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NIGERIA #ENDSARS PROTESTS AND THE AFTERMATH

NIGERIA #ENDSARS PROTESTS AND THE AFTERMATH

Position of Lawyers Alert

Lawyers Alert condemns in the strongest terms the use of live ammunition on protesters who were only armed with national flags and the national anthem and the consequent loss of lives of innocent and defenseless Nigerians in their prime. No lawful and democratic society condones extrajudicial killings in any form. Every person has a right to live and such a right cannot be taken away by anyone except in accordance with the law.

Lawyers Alert acknowledges the Constitutional Rights of citizens to embark on peaceful protests and it is in this light that we also strongly condemn the use of military personnel under any guise to quell protests within the civic space. The result can only be and has been fatalities.


We also condemn the degeneration of the protest into rioting. In Abuja alone, no fewer than 50 vehicles were razed. The same goes for Lagos where Media Houses, a Traditional Ruler’s Palace, Police Stations, a warehouse, and shopping malls were vandalized and in some instances burned. A number of Police Officers were also lynched. In Edo, there was the incident of a jailbreak where inmates were set free while Kano and Jos witnessed misguided reprisal attacks with a number of churches burned.
We acknowledge the rights of the citizenry to move freely and own property. These are fundamental rights that are inalienable.


We note the genesis of the unfortunate happenings. Citizens, mainly the Youth commenced protests owing to killings and various human rights abuses against them by the men of the Police Force, particularly the special unit of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS. Their demands were the disbandment of SARS, identification and sanctioning of rogue officers, the release of the illegally detained, and compensation to victims or their families amongst others.


The government did yield to these requests by disbanding SARS, setting up
Judicial Panels of Inquiry, and calling for negotiations. Owing to previous unkept promises by the government and the consequent lack of trust, youths shunned these measures, and continued the protest, leading to the present situation.

Recommendations
In light of the foregoing, Lawyers Alert recommends the following:

▪ The Federal Government should keep open its earlier invitation to the
Protesters to the negotiation table. The Protesters should accept the
government invitation to dialogue towards the realization of the demands
of the protesters and suspend the protests. Lawyers Alert recognizes the
lack of trust for government promises by the youth, which is justifiable
given past experiences. We however advise that timelines be set for the
delivery of every demand with responsible agency clearly defined. There is
no better time to do this than now.


▪ The National Assembly should conduct a hearing/investigation into what
transpired at the Lekki toll gate on 20/10/2020 that led to the loss of lives
owing to killings allegedly carried out by soldiers. This hearing should
unravel questions like who ordered soldiers to Lekki Toll Gate, the actual
number of lives lost, the identity of victims, and comprehensive sanctions
of any individual directly or indirectly connected to the incident.

▪ Lawyers Alert urges groups and persons to approach the Judicial Panels
of Inquiry to lay their grievance towards the identification of culpable SARS
officers for appropriate sanctions and the compensation of victims.


▪ The government should embark on comprehensive reform of the police,
with emphasis on oversight functions, tethering oversight to citizens
groups, the National Assembly, Internal Police oversight, the National
Human Rights Commission, and most importantly, the Police Service
Commission which is the constitutional body with the mandate of
oversight.

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


Lawyers Alert

 

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SARS EPIDEMIC AND NIGERIAN YOUTHS

SARS EPIDEMIC AND NIGERIAN YOUTHS

BY OMOTOLA EUNICE OMOTAYO

Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was founded in 1992 by a former Commissioner of Police, Simeon Danladi Midenda. SARS was established as a result of an increase in violent crimes in Nigeria following a dispute between the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Army which made officers of the Nigerian Police Force desert their duty posts. The responsibility of the Special Unit is to investigate, arrest, detain and prosecute persons involved in violent crimes like armed robbery and kidnapping, etc.

In the early 2000s, internet fraud and cultism were on the increase across the country, and to curb the menace, SARS operatives infiltrated institutions, made several arrests. This special squad recorded tremendous successes in the reduction of armed robbery, kidnapping, and cultism, etc.  

This is no longer the story, as SARS operatives are now known for extortion, torturing, framing up innocent citizens, blackmailing, and killing of Nigerian youths. The unit has today metamorphosed into an oppressor of the Nigerian masses, especially youths.  

Due to several incidents of SARS officers killing, extorting, and brutalizing Nigerian youths, there have been several campaigns to end SARS since its transformation from an agent of protection to that of oppression. Patriotic Nigerians across the country led by Segun Awosanya started an online advocacy campaign to end SARS brutality in December 2016. He started the online campaign with a hashtag, #EndSARS. In the year 2018, 14th of August to be precise, Yemi Osinbajo as the Acting President of Nigeria ordered the overhaul of the controversial police unit, SARS following an uproar of human rights violation of citizens by the Unit. On the 21st day of January, 2019 an order was also made by IGP Mohammed Adamu to immediately decentralize the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

None of the above-listed attempts to stop or reform SARS was implemented. The nemesis continued to prevail as SARS officials are constantly alleged of extortion, humiliation, and abuse of human rights especially the incessant killing of youths in Lagos, Ogun, Benin, Delta, and other States. 

Recently, the youths of Nigeria took to the internet (Twitter) to clamor for an outright end to the brutality perpetrated by the Special Unit, using the hashtag #EndSARS, which also got international recognitions. While the ‘peaceful’ protest was ongoing in several States across Nigeria, it was recorded that police attacked the protesters with tear gas and water-canons. It was also recorded that some of these protesters lost their lives in this act. Resulting from this was an announcement made on the 11th day of October, 2020 by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu that the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force, alongside its Units across other States of the country is thereby disbanded. He further stated that the operatives will be redeployed to other police formations and commands.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. We call on the government to look into SARS departments and carryout the much needed reformation of same.
  2. Training of Police officials to be human rights compliant in their delivery of duties.
  3. Policing is all about protecting, respecting, and valuing the lives of citizens. The bedrock of the country’s current challenges is the lack of transparency and accountability in the Security Sector. Proper implementation of the new Police Act, 2020 as a new legislation will aid the restoration of the people’s lost confidence. 
  4. The Nigerian Communications Commission should create a 3-digit emergency number that will be used to report any form of violence. The essence of applying this medium is to give the receiver access to the caller’s location in emergency situations without necessarily picking the call.

Nigerians want to be protected!

Nigerians want to be able to walk freely without the fear of being shot dead at any encounter with SARS.

Remember, we have the right to live, to express ourselves, and to be treated with dignity!

 

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A CALL TO PENITENCE FOR NIGERIA @ 60

BY OMOTOLA EUNICE OMOTAYO

NIGERIA @ 60

Nigeria! Our great nation blessed with lots of both human and natural resources: home to significant deposits of coal, iron ore, lead, limestone, tin, and zinc; not to mention oil and gas. Importantly, our dear country has rich land and water resources that are ripe for agricultural exploitations. What about the ever-resilient, gifted, talented, entrepreneurial, richly cultured, and religious citizens of our dear country. The fabulous lifestyles and rich sense of humor of the millions of the sons and daughters of Nigeria are amazing. Indeed, a blessed and great country was given birth to sixty years ago!

As this great nation celebrates its 60th birthday anniversary (Golden Jubilee), putting in mind all we are blessed with; can we be happier? Can we boldly say we are together? Don’t we still suffer in the hands of our merely mouthed democracy? Can we proudly say things are getting better? How is our education sector? Are the leaders of tomorrow being prepared for and given the opportunity to take over leadership? What has become of all the resources we are blessed with? Today, can a concerned citizen of our dear nation speak his/her mind freely on what he believes in?

At 60, insecurity and other social vices are at their peaks in the history of Nigeria. Arguably, Nigerians have always known better yesterdays. Citizens are at their lows economically. The poor apparently get poorer and even punished for being poor just as the marginalized could barely eke out a living. What a journey!

Do we see little/nothing to celebrate on this day? Let us do a proper reflection, honest meditation. There is actually a little achievement for the birthday ‘boy’ to celebrate. In truth, there is a need for serious sober reflections on the part of both the drivers of the affairs of the celebrant and even the driven. There is much to do on the part of each and every one of us. The concern for each Nigerian should constantly be what positive part he/she plays to move the country forward and bequeath future happy birthday celebrations on it. The age-long order of seeing collective resources of the celebrant as national cake must stop. Laws must be there for all rather than being treated as being for the poor alone. The country must strive to build strong institutions instead of strong individuals. The celebrant must be a home to children that are treated with dignity.  This is the least expectation.

 

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CHILD BRIDE: IT’S LONG TERM AFTERMATH

By: Innocent Doris U.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same”.     – Nelson Mandela

Agnes sat down on the platform at the back of her house staring into space, her mind whirring like an electronic fan at its highest pace. As a young woman at 28 who has 6 children for a man who kidnapped her as a child and was forced by her uncles to remain with him, tradition they called it. She was only 14 and newly orphaned. Her life from then on turned inside out and all she had become accustomed to was a dark tunnel, at no time did she see the light as there was no one to show her the way. For the past 14 years of her life, she has endured a place worse than hell, because of her helplessness first as a child and subsequently as a mother who feared to lose her children. Her 4 beautiful girls and 2 little boys who were still running about in their knickers in their childish innocence, oblivious to the reality around them except for when their mother becomes a punching bag, which happens very often.

She smiled on the platform, so much sadness, anguish and pain in her eyes as she relived the past 14 years of her life. Life has been so cruel to her, as she endures constant pain, abuse, rape, neglect and even torture. She definitely didn’t suffer alone, any child who dared come between her and the man who calls himself her husband when he is beating her, would be beaten as well.

Samson really personified his name on her body, he was tall, dark and handsome, such an irony to his personae. It would be too kind to call him a beast, because even beasts have time for rest. He always found an excuse to hit her, rape her or even torture her, sometimes in the presence of their children. He also didn’t relent in saying terrible things to their children about her. This was the system that enabled her conceive 10 times; of those 10 pregnancies she lost 2, had 2 still births and nurtured 6 children who she is grateful, are alive and healthy.

As she continued her reminiscing, she remembered the many times she had woken up to realize that she had fainted from domestic violence. She took a look at her young battered body, the scars on her body and the gaping wound in her heart.

Samson had threatened to separate her from the kids forever if she ever dared to leave him. This threat was etched in her heart and so with every child she bore, her fear grew and so did her anger.

The most troubling part of her situation that has kept her in this quagmire presently is the plan to marry off her first daughter Ruth who is only thirteen, to a rich man who had promised to give them a new house, buy them three cars and send their two boys to school. Samson had eagerly agreed without her consent, she was deeply troubled; she was only a year older when she was kidnapped. She couldn’t stand and let the same evil that befell her and caused her, her entire life befall her precious baby.

By this time her tears had become groans and her tears like a torrential rain fall luckily, Samson is not home. As Agnes fights in her heart frantically for a solution, her mind wanders to what she could have become if only one adult had fought for her fourteen years ago, she could have been an enlightened graduate and would have every form of security any woman could dream of, be it mental, economic or even marital.

These and many more she wanted desperately for her children. She would fight tooth and nail and sacrifice anything to ensure that all her children would get the things she could only dream of. She is still thinking of a way out of this dilemma.

This is currently the plight of hundreds of young women somewhere in Northern Nigeria today. They transit from girlhood into womanhood in a nightmare they have no choice but to call home. The many unheard voices filled with anguish and pain still abound. Their Sexual, Reproductive and Health Rights are still violated thoughtlessly. Some of these young women and girls lose their lives during child birth or from domestic violence. Others contract Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) and are left to suffer until they are either helped or they eventually die. Some others who are bold enough to escape may never see their babies again. Others just endure the precarious situation due to fear and pressure from family and friends. These are the ones who cannot even cry silently, because of the burden in their hearts. I can hear the cries of this young girls; “Save us, the ones we were entrusted with, have failed to protect us. Rather, they have let us out to the wolves to devour. But, I am only a child.”

We see how Child Bride practices foster and sponsor Gender Based Violence and other Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) violations. This is the reason why this menace must be strongly hunted down and stopped. We must lend our voices to victims of Child Bride and reinvigorate their broken spirits and bodies. They have the right to dream as much as the rest of us do. We must also do our best to ensure that Parents and members of the society recognize child bride for what it is so that together we can discourage it, stop it and have a better Nigeria. A Child Bride Free Nigeria is a great Nigeria.

 

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World Humanitarian Day: Nourishing the World with a Milk of Human Kindness

By Sunday Adaji Esq.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love, they say, makes the world to go round. Imagine a world devoid of charities, a world where everyone is to himself. Such a world would be a hell. The extent of reliefs, comfort, support, peace and the breath of fresh air that we enjoy today is as a result of the humanitarian efforts of persons and organisations who take it upon themselves to be their “brothers keepers.” Thanks a million to charities, to civil society organisations, (CSOs), Community Based Organisations (CBO) and individuals who are driven by passion to nourish the world with a milk of human kindness. This is the essence of the World Humanitarian Day, and it is on this note that Lawyers Alert wishes you a Happy World Humanitarian Day. The World Humanitarian Day is celebrated on the 19th of August every year and it is a day set aside by the United Nations to honour humanitarian efforts worldwide and propagating the idea of supporting people in crisis.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) states on its website, www.unocha.org/world-humanitarian-day-2019: “World Humanitarian Day 2019 is set to celebrate Women humanitarians and their undying contribution in making the world a better place.”

In conflict situations, in times of disasters and in times of gross human rights violations, women are among the most vulnerable persons that are worse hit. But it is gratifying to note that women are also among those who are working tirelessly to bring succour to the poor, the destitute and to internally displaced persons (IDP).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigeria is presently bedeviled with insecurity. The North East of Nigeria is under constant attack by Boko Haram and ISWA (Islamic State of West Africa), as a result of which millions of Nigerians are internally displaced. The North Central part of Nigeria is riddled with herdsmen-farmers clash, as a result of which thousands of Nigerians are displaced. There are also pockets of conflicts in other parts of the country which have negatively affected vulnerable persons. We cannot lose sight of the flood and kidnapping ravaging the country presently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 13 million children are out of school, many of them are in the streets asking for alms. We have the poor, the destitute, the jobless and victims of human rights violation in our midst. All these go to show that there is a lot to be done. As a matter of fact, the Federal Government is doing the best it can to grapple with the situation, but the federal government cannot do it alone. It takes the efforts and contribution of all and sundry to bring succour to millions of Nigerians who are negatively affected by conflicts and disasters in the country.

Lawyers Alert and indeed hundreds of other CSOs are doing the best they can to alleviate the sufferings of the vulnerable groups in our midst. They may still be far from putting an end to the plights of vulnerable groups, but one fact we cannot lose sight of is: THE PLIGHT OF THE VULNERABLE GROUPS WOULD HAVE BEEN WORST IF THERE WERE NO HUMANITARIAN RELIEFS FROM THE CSOs.

Lawyers Alert joins other CSOs, CBOs, the Federal Government, and government agencies, the ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations to celebrate women humanitarians who have contributed and who are contributing to make the world a better place to live. To this end, Lawyers Alert acknowledges the humanitarian efforts of Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Mary Slessor, Florence Nightingale, Wangari Maathai, and others too numerous to mention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear reader, there is much work to do in the humanitarian field. Government cannot do it alone, Lawyers Alert cannot do it alone, CSOs cannot do it alone. Get up, roll up your sleeves and join these armies of humanitarian persons to work and make the world a better place to live. This is the essence of the World Humanitarian Day.

Once again, Lawyers Alert wishes you a Happy World Humanitarian Day.

 

 

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2019 ELECTIONS: As the Clock Ticks …

By Laz Ahangba

politics

The loud music blares out in the quiet night. Tarkule, a middle aged Man of about 43 is awakened from his hard narrow bed. He stands up and peers out of his small window. He sees a number of cars parked at Chief’s residence across the road. Chief is a political godfather and a Party Chieftain of note. All political aspirants pay him homage to smoothen their path to victory.  Tonight, scores of aspirants have come to do him obeisance as usual. Tarkule hisses, looks at the time on his wall clock to discover it is past 2.00 am. He slowly walks back to bed and lies down to endure the noise and nuisance.

These are the days of politicking. Scenarios like the one described above are common place. Politicians are busy crisscrossing every nook and cranny of Nigeria soliciting for votes. They are selling their candidatures under the auspices of the different political parties. The political aspirants have different slogans, different songs, but same nothingness, full of promises but short of issues.

Elections in Nigeria and their processes have been this way from time immemorial. Political party structures are hijacked by godfathers and moneybags made of all shades of people, usually deficient in civility and accountability. These ones manipulate the party systems to throw up candidates of their choice. The chosen candidates are forced on the electorate into office. Once elected, the apparatus of government becomes the joystick of the godfathers and moneybags.  They play around the system to milk out their investments in terms of contracts, appointments and other compensations. This system plays out at all levels of governance. The consequences of this age-long tradition is poverty, lack of accountability, impunity, gross corruption, violations of the rights of citizens and worst of all, loss of democratic values. Political aspirants, rather than sell themselves to the electorate, mortgage themselves to the political godfathers knowing that without them, their victories at the polls are not guaranteed. How wrong!

The electoral process is likened to two-parallel lines but arriving at the same destination. It is between the election candidate on one line soliciting for votes from the electorate and the electorate demanding that his issues be addressed by the candidate on the other line, thereby leading all to the same destination called good governance. This process is only made possible through issue-based campaigns and issue-based voting. The election candidates should strictly carry out campaigns based on issues while the electorate vote based on the issues, quid pro quo.

The quality of electoral campaigns is a forerunner to the quality of governance after a winner has emerged and vice versa.  As the 2019 general elections draws near, has there been any issue-based campaigns from any of the candidates across political parties yet? Has the electorate positioned itself for issue-based voting across Nigeria? Have there been any tangible moves by citizen-groups to begin to engage elections candidates on issues bothering them and their communities? A brief environmental scan on the political Eco-system at all levels of governance across Nigeria shows little or no active issue-based campaigns from the candidates and there has not been strong body language from the electorate towards making demands for same. At the national level, for example, of the over 75 presidential candidates, only very few have plans that could culminate into issue-based campaigns. What has dominated the media (especially the social media) space is mudslinging and gutter-language campaigns. The same scenario is playing out at the sub national levels. Rather than base their campaigns on issues, most governorship candidates across the country are busy mudslinging one another while also employing unsavory propaganda.

The electorate, especially the youth are also culpable. Rather than engage the election candidates on common issues bedeviling their communities, they resort to real and cyber thuggery. Social media platforms which should ordinarily serve as a useful resource for the youths and other electorate have become a battle ground of some sorts. Any question, or comment directed at any election candidate is viewed by his supporters as an attack worthy of reprisal often in very harsh and derogatory language. This attitude is denying the electorate the opportunity to objectively engage the election candidates on issue-based campaigns which this election cycle desperately needs.

As we approach the 2019 general elections, the following are recommended as measures we should endeavor to put in place in order to bring about the change Nigeria desperately needs:

  • Profile all our election candidates across all political parties at all levels of governance
  • Undertake a study of the most pressing issues confronting our communities, state and country in general
  • Demand for issue-based campaigns from election candidates and vote candidates whose campaigns issues resonate with those of our communities, states and country
  • Present to electoral candidates citizens’ charter of demands based on the prevailing issues across communities, states and country with monitoring and evaluation indicators
  • Vote based on issues contained in the citizens’ charter of demand
  • Monitor and implement evaluation indicators.

As Tarkule finally drifts into sleep, the campaign vehicles begin to drive away. Again, he startles out of sleep and hisses in anger. He could hear the singer praise singing the candidate. He calls him the sun, the moon and star of his community. “What rubbish!” He thinks out loud. As the sound of the campaign songs fades away, Tarkule wonders if the singer and his ilk bother about improvement in power supply, job creation, heath care system, infrastructural development, agriculture and all the other challenges bedeviling the society. With these thoughts, he slowly drifts back into sleep

 

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