October 5, 1998.


IHRC is deeply concerned that the Commonwealth is hosting a meeting between the Commonwealth country Foreign Ministers, and the Nigerian Foreign Minister this week in London, UK. In the last two weeks, the new Nigerian Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar visited the UK, USA, France and the United Nations, in what appears to be the end of Nigeria’s isolation from the international community.

In July 1998 General Abubakar announced that all political prisoners have been released, and all charges against political opponents dropped. Some high profile Christian and secular prisoners were released, and as a result, western nations have begun a rapprochement with Nigeria. However the human rights situation for Muslim opponents of successive corrupt regimes in Nigeria has not improved.

As recently as September 25, 1998, three protestors demonstrating against the continued detention of the Zaria Four and other political prisoners, were shot dead by police, bringing the total killed by police in September to 34. Not a single prisoner from the Muslim opposition has been released. This includes the Zaria Four, led by Mu’allim Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky. Thanks to continued overseas pressure, the four were again offered bail, however they refused unless and until all prisoners from the movement were released.

Zeenah Ibrahim (the wife of Al-Zakzaky) and six of her children aged between eighteen months and twelve years are still charged with insulting the authorities. They and eight other women and ten other children were held in appalling police cell conditions for six weeks, before international pressure forced the Nigerian courts to release them on bail.

IHRC is calling on all campaigners to urgently e-mail, fax, write to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyakou, who is also Nigerian, asking him to ensure that Nigeria is not readmitted to the Commonwealth unless and until the points raised in the specimen letter below are addressed.

Please let us know of the responses you receive. Many thanks for all your efforts. May Allah s.w.t reward them. Ameen.

Specimen letter to Chief Emeka Anyakou, Secretary General, Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough hOuse, all Mall, London, SW1Y 5HX, UK, Tel: (44) 171 839 3411; Fax: (44) 171 930 6128,Telex: 27678/COMSEC
Email: info@commonwealth.int

Dear Secretary General,

re: Meeting of Commonwealth and Nigerian Foreign Ministers 8/9 October 1995

I am writing with deep concern about the above.

I hope that your office will ensure that the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers will be briefed about, and will be bringing up the cases of those Muslim protestors killed, imprisoned or wrongly charged, both before and after the death of General Sani Abacha. I hope that office will strongly argue that it is wrong for Nigeria to be readmitted to the Commonwealth unless and until all political wrongs are redressed.

As recently as September 25, three protestors in Kano were shot and killed by police, bringing the total of those killed in such protests to 34 for September. At the time of this meeting, there are at least, 134 members of the Muslim opposition imprisoned, some without trial and others without due process. There are many more held in police cells, and other who have been released on bail, but against whom charges remain.

I look forward to your confirmation of your office’s stance on this matter. It will be a serious misjudgement if your office does not make clear its support for these prisoners, and all those killed, harassed and incarcerated by the regime of General Abubakar.

Yours faithfully,