Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)
For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria
Newspaper of the DSM
13 January 2004
3 December 2003 arrests
Court case comes up January 16
DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST SIX ACTIVISTS
For the "crime" of staging a peaceful protest against the wasteful jamboree called Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting which held in December, 2003 at Abuja, Nigeria, six labour and pro-democracy activists are now standing trial on January 16 at the Magistrate Court, Yaba, Lagos.
Those on trial are:
* Bamidele Aturu (National convener of United Action for Democracy, UAD)
* Dagga Tolar (Editor of Socialist Democracy, the newspaper of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), the Nigerian section of the Committee for a Workers’ International, CWI)
* Jossy Anuah (a member of DSM)
* Wale Balogun (a National Conscience Party activist and the party's candidate for the chairmanship of Lagos Mainland Local Government)
* Joel Emerole (member of Democratic Alternative)
* Kamilu Mustapha (member of Youth Democratic Front)
One of the main charges against the activists reads: "That you …published a seditious publication in the form of banner and article in copies of a newspaper entitled "Socialist Democracy" in which you incite the public to take mass action against the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for some of its policies like hike in fuel prices, deregulation and privatisation, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 51(1)(c) of the criminal code cap 17 laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2003".
Before they were released from police custody on bail, onerous conditions had to be met by each of these activists.
This sharply contrasts with some ex-Federal ministers like Chief Sunday Afolabi, Hussaini Akwanga and others who were alleged to have stolen $232 million but were released on bail in their own personal recognizance when they were charged to court.
If convicted each of the activists standing trial under section 51(1)(c) of the criminal code is liable to be imprisoned for a period of 2 years or to a fine equivalent to one hundred pounds sterling or both.
It is important to note that the attack on these activists is not an isolated event but rather part of a systematic clamp down on working peoples’ democratic rights by the so-called civilian rulers across the country.
On Thursday December 19, 2003, workers of a Lagos based private company called MIKANO NIGERIA LIMITED embarked on a peaceful protest, demanding better working conditions and recognition of their union, in front of their factory premises. Without justification, the management brought in lorry loads of armed policemen who as usual immediately went on rampage, beating the protesting workers, labour leaders and journalists who at the time were with the workers. Almost all the national officers of the National Union of Shop and Distributive Employees (NUSDE) were arrested and held for some days.
Right now, the Obasanjo government has sent a bill to the National Assembly seeking powers to ban industrial strikes and also powers to deregister trade unions and trade union federations.
Suffice to stress, these and other instances of repressive measures and tactics are all aimed at silencing and suppressing the nationwide resistance to the pro-rich, anti-poor policies of the government and that of their capitalist patrons in the private sector.
We therefore call on workers, youth, human rights and pro-democracy activists, socialists, trade unions in Nigeria and internationally to demand the withdrawal of these charges, an end to the repression of activists and trade unions and the wanton violation of democratic rights of assembly, association and expression by the Nigerian government.
Send protest letters to:
(i) The Inspector General of Police,
Nigeria Police Headquarters,
Federal Capital Territory,
(ii) The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice
Lagos State Ministry of Justice,
(iii) Nigerian Embassies across the world
Please send a copy of the letter to DSM through email@example.com
4 December 2003