POLITICAL REPRESSION IN AFRICA AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF NIGERIA, LIBERIA AND SUDAN.

POLITICAL REPRESSION IN AFRICA AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF NIGERIA, LIBERIA AND SUDAN.

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ABSTRACT

This research grew out of the concern to investigate and determine the nature and manner the human rights posture in Africa under General Sani Abach’s military administration in Nigeria, Taylor in Liberia and Sudan crisis of Darfur region. This work sought to provide appropriate answers to three main questions as: The state of Human Rights in Africa under General Sani Abacha’s regime Taylor and Sudan crisis of Darfur region what occasioned the Human Rights violations under General Sani Abacha’s regime, Taylor and Sudan crisis? To uncover the areas where General Abacha’s regime, Taylor and Sudan crisis recognized and respected Human Rights and also areas they abused it. The significant finding of this exercise among has helped s to draw the following generalizations. Firstly, the Human Rights violation under General Sain Abacha, Taylor and Sudan crisis were as a result of their military orientations and self succession bid. Secondly, the Human Rights situation under General Sani Abacha’s regime, Taylor and Sudan crisis dented Africa’s image externally or internationally. Finally, the Human Rights, posture under General Sani Abacha’s regime Taylor and Sudan crisis have no precise definition or university accepted meaning and applicability.     

CHAPTER ONE

1.0      BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Human right repression as treated in constitutional law in one of the most inhuman treatments meted to man by man. It is mostly committed by powers of that which ironically are rather an established authority that should be the populace so as to get out the best in them for the multidimensional development of human and material in the nation.

Human right justified by basic moral principles. The term human rights usually refer to either the freedom to behave, within limits, as one pleases, or the entitlement of the individual to certain living conditions.

According to Nsirimon (1994) “the term human right means the conditions of life which men have right to expect by virtue of being a human being” Umouike (1997) also stated that “Human right are thus claims, which are invariably supported by law made by society especially on its officials, managers, by individuals or groups on the basis of their humanity.

Therefore human rights are the right everybody is entitled to virtue of his or her very humanity. It is concerned with protection of individual rights to life, liberty and property.

This is because, man is said to have inalienable right to life, liberty and property by nature. As a result of this, the united nations universal deceleration of human rights as adopted by the African charter of human and peoples right of the OUA which, provided for these rights in its sections 1,2 and 3. Chapter 4 of the Nigerian constitution also contains these rights of individuals.

The concern of the United Nations with promotion and protection of universal respect and observance of human right and fundamental freedom is an expression of the ever increasing interest of the international community in ensuring that these rights and freedoms shall be enjoyed by all human beings everywhere.

However, since 1948, after the adoption of the universal declaration of human right, all countries in the world, including those that had not gone through the long historical process of formation of the modern liberal democratic state have at their disposal an international code to decide how to conduct themselves and how to judge others.

The concept of freedom that it is  an inalienable  right and a foundation of a democratic society. Without freedom expression, governments can do act with impunity. The culture of secrecy breeds more secrecy and a government which cannot be held accountable to the people will inadvertently violate other fundamental right. Umosunike  (1997 p.5).

However, the under listed countries are to be discussed such as  : Nigeria, Liberia and Sudan.

In Nigeria, the statistics of infringement on press freedom during General Sani Abacha’s regime is staggering the regime in 1995 set a record by convicting and imprisoning journalists for plotting to overthrow his government on the basis of report published by them Babatunde (1997, p.2).

Perhaps more worrisome is the gap between government and journalist as regard the understanding of the social responsibility of the press. Government believed that the press should “cooperate”, and not engaging in “adversal journalism”.

The freedom of association, assemble and to move without hindrance was severely curtailed during the period under review. Even gathering of registered political parties were disputed during the period.

The right to freely participate in the political process by Nigeria, through the formation of political parties was also violated. General Sani Abacha transition programme showed that he wanted to succeed himself.

From January 13th, 1986, date of the first military coup de tat, all the military regime from it. Colonel Gowon 1966-1979 to General Muganadu Buhari/Baigadier Tunde Idiagbo’s administration, the records on human rights abuses are enormous.

The military rule is the sole duties of defending the nation from both internal and external aggression with a right to put down any internal crisis, but with event that have occurred in Nigeria, the legality of military administration is a historical fact. For instance, General Muhamadu Buhari/Borgagier Tunde Idiaghor regime was characterized by harsh decrees, as the administration violated the right of Nigerians on a massive scale. Draconian laws such as the state security (detention of person) decree No. 2, 1984 and public officers (protection against false accusation) decree No. 4 ,1984 were promulgated. The regime used military options to solve national problem while it did not make attempt to out line a political transition programme.

On August 27th 1985 General Ibrahim Babangida seized power and become the first military president. However, as the year went by his regime becomes one of the most lawless and worst perpetrators of injustice in Nigeria. As part of his tactics to win to the support of Nigerians, he promised to return the country to civilians rule.

On June 12, 1993 the presidential election was conducted and it was held as freest and fairest in the nation’s political history. The nation was looking forward to the dawn of a new era, but General Ibrahim .B. Babagida shattered that hope by canceling that election.

The reason for that cancellation of the election was because of alleged irregularities and other acts of bad conduct leveled against the presidential candidate which National Electoral Commission (NEC) ignored. There was cases of documented and confirmed conflict of interests between the government and the presidential aspirants which would compromise their positions and responsibilities when they become president. There was case of election malpractices virtually in all state of the federation before the actual voting began. Therefore, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida appointed an Interim National Government (ING) headed by chief Ernest Shonekan was said to have resigned on November 17th 1993. This gave way again to another military government headed by General Sani Abacha. The nation was again at the starting blocks.

General Sani Abacha pointed out the political crisis as his reason for seizing power. An overview of his regime shows that in spite of a promise to return the nation to civil rule and the announcing on 17th June 1995 that he has lifted ban on political activity.

General Sani Abacha carried out wide spread repression of human right advocates pro-democracy activities, journalist and critics of his government. There were extra judicial killings, torture, assassinations, imprisonment and general harassment of critics and opponents of his self succession bid. General Sani Abacha reputation for viciousness and callous disregard for human rights was legendary.

However, in Liberia 1989, under these administrations, Human rights were repressed, conviction and imprisoning Nigerians journalists for plotting to over throw their government on the basis of report published by them Frank Igwebueze (1990, p 2 ).

In 1980, one unknown sergeant Samuel Doe shot his way to power in Liberia in amazing and unprecedented strike by any junior officer in any of Africa’s nation; Doe toppled President William Tobert in a military coup and crowned himself, the president of Liberia.

Samuel Doe embarked on ruling Liberia promising economic and social revolutionary changes to improve the lot of the common man. But Doe did not abuse power in the most lawful manner but embarked further in suppressing any known opposition, molesting the press and consequently, deleting all forms of foundamental human right from the code of Liberian laws which led him to turn into life president for Liberian. However, the attitude resulted a civil war. Tribes fought against tribes and Taglor led a group that for the first time engaged Doe in a physical combat. Prince Johnson later to join him, president Doe was captured by the less formidable Prince Johnson rebel group and shot at the legs, tied up and turned into public spectacle and was killed in that military putsch.

In Liberia 1989, war of attrition broke out and never the less, thousands of innocent people lost their lives and property worth millions were destroyed. Thousands of Liberians fled their homes and become refuges in neighboring countries when Charles Tarloy embarked on his mission to oust Samuel Doe from the Liberian state house on charismas eve, 1989 people within and outside Liberia were sympathetic to his cause. These sympathies stemmed from the fact Doe has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he belong to the same class with the likes of Ida Amin Dada of Uganda and that a Musevenilike Messiah in the person of Charles Taylor had come to rescue the beleaguered nation into salvation.

But before he could accomplished his set objectives Charles Taylor has proclaimed himself the president of Liberia and told the international press that he would feel uncomfortable allowing anyone else other than himself become Liberia’s head of state. He raised question about his lateness to be a model leader of his country. His misdemeanor is believed to have contributed to the split in his camp, which led to the rivalry between him and Prince Taylor’s behaviour has also tended to lend credence to the charge by Doe against him that he is an international Jail-bird who stole public funds when he was a civil servant in Liberia. His image has further been tarnished for issuing false information about Prince Johnson to the foreign press. Firstly, he claimed that Johnson’s forces had not entered Monrovia and secondly that this forces had killed Johnson in an ambush attack. Egbuna Amuta (1990 p. 13).

Therefore, during the action of Doe Taylor and Johnson carried out wide spread repression of human right advocates, pre-democracy activities, journalists and critics of their government. There were extra judicial killing, torture, assassinations and imprisonment of their opponents during the times.

However, the crisis in Sudan’s Western region of Darfur erupted when rebels took up arms against what they saw as years of state neglect and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin. The government accused of responding with a counterinsurgency campaign in which the ethnic Arabic militia known as Janjaweed, committed widespread abuses against ethnic Africans. At least 180,000 people have died in the Darfur conflict many from hunger and disease. The fight has driven some two million people from their houses.

Since 1983, Rebels in the mainly Christians and animist south will had fought Sudan’s Islamic oriented government’s force. The conflict also killed more than two million people, mainly through war induced famine.

According to US house, another name for Darfor is “Genocide” because genocide is being committed in Sudan’s Darfor region.

Pre-government Abrab militias have forced more than one million black Africans from their homes and killed thousands, human right group say. Many of those who have fled their homes say. Janjaweed militiamen patrol outside the camps, killed men and raped women who is in search of food or firewood.

According to international agencies estimate that over 50,000 have been killed in the Darfor region since the beginning of February 2003, over 200,000 have been forcible displaced and mostly encamped within Sudan itself, there are up to estimate of 600 deaths in the recently, have been denied access to humanitarian assistance by the Sudanese Government. This adds up to a monthly average of about 18,000 deaths, sexual violence and rape of the women and young girls, some of the victim as young as eight years and less is employed as instrument of war and ethnic cleansing.

Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said at least 50,000 people have been killed in Darfor and 1.4 million people have fled their homes since two rebel movements rose up against the Khartoum government in February 2003.

According to UN secretary General Kofi Anna, government is accused of failing to rain in the Janjaweed an ethnic Arab militia blamed for killing thousands of black Africa civilians and emptying villages as part of a campaign against local rebels.

The crisis in Sudan Darfor region carried widespread repression of human rights advocate, pre-democracy activities, journalist and crisis of their government. There were extra judicial killings, hunger, diseases and rape, torture, assassinations, imprisonment and general harassment of critics of themselves succession bid.

1.1      STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS

Military rule is not viable substitute to properly and popularly elected government. Experience has shown that the period of these actors in African is a consummate disaster. Why the military government corruption has not been “wiped out” as promised and the so called masses are not without complaints. Not only a military intervention, unconstitutional military rule hastens the decay of military institutions and results in the gross neglect of the operational development of the military. The concept of the army coming from the barracks to redeem the masses from civilian misrule is sheer illusion. The period of military rule in Africa has shown beyond all reasonable doubt that the soldiers are not trained in the art of managing the complex problems of a modern state.

Consequently, to present the “military as the price of shining amour” is the distortion of reality (Ndoh, 1997 p. 141) this study is therefore undertaken to determine and unfold the political consequences of human right during these actors regimes.

Answers would be sought for so many questions by this research work Abacha topped the list of the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) “top 10 enemies of the press in the world (human rights practices in Nigeria: July 1996-June 1997 p. 7).

The New York based CPJ conferred the dubious honour on him on the 3rd day of May 1998 on world press freedom day because of the number of journalists he had incarcerated. The organization said that at the time of the announcement there was more journalist than any other African nation (Bako 1998 p. 5). The actors disregard for human right was only matched by their groups incompetence and in efficiency in ruining the economy massive unemployment, collapse of infrastructure and corruption were hallmark of their roles.

As a result of Abachas administration disregard and violation of human rights, Nigeria was suspended from the common wealth of nations where she is a prominent and financial member. There were other sanctions and embargoes on air space by the British department of transportation on Nigeria, freezing of the asset of military officers of Nigeria, arms and suspension of developmental aid by the international community because of General Sani Abachas disregard and violation of human right. This situation called for the following research questions.

v    How did General Sani Abacha’s regime violate or abuse human rights in Nigeria?

v    What were the reasons and response of people?




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