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A ONE DAY SENSITIZATION WITH KABUSA MARKET WOMEN ASSOCIATION ON GENDER BASED VIOLENCE (GBV)

Dated 12Th June 2018.

The problem of gender-based violence (GBV) is an age-long problem in our communities which has led to loss of lives, emotional disorder, psychological torture and other forms of human rights abuses.  These violations happen more in rural areas than the urban areas due to poor access to information, inadequate exposure and anti-human rights cultural practices, leading to an anti-social environment for women and children. Market women who ordinarily carry the burden for over 70% of the Nigerian families and are the economic main- stay of most homes suffer the most. It shows in several ways and not necessarily violent – owing to Market women often non awareness of this, it gradually ebb their sense of dignity and consequent inability to raise citizens who fully appreciate their beings in our homes.

Lawyers Alert as a human rights Organization has identified the gap which has put the lives of many women at the risk of suffering violations and other human rights abuses, and is now engaging market women associations across the country to sensitize them on Gender based violence.

The first of this training held with the kabusa market women – Abuja sorboses. The training which started at about 2:30 PM with over fourty women in attendance was held at the market square and it started with an opening prayer by a delegate of the Market Women Leader, after which a welcome address was taken by the Market Women Leader herself. All the participants briefly introduced themselves. Mr. Yemi Agoro took time to introduce Lawyers Alert as an Organization to the women and also talked about the Objectives of the meeting. Ellen Onugha who is our legal officer took time to talk about legal literacy and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR). Mr Yemi Agoro and Elvis Torkuma took few minutes to summarize everything in local English in other for the women to understand it better. After the session on legal literacy and Sexual reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), we gave room for comments and questions. The women were excited with our services and many threw questions which we were able to respond to with the rights answers.

One woman stood up and said, she would take it upon herself to educate those who were not present at the meeting. Another woman said initially she thought it was money we came to share to them but what she learnt from us is much more than money. After the feedback session, emphases were made on Lawyers Alert’s pro bono services, mediation, where and how they can access our free legal services and what to do when their rights are violated. This topic was even more exciting and overwhelming to them because even before we could finish this session, we had over six women reporting violations to us at the spot. It was a successful program because from their comments, questions, recommendations and openness to discuss their problems with us at the training ground, we could see that we exceeded their expectations.

 

In conclusion, we recommend more of this sensitization program for market women in other locations because many women do not know their rights and they do not know that these rights can be protected and enhanced. This will lead to more enlightened women in the society and reduction or total eradication of gender-based violence in Nigeria.

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LAWYERS ALERT CONTINUES ITS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS ENGAGEMENT

In continuation of our project which seeks to reduce and eliminate violence against women and girls, Lawyers alert has added 5 states to its already existing 8, making it a total of 13 states.

As in other states, Lawyers Alert in these new states will meet and create partnership with community women groups, the media and human rights lawyers in each state. The essence is to create rights awareness for women so they can report violations of their rights when it occurs and to recognize violations around them. It is also necessary that the media is sensitized on how best to report gender based violence through the lens of human rights. The last objective is to link these women with lawyers who will provide them with free legal services and where the services required are not legal, to refer them to other service providers.

 

In the last 6 weeks, Lawyers Alert has created partnership with key groups in these 5 states and we are currently liaising with several community women groups who report violations and access free legal services.

 

In Osun state, we are liaising with Community Advancement Initiative for Self-Reliance while in Plateau the partnering is with Center for the Advocacy for Justice and Rights (CAJR). In Niger, the Sisters Closet Counseling Volunteers (SCCV) are our partners as Girls Power Initiative (GPI) work with us in Edo State. Rahama Women Development Programme (RWDP) is our partners in Bauchi State.

Even though the project is halfway implemented, we have recorded an estimated 59 reported violations, with free legal services now being offered to over 42 women.

We have a vision of bringing justice home to women and girls who suffer violations and to also create enough publicity around these harmful practices. The analyzed data will soon be released and this will reveal the number of violations in Nigeria. Someday, we hope that these violations will become a thing of the past.

 

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FACILITATION OF EFFECTIVE SRHR MOVEMENT IN NIGERIA BEGINS.

Lawyers Alert on the 14th and 15th of May 2018 organised a meeting with Lawyers representing the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria towards the start of a project where the lawyers will act as the hub for start of a SRHR movement n Nigeria. The Lawyers under the aegis of Coalition of Lawyers for Human Rights, COLaHR, will partner with small and medium size CSOs at community levels towards massive organisational capacity building, legal literacy, free legal representation and strategic litigation.

Some pictures at the meeting

Key agreements and next points from the meeting includes but is not limited to:

  • Capacity assessment for COLaHR and other small & medium size CSOs in the zones for the purpose of a capacity building plan.
  • Monitoring and documentation of SRHR violations in Nigeria across the six zones.
  • Free legal representation to victims of SRHR violations
  • Capacity building for COLaHR and small & medium CSOs to commence.
  • Road map for public impact litigation agreed.

 

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Human Rights

 

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LAWYERS ALERT RELEASES REPORT ON MILITARY INVASION OF NAKA, BENUE STATE, NIGERIA.

Following the invasion and razing down of the Naka, a town in Benue state by the Nigeria military on the 19th day of April, 2018, Lawyers Alert has released a report detailing the violations that ensued thereof. In the 2 hours of this operation, more than 250 houses and other property worth millions of naira including foodstuffs and other household items had been destroyed. This is sadly within the context of herdsmen killings within the same community.

The invasion is said to be in reprisal for the alleged killing of a soldier by some residents of the town.

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Lawyers Alert within the report recommended the immediate release of the arrested suspects from military detention facilities and handing over of same to the Nigeria Police Force for necessary investigation and possible trial in a civil court; setting up of a judicial commission of Inquiry with the aim of identifying all those culpable in these acts and bringing them to trial; the compensation and rehabilitation of the victims of this invasion amongst several other recommendations.

The report is available at:

http://lawyersalertng.org/activities/Nigeria%20Military%20Invasion%20of%20Naka%20%20Town%20in%20Benue%20State.pdf

 

 

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LAWYERS ALERT RELEASES DATA ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS WITH REGARD TO HOMOSEXUALS IN NIGERIA

The report is a compendium of reported violations of sexual minorities in Nigeria between April 2017 to March 2018, with particular focus on Men who have sex with men (MSM). The data used in this report is drawn from inputs made into the online rights violation documentation tool developed by Lawyers Alert (http://colahr.org/lawyersalert/index.php ). The findings in this report cuts across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

Key findings from the Data evidences that Men who have sex with men, MSM, suffer the highest form of violations amongst key population groups in Nigeria. Violations against MSM by State and Non-State Actors concentrated to an all high of 76% as against other groups. Reasons for this are principally embedded in the prevailing laws (especially the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law 2013

It is also instructive to note that 95% of reported violations/cases were resolved at police stations, with less than 5% going to trial, and even at that, prosecution is not diligent. This appears to validate the often held claim that arrests are basically to harass, intimidate and extort victims with no will for proper prosecution.  It should be added that approximately 75% of victims were supported with free legal representation either by Lawyers Alert or other organizations in Nigeria.

This report builds on our earlier report  that grouped sexual minorities into one group, http://lawyersalertng.org/resources/LAWYERS%20ALERT%20FINDINGS%20ON%20SRHR%20%20%20%20VIOLATIONS%20IN%20NIGERIA.pdf

With support from the Rapid Response Fund, Lawyers Alert customised the online tool to specifically speak to MSM, as against other key populations and other varying sexual orientations. The online tool automatically analyses data along age, location, types, trends etc.

Interventions for MSM actions and possible law reforms cannot be better informed than when situated against the data evidenced in this report.  The documented  violations were verified and  legal assistance proffered. With Nigeria committed to ending HIV, especially against the background of dwindling external funding, such data are very critical for targeted interventions given limited resources.

Lawyers Alert is indebted to several persons and organizations, who referred cases to us, assisted us technically and/or financially in the course of developing and putting up the online tool. We acknowledge the Rapid Response Fund for partnering with us this on work

The full report can be viewed at http://lawyersalertng.org/resources/Data%20on%20MSM%20Rights%20Violations%20in%20%20Nigeria.pdf

 

 

 

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Increase State Resource Allocation on HIV efforts: Lawyers Alert Tells the National Assembly at the Public Hearing on 2018 Federal Budget

The Nigeria Budget Proposals, or better properly called “The 2018 Appropriation Bill”  which encapsulates what and how the federal government will spend Nigeria resources is undergoing debate at the National Parliament.  A public Hearing  held by the Joint Committees of Appropriation  of the Senate and the House of Representatives  for Citizen groups  to make inputs  in helping  parliamentarians make proper resource allocations.
Lawyers Alert made  its presentation seeking  increased HIV funding in Nigeria given especially, the dwindling funding from the International community at the Hearing.  Our inputs follows a year of monitoring violations and related actions in this field in Nigeria, and offering free legal services to victims.

Our Ellen Onugha, Legal Officer, made the presentation of behalf of Lawyers Alert

Find Below full text of Lawyers Alert presentation.

RESPONSIVE BUDGETING: HIV AND AIDS INTERVENTIONS IN NIGERIA:  BEING A PRESENTATION OF LAWYERS ALERT NIGERIA, AT A PUBLIC HEARING OF THE 2019 BUDGET BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

PRESENTED THIS 28TH MARCH 2018

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with an estimated 175 million inhabitants. Research in 2013 showed that HIV constitutes a major public health concern in Nigeria and that the country has the second largest burden of HIV in Africa with an estimated 3.4 million people living with the virus in 2013.

Global Fund, an international financing organization that aims to attract and disburse additional resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, had invested a total of 24 grants in Nigeria since 2003, as part of efforts aimed at tackling the HIV threat. Indeed, as at June 2015, a total of 1.43 billion dollars had been disbursed for HIV programs.  Despite these investments however, in Nigeria, Global Fund faced a number of challenges leading to the sub-optimal grant performance shown below:

  • Poor quality health services including treatment disruptions
  • Inadequate monitoring and evaluation including poor data quality
  • Low financial absorption
  • Fraud, corruption or misuse of funds
  • Poor financial efficiency and reporting
  • Inadequate principal recipient governance and oversight.

Owing to these challenges, Global Fund reduced its funding to Nigeria, thereby making the management of HIV programs, ordinarily capital intensive, even more problematic.

In 2014, the federal allocation to health constituted just 6% of the national budget and was predicated to decline in the future. It has. Currently, state level allocations for health tend to be at an average of 3%. As at 2014, HIV intervention was underfunded by 4 billion dollars. This means there are presently minimal financial resources to make investments in health to significantly alter the course of HIV in Nigeria.

As a result of this paucity in funding the following results have been recorded:

  • Approximately 160,000 (one hundred & sixty thousand) people died from HIV and AIDS related illnesses in Nigeria in 2016.
  • About 220,000 (two hundred and twenty) new infections were recorded.
  • Out of 3,200,000 (three million, two hundred thousand) people living with HIV in 2016, ONLY 30% have access to antiretroviral therapy.
  • Only 21% of the estimated 270,000 (two hundred and seventy thousand children, ages 0-14 years) in Nigeria living with HIV have access to antiretroviral treatment.
  • Children, especially females, dropping out of school to cater to the needs of infected parents who are sick.

Simply put, the number of people living with HIV and those affected by it, is now disproportionate compared to the funds budgeted for treatment. This is a tide which must be stemmed and quickly too.

Note that an estimated 1.8 million children have been orphaned by AIDS, thereby taking a huge toll on their health, safety and wellbeing. In many instances, elderly grandparents, many of whom tend to be struggling with physical infirmities and financial challenges of their own, have to bear the responsibility for these children.

Incidentally, the National Strategic Framework, 2017-2021, aims (amongst others) at ending AIDS by achieving zero new infections and zero AIDS related deaths. This goal can only be described as utopian at the moment owing to the meager funds allocated to curbing the scourge.

2021 is just 3 years away. What successes have been recorded in tackling HIV? Do we have a tragic case here of “one step forward, two steps backwards”?

The adage “Health is wealth”, has never been more apt than it is now. Our biggest resource in Nigeria at the moment does not lie in the ground in the form of black gold, NO. It lies on the surface of the earth in the form living breathing beings, you and I, who form the bulk of the wealth of this great land. It lies in our human capital. Safeguarding the health of all Nigerians, especially from problems such as HIV, is therefore a task that the Federal Government must embark upon with all sense of urgency.

Of what use would any other achievements be if we were all too sick to benefit from them? If health, and by association, HIV and AIDS programs, are not adequately funded and managed with a view to prioritizing the well-being of citizens, all other budgets would amount to nothing because there might actually be no Nigerians left to enjoy them.

It is therefore imperative that this National Assembly pay heed to the neglect in this sector and take steps to redress the shortfall in funding. This is critical given that international support has drastically dropped as cited above. Failure to do this by the National Assembly could translate to an inability to meet the goal of the National Strategic Framework within the proposed time frame of 2017-2021.

Lawyers Alert therefore, seeks a proved and specific funding, beyond the health sector, for HIV and AIDS interventions by provision of adequate anti-retroviral therapy to enhance access for persons living with HIV. In addition, we seek adequate provision of commodities and services to promote absolutely free testing including the provision of effective mother to child transmission Medicare.

The National Assembly is so urged.

Thank you.

 
 

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Benue As a Metaphor for Official Mischief

by Lazarus Mom 

A chick that will grow into a cock can be spotted the day it is hatched. So goes a popular saying.  Put in another way, an efficient and effective management of a situation by a good and responsible Public Officer can be perceived by his first action.  No high ranking Security Officer has manifested this maxim more than Mr. Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police.

Since the attack on Logo and Guma Local Government Areas of Benue State by the Killer herdsmen on New Year day, Benue has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. On that fateful morning, the terrorist herdsmen mauled down 73 souls mostly Women and Children. From then on, no day passes by without reports of pockets of attacks every here and there by the terrorists in Benue. As at the time of writing this report, 24 souls killed by the almighty and Untouchable Herdsmen are awaiting mass burial by the Benue State Government. The mass burial of the victims was postponed due to the President visit to the State.

The situation in Benue has exposed the ineptitude, rascality and crass carelessness of the Security Agencies especially the Police Force personified by its Inspector General, Mr. Ibrahim Idris. His poor handling of the Benue crises and his seeming complicity was noticed from the very beginning of this cycle of violence. For example, less than 24 hours after the carnage, Mr. Idris waved away the public concerns and labeled an orchestrated genocide as “A communal Clash”. This reaction was greeted by a huge public outcry all over Nigeria. He was forced to retrace his comments and reluctantly apologize to the Government and People of Benue State. As the highest ranking Police Officer in Nigeria, and supposedly grounded in Security situation management, that statement was a huge miscalculation that borders very close to mischief. That statement gave an impression of a hurried statement based on terse situational report of which no good and responsible Senior Public Officer will make. He was forced to eat the humble pie and apologize albeit needless.

From that moment on, a seeming face off ensued between the Benue State Government and the Inspector General.  On the 9th of January 2018,  a statement was credited to the  Police High Command accusing the Benue State of owning and arming a militia group.  The Benue State Government vehemently denied this accusation. The Police based its “findings” from the confessions of some hoodlums arrested in Arufu with arms and ammunition claiming to be working for the Benue State Government. In a matter of such weighty and grievous concern, one would have thought that the Nigerian Police should have been careful and cautious in making such sweeping statements especially in these perilous periods. Unfortunately, it did not. This statement further eroded the slim confidence the Government and People of Benue State had in the Police. The bad blood continued.

In February, 2018, appearing before the Senate to give the situational report on the Benue killings especially on the likely remote and proximate causes with a view towards peace, the Inspector General told the upper chamber that the passage of the Anti Grazing law in Benue was the cause of the crises. He recommended that the implementation of the law be suspended until peace returns to the State. This position irked the Government and People of Benue State and rightly too.

The wanton  attacks and killings in Benue  State by the marauding herdsmen has been going  on for years now with little or no constructive effort made to stop the constant cycle of violence. In 2014 for example, herdsmen overran Gwer West, Guma, Makurdi, Tarka, and Agatu local governments killing hundreds and destroying invaluable property and farmlands with careless abandon. The Anti grazing law was not yet in place then.  The IG’ claim that the passage of the law is the cause of the present crises, is not very convincing and correct. Plateau, Adamawa, Nassarawa and some States in North Central Nigeria are under attack by the herdsmen and they certainly don’t have the Anti Open Grazing Law in place.

The face off and war of words between the Police and the Government of Benue State culminated in a live TV program on Channels TV on the 6th of February 2018. On that show, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Benue State Mr. Terve Akase had a hot altercation with the Force Public Relations officer Mr. Jimoh Moshood  over the call for the resignation of the Inspector General of the Police due to his poor management of the crises. The argument got to a point that the host had to threaten to send them off the program if they fail to live up to the ethics and decorum of the show.

What angered the Press Secretary was that Mr. Jimoh maintained the narrative that enough security measures had been put in place by the Police that the Governor Dr. Samuel Ortom was a drowning Governor who could not control his State. This episode like the many others sparked an outcry. How could a very senior Police Officer call a sitting Governor a drowning Man on National TV?  The bizarre and irrational action by Mr. Jimoh on National TV received nether rebuttal or reprimand from his boss the Inspector General. What that meant is that Mr. Jimoh was speaking the mind of his boss.  This position falls far short of responsible Policing and effective crises management. It sends wrong signals to the minds of the people especially the warring parties.

Common sense dictates that, the Security agencies especially the Police should not be seen as taking sides in a conflict situation. This was the impression left on the minds of the Benue by the actions and inactions of the Police especially the Inspector General.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the visit of the President to the State on Monday, the 12th day of March, 2018. During the interactive session with the Benue people especially elders, community leaders, faith based and other interest groups, the President was shocked to learn that the Inspector General of Police stayed less than 24 hours in Benue during the heat of the crises. The perplexed President revealed that he specifically instructed Mr. Ibrahim Idris to remain in Benue until peace and calm returned.

Need one say more?

This blatant disregard to a Presidential Order could only mean rascality or mischief at the expense of the lives and properties of the Citizens. The cumulative action of the IG in the Benue crises clearly shows how Senior Public Officers in Nigeria abdicate their roles and responsibilities regardless of the consequences. The media reported that the Inspector General left Benue in a hurry for his birthday party in Abuja and never returned. Whether he left for a birthday party or not, the truth is he left his duty post as instructed by the PresidentOrtom

The case of the Inspector General of Police is only a tip of the iceberg. If the President had not revealed to Nigerians the true case scenario, no one would have known the Inspector General of Police abdicated his duties in Benue. What this scenario has depicted is that, there are many Senior Public
Officers in Nigeria who flounder Presidential directives with the damming consequences as the Benue situation. Such officers can be found in Health care delivery sector, Education, Agriculture etc. it is perhaps the reason Nigeria has remained stagnant.

What this revelation has further depicted is the level of ignorance the President lives in. it is bewildering to know that the President issues a directive in January and only gets to know about its non-compliance in March. One begins to wonder how many Presidential directives have been disregarded without the President’s knowledge. This is worrisome.

For peace to return to Benue and Nigeria to move forward, senior public officers including the Inspector General of Police must be above board in the discharge of their tasks and responsibilities.

In another light, we salute the courage and resilience of the Benue People especially the Executive Governor for standing firm in their resolve even in the face of grand scale opposition including hostilities. In his welcome address to the President, the Governor highlighted the position of Benue People. He told the President “that between 2013-2017, Forty-Seven attacks were recorded, over 1,878 men, women and children have been slaughtered in cold blood across 14 Local Government Areas of the State, 750 were seriously wounded while 200 were missing. Over 99,427 households have been affected. Furthermore, the State has lost an average of 47% of Internally Generated Revenues due to attacks by armed herdsmen in the State. He said this was the logic behind the Open grazing Prohibition Law 2017 which represents the wishes of the People of Benue State.

The Governor went ahead to challenge the President by asking for the arrest of the leadership of  Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who on 30th May, 2017,  in a ‘World Press Conference’ held in Abuja, opposed the Ranching Law. They called on Fulani herders in all of West Africa to come into Benue to help them reclaim their land. In the same vein, Miyetti Allah Cattle Herders Association in their Press Conference declared that more blood will flow in Benue if the Ranching Law is not rescinded. True to their threats, the attacks have been carried out and are still on going.

This is the situation in Benue. If all hands were on deck, a lot would have been avoided. If the Inspector General had not flagrantly disobeyed the directives of the President, the violence would not have probably degenerated to such a magnitude. The killings in Gboko, Okpokwu, the uprising in Makurdi etc all would have been avoided if the Inspector General of Police had stayed back in Benue as directed. His presence would have sent a very strong message to both sides of the warring parties that this is no joke. It would also have kept every single Police Personnel on his or her feet to be alert to their duties. Regrettably Mr. Idris failed to do such and his subordinates followed suit, giving way to rancour and mayhem to reign supreme in Benue State.

Given the above therefore, Lawyers Alert recommends the following:

  • That the current Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris be removed with immediate effect for flagrantly disobeying a Presidential order which is unbecoming of a Senior Public Officer of his calibre.
  • That an apology be issued from Mr. Ibrahim Idris to the Government and People of Benue State over his failures and its attendant consequences,
  • The relocation of a new Inspector General of Police to the State to see to it that Peace returns to Benue,
  • That the Presidency should strengthen its monitoring systems to check the actions or inactions of Senior Public Officers towards their functions especially directives from the President.

As stated earlier above, the actions of Mr. Idris is an indictment on Public officers in Nigeria.  Many of them have abdicated or are still abdicating their duties to the detriment of the growth and development of Nigeria. Until and unless Senior Public Officers begin to see that the Citizens are the raizon de tre they are appointed, Nigeria will keep moving in cycles.

Lazarus Mom is a Director with Lawyers Alert

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2018 in Governanace

 

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