Unrest” (ARM) 1994: “Anarchism in Nigeria”

Anarchism in Nigeria

From Unrest no. 1, Anarchist Revolutionary Movement, February 1994

Partial Victory for Nigerian Anarchists, by Bob McGlynn in Love and Rage April/ May 1993.

Although a bit dated this article is worth reprinting. The current situation of the Awareness League is unknown to us but given the current wave of repression before and after the aborted June and August [?coup  – SAASHA.net] [1993], we are less than optimistic. More info: WSA, 339 Lafayette St., Rm 202, NY, NY 10012, U.S.

ANARCHIST/REVOLUTIONARY SYNDICALIST prisoners from Nigeria’s Awareness League (AL)- Udemba Chuks, Garba Adu, Kingsley Etioni, and James Ndubuisi- won some reprieve January 29th when they were unconditionally released on bail (they must report to the State Security Service each week). Arrested seven months ago during a wave of student/worker unrest protesting IMF/World Bank imposed austerity plans , they were detained under the notorious “Decree no.2”- a catch-all “preventative detention”law.

At a Calabar court hearing on Jan. 25th their lawyer, Ifeanyi Nnajiofor, demanded a grant of bail. On hand were a 100 AL members plus (according to a Feb.1 AL communique) “scores of journalists, activists, members of the Nigerian Bar Association, and interested members of the public.” Then on Jan. 29th “we won our greatest legal battle yet … (when for) the first time we set our eyes on them in seven months. They looked badly emaciated, weak and sick.” Setting a legal precedent poking a whole in Decree #2, the judge granted bail, and set the next court appearance for February 18th. Then as the four left court “there was an attempt to have our colleagues rearrested outside the premises, but this was stoutly resisted by the crowd.” They were then promptly hospitalized and advised to have a two week stay.

AL has info that the military may try to have the men re-arrested once again.This would not be uncommon in Nigeria where the judiciary and the military are constantly at odds.

At press time in our letter from the AL Feb. 28 the 4 have had their bail extended but must report to the State Security Service daily.One of them still remains hospitalised. The AL says “Judgement in the main suit is not expected before the end of April 1993.” The central suit maintains that the State action in dealing with the 4 without charge was illegal and that Decree #2 against them should be dropped.

“We thank you immensley for your solidarity so far in our struggle to free our four colleagues. We can only ask you not to relent in your efforts.”- from AL letter Feb. 28.

The U.S. Workers Solidarity Alliance(WSA) and Neither East Nor West- NYC (NENW-NYC) have successfully spearheaded a worldwide campaign for the AL. A week of protests at Nigerian embassies was calld for Feb. 22-26 with confirmations of actions by Anarchists in Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Dublin, New York, London, Berlin and Hamburg. (Anarchists were ready to demonstrate in countries like Bulgaria and Norway but lacked Nigerian targets). Petitions and protest letters have been recieved from Argentina, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, Russia, Italy, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, India, Norway, Ireland, Holland, Spain, Poland, U.S., South Africa, Bulgaria (almost 700 names on petitions!), Germany, and the U.K. Anarchist publications worldwide have covered the story. Special thanks to Love and Rage newspaper who mailed an international appeal for AL, and the International Workers Association and Spain’s National Confederation of Labour for sending $500 each to AL for legal fees.

The question of money is of special priority. Ifeanyi Nnajiofor, the AL’s lawyer, must travel 1000 kilometers from Lagos to Calabar, Nigeria. As of last Dec., the AL had a $12,000 debt for legal and other fees. Ifeanyi is being extremely helpful and generous acxording to the AL, but his expenses are obvious and he must be paid. WSA and NENW-NYC know that over $1000 has been recieved by AL from Anarchists abroad, and since that has helped keep Ifeanyi afloat, it’s no exaggeration to claim that the international campaign has played a part in AL’s bail victory, possibly saving the lives of these men (you don’t get fed in Nigerian jails).

International Monetary Orders can be mailed directly to: [The following is outdated] Awareness League, c/o Samuel Mbah,POB 28, Agbani,Enugu State, Nigeria. Foreign currency goes a long way now in Nigeria, $1 equaling a third of a month’s wage. As a fundraising effort for AL,their communiques are available for a contribution sent to: NENW-NYC, 528 5th St., Brooklyn, NY 11215, U.S ( The A.L.’s letters are available for $1 worth of postage and a xeroxing fee,but please try to send more).

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About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I am currently also involved in union education and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented papers at more than 120 conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 3 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and written well over 130 other articles, papers and entries. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have several books, including 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014) and 'Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism' (co-written with Michael Schmidt, AK Press 2009).