RSS

Category Archives: Citizenship Participation

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

 

Tags: , , , ,

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!

 

Tags: , ,

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.

 

Tags: , , , ,

NIGERIA: NON-ADHERENCE TO COVID-19 PROTOCOLS FOR PREVENTING SPREAD OF THE DISEASE

PRESS RELEASE

Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. September 25, 2020.

Lawyers Alert, a human rights organization, is calling on Nigerian citizens to adhere to laid down COVID-19 protocols for preventing the spread of the virus in the country. The organization is concerned that life seems to have reverted to normal as citizens go about their daily activities uninhibited following a lifting of the lockdown on movement imposed by the Federal Government. Following the lifting of the lockdown, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 mandated a number of measures in line with World Health Organization’s (WHO) proposals for preventing the spread of the virus. These include public use of face masks, frequent hand-washing and physical distancing especially in crowded places. Research has however revealed challenges with enforcing these measures especially in crowded areas and localities where citizens lack adequate information.

A number of community-related risk factors have been identified as the cause of non-adherence to practicing recommended preventive measures. One of these is denial. There is widespread disbelief among the populace about the existence of the pandemic. Even citizens with adequate access to information choose not to follow the prevention guidelines. The conclusion can be drawn that the populace have willfully chosen to ignore the potential possibility of infection and consequences of same. However, living in denial will not halt the spread of the disease and has the potential to actually worsen the spread. Indeed majority of the populace still remain ignorant about their COVID-19 status owing to an inability or unwillingness to get tested.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on the 24th of September, 2020, there were 125 new confirmed cases, which makes it a total 7,649 active cases, 49,098 discharged cases, 1102 deaths, 494,577 sample tested, and 57,849 confirmed cases recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Several guidelines have been provided by the organization which if citizens were to adhere could curb the spread of the virus. The President Lawyers Alert, Rommy Mom, specifically made an urgent call for awareness campaigns to sensitize Nigerians to the efficacy of masks in preventing spread. In his words, “Nigerians must not allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security owing to the low number of fatalities recorded so far. This is a new virus and the way it functions is yet to be fully understood even by leading scientists across the globe. It is therefore crucial that we do everything in our power to get our people to imbibe the message of prevention instead. It is after all said to be better than cure.”

Lawyers Alert further calls on the Government to scale up existing advocacy campaigns. This can be achieved through advocacy visits to Community Based Organizations, Traditional Rulers, Religious Leaders and other such community gatekeepers owing to how influential these groups tend to be. Additionally, interest groups, from the formal to the informal sector are urged to partner with NCDC, the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), and other similar organizations to help spread the word on the significance of masks to halting the spread of the virus. For instance, formal spaces such as business environments can mandate the use of masks for access. Transport workers (drivers) could be encouraged to wear face masks and insist on same from passengers. Social distancing could also be practiced in commercial vehicles by carrying fewer passengers and spacing them in the vehicles. Individuals who can afford to should maintain frequent use of alcohol-based sanitizers where the option of washing hands is not readily available.

Lawyers Alert is collating public opinion on the use of face masks and has begun the process of sensitizing the general public on its importance. The organization is also focused on gathering data on challenges faced by citizens especially poor and marginalized groups, and reaching the right stakeholders with this documentation in order to share lessons learnt and make recommendations.

Lawyers Alert encourages Nigerians to support government’s efforts in curbing the spread of this virus by wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing, frequent washing of hands under running water, as well as sanitizing hands and touchable surfaces.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

 

 

Tags: , , ,

1 DAY INTERACTIVE SESSION ON THE OPEN GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP (OGP)

HELD BY LAWYERS ALERT ON THE 17TH MAY 2019

newww

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was formally launched on September 20, 2011 on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting during which Heads of State from 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration and announced their country action plans along with an equal number of civil society leaders.  The eight founding members also welcomed the commitment of 38 governments to join OGP. Since its creation, OGP has resulted in over 2,500 commitments made by 75 participating countries, covering a third of the world’s population. Nigeria joined the OGP as the 70th member in 2016, the OGP mechanism has been adopted by some states in Nigeria and it is working efficiently in those states. It is yet to be adopted and implemented in Benue state. Lawyers Alert alongside other CSOs and the Media, have  come together in a bid to form a coalition to advocate for the introduction of the  OGP and actions towards encouraging the state government adopting the OGP and developing a sub-national Action plan mechanism for Benue state.

Open Government Partnership is an international multi-stakeholder global coalition of reformers from government and civil society, working to make government transparent, participatory and accountable, to truly serve and empower citizens. The fundamental principles of OGP include:

Transparency: Information on government activities and decisions is open, comprehensive, timely and freely available to the public, and meets basic open standards.

Accountability: Rules, regulations and mechanisms are in place that calls upon government actors to justify their actions, act upon criticisms or requirements made of them and accept responsibility for failure to perform.

Citizenship Participation: Governments seek to mobilize citizens to engage in public debate, provide input and make contributions that lead to more responsive and effective governance.

Technology and Innovation: Governments embrace the importance of new technologies in driving innovation, providing citizens with open access to technology, and increasing their capacity to use technology.

OBJECTIVES:

At the end of this meeting, we are expected to achieve the following:

  • A clear cut understanding of what the OGP is and how it works
  • A Civil Society led movement towards having the Benue State Government sign up to the partnership
  • A road map towards successfully having the Benue State Government sign up to the OGP.

PROCEEDINGS:

The meeting which held on 17th May, 2019 at the Lawyers Alert head office Makurdi brought together members of the media and various civil society organizations in Makurdi. Among the participants were representatives from the Sun newspaper, Daily Trust newspaper, Elohim foundation and Angel Support foundation.The President of Lawyers Alert Mr. Rommy Mom defined Open Government Partnership as the government and civil society coming together to run governance as equal partners in an open and transparent way. He also spoke on the roles of the civil society organizations and the government in OGP, using the OGP at the national level as an example; stating that both the government and the civil society have equal co-chairs on the OGP committee. He also spoke about the numerous advantages, which the implementation of OGP in Benue state would bring to the citizenry and the government. The Programs Director, Mr Lazarus Ahangba spoke onengaging the Benue state government on the OGP and led a very interactive session where an action plan was developed by the participants in ensuring government buy in and eventual signing up. Agreements were reached, meetings and deadlines set and persons responsible appointed. This meeting was essentially a startup meeting and with a larger strategic meeting to hold soon including capacity building sessions on understanding the OGP. Thereafter advocacy will commence on state actors and government.

WAY FORWARD:

  • Identify and meet some members of the transition committee to pitch the OGP to them as a proposal for the incoming government in June 2019.
  • Capacity building for CSO’s on OGP to equip them for advocacy on OGP.
  • Advocacy visits to state actors and non-state actors to urge to enhance the implementation of the OGP.

CONCLUSION:

The OGP movement start up meeting was a huge success because, participants ensured that the entire session was lively through their robust contributions and in put. We believe that Benue state is on the right path with regards to good governance and that the OGP movement will give more room for innovation, progress and the development of Benue state.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: