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Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Nigeria, U.N. Doc. A/48/18, paras. 306-329 (1993).




Forty-third session


Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


306. The tenth, eleventh and twelfth periodic reports of Nigeria, submitted in one document (CERD/C/226/Add.9), were considered by the Committee at its 993rd and 998th meetings, held on 6 and 10 August 1993 (see CERD/C/SR.993 and 998).

307. The reports were introduced by the representative of the State party who indicated that with a population of over 88.5 million Nigeria was the most populous black country in the world. The predominant ethnic groups were the Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo. Other major ethnic groups included the Edo, Ibibio, Isoko, Urhobo, Itsekiri, Kanuri, Nupe, Efik, Ijaw, Egbira, Idoma, Tiv, Kamiri, Chambe, Gwaris and Ekoi, and there were over 200 smaller ethnic groups with their own culture and traditions. Despite their ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity, Nigerians exhibited a cohesiveness that was a product of centuries of trade, inter-marriage and other contacts.

308. The civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all Nigerians, regardless of the race or minority to which they belonged, were ensured and protected by a number of institutions, such as courts of law, which were independent of governmental control, and the Public Complaints Commissioner, whose office had been in existence for two decades and who handled complaints from individuals, groups and corporate bodies. The Code of Conduct Bureau had been established to complement the efforts of the Public Complaints Commissioner. The Nigerian Law Review Commission regularly reviewed national laws to bring them into line with contemporary domestic issues and international legal instruments. Additionally, Nigeria had recently established a human rights monitoring unit under the Federal Ministry of Justice in order to enhance the implementation of human rights instruments and to receive petitions and complaints on human rights violations. State governments had similar units in their justice ministries.

309. Members of the Committee welcomed the resumption of dialogue with Nigeria and expressed the hope that Nigeria's cooperation with the Committee would be regular in the future. They noted that the report under consideration failed to answer the many questions raised during the consideration of the ninth periodic report and to comply fully with the Committee's guidelines. They also regretted the absence of detailed information on the ethnic composition of Nigerian society, which was crucial for the Committee's monitoring of the implementation of the Convention. They requested additional information on the numerous internal conflicts and ethnic violence and their causes, and concerning the recent suspension of basic guarantees for the enjoyment of fundamental human rights. Additional information was also requested as to especially vulnerable groups, such as the Ogoni, who were suffering from the degradation and pollution of their lands as a result of oil exploitation by multinational corporations, as well as from acts of the police and oil companies. In the latter connection, members wished to know how the Government planned to accede to the demands of minorities to manage their own economies and resources; what the effects of the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree of 1989 (repealing the Indigenization Decree of 1977) would be in regard to the participation of local ethnic groups in the exploitation of natural resources. They also wished to have more detailed information concerning the impact of the policy of national unity on ethnic and religious minority groups in 30 states. They considered that the tense political situation in Nigeria, which was the result of many factors, not least ethnic and religious difficulties which were surfacing, adversely affected the implementation of the Convention, and they felt that the Committee should keep the implementation of the Convention by Nigeria under review, taking it up again at its next session.

310. With respect to article 1 of the Convention, members asked what the rights and guarantees of non-citizens were under the Constitution and why a distinction was made in national legislation between citizens of Nigeria by birth and other Nigerians.

311. In regard to article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to know how the Government of Nigeria encouraged the formation of integrationist multiracial organizations and movements, referred to in paragraph 9 of the report, how those organizations functioned and what their impact was on general government policy with respect to the implementation of the Convention.

312. As far as article 3 of the Convention was concerned, members of the Committee congratulated the Government of Nigeria on the steps taken, especially at the international level, to implement its provisions, but pointed out that Nigeria must also undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of racial segregation in the territories under its jurisdiction.

313. While noting that Section 39 of the Constitution of Nigeria seemed to meet the requirements of article 4 of the Convention, members of the Committee indicated that the report did not explain how its provisions were implemented. In addition, they pointed out that the definition of "seditious intention" did not cover all the instances of racial discrimination contemplated in article 4 and asked for further clarification on that issue. Members felt that the system of special courts and military tribunals was not compatible with the protection of the rights set out in article 4 of the Convention. Furthermore, clarification was sought of the reported proscription by a Decree of 20 May 1992 of all ethnic, religious and regional associations that had supported political candidates. Finally, members asked whether the Constitution prohibited the existence of racist organizations or banned participation in such organizations.

314. Having emphasized that under article 5 of the Convention the State had an obligation to guarantee the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the whole population and not just of citizens, members wished to receive more detailed information on the implementation of all its provisions. They asked, in particular, what had been done to ensure the fair and equitable representation of all ethnic groups in federal and states' Parliaments and what concrete steps had been taken to achieve national reconciliation; what action had been envisaged to prevent regional interference and the long-term dissolution of local government councils; whether the right to freedom of opinion and expression was guaranteed by law; whether freedom of movement and residence was permitted within the borders of the State; what the prospects were for increased investment in employment, education and housing and what the Government policy was in this regard.

315. In connection with article 6 of the Convention, members wished to know whether victims of acts of racial discrimination had the right to compensation; how human rights institutions, such as the office of Ombudsman, functioned; to what extent those institutions were independent and how far the Government responded to their recommendations.

316. With respect to article 7 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to know whether training was provided for officials who had to deal with ethnic conflicts, with a view to eradicating prejudice which lead to racial discrimination and to fostering understanding and tolerance among racial and ethnic groups.

317. Replying to the questions asked and comments made, the representative of the State party said that Nigeria would henceforth maintain its dialogue with the Committee and that every effort would be made to submit the reports in time. The concept of national unity was not at variance with the existence of many ethnic groups. It was part of the aspiration to forge a single nation so that all citizens would consider themselves Nigerians and put Nigeria first. It by no means implied prohibition of the culture, language and traditions of different ethnic groups. The report did not contain data on the demographic composition of Nigeria because such figures were not available; the population census carried out two years previously had not provided for the collection of information on ethnic groups or religion, in order to prevent states from inflating figures in order to increase their revenue from the Federal Government, as had happened in the past.

318. The representative provided the Committee with some information on the institutional organization of the Nigerian Federal State and said that the past practice of states of depriving local governments of the funds allocated to them by the Federal Government had been eliminated by the direct transfer of 10 per cent to local governments. The various conflicts referred to by members as ethnic or religious, had in fact been triggered by economic factors, such as the land question. The way to control "ethnic" conflicts was by tackling the underlying cause - the underdevelopment of the country. The representative provided further information with respect to the situation of the Ogoni in Rivers State, pointing out that the Federal Government gave back to the oil-producing areas the 3 per cent of the total revenue from oil exploitation reserved for their development, and 2.5 per cent for the protection of the environment.

319. With regard to article 4 of the Convention, the representative said that the Government discouraged people from forming political parties based on religious or ethnic criteria, since such criteria necessarily implied the exclusion of certain sections of the population; any such party that gained power would be unrepresentative of the whole nation that it ruled.

320. With respect to article 6 of the Convention, the representative of the State party informed the Committee that the Nigerian legal system did not prevent anyone who considered he had suffered racial discrimination from seeking remedy through the courts. There were three levels of courts: magistrate courts, High Courts and the Supreme Court. Some states also had customary courts, such as Shariah courts, for dealing with problems of custom and practice specific to certain areas.

Concluding observations

321. At its 1008th meeting, held on 17 August 1993, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

(a) Introduction

322. The Committee noted the submission of the report which, however, did not fully comply with the Committee's revised guidelines on the preparation of reports. The resumption of the dialogue with the representative of Nigeria had contributed to a better understanding of the situation in that country. The Committee hoped that in the future the State party would comply with its obligations under article 9 of the Convention. The Committee noted that, in response to questions asked and comments made by members, some additional information had been provided orally by the delegation. The Committee welcomed the Government's commitment to supply it with additional written information.

(b) Positive aspects

323. The Committee noted with interest that, since its independence, Nigeria had been striving to reconcile regional and religious tensions and to accommodate the interests of diverse ethnic groups. The recent creation of nine additional states within the Federal Republic of Nigeria attested to that trend. The expected entry into force on 27 August 1993 of a new Constitution and transition from military to civilian rule would enhance democratic development thus creating favourable conditions for a more effective implementation of the Convention. The Committee noted with appreciation the steps Nigeria had taken at the international level to implement article 3 of the Convention.

(c) Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the Convention

324. The Committee noted that the advent of an elected government would contributed to the improvement of the overall human rights situation in the country, which, apart from a rather tense political situation, was also considerably influenced by a severe economic crisis and continuing interethnic or religious conflicts.

(d) Principal subjects of concern

325. The Committee expressed its concern over the ongoing interethnic conflicts. The Committee was particularly concerned over reports that the Nigerian Police Force had, in some circumstances of violence, been ineffective in protecting the rights of civilians.

326. The Committee found that national legislation, particularly Section 50, paragraph (d), subsection (21), of the Nigerian Criminal Code, did not fully meet the requirements of article 4 of the Convention and that the provisions of article 5 of the Convention were not adequately implemented.

(e) Suggestions and recommendations

327. The Committee recommended that national legislation be brought into full compliance with the provisions of the Convention, in particular regarding a definition of racial discrimination (article 1 of the Convention); prohibition of racist organizations and propaganda activities that promote and incite racial discrimination (article 4 (b) of the Convention); the effective enjoyment of the rights set forth in article 5 of the Convention; and the provision of effective protection and remedies to everyone within the jurisdiction of the State party against any acts of racial discrimination (article 6 of the Convention).

328. Furthermore, the Committee requested that in its next report the Government of Nigeria should provide it with better data on the ethnic composition of the society.

329. In the light of all information available to it, the Committee found that the actual situation in Nigeria warranted a closer monitoring of the implementation of the Convention and decided to request the Government of Nigeria to provide the Committee with additional information to be considered by the Committee at its spring session in 1994.


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