By Eric Teniola
DECREE two was used in 1992 to detain and silence persons for anti-government activities or statements. In the aftermath of riots in several Nigerian cities in May, four human rights monitors and a student union leader were arrested under Decree Two. Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Femi Falana, and Baba Omojola, all leading members of Campaign for Democracy, CD, an umbrella of human rights organization which was openly critical of the Government’s closely directed political programme, were arrested in Lagos on May 19.
Yet another prominent human rights monitor and legal counsel to two of the detainees, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), were arrested on May 30. Still another human rights monitor, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, was arrested at a police checkpoint in Lagos on May 24, reportedly for being in possession of CD literature. He was released after a few days and was never charged before a court. The president of the proscribed National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, and fellow CD member, Olusegun Maiyegun, was arrested on June 11.
The Government disobeyed several Lagos High Court orders in June that the detainees be presented in court to verify their health and whereabouts and to resolve issue concerning their arrests and continued detentions. A court order to release Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) on June 8 also went unheeded. The five detainees, who were being held incommunicado at Kuje Prison, near Abuja, were subsequently arraigned before a magistrate court there on June 15 of “treasonable felony”.
On May 18, 1992, registration of voters started nation-wide concurrently in Kaduna state the Zango Kataf crisis also started with the burning of houses and communal clashes. On May 19, 1992, the federal government banned all associations formed along political, tribal or religious lines. Examples were the Middle Belt Forum, the Council of Unity and Understanding, CUU and CARIA. On May 23, 1992, National Assembly primary elections were held all over the country. On May 26, 1992, Government formally approved the establishment of the National Guard. On June 26, 1992, NEC disqualified some politicians; prominent among them were Sam Mbakwe, Ebenezer Babatope, Wahab Dosunmu, etc. from taking part in the 4 July National Assembly’s elections.
On June 29, 1992, Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana, Segun Mayegun, Beko Ransome-Kuti and Baba Omojola were released from prison on bail. On July 4, 1992, elections were held into the two National Assembly houses. NRC won 32 senate seats and 275 in the House of Representatives, while SDP won 52 senate seats and 314 in the House of Representatives. Bye elections were ordered for some seats in five states- Katsina, Borno, Akwa Ibom, Yobe and Bauchi. On July 18, 1992, bye elections were held in five states while on July 27 General Ibrahim Babangida met in Abuja with the National Assembly members-elect. During the meeting he declared “the transition programme has set great store by free and fair electoral contest. And those recent elections have indicated what significant progress they have made in achieving that objective.
It can now be said that we are thoroughly in the process of instutionalising the new political culture of tolerance, fair play and commitment to the domestic ethos. It should now be clear to all and sundry that the transition programme is well on track; and that this administration is going to leave the scene on the said schedule. As a historical process, administrations come and administrations go. The nation, however, remains and the task of governance is a continuous challenge. Certain basic socio-political issues, all to provide the trend of continuity, and certain enduring values must be transferred to successive administrations for a measure of stability. In your own case, you are relatively privileged to be coming through a smooth transition programme designed as built-in learning process.
It is expected in this trend that between now and the end of the year, all teething problems associated with setting up the National Assembly would have been resolved. Examples are the provision of administrative infrastructure, access to fairly conducive physical facilities, familiarisation with both the letter and spirit of legislative standing orders, skills in parliamentary language and behaviour, appreciation of the need for controlled debate and entrenchment of the proper moral tone as leaders elected to guide the nation. I will also urge you to please strive to know this country as a whole physically and socio-culturally and familiarise yourselves with the people of this nation; not simply with the respective constituencies which you represent”.
“The underlining principles of our transition programme have formed our political, economic and socio-cultural agenda these past seven years. These principles rest essentially on our vision of a liberal democratic, economically self-reliant and sustainable Nigeria. Taken as a point of departure, the fact that federalism, presidentialism and republicanism, as settled political issues over which there is a broad consensus in the country, we then proceeded to chart and design institutional and attudinal reform measures to consolidate these areas of consensus in our national life.
On the conviction that if we are to move forward and do away with debilitating weakness of the past, we must all learn the appropriate lesson, we then took the courage to undertake necessary, even if painful, political, economic and socio-cultural adjustment measures. The challenge of the political and economic transition for us has been and still remains how to devise short and medium-term strategies to achieve the long-term objective of democratic consolidation”.
“It should be pointed out that the transition progamme such as ours, is by definition, a controlled opening of the political stage. Thus, our own variation of political deregulation or political liberalisation has meant gradual military disengagement from political ruler ship, particularly at the state and federal levels and competitive party politics. But this controlled opening up of the political state, dictated also by reasons of state, has not in any significant way compromised our principled and irrevocable commitment to human rights.
Rejecting a crude and legal positivism, we nevertheless also believe that government has the responsibility, as I stated in my maiden address to the nation as President, to ensure that liberty, properly speaking, does not degenerate to license. In other words, we should distinguish between freedom and liberty. We have a social and political responsibility to ensure also that the abstract assertion of human rights is not, as is sometimes is, or can be, subterfuge to undermine or sabotage the transition.
During his tenure as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (27 August 1985 to 26 August 1993), General Babangida appointed in total, seventy-four military governors.
They were Colonel Godwin Osagie Abbe, Lt-Colonel Ahmed Aboki Abdullahi, Navy Captain Joseph Abudu, Group Captain Luke Chijiuba Achulor, Group Captain Ernest Olawunmi Adeleye, Colonel Abdulkarim Adisa, Navy Captain Adeyemi Afolabi, Colonel Leo Lapade Ajiborisha, Group Captain Frank Ajobena, Navy Captain Mike Okai Akhigbe, Colonel Robert Akonobi, Group Captain Ibrahim Alkali, Lt-Colonel Abu Ali, Lt-Colonel Mohammed Christopher Alli, Major Abdulmumuni Aminu, Colonel Dan Archibong, Navy Captain Ekpo Archibong, Lt-Colonel Ernest Kizito Attah, Colonel Abubakar Tanko Ayuba, Colonel Patrrick Aziza, Colonel Ishaya Bakut, Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Daku, Commissioner of Police Sani Ahmed Daura, Lt-Colonel Herbert O. Eze, Colonel Idris Garba, Lt-Colonel Chris Abutu Garuba, Navy Captain Olabode George, Lt-Colonel Lawan Gwadabe, Lt-Commander Amadi Ikwecheghi, Lt-Colonel John Inienger, Group Captain Jonah David Jang, Navy Captain Oladeinde O. Joseph, Lt-Colonel Aliyu Kama, Colonel Alwali Jauji Kazir, Group Captain M.A. Lawal, Colonel John Yahya Madaki, Colonel Joshua Mamman Madaki, Lt-Colonel Yahanna Ateyan Madaki, Navy Captain Allison Madueke, Colonel Bashir Salihi Magashi, Colonel Mohammed Maina, Lt-Colonel Fidelis Makka, Lt-Colonel Bonaventure Mark, Lt-Colonel Buba Marwa, Colonel Abdul One Mohammed, Lt-Colonel Abdullahi Mohammed, Lt-Colonel Ahmed Mohammed, Lt-Colonel Garba Ali Mohammed, Colonel Garba Mohammed, Commander I.E. Mohammed, Wing Commander Isa Mohammed, Group Captain Gbolahan Mudashiru, Colonel Abdullahi Sarki Muktar, Wing Commander I.O. Nkanga, Colonel Jonathan Tunde Ogbeha, Commander Anthony E. Oguguo, Navy Captain Sunday Abiodun Olukoya, Lt-Colonel Adetunji Idowu Olurin, Group Captain Samson Emeka Omeruah, Colonel Lawrence Onoja, Colonel Ekundayo B. Opaleye, Colonel Sasaenia Adedeji Oresanya, Police Commander Fidelis Oyakhilome, Lt-Colonel Oladapo Popoola, Commander Eben Ibim Princewill, Colonel Raji Alagbe Rasaki, Group Captain Abubakar Salihu, Colonel Olayinka Sule, Colonel Anthony Ukpo, Major Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, Wing Commander Mohammed Ndatsu Umaru, Colonel John Ewerekumoh Yeri and Colonel Danladi Zakari.