 1998 on behalf of five Nigerians who claim that police officers in Lagos state arrested them on 31 October and 1 November 1998 for the sole purpose of extorting money from them (Information Access Company/P.M. News 24 Nov. 1998). Named as defendants in the suit are the attorneys-general of Nigeria and of Lagos state, the IG of police of Nigeria, the Lagos state commissioner of police, and three police officers based in the Alakara police station in Lagos state (ibid.). Further information on these cases was unavailable in the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.


3.1  Pre-trial Police Custody of Detainees in General

Press reports indicate that police officers in Nigeria have taken bribes from arrested persons in return for release from custody. A 29 September 1997 Post Express Wired article on corruption in Nigeria stated that police officers routinely collect "tolls" from detainees based on their estimates of detainees' capacity to pay, and that this has led to a situation where criminal cases are characterized by efforts of complainants and suspects to outbid each other for police action–or inaction–in prosecuting the case. AIG Rachel Iyamabo also stated that police officers were taking bribes from both suspects and complainants in criminal cases (ibid. 25 May 1998). Furthermore Nigerian lawyer Festus Okoye stated that if a person is a victim of a crime in Nigeria (a burglary, for example) and a suspect is arrested, the police are more likely to prosecute the suspect if the victim is an influential person or knows influential people who are in a position to apply pressure on the police, and if the victim pays a substantial bribe–bearing in mind that the suspect is also likely to bribe the police to "kill" the case (Festus Okoye 6 Oct. 1998).

Sources claim that police officers illegally collect bribe money in return for granting bail to suspects (Post Express Wired 25 May 1998; Sesegul 2 Oct. 1998; UN 16 Feb. 1998, 9, 22). Jegede Sesegul, Director of Programs of the CDHR, stated that people are often picked up on one pretext or another and taken to a police station where their relatives are called to pay a "ransom" of, usually, N1,000-5,000 to gain their release (2 Oct. 1998). This is reflected in the claims of a group of people, arrested in Ekiti state in January 1998 in connection with a suspicious death, that the police had illicitly collected over N30,000 from them before granting them bail (Post Express Wired 18 Jan. 1998). Nigerian lawyers Yinka Abiose and Festus Okoye[4]4 stated that in the majority of cases, detainees must bribe police in order to get bail (Abiose 27 Nov. 1998; Festus Okoye 2 Dec. 1998). Another Nigerian lawyer, Chidi Odinkalu[5]5, stated that the police are legally authorized to grant bail under certain circumstances, but a detainee may persuade them to grant bail by bribery or other arrangements, even in those cases where they do not have the legal authority to grant bail (28 Sept. 1998). A detainee may also arrange for a file to disappear after the detainee has been released on bail, which means the case will not proceed (ibid.).

Festus Okoye stated that most inmates of Nigerian prisons are people who could not pay a bribe to the police to get their cases dropped (6 Oct. 1998). Such bribes, according to Festus Okoye, may be N2,000-3,000 for minor offences or up to N50,000 for drug charges. (6 Oct. 1998). The amount demanded also depends on the influence and financial means of the alleged victim of the arrested person (ibid.). [6]6

The analyses of Sesegul and Festus Okoye are illustrated by the following two cases reported in the Nigerian media. The CDHR reported on the case of Mohammed Abdulahi who was arrested by the police at a bus stop in 1994, and, because he lacked the means to bribe the police, remained in detention until 7 March 1997, when the CDHR agreed to provide him with legal aid and the charge was dropped (Victims Mar. 1997, 7). The Week reported in June 1997 that an unidentified young man had been beaten and arrested near Iyana Ekoro in Lagos by a group of police officers in a van who accosted him on the street. The next day the police reportedly released the man and closed the case in return for a payment of N2,500 (30 June 1997).

According to Sesegul, if detainees or their families do not have the money to pay the "ransom" demanded by the police, the detainees may be remanded into custody indefinitely, as "awaiting-trial inmates." Sesegul believes that about 50 per cent of inmates in Nigerian prisons are awaiting trial (2 Oct. 1998), while Nigeria's minister of internal affairs, Musa Yakubu, has stated that about 60 per cent of the inmates in Nigeria's prisons are awaiting trial, among them 1,425 out of the 1,516 inmates at Ikoyin prison in Lagos (PANA 19 Oct. 1998; Vanguard 17 Sept. 1998). Yakubu also stated that some inmates have been awaiting trial for five years (Vanguard 17 Sept. 1998), and Country Reports 1997 reports that inmates in Nigerian prisons are often detained for much longer than the three months that is the maximum period between arraignment and trial mandated by Nigerian law for most types of crimes (1998, 264), and that trials may be delayed for years (ibid.; Vanguard 17 Sept. 1998).

News reports indicate that some Nigerian police officers have been disciplined in connection with alleged bribery and disappearances of suspects under suspicious circumstances. For example, in April 1997 Police Constable Edim Archibong was summoned to the Cross River State Robbery and Firearms Tribunal to answer questions about the disappearance from Ikom prison of Chinyere Okorie, a female robbery suspect arrested and denied bail the year before (Post Express Wired 24 Apr. 1997). The constable was suspected of failing to return the suspect to Ikom prison after a bail hearing (ibid.).

On 28 May 1997, IG Coomassie ordered the police to investigate within one month an allegation that a suspect in a criminal case had given the police an N4 million bribe in exchange for being allowed to go into exile. The allegation was made in April by Vincent Obidiozor Duru, who was on trial at the Robbery and Firearms Tribunal in Imo state (Post Express Wired 30 May 1997). On 30 May 1997 Vincent Obidiozor Duru was sentenced to death and was executed on 31 July 1997 (AI 22 Sept. 1997, 27).

According to Nigerian lawyers Yinka Abiose, Anebi Adoga, Yohanna Madaki, and Chidi Odinkalu and professors Julius Ihonvbere and Pat Utomi[7]7, persons who are arrested in Nigeria can procure their freedom by bribing police officers under certain circumstances (Abiose 4 Sept. 1998; Adoga 1 Sept. 1998; Madaki 29 Sept. 1998; Odinkalu 28 Sept. 1998; Ihonvbere 8 Sept. 1998; Utomi 8 Sept. 1998). Abiose stated that the feasibility of procuring freedom by bribery is in inverse proportion to the seriousness of the charge (4 Sept. 1998).

Odinkalu preferred to discuss bribery in the context of the various "arrangements" that can be made when a person is dealing with the authorities. An "arrangement," in this context, may mean a straightforward payment of cash, but it could also involve influence peddling or calling on extended family or community loyalties (6 Oct. 1998). Odinkalu added that at the level of the police, it is easy, even routine, for detainees to arrange to be released (28 Sept. 1998). Olowu, on the other hand, expressed the view that it is difficult, but not impossible, for a detainee in Nigeria to "jump bail" by bribery (13 Sept. 1998).

3.2 Pre-trial Police Custody of Political Detainees

The following subsection is based almost entirely on interviews with oral sources, as little documentary information on the subject could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Sources consulted indicate that escape from police custody by bribery is generally more difficult in the cases of political detainees. One source consulted stated that escape by bribery would be very difficult for a political detainee because political cases are the responsibility of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) (Abiose 4 Sept. 1998). According to several other sources, the possibility of bribery depends in part on the extent to which the detainee is publicly known as a political opponent of the government: the better-known a detainee, the less likely that detainee can procure release by bribery (Ihonvbere 8 Sept. 1998; Ngoyi 25 Sept. 1998; Sesegul 2 Oct. 1998; Utomi 8 Sept. 1998).

Other sources indicated that if high levels of government have taken a special interest in a detainee's case, it is unlikely that that detainee will be able to procure freedom by bribery (Odinkalu 28 Sept. 1998; Festus Okoye 6 Oct. 1998; Olowu 13 Sept. 1998).

Festus Okoye stated that bribery may be an effective means of procuring release in certain cases that could be considered "political," but which involve people who are not well-known opponents of the regime, such as students arrested at anti-government demonstrations (6 Oct. 1998). According to Sesegul, the CDHR is aware of cases of successful bribery by political detainees who were not known to the public: for example, persons who were arrested at demonstrations in Lagos following the death of Moshood Abiola in July 1998 (2 Oct. 1998). Father John Patrick Ngoyi of the Justice, Development and Peace Commission in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state stated that such low-profile cases have usually not been brought to trial (25 Sept. 1998). Ngoyi and Odinkalu observed that such persons have often been detained under Decree 2 of 1984[8]8 (Ngoyi 25 Sept. 1998; Odinkalu 28 Sept. 1998)On the other hand, a person who has been formally charged with an offence cannot procure release from custody by bribery, according to Ngoyi (25 Sept. 1998). Speaking of the Abacha period, Ngoyi stated that "ordinary political prisoners" (i.e. people who are not known publicly through the media as members of the National Democratic Coalition – NADECO – or other opposition organizations), generally could procure their freedom by bribing the police (25 Sept. 1998). According to Madaki, there have been no new arrests under Decree 2 since the death of Abacha, with the possible exception of former government officials being investigated for fraud (Madaki 29 Sept. 1998).

The opinions of Ihonvbere, Ngoyi, Odinkalu, Festus Okoye, Sesegul and Utomi regarding the possibility of bribery in low-profile political cases are corroborated in the case of Ogonis discussed in an Amnesty International document published on 16 January 1998. The document, dealing with a mass arrest of members of the Ogoni community, observes that in the past, Ogoni detainees who were not thought to be high-level members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) were released after their families paid bribes to the military (AI 16 Jan. 1998).

3.3 Convicts and Prisons

According to sources consulted by the Research Directorate, obtaining freedom from prison (as opposed to from police custody) by bribery is not a simple or routine matter in Nigeria, although some of the sources indicated that bribery may sometimes play a role in creating conditions in which escapes from prison are possible (Ngoyi 27 Oct. 1998; Post Express Wired 14 June 1998; Utomi 8 Sept. 1998).

For example, an unnamed Nigerian inspector of prisons, interviewed in the Nigerian press in June 1997, attributed a spate of escapes from Nigerian prisons in part to corruption among prison staff (Post Express Wired 14 June 1997). While he did not mention any specific cases of bribery of prison staff by inmates, the inspector observed that prison staff were usually owed back pay and were therefore tempted to accept bribes from inmates (ibid.).

According to Utomi, guards or other prison officials could be bribed to facilitate a jailbreak, which possibly could include political prisoners. However, escape from custody under such circumstances would have to take the form of a jailbreak; the responsible officials would not simply take money from the prisoners and overtly let them go (8 Sept. 1998).

Festus Okoye, Ngoyi and Odinkalu reported that it is very difficult for convicts to procure release from prison by means of bribery (Festus Okoye 8 Oct. 1998; Ngoyi 25 Sept. 1998; Odinkalu 30 Sept. 1998). According to Odinkalu, a large amount of money must be exchanged in order to make it worth the risk of the responsible prison officials to lose their jobs (ibid.). Some sources stated that they are unaware of any case in which a convict has procured release by bribing guards, wardens or other prison officials (Abiose 4 Sept. 1998; Ihonvbere 8 Sept. 1998; Ngoyi 27 Oct. 1998; Sesegul 2 Oct. 1998), and some sources stated that they are not aware of any cases in which persons awaiting trial in prisons have been able to procure their freedom by bribery (Abiose 27 Oct. 1998; Festus Okoye 29 October 1998; Madaki 26 Oct. 1998; Ngoyi 27 Oct. 1998; Fabian Okoye 28 Oct. 1998). Regarding the cases of prison inmates who have not been convicted, Ngoyi stated that people who have the financial means to bribe the police, pay bail, and retain the services of a lawyer normally do not remain in pre-trial detention very long – unless they are political prisoners (27 Oct. 1998). It is the poor who usually await trial in detention (ibid.). Ngoyi added, however, that jailbreaks sometimes occur, and although he does not know of any case in which a person was released from prison or allowed to escape by bribing a guard or other prison official, he does not exclude the possibility that some jailbreaks may have been facilitated by bribes paid to guards (ibid.). Fabian Okoye, like Ngoyi, observed that in general awaiting-trial inmates in Nigerian prisons are poor, but he stated that it would be very difficult even for awaiting-trial inmates who had the means to bribe prison staff to procure their freedom by bribery (Fabian Okoye 28 Oct. 1998). Ihonvbere stated that in the case of an awaiting-trial prison inmate, it would be very difficult to procure freedom by bribery, because once a person has been consigned to prison, the justice ministry is involved, and loss of a prisoner would likely entail serious consequences for prison staff (4 Nov. 1998). Ihonvbere's assessment is consistent with an article in the Nigerian publication Tempo that stated that three officials of the prisons service were arrested by the DMI, tortured, and detained for three months on suspicion of having received bribes to allow a prisoner to escape (Africa News Online/Tempo 21 Oct. 1998).

While, as stated above, several sources stated that they are not aware of any cases in which a person who has been convicted has procured freedom by bribery, some sources stated that convicts may procure better conditions in prison by bribing prison staff (Adoga 1 Sept. 1998; Festus Okoye 6 Oct. 1998; Ihonvbere 8 Sept. 1998; Country Reports 1997 1998, 261-62).

Amnesty International, in a September 1997 report on Nigeria, observed that Nigerian prisons are overcrowded and under-funded, that prisoners who are awaiting trial are obliged to bribe police officers to obtain the stationery and transportation necessary to have their cases dealt with in the courts (22 Sept. 1997, 29). A statement from the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), quoted in an August 1998 article on Nigerian prisons, said that awaiting-trial Ogoni prisoners in a prison in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, were obliged to bribe prison officials in order to obtain buckets for washing, and that relatives of the prisoners are obliged to pay N100 to N200 in order to visit the prisoners (IPS 16 Aug. 1998). Amnesty International also reported that in July 1997, 60 prison officials had been arrested by the DMI for allegedly having allowed political detainees to receive visits from relatives (22 Sept. 1997, 23).


4.1    The Regular Court System

According to Odinkalu, the higher up one goes in the court system, the harder it is to make an arrangement with the judge (please see section 3.1 for Odinkalu's working definition of "arrangement"). Odinkalu noted that the Nigerian judicial system is divided into the following levels:

i) The Customary Courts.

ii) The Magistrates' Courts (so called in the south; in the north, they are called District Courts or Area Courts).

iii) High Courts: one in each state, and a federal High Court (at the same level there are the State Customary Courts of Appeal and the State Sharia Courts of Appeal).

iv) Court of Appeal.

v) Supreme Court. (28 Sept. 1998)

Odinkalu believes that at levels iv) and v), the possibility of avoiding conviction by bribery is "near zero." This is due in part to the fact that at least three judges sit on the Court of Appeal, and at least five sit on the Supreme Court (28 Sept. 1998). On the other hand, according to Odinkalu, corrupt arrangements are routine in Magistrates' courts, and arrangements can sometimes be made at the level of the High Court, with a larger bribe (28 Sept. 1998).

Odinkalu's analysis is corroborated by other sources that indicate that the court system is generally corrupt, but that corruption is higher at lower levels of the court system (Madaki 29 Sept.1998; Adoga 1 Sept. 1998; Festus Okoye 6 Oct. 1998; Sesegul 2 Oct. 1998). Madaki stated that bribery occurs on a daily basis in lower courts (29 Sept. 1998). The chief judge of Akwa Ibom state, Justice Edet Robert Nkop, revealed in July 1998 that corruption was rife within the Customary Courts of his state (Post Express Wired 31 July 1998).

Some sources consulted by the Research Directorate indicated that defendants may avoid conviction by bribing judges in Nigerian courts under some circumstances: for example, if the defendant is not well-known and the case is before a lower court, such as a Customary Court or a Magistrates' Court (Adoga 1 Sept. 1998; Ihonvbere 8 Sept. 1998; Festus Okoye 6 Oct. 1998); others indicated in more general terms that bribery takes place in the Nigerian judicial system, without explicitly stating that a defendant could effectively buy acquittal (Madaki 29 Sept. 1998; Ngoyi 25 Sept. 1998; Odinkalu 28 Sept. 1998; Olowu 13 Sept. 1998), and one, Abiose, stated that Nigerian judges have often been accused of receiving bribes in return for acquittal (4 Sept. 1998). Sesegul stated that he does not know of any case in which a person who was standing trial has been able to procure acquittal by bribing a judge, although he does not rule out the possibility that it may happen (2 Oct. 1998).

Cornelius Adebayo claims that judges are generally corruptible in the regular court system (as opposed to the special tribunals–see section 4.3), but the level of corruptibility depends on the appointment: e.g. a judge who is also a presidential appointee is likely to administer justice according to the dictates of the person who appointed him/her, and thus is harder to bribe (8 Oct. 1998). Adebayo stressed that there is no independence of the judiciary in Nigeria, adding that judges who insist on behaving ethically sometimes get into trouble. They may be dismissed or retired or they could be denied "perquisites" (ibid.).

Documentary sources provide substantial evidence of corruption in the Nigerian judicial system. For example, according to Human Rights Watch World Report 1998, after local elections in 1997, tribunals ruling in cases of contested elections often decided in favour of the side that paid the largest bribe (1998, 55). Then-President Sani Abacha, on 17 November 1997, expressed his dissatisfaction with the performance of those tribunals (AFP 17 Nov. 1997). In December 1997 the government of Cross River state established a commission of inquiry into allegations of corruption among lawyers who were sitting on two Local Government Election Tribunals in the state (Post Express Wired 23 Dec. 1997). The state branch of the Nigerian Bar Association registered its opposition to the inquiry (ibid.). In January 1998 a judge in this same state was accused accepting a bribe of 1,000 British pounds to use his influence to procure a favourable judgement for a local politician who was a defendant before a Local Government Election Tribunal (ibid. 12 Jan. 1998).

Nigerian lawyers and judges have spoken out in the Nigerian press on the problem of corruption in the judiciary. The chief judge of Taraba state, Justice Adamu Aliyu, stated in January 1998 that there were corrupt judges in the state (Post Express Wired 5 Jan. 1998). Speaking at a swearing-in ceremony for seven new judges, Justice Aliyu was quoted as stating that most of the complaints of corruption among "judicial officers" in the past few years had turned out to be based on fact (ibid.). Marc Enamhe, after becoming chairman of the Ogoja chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association in June 1998, called on Nigeria's federal government to take action against corrupt members of the judiciary, stating that some judges had been lured into corruption by lawyers (ibid. 23 June 1998).

According to Ihonvbere, bribery in the judicial setting can take various forms. For example, in addition to bribing judges to acquit, defendants may pay prosecuting police officers not to show up in court, or they may pay prosecuting lawyers to make a bad case that will result in acquittal, or a judge may also be bribed to delay a case, thereby giving the defendant the opportunity to leave the country (8 Sept. 1998). A person who has been formally charged with an offence (but is not yet on trial) may bribe the judge to dismiss the case on some pretext or other (Festus Okoye 6 Oct. 1998). In September 1997 Amnesty International reported that inmates in Nigerian prisons who are awaiting trial often must bribe officials of the judiciary sector to ensure that their cases are not neglected or indefinitely delayed (22 Sept. 1997, 29). Outcomes of trials may also be affected by bribes paid to clerical court staff without the judge necessarily knowing about it. For example, a charge sheet may be lost or the file may be distorted (Madaki 29 Sept. 1998). The chief judge of Akwa Ibom state, Justice Edet Robert Nkop, stated that some Customary Court presidents refused to deal with cases until the litigants bribed them, on the pretext that the proffered payments would be given to higher judicial authorities in exchange for a favourable judgement (Post Express Wired 31 July 1998).

4.2 Political Cases in the Regular Court System

 With regard to political cases, both Madaki and Ihonvbere stated that the possibility of defendants procuring acquittal by bribing judges depends on the extent to which the defendant is known: the higher the defendant's profile as a political opponent of the government, the less likely bribery will be effective (Ihonvbere 8 Sept. 1998; Madaki 29 Sept. 1998). Odinkalu stated that corrupt arrangements are routine in Magistrates' courts, which, unlike Customary Courts, may take political cases (28 Sept. 1998).

Abiose, Adoga, Ngoyi, and Festus Okoye all stated that they are not aware of any instances in which defendants in political cases have procured acquittal by bribery (Abiose 4 Sept. 1998; Adoga 1 Sept. 1998; Ngoyi 25 Sept. 1998; Festus Okoye 6 Oct. 1998). Abiose and Adoga added, however, that they would not want to discount the possibility that political defendants could sometimes procure acquittal by such means (Abiose 4 Sept. 1998; Adoga 1 Sept. 1998). Festus Okoye stressed that political detainees rarely go to trial, as they are usually held under Decree 2 of 1984 (see footnote 4), which does not require the involvement of the judiciary (6 Oct. 1998).

4.3 Special Tribunals

With regard to the special tribunals[9]9, sources consulted by the Research Directorate indicated that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for defendants before those tribunals to obtain acquittal by bribery.

Adebayo stated that special tribunals were established by the authorities for the express purpose of convicting defendants (8 Oct. 1998). Odinkalu estimates that in 85-90% of cases brought before special tribunals, conviction is a foregone conclusion (28 Sept. 1998). Moreover, special tribunals are not subject to normal judicial processes (Adebayo 8 Oct. 1998).

Ngoyi believes that it would be more difficult to procure acquittal by bribery in a special tribunal, partly because, at least during Abacha's time, members of the special tribunals were paid more than judges in the regular courts (25 Sept. 1998).

Odinkalu also believes that in cases before special tribunals, usually bribes do not make a difference. This is due in part to the fact that the government makes it clear to members of the special tribunals that it assigns high priority to the cases brought before them; therefore the government would not look kindly on the release of a potentially-guilty defendant in exchange for a bribe or other arrangement (28 Sept. 1998). A defendant before a special tribunal may be fined instead of sentenced to a prison term (ibid.); there cannot be negotiations over conviction or acquittal, but there can be negotiations over the sentence (ibid.; Madaki 29 Sept. 1998; Sesegul 2 Oct. 1998), except in treason cases (Madaki 29 Sept. 1998). To Odinkalu's knowledge, the only cases in which people have been released by special tribunals were cases of mistaken identity (28 Sept. 1998).


The head of the Nigerian customs service, General Samuel Ango, told the media in February 1997 that nearly 2,000 customs officers had been dismissed, about half for corruption (AFP 16 Feb. 1997; West Africa 24 Feb.-2 Mar. 1997). No further information on the reasons for the dismissal of the others was available among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Ango added that more customs officers could be dismissed as the customs service modernizes its operations (ibid.; AFP 16 Feb. 1997).

On 17 August 1998 the Nigerian government announced the introduction of new passports which are machine-readable, contain safety features to make forgery more difficult, and are approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) (PANA 18 Aug. 1998; Vanguard 18 Aug. 1998; NTA Television 17 Aug. 1998; Xinhua 18 Aug. 1998). PANA reported that the system associated with the issuance of the old Nigerian passport was so corrupt that it had become easy for non-Nigerians to acquire the document (18 Aug. 1998). The permanent secretary of Nigeria's internal affairs ministry, Salihu Jega, reportedly warned Nigerian immigration officials not to extort money from applicants for the new passports (ibid., Vanguard 18 Aug. 1998). Vanguard also reported that immigration officers had allegedly extorted money from applicants for the old passport in the form of a fraudulent N300 "State Security Service" (SSS) fee (ibid.).

In July 1998 it was reported that employees of the Kebbi State Pilgrims Welfare Agency (KSPWA) had been stealing the passports of Nigerian Muslims who were planning to perform pilgrimages to the Islamic holy places in Saudi Arabia (Today 12-18 July 1998). Airport security officers revealed an instance in which an official of KSPWA had removed the photo from the passport of one of the pilgrims whose travel he was coordinating and replaced it with a photograph of a different person, with the result that the passport's legitimate holder could not travel (Today 12-18 July 1998). That incident was confirmed by the Executive Secretary of KSPWA (ibid.). The new passports are designed in such a way that the bearers' photographs cannot be removed, as they could be in the old ones (Guardian 4 Nov. 1998).

Both Ihonvbere and Ngoyi stated that if a Nigerian's passport has been seized by the authorities, he or she cannot recover the original passport by bribery, but it is a simple matter for a person in that situation to procure a new passport by bribery (Ihonvbere 8 Sept. 1998; Ngoyi 25 Sept. 1998). It is not clear, however, if this applies to the new passports as well. According to Odinkalu, it is possible for a person whose passport was seized to get it back through illicit arrangements in some cases; but he added that it is unlikely that a person whose passport was seized for political reasons would be able to arrange to get another one if that person has public visibility (28 Sept. 1998). Similarly, Madaki stated that in cases where a person's passport is seized, they are usually a known opponent of the government, and it is very rare for such persons to get their passports back by bribery (29 Sept. 1998).

Asked about the options open to a person who has been barred from leaving Nigeria, Odinkalu stated that there is usually no explicit ban on leaving the country. However, a passport is required to board an international flight, and a person may be put on a computerized passport confiscation or watch list at the airport. (Odinkalu 28 Sept. 1998). There are two databases of such names: the political list and the NDLEA list. If a person's name is on the political list, the computer makes a single long beep when the name is entered into the computer at the airport. If this takes place at the Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos, the person will be questioned by officials of the State Security Service (SSS). If a person's name is on the NDLEA list, the computer makes two short beeps, and the person will be questioned by officials of the NDLEA (ibid.). There are other international airports in Nigeria, but Murtala Muhammed is the one Odinkalu is familiar with. According to Odinkalu, it is easier for a person who is on the political list to make arrangements to pass through passport control than for a person who is on the NDLEA list, because security agents dealing with political cases are more likely to be "sympathetic to political dissidents" than NDLEA agents are to be sympathetic towards suspected drug dealers (ibid.). According to Odinkalu, there are two ways to get past security checks at the airport: the first is to arrange to have a security agent (SSS, military, police or immigration officer) act as a personal escort past passport control (ibid.; Ihonvbere 8 Sept. 1998); the second is to board a flight through the VIP lounge (Odinkalu 28 Sept. 1998). Both ways can be done by bribery or other arrangements (ibid.). Festus Okoye, however, stated that he is not aware of any instance in which a person on the passport watch list has been able to board a flight leaving Nigeria (2 Dec. 1998).

Another option for a person trying to leave the country illicitly is to cross the border by land. According to Odinkalu and Festus Okoye it is easier to make arrangements with officials at land border crossing-points than at the airport (Odinkalu 28 Sept. 1998; Festus Okoye 2 Dec. 1998). People may cross the border within ECOWAS with a special ECOWAS pass, or with no identification at all (Odinkalu 28 Sept. 1998). Political dissidents may also cross the border by posing as a trader crossing the border on business (ibid.).


Yinka Abiose

Yinka Abiose is a Nigerian lawyer in general practice based in Ibadan. Mr. Abiose worked for Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Chief Olisa Dhukura from 1978 to 1987, and has been in private practice since 1987.

Cornelius Olatunji Adebayo

Chief Cornelius Olatunji Adebayo was the representative in Canada of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), an umbrella grouping of Nigerian political opposition organizations, from January 1998 until his return to Nigeria on 5 November 1998 (Vanguard 6 Nov. 1998). Chief Adebayo was a member of the Nigerian Senate from 1979 to 1983 and was elected as Executive Governor of Kwara state in 1983, but was removed from his post as a result of a military coup in December 1983. Chief Adebayo was the founding chairman of the Publicity Committee of NADECO.

Anebi Adoga

Anebi Adoga is a Nigerian human rights lawyer and member of NADECO based in Washington, DC. Mr. Adoga co-founded the Nigerian human rights organization Human Rights Monitor in 1988 and subsequently served as its Executive Director. Mr. Adoga was also one of the founders of the Kaduna chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation.

Julius Ihonvbere

Originally from Nigeria, Professor Ihonvbere is the chair of African politics at the University of Texas in Austin. He has taken a three-year leave of absence to work with the Ford Foundation in New York as program leader on pluralism issues. Professor Ihonvbere is the former president of the Organisation of Nigerians in America, and is currently vice-chair of the United Democratic Front of Nigeria (UDFN), an umbrella organization of exiled Nigerian opposition groups created in March 1996 (Political Handbook of the World: 1997 1997, 626; United Democratic Front of Nigeria 16 July 1998).

Yohanna Madaki

Colonel Yohanna Madaki is a retired colonel and a lawyer practising in Kaduna, as well as the former military governor of Gongola state (Abuja Mirror Oct. 1-6 1998), He has been practising law since he left the military in 1986. He is a human rights activist and a legal advisor for the People's Democratic Party (PDP), which counts among its members presidential candidate and former Nigerian head of state Olusegun Obasanjo (Post Express Wired 6 Nov. 1998; ibid. 19 Nov. 1998). The PDP was established in Lagos on 26 August 1998 (NTA TV 26 Aug. 1998).

John Patrick Ngoyi

A Catholic priest and citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Father Ngoyi is the director of the Justice, Development and Peace Commission in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state. Under the overall purview of the National Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Roman Catholic Church, the Justice, Development and Peace Commission works to promote the interests of small farmers, gender equality, human rights, and micro-credit in Ogun state. Father Ngoyi is the Chairman of the Lagos Ecclesiastical Province for Justice and Peace, and is on the board of directors of the Civil Liberties Organisation.

Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

A Nigerian national, Mr. Odinkalu lives in London, UK, where he is a senior legal officer for Interights, an international human rights law centre in London which focuses on Africa, the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and South Asia. A member of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Odinkalu is a solicitor and advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Mr. Odinkalu was Director of Projects and Planning for the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in Nigeria from 1991 to 1993, and in 1990-1991 he was the Deputy National Secretary and Head of Legal Resources for the CLO.

Fabian Ugochukwu Okoye

A Makurdi-based journalist, Mr. Okoye is the editor of publications for Human Rights Monitor.

Festus Okoye

Festus Okoye has practised law in Kaduna since 1985, with an emphasis on human rights law. He is the chairman of the Kaduna branch of the Nigeria Bar Association, and since 1993 has been the Executive Director of Human Rights Monitor, a human rights organization which produces two monthly publications, Legal Rights Monitor and Witness.

Bamidele Olowu

A senior lecturer in public policy and administration at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague since February 1998, Professor Olowu was a consultant with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 1995 to 1998. Previously he was a professor of public administration and local government at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

Post Express Wired

Post Express Wired is the on-line version of the Post Express, which describes itself as an independent Lagos newspaper that is not affiliated with any political, cultural, religious, ideological or ethnic group. It is published in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. The newspaper states, through its Internet website, that it deals primarily with the prospects for and the means of bringing about justice in Nigerian life. From 1996 to January 1998 the managing director and CEO of the Post Express was Stanley Macebuh, who also founded The Guardian in 1983. With the launching of the Post Express Wired in February 1997, the Post Express became the first Nigerian newspaper to be published on the Internet (Post Exprss Wired 28 Jan. 1998; 18 Feb. 1997).

Jegede Sesegul

Jegede Sesegul is the director of programs at the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR). The CDHR is a Lagos-based non-governmental human rights organization that seeks to raise awareness about human rights issues and provides legal aid to detainees.

Pat Utomi

Pat Utomi is a professor of competition and strategy and of the social and political environment of business, as well as a member of the board of directors of the Lagos Business School. He is also a member of the Nigerian branch of Transparency International, an international anti-corruption organization based in Berlin.


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Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 31 August 1998. Kolade Adeyemi. "Policemen Arrested for Killing Driver, Others." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 2 Nov. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 21 August 1998. Mato Adamu. "NDLEA Officer Kills Trader over Tip." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 2 Nov. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 9 August 1998. Ignatius Chukwu. "Two Policemen to Die for Murder." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 7 August 1998. "Garba Cautions Security Operatives on ..." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 17 Sept. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 31 July 1998. Mfon Ekefre. "Akwa Ibom C.J. Decries Corruption at Customary Courts" [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 30 July 1998. Ignatius Chukwu. "Court Rules on Murder Case Against Policemen Today." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 23 June 1998. "NBA Chief Calls for Punishment for Corrupt Lawyers." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 17 Sept. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 1 June 1998. Lukkey Abawuru. "NDLEA Official Docked for Extortion." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 25 May 1998. Ignatius Chukwu. "AIG Warns Policemen over Corruption, Extortion." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 21 May 1998. "AIG Laments Level of Corruption in Police Force." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 5 February 1998. "Eight Customs Men to Face Disciplinary Panel over Alleged Road Block." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 2 Nov. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 29 January 1998. Philip Nwosu. "Army to Clampdown (sic) on Wandering Soldiers." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 28 January 1998. "Macebuh Disengages from the Post Express." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 27 Nov. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 18 January 1998. Dare Ofolabi. "Police Investigate Allegation of Extortion Against Ikere-Ekiti Division." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 17 Sept. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 14 January 1998. Ignatius Chukwu. "Benue Launches Anti-Crime Squad." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 2 Nov. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 12 January 1998. Jude Okwe. "LG Polls: Alleged Bribery Rocks Tribunal in Cross River." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 5 January 1998. Reuben Yunana. "Taraba CJ Decries Corruption Among Judges." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 17 Sept. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 23 December 1997. Jude Okwe. "Cross River Raises Panel to Probe LG Polls Tribunals." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 17 Sept. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 18 December 1997. "Crack Squad Arrests 651 Corrupt Policemen." [Internet] ( ) [ Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 7 December 1997. Sabbath Abiodun. "11 Policemen Arrested for Extortion." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 6 October 1997. Jude Okwe. "Policemen Make N6,000 Daily Returns from Check Points in Rivers." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 29 September 1997. M.A.C. Odu. "Newspointerspectives on Issues of the Day: Corruption: The Nigerian Society." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 21 August 1997. "Seven Mobile Policemen Re-Arrested over Murder of Businessman, Driver." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 15 August 1997. Fabian Ozor and Jude Owuamanam. "Drivers Protest Police, Traffic Wardens Extortion." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 17 Sept. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 2 July 1997. Dele Ogunyemi. "7 'Operation Gbale' Men Sacked for Extortion." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 17 Sept. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 24 June 1997. "Police Sacks (sic) 35." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 14 June 1997. Sukuji Bakoji and Leonard Nzenwa Jnr. "Behind the Jailbreaks." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 1 Oct. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 5 June 1997. Sabath Abiodun. "Inspector Arrested for Unlawful Possession of Firearms." [Internet] ( [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 30 May 1997. "Otokoto: Police Get Ultimatum over N4m Bribe." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 22 May 1997. Ladimeji Kayode. "11 Cops, 8 Customs Officials Arrested for Extortion." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 16 May 1997. Jude Owuamaram. "Marwa to Deal with Fraudulent 'Operation Sweep' Operatives." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 15 May 1997. Agaju Madugba. "45 Policemen Sacked over Illegal Checkpoints." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 28 Aug. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 25 April 1997. "Commissioner Wants Check-Points Scrapped." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 17 Sept. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 24 April 1997. Jude Okwe. "Tribunal Summons Cop over Disappearance of Robbery Suspect." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 17 Sept. 1998]

Post Express Wired [Lagos]. 18 February 1997. "The Post Express on the Internet." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 27 Nov. 1998]

Sesegul, Jegede. 2 October 1998. Telephone interview.

Today [Abuja][10]10. 11-17 October 1998. Zainab Abdu Ali. "Marwa to Pay New Wage." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 14 Oct. 1998]

Today [Abuja]. 19-25 July 1998. Mubo Adegoke. "IG Warns Policemen." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 10 Sept. 1998]

Today [Abuja]. 12-18 July 1998. Shu'aib Yusuf. "Passport Racket Uncovered in Kebbi." [Internet] ( ) [Accessed 10 Sept. 1998]

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[1]1.           CDN$1.00 = 56.85 Nigerian Naira (Bloomberg Online: Currency Calculator, 14 Oct. 1998).

[2]2.           The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in a 16 February 1998 report, noted the case of a "Solomon Awighene" who was reportedly shot by police in November 1997 after he drove through a roadblock and refused to pay a bribe (United Nations 16 Feb. 1998, 7). It is not clear if the Rapporteur is referring to the Solomon Areigbore case.

[3]3.           In October 1997 the police announced the dismissal of 350 officers for various offences, including extortion (Post Express Wired 18 Dec. 1997). It is not clear whether the 350 dismissed officers were among the 651 police officers arrested since 1994.

[4]4.           Please see "Notes on Selected Sources" for information on Yinka Abiose and Festus Okoye.

[5]5.           Please see "Notes on Selected Sources" for information on Chidi Odinkalu.

[6]6.           Negotiations over an increase in the minimum wage for government employees reportedly took place in 1998. Reports of the amount of the new minimum wage vary from N1,299 per month for employees of all three levels of government (federal, state and local) (Guardian 12 Nov. 1998.; Africa News Online/P.M. News 11 Nov. 1998) to N2,800 per month for state employees and N5,200 per month for federal employees (Africa News Online/The News 12 Oct. 1998; PANA 9 Oct. 1998; Today 14 Oct. 1998; Vanguard 22 Sept. 1998). However, Festus Okoye notes that most Nigerians do not work in the public sector and have lower income levels (Festus Okoye 6 Oct. 1998).

[7]7.           Please see "Notes on Selected Sources" for information on these sources.

[8]8.           Decree No. 2, State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree of 1984, promulgated on 9 February 1984, gives police officers and soldiers the right to detain any person indefinitely on orders of the armed forces chief of staff, if the person is deemed to have harmed Nigeria's security or economy. The decree also specifies that no person may be prosecuted or sued for any act carried out on authority granted by the decree (Ogbondah 1994, 100). All police stations have photocopied warrants bearing photocopied signatures of either the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of the General Staff, or the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS), authorizing arrest under Decree 2 (Odinkalu 28 Sept. 1998).

[9]9.           Special tribunals are special courts established outside the regular judicial system to try persons accused of certain offences quickly. The head of a special tribunal may be a judge or senior military officer, and other members of the tribunal do not necessarily require legal training. Defendants have no right of appeal. Among the types of special tribunals are the Robbery and Firearms Tribunals, established in 1984, the Treason and Other Offences Special Military Tribunal, established in 1986, and the Civil Disturbances Special Tribunal, established in 1987 (AI Feb. 1989, 6, 7, 10, 12). Special tribunals have imposed the death penalty in many instances (UN 16 Feb. 1998, 7, 8).

[10]10.        No place of publication is mentioned in Today's website. The link to the website on another website dealing with human rights in Nigeria states that Today is published in the "Abuja enclave" (Nigeria Web 1998) [Internet]. A website maintained by Columbia University in New York gives "Nigeria" and "London" as the places of publication of the electronic version of Today (Columbia University 24 Aug. 1998) [Internet].


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