218/98 Civil Liberties Organisation, Legal Defence
Centre, Legal Defence and Assistance Project / Nigeria
Summary of Facts
1. The authors of the communication are three NGOs based in Nigeria with observer status with the African
Commission. Nigeria is a State Party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.
2. The communication was received on 3rd August 1998.
3. The authors allege a violation of the African Charter for the following reasons:
i) There was an unfair trial and conviction of Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya and four other soldiers and a civilian
accused person;
ii) The said victims were convicted and sentenced to death by a Special Military Tribunal for an alleged
coup plot to overthrow the Nigerian Military Government under Gen. Sani Abacha;
4. It is alleged that on 21st December 1997, the Nigerian military government announced that it had
uncovered a coup plot. Following this, 26 persons were arrested including Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, Major
General Abdukadir Adisa, Lt. Gen. Olarenwaju, Col. Akintonde and Professor Odekunle.
5. It is also alleged that in January 1998, the Nigerian military government set up a Military Panel of Inquiry
to investigate the alleged coup plot. Before the trial, the government displayed to a selected audience,
videotapes of supposed confessions by the suspects.
6. On 14th February 1998, a Special Military Tribunal was constituted. Members of the tribunal included
serving judges, but the Chairman is a member of the Provisional Ruling Council (PRC).
7. The decision of the tribunal is not subject to appeal, but confirmation by the PRC, the members of which
are exclusively members of the armed forces.
8. The tribunal concluded its proceedings in early April 1998 and on 28th April 1998, announced the
conviction and sentencing to death of six of the accused, including the five persons mentioned above.
9. The authors contend that the arrest, detention, arraignment and trial of the convicted and sentenced
persons was unlawful, unfair and unjust and as such a violation of the provisions of the African Charter on
Human and Peoples' Rights.

10. The communication alleges that the following articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples'
Rights have been violated: Articles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 26.

11. At the 24th Ordinary Session, the Commission considered the communication and decided to be seized
of it.
12. On 26th November 1998, letters were sent to the parties involved informing them of the Commission's
13. At its 25th Ordinary Session held in Bujumbura, Burundi, the Commission requested the Secretariat to
give its opinion on the effect of Article 56(7) of the Charter in view of the political developments in Nigeria,
and postponed consideration on admissibility to the 26th Ordinary Session.
14. On 13th May 1999, the Secretariat of the Commission dispatched letters to all the parties notifying them
of this decision.
15. At its 26th Ordinary Session held in Kigali, Rwanda, the Commission declared the communication
admissible in line with the recommendation of the Secretariat and requested parties to submit arguments
on the merits of the case.
16. Separate letters dated 17th January 2000, of the decision, informed all the parties.
17. On 17th February 2000, the Secretariat received a Note Verbale from the High Commission of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria in Banjul, requesting the Commission to forward the following documents to the
country's competent authorities to enable them prepare appropriate responses to the alleged violations:


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