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About lawyersalert

Lawyers Alert is a Human Rights NGO into capacity building, legal assistance, good governance and documentation of rights abuses, especially of women and other vulnerable groups.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click below for Video Clip:

http://www.lawyersalertng.org/press/GBVKABUSA.php

 

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Posted by on September 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

ADVOCACY VISIT TO THE BENUE SATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY ON THE 23RD DAY OF AUGUST, 2018

The Head Office of Lawyers Alert in Makurdi, Benue State paid an advocacy visit to the Benue State Emergency Management Agency on the 23rd of August 2018. The 3-Person delegation was led by Mr. Lazarus M. Ahangba the Programs Manager, alongside Jerome Uneje Programs Officer and Linus Mbakaan the Administrative Officer.

Lawyers Alert Advocacy Visit to the Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA) took place on the 23rd day of August, 2018 at 10:00am. The group was led by Mr. Lazarus M. Ahangba, the Head Office Programs Manager. The group was received by the Executive Secretary of the Agency, Mr. Emmanuel Shior and his team. Mr. Lazarus Ahangba set the meeting in motion by introducing his team members and Lawyers Alert including its vision and mission. He went ahead to highlight on the Organization’ history, major achievements and current activities. He also spoke on the purpose of the visit which is to explore areas of mutual interest and partnership between the two Organizations. Furthermore, he said LA identifies BSEMA as a core stakeholder since it is saddled with the responsibility of managing Emergencies in the State. This responsibility therefore places them in direct contact with victims of disasters made up of mostly women and other vulnerable groups.

Since women and vulnerable groups happen to be LA’ core target groups, BSEMA then becomes a Key Stakeholder and State Actor to collaborate with towards meeting the needs of women and other vulnerable groups. He went ahead to intimate the Agency of LA’ intention to visit some of the Internally Displaced Persons’ Camps with the view towards building their capacity on Sexual and Reproductive Health Right (SRHR) and Gender Based Violence (GBV). In addition Jerome Uneje mentioned the monitoring and documentation of rights violations LA carries out. She also mentioned the availability of the web based tool developed by LA in 2016 which captures and analyses SRHR violations. She concluded by intimating the Agency of the intention of LA to also monitor and document SRHR violations in the camps. She further talked about LA’ pro bono services and asked the Agency to take advantage of same by sending in cases of violations.

The Executive Secretary, in his response was quite pleased with the visit and thanked LA for it. He was appreciative of the gesture and assured LA of the Agency support and Cooperation. He gave LA the go-ahead with its intended intervention in the camps on the condition that she shares her finding with the Agency before publishing. This has become necessary because some groups will visit the camps and publish damning reports without consulting the Agency. He also wanted to know if LA’ pro bono services includes development workers whose rights are abused in the course of their services. He concluded by saying that he is a feminist and any intervention regarding women and their rights is highly acceptable to him. The meeting ended with a group photograph.

In conclusion, the meeting with Benue Sate Emergency Management Agency was fruitful, timely and most appropriate. It has opened up a channel of opportunities especially for women and other vulnerable groups focus intervention. We look forward for more of such interface with key State Actors in the State.

 

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COURTESY VISIT BY THE HOPE SISTERS AGAINST HIV/AIDS, STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION INITIATIVE

On the 29th day of August, 2018, the Hope Sisters Against HIV/AIDS, Stigma and Discrimination Initiative, a Women-Led Grassroot Civic Group in Makurdi, Benue State paid a Courtesy Visit to Lawyers Alert Head Office in order to identify with the LA and strengthen the existing working relationship between both Organizations.

 

The group was led Miss. Maria Okwoli, the Executive Director, she was received by Mr. Lazarus M. Ahangba, the Programs Manager of the Head Office. In her address, Miss. Okwoli prays LA for their assistance and support to the members of their group since the partnership started a few months ago. She said the visit was necessary owing to changes within the Organization especially at the leadership level. As a key partner and stakeholder to the Organization it becomes pertinent to formally visit and intimate the Organization of the changes that had occurred within the period. She went ahead to create the indulgence of LA to continue with the support it has always given to the group even with this new leadership that they look forward to a harmonious relationship with LA going forward.

In response, Mr. Lazarus, thanked the group for their visit and expressed delight over the group commitment to course of Women Human Rights especially those of the most vulnerable which they represent. He promised LA will continue to work and partner with the group particularly in areas of mutual interests. Furthermore, he told the group that the offer to build the capacity of its members on Monitoring/Documentation of Human Rights Violations, Gender Based Violence and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights is still open and they can liaise with the appropriate officers in charge of those areas.

In addition, R.A. Hwande Esq, mentioned the efforts of LA in providing pro bono services to vulnerable women and how they can also explore same. He went ahead to give examples of past and recent incidences LA had offered pro bono to some members of their group in conflict with the law.

After this, the meeting came to an end with a vote of thanks by Miss. Okwoli. She thanked LA for finding time to host them and look forward to a better working relationship. Shortly after this, a group photograph was taken.

 

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2018 in HIV/AIDS & HUMAN RIGHTS

 

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In Pictures: Strategic Impact Litigation Training for Nigerian Lawyers held on the 21st and 22nd of August 2018.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Strategic Impact Litigation Training Workshop

Towards getting Nigerian Lawyers to commence active Strategic Litigation cases that offers legal support to resource constrain citizens, Lawyers Alert will be conducting a strategic litigation training for Nigerian Lawyers on the 21st – 22nd of August 2018. Venue will be at Reiz Intercontinental Hotel Abuja. There will be Live streaming of the training on our Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/lawyersalert/ and YouTube page. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmeNqfhl9uNCVSmYs_E1_CA?view_as=subscriber You can also follow highlights of the training on our twitter page @lawyersalertNG.

 

 

Combating Insecurity in Nigeria: Call for Restructuring the Nigeria Police

By Sunday Adaji Esq.

It would seem the current security situation in Nigeria calls for a complete overhaul of our security apparatus, to wit, our law enforcement agencies, especially the Nigeria Police. This overhaul goes beyond removing the executive officers of our law enforcement agencies. The overhaul has to do with restructuring.

We have talked about community policing in the past, but the fact that citizens are not trained and well-armed for this limits our ability to make any significant headway in our resolve to maintain law and order in Nigeria.

We have also been talking about restructuring. Perhaps, this is the right time to restructure. The current security situation in Nigeria calls for restructuring. We have the Boko Haram insurgencies in the North East of Nigeria. We also have the herdsmen ravaging most parts of the North, destroying lives and property with impunity. There seems to be no end in sight.

The police force seems helpless. In fact, a significant number of policemen have been killed by these insurgent groups. Unless drastic measures are taken to grapple with the insurgencies in the country, we may be heading towards the state of anarchy.

The primary duty of the government is the maintenance of law and order. To this end, section 14 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN), 1999, as amended, states: “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” Although our law enforcement agents are trying, their effort is not yet good enough, for as long as these insurgencies continue, they have to redouble their effort to ensure that law and order is restored.

Call for State Police

Many people who call for restructuring have advocated for entrenchment of true federalism. Although Nigeria is a federal state, we cannot say that Nigeria is practicing true federalism. In a true federalism, power resides with the component units of the states which form the federation. Nigeria is made up of 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Nigeria’s style of federalism operates a three-tier government, which is the federal government, the state governments and the local governments. However, power does not reside in the 36 states, but in the central government, otherwise known as the federal government.

The implication is that the central government is over bloated with the power that should reside in the 36 states. All the assets that should belong to the component states (natural and material resources) are taken over by the central government to be utilized for the benefit of the component states.

With power concentrated at the Centre, all 36 component states are forced to rely on the Centre for their monthly statutory allocation. Further, the Centre is in control and seen as the highest authority from which orders emanate. This is actually not the representation of a true federalism. In a true federalism, the component states are meant to be as, if not more powerful than the Centre.

One of the major shortcomings of Nigeria’s type of federalism is that until orders come from the Centre, the component states remain practically at a standstill. Everything depends on the Centre.

As a result of this major shortcoming, many have advocated for restructuring, calling for the  establishment of a state police. Proponents of this restructuring are of the view that if each component state has her own police, they would be able to handle security situations in their territory.

The Federal Government seems to be toeing the line of restructuring the police as there is, before the National Assembly, the agitation for the amendment of the Nigerian Constitution to reflect restructuring. By this restructuring, each of the 36 states of Nigeria would have its own police while the Federal (Central) Government would have her own separate.

This is a welcome development. It is our hope that when the constitution is finally amended to restructure the Nigeria police, and the 36 state governments now establish their police, this restructuring will go a long way to curtail the problem of insecurity in Nigeria.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Benue Political Logjam and the Fate of the Electorate

By Richard A Hwande Esq.

Preamble

Political upheavals and recalibrations are not new on election eve years. In Nigeria, this is characterized by party defections and counter defections by political gladiators.  This obtains at all levels of the political class. Back in 2014, a political eve year, this scenario played out with mass defections from the then PDP to the APC. Four years later, its déjà vu. This high level Political scheming and machination cannot go without its effect on the polity. The current political intrigues as obtained have cascaded down to the grassroots across Nigeria in varying magnitudes.  The political environment and dynamics in States across Nigeria have been recalibrated in quantum leaps with the fate of the common man and electorate hanging in the balance.

The Confusing Benue Episode

Benue Politics has always had an interesting narrative. From time immemorial, political alignments and counter alignments have rocked the State with attendant effects both negative and positive including the current episode.

The current Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom has been locked in a tense face-off with his erstwhile god-father, Senator George Akume, the de facto APC leader in the State. The reason for the face off cannot be emphatically established as this, like other political issues, is shrouded in secrecy leaving room for rumored and assumed reasons to swirl around.

The effects of the face-off are however not rumored or assumed. They are real and staring right at us, the biggest being the defection of the Governor, his deputy, 13 local government chairmen, and 22 Assembly men from the APC to the PDP, the closest choice. This has opened up a gamut of political swings and up swings in the State with each action birthing a reaction.

On the 24th day of July, 2018, the speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly Hon. Terkimbir Ikyange and his deputy, Hon. James Okefe, were impeached unanimously by about 22 members present at a reconvened session of the house. Recall that a week earlier the House had proceeded on a month’s recess to resume plenary on the 15th of August, 2018 only to reconvene abruptly against its standard practice to impeach the speaker, his deputy and other principal officers of the House in curious and suspicious circumstances. The 22 members of the House elected a new speaker and a deputy on the same date.

The following timeline captures the unfolding political quagmire:

  • On the 24th day of July, 2018, the speaker, Benue State House of Assembly and deputy are impeached by 22 members present at a reconvened session.
  • On the 25th of July, 2018, the Benue state Governor decamps from the APC to the PDP.
  • On the 26th July, 2018, heavily armed Police squad cordones off the State Assembly preventing members and staff from accessing the Assembly complex. This move is believed to have been orchestrated by the impeached Speaker in tandem with the APC leadership in the State.
  • On the 27th July, the chief Judge of Benue State issues an order restraining Hon. Terkimbir Ikyange and others from parading themselves as leaders of the State Assembly while a pending suit they had filed before another High Court of Justice in Makurdi challenging the impeachment was yet to be determined.

In another twist, another State High Court issued yet another order restraining the police from occupying the State Assembly Complex and preventing the 22 Assembly members loyal to the Governor from gaining access to the Benue State House of Assembly Complex to carry out  their official duties. The Police have since vacated the complex but the house is yet to resume sitting as it is currently on recess.

As it stands:

Currently, in Benue State, things are falling apart and the centre is not holding. The political logjam is taking its toll on Governance leaving the common man in the street in limbo. For instance, 9 of the 13 State Exco members loyal to the erstwhile god father have been sacked with no replacements made so far not mentioning heads of Parastatals and agencies including the Benue State Internal Revenue Service.

The Implications

The implications of the political logjam are multiple and burdensome. The first implication is that the issues of core governance, which are service delivery to the is neglected and has been sacrificed on the altar of ego and the political interests of the gladiators.

Another implication is the deepening of poverty and misery on the already impoverished Benue Citizen. Since the beginning of 2018, Benue has been engulfed in a vicious orgy of bloodletting by killer herdsmen with attendant consequences. Going by the reports of the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, it had registered more than 180, 000 displaced persons which it has been catering for in eight camps while over 500 000 IDPs are taking shelter wherever they find space. Mercifully, the attacks are beginning to decline with slender peace appearing on the horizon in the State. The least the State needs at the moment is another round of disharmony from its leaders. Political affiliations are normal and legal but the acrimony and tension being witnessed in the State at the moment is least desired. This will no doubt deepen the poverty level of the already impoverished Benue Citizenry especially Women and Children.

Yet another grave implication of the current situation in Benue State is the derailment of democratic structures and values in the State. For example, it was widely reported that a battalion of heavily armed Police men invaded the State Assembly more than once to prevent the assembly from sitting to carry out its legislative functions. At any rate, it is most undemocratic and absurd for the Police and other Security agents to invade a legislative complex to prevent lawmakers and their aides from carrying out their duties. Furthermore, the Assembly is divided between two factions. A 22 member faction loyal to the Governor and another 8 member faction loyal to Senator George  Akume. Things got uglier when the 8 man Assembly faction attempted to impeach the Governor in a counter move against the 22 man group. The 22 Assembly members now sit at the Banquet Hall of the Government House to carry out their legislative duties.

We can go on and on reeling out the implications as negative as they are. Going forward however, we recommend the following as measures to save our State and its future from imminent danger.

Recommendations:

  • We call on all warring factions to sheath their daggers and dialogue over their differences for the interest of the common man.
  • Security agencies including the Police should not be allowed to be used as hatchet men in the hands of Politicians to settle scores with disregard to democratic norms and the rule of law in Benue State and Nigeria.
  • Peace and harmony are the most important resources the State and its Citizenry need as we emerge from herdsmen crises in the State.
  • The various interest groups should note that the citizen is paramount and should be prioritised above everything else including political interest especially the rights of Women, Children and the most vulnerable in our society.

In conclusion, we can only say that though conflicts, disagreements and realignments are common decimals in party politics, these can, however, be managed in an effective and  efficient manner without losing sight of the bigger picture which is the growth and development of our State and the Nation as  a whole.

In conclusion, we aver that this Benue logjam will provide the electorate an opportunity to know who has their interest at heart as we go to the polls come 2019.

R.A. Hwande Esq is a Legal Officer with Lawyers Alert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

 
 
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