(IFEX's partner in Nigeria/IFEX) - The detained Editor of the "News"/"TEMPO"
magazines, Mr. Babafemi Ojudu, is suffering from typhoid fever and
jaundice, both of which are threatening his life. These illnesses are
believed to be caused by the unsanitary conditions in which he is detained
and are compounded by the denial of access to medication.
**Updates IFEX alert of 19 November 1997, and others**
In a private letter dated 18 July 1998 to his attorney, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba,
Ojudu wrote that, "Since I never made a will, I hereby state that in the
event of my death here, my property and my share at ICNL should go to my
wife, Mrs. Tola Ojudu my children. This is necessary because of the nature
of our society."
Part of the letter dated 18 July 1998 to Agbakoba reads:
" Dear Olisa,
Congratulations on regaining your freedom. I learnt of the efforts you made
to popularise my plight. I cannot thank you enough. Well as you are aware, I
am still here in solitary confinement. Last Thursday, I slumped here and I
was rushed to the military hospital where I was on admission for two days.
My health is fast deteriorating. They have twice taken samples of my blood
and urine for analysis but they never got back to tell me their findings. I
hardly sleep in the night. Since last Friday I have eaten twice. I was not
on hunger strike but my body is rejecting the roadside food. Sometime I
vomit soon after eating. I am now physically a wreck. I feel therefore I
should appeal to you to see what you can do for me legally before it is too
late. My fear is that these people may really be after my life.
I came to this conclusion because I do not know what I did to warrant this
treatment. Soon after your hunger strike here, the feed allowance was
increased to N50 daily. Two weeks after it went down to N10. This was to
last for another two weeks after which it went back to N40. I have protested
the feeding allowance and the solitude without any positive response. My
major concern has been figuring out why they are doing this to me,
especially now that most detainees are said to have been released.
I was arrested on November 17 last year 1997, on my way back from Kenya
where I went to address a seminar of the African Media Forum, a media
foundation based in Virginia, U.S.A. The topic I spoke on was not in any way
political. It was on the New Media Technology and how it is assisting
journalists in Africa, I came back with the programme of the event and the
reporting of it by Kenyan newspapers. Arap Moi, the Kenyan President was
even present. All of this I made known to them and the papers I equally made
Their other grouse with me was the stories we ran on the Abacha's ill-heath
and his business dealings with the Chagourys. They also asked me to explain
my trips to United States and Britain during the year. This I did. In
January, I left for Washington as a fellow of the Journalism Department of
Howard University While there, I took a course in the New Media Technology.
I also held seminars for journalism students. I returned in April. In May, I
was invited by the Royal Africa Society to give a talk on the plight of
journalists in Africa with particular emphasis on Nigeria . The event took
place at the Institute of African and Oriental Studies in London.
In September, I left Nigeria for the U.S.A for the International Visitor
Programme organised by the USIA. I was one of 20 professionals invited from
all over the world. We were in fact two from Nigeria, myself and Dr. Rshood
Abubarkar, the M.D. of "New Nigerian" Newspaper. On my way back, I stopped
in London to see my sister. They raised queries over my going via Ghana and
not through Lagos Airport and I told them the obvious reasons.
They also alleged that The News organisation is sponsored by the American
Government which is not true. They claimed Carrington and George Nene are my
friends. I told them this is not also true. I met Carrington thrice and
these were at public functions. Nene, I know as South Africa's envoy in
Nigeria but I never met him in person. I went into all this so that you can
know the background to my ordeal. I also believe these facts will be of use
should you decide to go court on my behalf.
Should you also need somebody to depose to an affidavit on my behalf, you
can contact my wife of UBA Branch, Oregun. It is just by the bus stop. Her
name is Mrs. Tola Ojudu. Do please keep the flag flying.
My regards to Abdul, Ogaga and other compatriots.
Upon receiving the letter, Olisa Agbakoba, in a letter dated 23 July 1998
addressed to the Director of the State Security Services, 15 Awolowo Road,
Ikoyi, Lagos, where Ojudu is kept, said there was no reason why Ojudu is
still being held after the Head of State's broadcast to the world that "all
political detainees are released with immediate effect." He, Agbakoba, also
alerted the Nigerians in a signed statement entitled "Alert! Babafemi Ojudu
is dying!" The statement declares that Ojudu is incarcerated in brutal,
dehumanising conditions, which have led to the severe deterioration of his