Date: Tue, 7 Apr 98 16:20:16 CDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rich Winke)
Subject: African Unions Demand Nigerian Unionists' Release
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African unions press for Nigerians' release
ICEM Update, No. 25/1998, 3 April 1998
Pressure for the release of two Nigerian oilworkers' leaders will further increase at a conference to be held by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Pretoria, South Africa, on 13-18 April.
Union leaders from all over Africa will press the continent's employers and governments to help secure the release of Milton Dabibi, General Secretary of oil and gas workers' union PENGASSAN, and Frank Kokori, General Secretary of oil and gas workers' uni on NUPENG. They have been detained without charge or trial in Nigeria since 1996 and 1994 respectively. Both unions are affiliated to the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), which is cam paigning for the two men's release and has put the Nigerian government on notice of targeted international action against Nigerian oil exports unless Kokori and Dabibi are freed.
Both men's health is deteriorating, and they are being denied access to the medical treatment that they need. Both are recognised by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience.
The OAU's Labour and Social Affairs Commission will be hearing more about their cases at its meeting in Pretoria. The commission includes African union representatives, as well as employer and government delegates from across the continent. In his report to the meeting, Hassan Sunmonu, Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), will raise the Kokori and Dabibi cases and other violations of trade union rights by the military-led Nigerian government.
The OATUU "has repeatedly tried to send a delegation to Nigeria to discuss these issues," Sunmonu told ICEM UPDATE from the OATUU's headquarters in Accra, Ghana. But the Nigerian government had responded in exactly the same way as to similar approaches fr om other organisations, including the ICEM and the UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO). In other words, it had not responded at all.
"The trade union rights situation in Nigeria must be addressed by Africa as a whole," Sunmonu, himself a Nigerian trade unionist, insisted. He has just returned from the ILO Governing Body meeting in Geneva, where the OATUU fully backed a decision to set up a special ILO commission to investigate the Nigerian situation (see ICEM UPDATE 21/1998).
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