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Billows of smoke, lifeless bodies, charred cars and deserted streets best describe the scenarios in Buruku, Ukum, and, to a lesser degree, Kwande Local Government Areas recently attacked in Benue State of North Central Nigeria. For some time now, the people of Benue have been under heavy attacks from different fronts ranging from militia herdsmen, marauding gunmen and other sources in between. An estimated 200 lives have been lost with many more maimed or wounded. This situation has left the people, especially Women and Children, as the main victims of these unfortunate attacks.

The chief role of every government at all levels is the protection of lives and property of its Citizens. Nigeria is no different as specified in the 1999 Constitution in chapter 2 section 2b: “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” This provision however, seems to look much better on paper than it does with regard to implementation in Nigeria as a whole. With the return to democracy in 1999, wave after wave of violence has been meted out on the people by a range of faceless groups. Until very recently, Boko Haram terrorists held sway in Nigerias north east having almost totally crippled the Borno state government.

But these attacks have not been limited to any one part of the country.

On Friday the 17th of March 2017, reports have it that a platoon of gunmen believed to be nomadic Fulani Herdsmen, numbering over 50 stormed the sleepy town of Buruku and opened fire on unsuspecting residents. The attack is said to have lasted over three hours. At the end of the unanticipated onslaught, over 60 people lay dead, most of them Women and children.

Three days later, on Monday March 20 2017, an unknown number of gunmen, in four vehicles and 12 motorcycles invaded the town of Zaki Biam in Ukum Local Government again opening fire on defenseless people at the popular yam market and killing an estimated 80, leaving in their wake a trail of destruction. Reliable reports of the Zaki Biam incident are few and far between. Rumors and speculations, however, abound ranging from suggestions that the killing spree was the aftermath of intra-ethnic bickering to external attacks from a neighboring state.

Be that as it may, Lawyers Alert has been able to glean information from reliable sources indicating that the Zaki Biam attack also lasted well over three hours from about 5pm to 8pm. Now, the question begging for answers is, where was the Police?  The failure of the Police in the local government areas to quickly counter the marauding gunmen can only be described as unfortunate. Especially in light of the prior attack on Buruku.

The true situation of the Kwande incident remains unclear. For now all we know is that lives have been lost and another group of citizens displaced.

The state government’s response has however been swift. Governor Samuel Ortom made personal on the spot visits to ascertain the true status of the attacked localities and consoled the bereaved. He also ordered the prompt expulsion of all Fulani herdsmen from the state, a stance which drew nods of approval from the people but also attracted the ire of the police chief in the state who considered the action inappropriate and illegal. The Governor and the Comissioner of Police were soon caught in a standoff that left a sour taste in the mouths of many.

The dismay expressed by many at the turn of events might be traced to the fact that Security agencies who ought by now to have put preemptive strategies in place were caught napping as the marauders came, saw and conquered without challenge from them. Indeed, not a single person has been arrested in connection with any of the attacks so far, rather reports reaching us have it that Jato Aka in Kwande LGA is currently on lock down by the same security agencies who seemed powerless in the face of what can be only be described as a terrorist attack in other parts of the state. And yet the state government’s efforts at curbing the menace were seemingly being thwarted by those actually given the mandate.

Without a doubt, the onus for keeping the Police well equipped, armed and trained lies on the shoulders of the Federal Government. There has never been a time in the history of the Nigerian nation when a need has ever been as glaring as this one currently is. Intelligence gathering is a necessity and can easily be achieved with the current advancements in technology. Security has gradually evolved from a place of reactiveness to pro activeness. These coordinated attacks are randomly unleashed on unsuspecting members of the public by hoodlums some of who actually are Fulani herdsmen (as seen in their own confession regarding the Agatu massacres). Whether all of these attacks can truly be traced to marauding herdsmen however, remains a matter for thorough investigation.

Be that as it may, regardless of who the killers are eventually (hopefully) identified to be and no matter what their motives are, the Nigerian state has witnessed one death too many as a result these unknown murderers. The political will to unmask the brains behind these attackers must be drawn from whatever reserves of inner strength the Federal Government still has left. The masterminds and their financiers must be located and brought to book.

Certainly, the state government also has a major role to play and we commend Governor Samuel Ortom for his untiring efforts to return peace to the state. Shortly after assuming office, the arms buy back project reduced the quantity of small arms scattered across the state as many turned theirs in. The process went smoothly and reports have it that up to 700 such arms were retrieved. All this achieved without the shedding of a single drop of blood.

The Ortom administration has also done its best to halt the activities of a local power monger known simply as Gana who had become a law unto himself and had been named in connection with many murders one of which was that of a close aide to the governor himself. Though still on the run, Gana arguably no longer has the chokehold he once did on the state. This is another commendable gesture as Benue has no interest in contributing its own quota to the pre-existing mix of locally bred terror mongers.

That said, much still remains to be done as we are sure Governor Ortom himself is fully aware.

In line with the state governments efforts at finding a lasting solution to this seemingly never ending tide of violence, therefore, Lawyers Alert recommends the following steps:

The Federal Government:

  • The Federal Government should set up a panel of inquiry to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the Ukum and Buruku slaughters with a view to bringing the culprits to book and compensating the victims.
  • The Federal Government should, as a matter of urgency, send a ministerial delegation to assess the situation in both Ukum and Buruku LGAs and forward their findings straight to the Presidency for immediate action.
  • The deployment of a special TAC team to Benue is welcome.

State Government

  • The Benue State Government should synergize its Security position with the Security Agencies in the State especially the State Police Command.
  • The State Government should set up its own panel of inquiry to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the armed conflict with a view to finding lasting solutions to the problem and compensation of the victims.
  • The Benue State Government should strengthen peace building committees across troubled spots to include herdsmen, farmers and other critical stakeholders.
  • The State House of Assembly should carefully go through the anti-Grazing Bill currently before it which the state government has requested be sped up. In their bid to reach a quick conclusion, the people of Benue should not be saddled with a law that could work against the interests of the people as feelers seem to indicate at the moment.


In Conclusion, Lawyers Alert considers all extrajudicial killings as a gross violation of fundamental Human Rights. All lives are sacrosanct and where any life is taken for any reason beyond judicial spheres, the responsibility lies on Government at all levels to remedy the situation and bring to justice the perpetrators of such dastardly acts.

Borno must never be replicated anywhere else in Nigeria. Enough is enough. The time to act is NOW.

Rommy Mom Esq

President, Lawyers Alert


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Posted by on March 25, 2017 in Uncategorized



Startled by this loud reverberation from her phone, Ms. Elizabeth Johnson (not real name) jumps out of bed, looked at her bedside clock it is 6:00am in the morning. She quickly reached out for the phone. Remembering it is the reminder alarm she had set the previously, to keep “6th February, 2017 handy as it is the International day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), a monument she never forgets.

Female genital mutilation also known as female genital cutting or circumcision is a rite removal of the female genitalia. It is a common practice found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. According to UNICEF Report of 2016, a total of 200 million women are estimated to have undergone the procedures of FGM and are alive in 30 countries including 27 African countries, Indonesia, Iraq Kurdistan and Yemen.  This form of circumcision is an equivalent of that of a male child in severity. This is usually conducted by a traditional circumciser particularly an older woman using a blade. The circumcision method varies depending on the country and/or ethnic group. Like circumcision for boys takes place on the eighth day after birth, most ethnic group takes from days after birth to puberty and beyond.

Dated far back as 1929 following the lead of Mario Scott Steven, a Church of Scotland Missionary, the Kenya Missionary Council already referred to Female Genital Mutilation as the Sexual Mutilation of Women. But till 2004 in Laikipiaplateau Kenya, the Kenyans still front it as an honourable rite called the “Samburu FGM ceremony”. But of what significance is it to their victims?

Elizabeth Johnson, had lost her cousin to the cold hands of death at childbirth owing to this practice that violates human rights. It drains her emotionally each time this International day is marked. What can be done to abolish or eradicate this inhuman tradition?  She recalls the  damaging health effects of FGM that often results in woman having recurrent infections, difficulty passing urine and menstrual flow with excruciating pain and worse of all the inability to get pregnant and/or childbirth complications.

Female Genital Mutilation according to health professional and/or practitioners has no benefit instead inflicts health challenges.  From the research carried out, the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children and the World Health Organisation (WHO) were the first to have referred to this act as Female Genital Mutilation in 1990 and 1991. Others used terms such as female genital cutting (FGC) also female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), which is said to be the most preferred by persons who work with practitioners.

A report also had it that Female Genital Mutilation are of classes, these include cutting without removal of flesh, partial or complete removal of the clitoral hood and/or clitoral glands and also removal of flesh and sewing of same called “infibulation”. This procedure is done by clasping the foreskin together and allowing only a little passage for excretion purposes (urine and menstrual fluid). Such victims when married are faced with diverse challenges including health implications, lack of penetration, inability in getting pregnant and complications at childbirth due to the little open. In this regard victims are required to be cut open in order for them to either be penetrated or have their children with ease at every point of childbirth.  The sole reason behind this tradition is to prevent the girl child from being exposed to social exclusion, where an African mother wants to regular her daughters’ sexuality, purity, modesty and beauty sees it as an honour to inflict her with such pain and trauma.

Following the recap of Female Genital Mutilation, it may seem antiquated and ancient but surprisingly it is still making waves in most parts of Nigeria including the South West and South East. Female Genital Mutilation is a long standing tradition that is carried out by most Nigerian women on their daughters and grand-daughters. This act as performed by those women using razors, knives and other sharp objects is not mindful of the dangers of infections of different degrees. They see it as a way of protection and prevention from extreme sexuality and the voice of disgrace. Female Genital Mutilation is a pathetic issue confronting women in the name of purification, modesty and beauty. Where a woman cannot enjoy the free and natural gift as endowed her by her creator is injustice, inhuman and the highest level of women human rights violation and it all boils down to the issue of gender inequality and denial of sexual and reproductive health rights.

The consequences of all of these is the unsafe nature of the device used for this mutilation which are not sterilized yet are used on several of the children in the same home or community where it takes place as the circumcisers are traditionalists and know nothing about sterilization or the need for the safe health of those children being mutilated. It is also done without anaesthesia because medical practitioners are not involved in most cases and such children are left in cruelty.

A report from a Ugandan nurse quoted in 2007, “The Lancet”, ‘a cutter would use one knife on up to 30 girls at a time’. Whereas in Egypt, Kenya, Indonesia and Sudan Health professionals are often involved, but only in Egypt was it recorded to have 77 percent of FGM procedures performed by medical professionals as of 2008 and 2016.

Another report from UNFPA 2015 shows that in Nigeria states like Ekiti, Ebonyi, Imo, Lagos and Oyo are well known for this traditional practice but Oyo is said to have ranked the highest in female genital mutilation with over 76.3 percent.

Filled with content after series of research work Ms. Elizabeth only sees FGM as ‘the mayhem of all times’. Looking up ways to save the lives of others from dying like her cousin. She felt the need to call on mothers all over Africa and beyond who are still in the practice of FGM to rather stand in defence of the rights of their daughters and their unborn granddaughters instead of ingraining in the tradition and culture that inflicts health challenges and even sorrow to themselves as it is the only way forward to allowing this path of harmful tradition to die a natural death and fight with the weapon we know best, which is the implementation and domestication of the available legal resources, conventions and instruments such as ‘Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP), 2015, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)’ etc. In the spirit of working together to put an end to FGM, the 5 mile Women Walk she will be leading will be a way of saying it loud and clear: NO MORE!

Marie-Uneje Jerome is with Lawyers Alert  +234 073 129 6971

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Uncategorized


Reason to monitor Human Rights Abuses

By Sunday Adaji Esq

One common denominator among human rights defenders is the passion to fight, protect, and defend the fundamental rights of citizens. This passion has led some lawyers to sacrifice their time, money, resources and even life and limb, in defense of citizens’ inalienable rights.

The history of the human rights struggle is as old as the history of mankind. In the Bible, we read how Cain murdered Abel his brother in cold blood. There was no justification for the murder of Abel by Cain. From the time of Abel till now, human rights abuse has continued to rise at a geometric rate while the rate of protection and defence against human rights abuse, on the other hand, only rises arithmetically. Just when you have successfully prosecuted a case of human rights abuse and want to jubilate, you hear yet more cases of others whose rights have been infringed.

Nigeria, has witnessed all forms of human rights abuse by the state actors whether during the military era or in the democratic dispensation and by non-state actors.  Thousands of citizens have been killed by Boko Haram terrorists and millions of others were rendered homeless due to Boko Haram’s invasion In every nook and cranny of the country, human rights abuse exist. Issues of child abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, rape, lynching, homicides, baby factories aimed at making babies primarily for commercial purposes, deprivation, false imprisonment, etc still abound and actually appear to be on the increase. 

As long as rights exist, so shall abuses, making the need to monitor paramount. So long human rights defenders make efforts at combating  human rights abuse and reducing it to the barest minimum, dignity of more persons can be protected. abusers.

We will not forget in a hurry heroes in Nigeria the military era for example. Be they organizations like NADECO, CLO or persons like  the Fawehinmis, the Ransome – Kutis, the Agbakobas, or the Nigerian Press, and many others too numerous to mention, who wrestled with military dictatorships and eventually saw them out of power. The feat achieved by these human-rights-minded Nigerians convinces me beyond an iota of doubt that we can reduce human rights abuse to the barest minimum, if only we are willing to contribute our quota towards protecting and defending citizens from having their human rights abused.

Everyday people’s rights are violated with impunity. Some, we witness ourselves, others are reported to us. And many others are reported on the internet and in the print and electronic media, yet we do nothing about them. We cannot continue to fold our arms and watch perpetrators violate people’s rights. We have to show and feel concerned with what happens to others. We might be the next victim! You never can tell!

There is always something you can do when you see other people’s rights being abused. Don’t shrug your shoulders, walk away and say, “It is none of my business.” It is your business. If it doesn’t concern you today, it may concern you tomorrow. Be your brother’s keeper. Do something. You can report to the police, you can report to the press. We have many radio stations, television stations and print media around us. We also have many human rights organizations around us, they are within your reach.

We don’t have to keep mute in the face human rights abuse. The reason human rights abuse is rampant is because we are not doing anything about it. If we are ready to do something about it, we will reduce human rights abuse to the barest minimum.

And for us human rights lawyers, TENACITY is our watchword! We are not relenting, we are not quitting! We will not fold our arms! More often than not, we will spend our money, time and resources pursuing this just cause, but these are the sacrifices we must make to ensure that people enjoy their inalienable rights.

Sunday Adaji is a human rights lawyer and legal officer with Lawyers Alert. He can be reached on 07061016859


Lawyers Alert Develops Monitoring and Documentation Tool for Sexual and Reproductive Rights Violations

Lawyers Alert with the kind assistance of  AmplifyChange has developed a Documentation of sexual and reproductive health rights violation tool to be used by the lawyers and other CSOs serving the target population.

The tool was developed in consultation women, community members and other stakeholders. The Consultant validated the tool with the community in the course of its development. The tool has been upgraded to a web Application to aid the capturing of violations by CSOs, CBOs and other stakeholders working and networking with Lawyers Alert on the internet.

The tool is perhaps the biggest fall out of the six-month old project supported by AmplifyChange:

has the potential to revolutionise the capturing and documentation of SRHR violations in Nigeria. The application developed has the capacity to analyse trends, desegregate data by types of violation, age, geographic location, etc.

CSOs and other bodies working in same sector have expressed the desire to key into our documentation tool. We intend to share the password for them to upload such information, subject to conditions we are yet to develop.

The Tool as shown below, has about 32 indicators and is open to CSOs to fill in data, which is then verified and pulled together. Analyses will be every quarter of a year beginning April 2017. Only accredited users will have access.

REPORTING FORM                                     Case No: _________________

  CSO’s name/SN/month/year


Date of interview:
Is this a referral? Yes — No —             Details of referee (Names/contact details):___________________________________________


Type of interview:          Face-to-face —        Focus group —        Telephone —        In-writing —                                         Other:________________________
Were the facts of the incident(s) verified?               Yes —           No —                       The facts will be verified at a later stage —


Name of the interviewer:                                                                                    Organisation:
Contact (email/telephone):


 Person who uses drugs —      Person living with HIV —     Sex worker —       Person with disability —      LGBTI —       Others —:___________
 Female — Male — Other —                        Age (years): 0 to 5 —          6 to 9 —           10 to 19 —         20 to 24 —         25 to 40 —                                                                        ≥40 —
 Occupation:                                                                           Highest level of education:
 Marital status:                                                                        LGA/State of usual residence:
 Contact details for further follow-up:



Dates/period of incident(s):
Where did the incident(s) happen? (Ward):                                                           (LGA):                                             (State):
What happened? (Describe briefly the facts):


How many people were directly affected by the incident(s)?


— State actor(s). Specify: ____________________________           — Non-State actor(s). Specify:______________________________
Age of perpetrator(s):             10 to 19 —          20 to 24 —             25 to 40 —             ≥40 —
Number of perpetrator(s):
Faults/failures on the part of the perpetrator(s):


—   Abusive language/verbal abuse

—   Emotional and psychological abuse, including denial of love and attention

—   Forced financial dependence and economic abuse


—   Denial of the freedom to associate with others, including forced isolation or separation from family and friends

—   Denial of the freedom to express one’s sexuality


—   Invasion of bodily integrity and privacy, including anal examination, forced public parading, gender insensitive bodily examination

—   Medical tests without informed consent, including pregnancy, STIs  and HIV tests

—   Forced medical procedure (e.g. forced sterilisation, forced caesarean section, genital mutilations, forced rehabilitation)


—   Forced abortion

—   Denial of the right to decide whether to have children, the number of children and the spacing of children

—    Denial of quality, timely and safe maternal health services (pre-, during and post-natal care and delivery, including prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV)

—    Denial of quality health care, including care provided by qualified healthcare providers and care that is medically appropriate


—   Forced marriage

—    Denial of family life, including undue interference by family members and relatives

—   Unlawful denial of child custody

—   Harmful traditional or religious practices, including community cleansing, excommunication, forced deliverance


—    Breach of confidentiality over health information and medical records


—    Denial of SRH commodities (circle as applicable): family planning and contraception; STIs screening and treatment; condoms; lubricants; pregnancy tests; emergency contraception; post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV (PeP); medicines for post-abortion treatment and care; sexual dysfunction treatment, fertility treatment

—    Limited physical access to SRH commodities and services, such as physical accessibility or interpretation for people with a disability; reasonable geographical location; etc.

—    Denial of affordable SRH commodities and services


—    Denial of accurate information on sexual and reproductive health, including family planning education

—    Denial of comprehensive sexual education

—    Denial of SRH rights-related legal literacy


—    Denial of housing or eviction on grounds such as sex work, sexual orientation, sex, pregnancy and HIV status

—    Unlawful employment practices, including termination of employment, on grounds such as sexual orientation, sex, pregnancy and HIV status

—    Denial of access to an institution of learning, on grounds such as sexual orientation, sex, pregnancy and HIV status


—    Failure to protect personal security and safety

—   Blackmailing

—   Unlawful denial of freedom of movement

—   Unlawful forced detention


—   Physical abuse, including assault, torture and battery

—   Harassment, including sexual harassment and stalking

—   Rape

—   Sexual exploitation, including sextortion (i.e. withholding what is due in exchange for images of a sexual nature, sexual favours, or money)


—    Others (Specify):_______________________________________

Applicable legislation or relevant policy(ies) (if any in the State):






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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Uncategorized


Lawyers Alert Brings Human Rights Lawyers together on provision of legal literacy and access to justice to vulnerable groups in Nigeria.

By Roseline Oghnebrume

Lawyers Alert in partnership with UNAIDS Nigeria, brought together human rights lawyers under the auspices of Coalition of Lawyers For Human Rights, COLaHR, on the 28th and 29th day of October 2015 at Kanem Suites, Utako Abuja to interact with People Living with HIV (PLWHIV), People Who Inject Drugs (PWIDs), Female Sex Workers (FSWs), Sexual Minorities towards provision of free legal assistance and legal literacy.

The Coalition of Lawyers for Human Rights (CoLaHR) which consists of Volunteer Lawyers across 23 states in Nigeria has as its  mandate the provision of free Legal Assistance and Interventions for Key Populations and Vulnerable Groups in Nigeria.

This event was aimed at bringing Members of CoLaHR and Members of Key Populations and Vulnerable Groups to get to know one another to ensure justice for all and to create awareness of relevant law as members of CoLaHR have been finding it very challenging connecting with Vulnerable Groups since the Coalition was formed. It was also a forum to increase the visibility of CoLaHR and to build confidence and trust between the Vulnerable Groups and Lawyers.COLAHR Meetin

At the event there was an official launch of the CoLaHR website (, CoLaHR help line (08026826761) and email (colahr.nigeria@gmail) making it easy for the Key populations and vulnerable groups to reach the CoLaHR members promptly when the need arises. Ramaroson Mianko representing UNAIDS Country Director, Dr Bilali Camara, emphasized the importance of the website stating that it was created to facilitate  the protection of Human Rights and also to serve a resource base. Informative, Educative and Communication materials (pamphlets and posters) explaining rights and where to go when one’s fundamental Human Rights are abused were developed and distributed to Key and Affected Populations during the meeting to take home and also distribute to the grass roots and the larger community towards possible validation and mass circulation afterwards.

Mr. Kunle Adeniyi, representing of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) expressed his delight with the passion being exhibited by the participants but also cautioned that the forum cannot fully settle the issues of the law as it relates to Human Rights as the Law is constantly existing. He congratulated UNAIDS, Lawyers Alert and CoLaHR for a job well done and for the official launch of the website.

The Executive Director of INCRESE, Dorothy Akenova expressed her joy at the launch of CoLaHR website and stated that she had never been more happy working with Lawyers Alert and UNAIDS. Most participants expressed the feeling that hitherto were not comfortable in the same room with  Lawyers as they always had the mindset that no one understands them and the society at large always discriminates against them. They thanked Lawyers Alert and UNAIDS for organizing the meeting especially with members of CoLaHR  volunteering to provide Legal Assistance to them.

Barrister Rommy Mom, President of Lawyers Alert commended and appreciated his learned colleagues who have offered to give themselves and their time to the Vulnerable Groups to protect and offer pro-bono legal services when their rights have been infringed.

At the end of the 2 day event, an effective networking and trust building between the Lawyers and the Vulnerable Groups was enhanced and  agreed modality between the Vulnerable Groups and members of CoLaHR on reaching out when in need. The participants also learnt about the common violations faced, knowledge of their rights and knowledge of the legal needs of key populations and vulnerable groups.

The members of the Coalition agreed on the following: There should be a permanent staff for CoLaHR, Legal fund for CoLaHR be established and administered by Lawyers Alert, Members of CoLaHR should be trained on Human Right practice, More Lawyers should be trained to increase the number of Lawyers under CoLaHR, There should be a meeting with critical stakeholders and bodies, The need for specialization by CoLaHR members where necessary and the need to have periodic meetings.



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Gender & the Research Excellence Framework: An Analysis of the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment (I)

Stephen R. Bates

by Fran Amery, Stephen Bates & Steve McKay

Ever wondered about the gendered dimensions of the REF returns and rankings for the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment? Well wonder no longer.

1320 people were submitted to the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment of REF 2014. Of these, 929 were men, 387 were women with 4 not known*. This means that, excluding not knowns, 29.4% of those submitted to the REF were female, a slightly lower percentage than the percentage of UK-based female political scientists in Bates et al.‘s 2011 survey of the profession (see Table 1).

Table 1: Number & percentage of male & female political scientists submitted to REF 2014 & in 2011 Survey

Male Female Overall2

Tables 2 and 3 show breakdowns of these statistics in terms of job title and gender**.

Table 2: Numbers of Male & Female Political Scientists by Job Title and in…

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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

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