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Tag Archives: International Day to End Impunity

REPORT OF ONE DAY CONFERENCE ORGANISED BY LAWYERS ALERT UNDER THE THEME “IMPUNITY, JUSTICE SECTOR AND DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA

Lawyers Alert as part of its activities in observing the International Day to End Impunity ( IDEI)  held  a public lecture on the 19th  day of November 2013 under the theme “ Impunity, Justice Sector and Democracy in Nigeria.

The international Day to end Impunity (IDEI) which falls in November is marked by  advocates of free expressions the world over. The overall goal  is to raise awareness of, and  demand for justice for the advocates who suffer persecution for exercising their fundamental right to free expression

Given the above therefore, Lawyers Alert which advocates for  free expressions organized the one day public lecture to sensitize stakeholders and players in the justice sector, and other the relevant actors.

Goal:

To contribute to the raising of awareness of, and demand for justice for the advocates who suffer persecution for exercising their fundamental right to free expression at all levels especially in Benue State and Nigeria.

The objectives of the event included the following:

  •  To mobilize anti impunity actors and other relevant stakeholders especially the Justice sector and the organized Civil Society and sensitize same on the issues of impunity as it affects the society at the global and level.
  •  To proffer solutions and proposed actions towards enhancing the campaign towards ending impunity at the local and global level.
  •  To join IFEX Global/Media Rights in raising awareness on the plight of the individuals been profiled in the 2013 global campaign.

The one day public lecture had over 63 participants in attendance cutting across the Non Governmental Organizations, Media, Justice Sector Actors, Students, Faith Based Organizations, Public Sector Officials, the Academia, and Traditional Rulers etc.

Speaking at the event, the guest lecturer, Professor Okpeh O Okpeh in his paper titled:  “Impunity, The Justice Sector and Democracy in Nigeria” in line with the theme of the event took a critical look at the issue of impunity at all the dominant sectors of the society including the practice of democracy, the delivery of justice and other underlying sectors where impunity hold sway at the detriment of growth and development in Nigeria and indeed the entire world.

Prof. Okpe, argued that the culture of impunity is a threat to democracy and the Judiciary. According to him, “impunity wherever and however it occurs represents a violation of fundamental freedoms of the people”. He cited individual and institutional acts of impunity, executive arbitrary exercise of power, rot in the judiciary and the intractable strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) etc to buttress his points. He also opined that “democracy and impunity cannot co-exist; in fact, the entrenchment of democratic values makes impunity impossible”.

BENGONET Chair, Barr Justin Gbagi, Prof Okpeh Okpeh and NBA Chair T Igba

BENGONET Chair, Barr Justin Gbagi, Prof Okpeh Okpeh and NBA Chair T Igba

The paper discussant, Barrister TT.Igbah, the Chairman of the Markurdi Bar Association agreed with the paper’s position as he argued that impunity stifles democracy as witnessed in the Anambra elections imbroglio and the death of Festus Iyayi.

There were questions, answers, comments and other interactive sessions during the event. Participants in their reactions express their concerns over the issues of impunity and its effects on the society in Nigeria especially as regards justice and democracy. The case of Rommy Mom and other individuals been profiled by IFEX Global was also discussed and participants enjoined to take action by signing the various petitions.

Makurdi-20131119-00091

In conclusion, the Prof Okeh opined that for impunity to end in Nigeria and indeed the entire world the judicial system must be strengthened, public officers must be accountable to the people, law enforcement agents should be properly enlightened on the fundamental freedoms of the people, CSOs should intensify campaigns against impunity amongst other recommendations.

The way forward:

The event rose with the following as action points:

  • The public should be sensitized about the dangers and evils of impunity at all levels in order to resist it whenever and wherever it occurs
  • Impunity occurs at levels as such everyone should do something against impunity no matter little.
  • Perpetrators of impunity should be exposed and sanctioned including naming and shaming.
  • There should be enhanced networking amongst organizations towards challenging impunity
  • The legislature should pass anti impunity legislations in a bid to enhance the end of impunity in the world.
  • Participants should to take action by signing the various petitions of the individuals profiled by IFEX like Rommy Mom esq. 

Conclusion:

The one day interactive session was a huge success. The aims and objectives of creating awareness on the issues of impunity achieved, stakeholders across sectors brought together to discuss impunity and charting a way forward for the cause of ending impunity in Benue and Nigeria.

We all must fight against impunity at all levels. The alternative to come to terms with a lawless society.

 

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LAWYERS ALERT HOLDS A ONE DAY CONFERENCE ON “IMPUNITY, JUSTICE SECTOR AND DEMOCRACY ON THE 19TH DAY OF NOVEMBER 2013 AT THE NUJ HOUSE MAKURDI

Impunity is a global problem. It’s utterly pervasive. It can be found anywhere in the world and it can take many forms. Whether it’s a case of a classroom bully or a corrupt dictator, when impunity reigns – when people in a society feel free to act without fear of consequences – some use that freedom to hurt others.

This year IFEX Global Network  is running its third annual International Day to End Impunity campaign from the 1st to 23rd of November 2013. IFEX  Global network comprises over 80 organizations working in more than 60 countries around the world

This year’s campaign includes calls for actions to be taken now in support of five courageous individuals: Yorm Bopha, a Cambodian human rights activist repeatedly threatened, beaten and currently in prison for peacefully protesting against land grabs; Eren Keskin, a rights defender in Turkey threatened and shot at while seeking justice for women who have been raped and tortured; Doaa Eladl, an Egyptian cartoonist threatened for creating cartoons which have been deemed blasphemous; Martin Pallares, an Ecuadorean journalist threatened for reporting on government corruption; and Rommy Mom, a lawyer in Nigeria fighting for government transparency and accountability, who has had to flee his home following death threats and a public denunciation over the radio by the governor of the state.

It is in furtherance of the above that Lawyers Alert holds a Conference tomorrow, Tuesday 19th November 2013  “Impunity, Justice Sector and democracy in Nigeria”  at the Nigeria Union of Journalist House, NUJ, Makurdi.

Speaker will be Professor Okpeh O Okpeh of the Benue Sttae University, while the State Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Barrister T Igba will discuss the paper alongside an imminent panel of Discussants.

How has impunity within the Courts, Police, Prison, and Ministry of Justice etc impacted especially negatively on our democracy?  Your attendance and participation will greatly enrich the discussion and be helpful as the report will be widely disseminated

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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ROMMY MOM: A FIST AGAINST IMPUNITY.

In this piece towards the third annual International Day to End Impunity campaign launched by IFEX  Global Network,  ELVIS-WURA TOWOLAWI writes on Nigeria Human Rights Lawyer Rommy Mom one of the persons profiled and circumstances of the campaign.

 

Undoubtedly the greatest challenges facing the attainment of a civil, democratic and well-governed state is the ugly face of impunity; this is especially so in mother Africa where human rights are breached and violated with panache knowing that the Law only barks but hardly bites. Predictably, this culture of impunity has turned many States into a wild, wild wasteland where Rights lay prostrate before Might (read power) and mouths sewn with communistic dispatch.

But in the very face of this dark, foreboding silence, certain Voices, call it a loud lone voices, scream to the high heavens, decrying Inequity, Inequality, Discrimination, and Privation- anything that lessens the value and dignity of humanity, while upholding the banner of the Rule of Law, Good Governance, Respect for Human Rights and Accountability. One of these Voices is that of Mr. Rommy Mom.

The light and plight of Rommy Mom’s activism is echoed this season by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) anti-impunity campaign in its 3rd annual “International Day to End Impunity” (IDEI), holding from 1st-23rd November 2013, wherein it will profile the case of Rommy Mom amongst others in different parts of the globe, in his fight for the rights of the downtrodden and voiceless masses in Nigeria.

Mom and Mike Utsaha at Occupy Nigeria protest

Mom and Mike Utsaha at the occupy Nigeria protest march

In 2012, flood ravished Benue State, Nigeria, destroying farmlands, settlements, homes and lives. Owing to this emergency, the Federal Government, alongside other well-meaning individuals made available donations, of over one billion Naira– for the victims in the State. The money was given to the State government under the leadership of Governor Gabriel Suswam.

More than a year after the State collected these monies, the victims were not given the money without a word  about the fund, unlike what obtained in Imo and Sokoto States where victims were assisted and efforts made to restore them to their status before the flood.

It was in this state of affairs that the voice of  Rommy Mom pierced the silence using the Freedom of Information Law. He wrote to the Benue State Emergency Agency ( BSEMA), a government agency in charge of emergency relief, demanding information about the flood-relief fund. Predictably there was a tall menacing brick wall of silence. He applied to the Court through the instrumentality of the Freedom of Information Law to compel the Benue State Emergency Agency (BSEMA) to give account of the fund: the Agency in defense averred that the Suswam-led Government did not release a dime to for any victim. The Court dismissed the application on technical grounds holding that the funds was a rumour.

It was in the middle of this that Rommy Mom’s live was threatened. The State Governor, Gabriel Suswam went on air to vent expletives on the person of Rommy Mom for daring to question this show of impunity. This was a signal to attack dogs of the government, and after a tip-off and continued media attack by the Governor, Mom fled Benue.

It is instructive to note here that, Rommy Mom walked into dangerous grounds for standing up and demanding accountability of state funds from persons who should ordinarily are obliged to provide answers. This is impunity, abuse of power and denial of freedom of expression.  He fled his state and became a fugitive-activist in his own fatherland! Sadly, even as the time of writing this piece, the flood victims in Benue State are still counting the linings on their ceilings- empty, disillusioned and forsaken. Not a dime has reached any of them. They are abandoned like diseased and bewitched orphans in a land that professes “Social Justice and Welfare of her Citizenry” as the pillars of its existence and establishment.

Let’s get a little biographical and personal with Rommy Mom. Let’s trace the roots of Rommy Mom’s activism and face-off with ‘Authorities’ when they attempt to emasculate the voiceless dregs of the Earth. Let’s look at his stature in human rights Dadaism. Rommy Mom is a lawyer and international development expert of field experience in areas of Good Governance, Civil Society Strengthening and Socio-Economic Rights. He has worked with Civil Organizations throughout Nigeria—to build capacity, groom advocacy abilities and provide civic-political education and enlightenment. He’s the current President of Lawyers Alert in Nigeria a Human Rights Promoting NGO which works towards “Right-based governance through accountability and responsive governance that focuses on electoral reforms, Anti-Corruption and Constitutional reforms”

Before joining Lawyers Alert, he had served as Nigeria Country Director Nigeria for Global Rights –an organization that works with Local Communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America to promote and protect the rights of unheard and marginalized populace.

Mr. Mom once chaired the Benue Bar, and BENGONET (A NETWORK OF NGO’s in Benue State). He is a member of National Human Rights Committee-representing Nigeria Civil Society. He was also Secretary of the Rule of Committee of the Nigeria Bar Association.

Rommy Mom is not all arm-chair, bottle water and conference; he is also a fighter: robed in gown, wig and Law-gloves. He has been in and out of court on hundreds of occasions for the commoner, walked the streets in protests especially during the occupy Nigeria period, monitored elections in various countries in Africa and successfully prosecuted and continues to be involved in public interest litigation.

Rommy Mom is a fist in the face of impunity and deserves expressive freedom to keep confronting the forces of inhumanity enslaving, degrading and dehumanizing mankind. Let’s all stand with Rommy Mom and the other persons profiled by IFEX to say NO to impunity.

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Governanace, Human Rights

 

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Nigerian human rights lawyer profiled in International Day to End Impunity campaign

Mr. Mom, who is President of the Makurdi-based non-governmental organization, Lawyers Alert, is being threatened because he is asking questions, using the Freedom of Information Act, about how much Benue state received from the Federal Government and other sources as support to flood victims in 2012 and how a N500 million federal assistance was spent, since no victim of the floods in the state had been paid. 

Rommy Mom is being threatened for asking questions about how much Benue State received from the Federal Government as support to flood victims in 2012.
Rommy Mom is being threatened for asking questions about how much Benue State received from the Federal Government as support to flood victims in 2012.
 

For the first time ever, Nigeria entered theImpunity Index of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ), released on May 3, this year, in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day. The Impunity Index is an annual ranking of countries where journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free.

Nigeria is one of five countries around the world to be highlighted in this year’s global campaign to end impunity. The other countries are Cambodia, Egypt, Turkey and Ecuador.

In launching the IDEI campaign, IFEX is asking its members around the globe, as well as other individuals and organizations, to participate in its “23 Actions in 23 Days” by taking actions hosted on the website; www.daytoendimpunity.org, which will serve as the campaign hub from November 1 to 23.

Observing that something new will be featured on the website every day between November 1 and 23, IFEX said: “We’ve created multimedia resources to help people understand the problem and find ways to add their voices to a global network of activists working together. Through infographics, videos, online interactive experiences, articles, country profiles and interviews, we hope to engage more people than ever in this campaign that strikes at the very roots of the injustice and insecurity that silence expression.”

IFEX explained that it especially hopes the campaign will help draw attention to and encourage action in support of five individuals who will be profiled on specific days during the campaign, and then again on 23 November, the International Day to End Impunity.

Those to be profiled ahead of the IDEI are: Yorm Bopha, a Cambodian human rights activist and protester, on November 4; Eren Keskin, a Women’s rights activist and lawyer in Turkey, on November 7; Doaa Eladl, an Egyptian cartoonist on November 12; Martin Pallares, an Ecuadorian journalist on November 14; and Rommy Mom, a Nigerian human rights lawyer, on November 18.

IFEX is working with its Nigerian member, Media Rights Agenda (MRA), to draw national and international attention to the plight of Mr. Mom. MRA will be coordinating activities in Nigeria in the lead up to the IDEI, particularly on November 18 and 23, including providing details of Mr. Mom’s case and calling for public support on his behalf to ensure his safety and enable him return to his home state to continue his work.

The IFEX impunity campaign website also features an interactive map that will plot all campaign events and actions planned or undertaken by IFEX members. The hashtags for tweets are: #IDEI#endimpunity and #23Nov.

 

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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