THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
The United States is deeply concerned about reports that the Nigerian military regime has moved several alleged coup plotters from Lagos to an ill-equipped and sub-standard prison in the northeastern part of the country. We remain concerned about reports of maltreatment and the failure to afford regular medical treatment to those detained.
The United States condemns the long prison sentences imposed on those Nigerian military officers and civilians accused of coup-plotting, including four life sentences, the fifteen year terms dealt former President Olusegun Obasanjo and human rights activist Beko Ransome-Kuti and the twenty-five year term imposed upon General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua.
Since the arrests began last March, the United States, the international community and a broad spectrum of Nigerians have consistently deplored the secret trials that have resulted in these harsh sentences. We continue to question the validity and harshness of sentences handed down after secret trials in which some of the accused were not even publicly charged. We are aware of no evidence to substantiate the charges and do not accept the airing of purported evidence on Nigerian television as a substitute for fair and open trials.
The United States reiterates its call upon the Nigerian Government to speed the transition to democracy, starting by releasing political detainees. The United States will maintain all existing sanctions and keep other measures under review as we look for progress in the transition to democracy and the release of political detainees.
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