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Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 16:49 GMT
Nigerian jailed for political leaflets
Nigerians vote in 1999
The vote will be the first under civilian rule for 20 years
The Nigerian authorities have released a controversial politician, Chief Yomi Tokoya, who was detained last Friday.

Chief Tokoya was arrested at a religious service where he was distributing leaflets against President Olusegun Obasanjo.

I was very shocked that under a civilian dispensation, Obasanjo could operate a dangerous detention camp

Chief Yomi Tokoya
Tensions are rising in the country ahead of the April general elections, for which Mr Obasanjo is a presidential candidate.

Chief Tokoya is a member of the opposition All Nigeria People's Party, which will be represented by Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election.

The BBC's Mannir Dan Ali in Abuja says that Chief Tokoya is a controversial politician who is used to the corridors of power and has fallen out of favour and been treated roughly on a number of occasions.

Fundamental right

Chief Tokoya says that after his first night in a police cell in Sukuru, he was taken to a bungalow with cells that was effectively a detention camp.

"I was very shocked that under a civilian dispensation, Obasanjo could operate a dangerous detention camp," Chief Tokoya told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Olusegun Obasanjo
Mr Obasanjo was accused of globe-trotting

"The director general asked the director of operations to appeal to me not to distribute leaflets again... I told them that I'm not going to do that.

"They said I should be charged for inciting the public against the government, and I told them that under the constitution, it is a violation of my fundamental human rights to arrest me for publishing a leaflet that Obasanjo must go."

Our correspondent, who saw the leaflet in question, says that it spells out the reasons why, according to Chief Tokoya, Mr Obasanjo should not seek to stay in power.

It says he has not enjoyed a good relationship with the National Assembly and has been busy globe-trotting instead of attending the affairs of the state.

Chief Tokoya says he should have been tried if he has committed anything illegal.

He says he has not been charged.

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Sola Odunfa on BBC Focus on Africa
"The current wave of registration has largely been orderly"

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