Tag Archives: Rights Violations

Choosing the Right Approach for Promoting Human Rights in Nigeria.

By Leslie Whyte, ICT / Media Officer


Documenting human rights abuses is the heart of human rights work. The effectiveness of human rights documentation tool depends on the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the evidence gathered. It can contribute to educating and organizing as well as advocating at a political or legislative level. Government leaders have been enlightened through documentation of human rights violations. The importance of human rights violation documentation for both for victim and the perpetrator, cannot be underestimated.

Documentation is about collecting stories, establishing truths and “sounding alarms.” Success can depend on one’s ability to access those stories and give meaning to them, for example, through showing patterns of abuse. Since human rights violations are often replete traumatic experiences and often happen to people who are severely marginalized and oppressed. A significant degree of empathy and understanding of the circumstances surrounding the incident is required as much as understanding the incident itself. Documentation requires serious thought and preparation, and a methodology that respects the dignity of the individual whose rights have been violated. Leadership by or involvement of those directly experiencing the abuse is an important principle in designing and implementing documentation projects.

Documentation can also be used as a capacity-building exercise, and the process is as useful and important as its outcome. NGO allies, lawyers, community members, and others can and should be encouraged to participate capacity building on documentation. While documentation can be used as an educational and organizing tool, advocacy helps in promoting documentation and brings change.

For about four years now, Lawyers Alert have been monitoring and documenting reported violations. Lawyers Alert have also developed a web-based tool where such reports are duly documented. This tool has the advantage of not only capturing the violations but also analyzing same according to location, age, type of violations, sex, etc. The analysis of these violations provides a scientific and accurate picture of the SRHR and Petty Offences situations in Nigeria. These violations reports are being shared with organizations working on SRHR in Nigeria, both local and international, including state actors like the National Human Rights Commission and the National Parliament. Reports of interventions are being put together to get state actors to operate based on the submitted data captured.

Documentation is a process of strategic and systematic gathering of quantitative and qualitative data. This process consists of several activities, namely:

  1. determining what information is needed and establishing means for acquiring it;
  2. Recording the discovered information and storing such in appropriate containers (called documents) or collecting already-existing documents containing the needed information;
  3. Organizing and analyzing documents to make them more accessible; and
  4. Actually providing the reports to users who need the information for advocacy.


In conclusion, documentation builds a strong platform for advocacy for it provides evidence that can contradict what governments or newspapers are reporting.

An important lesson learned is to review the impact of the documents on particular human rights efforts and store data safely.





Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that this article is based on the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated.


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By Chigoziem Ellen Onugha Esq

sex work

As human beings, one of the things we find so difficult to desist from doing is the setting apart of morals from laws. There is a common law principle which states:

“for something to be an offence, it must be contained in a written law and with a punishment attached to it”


Invariably, we have found ourselves acting as our conscience directs and not as the law states. I think we have gotten to that point where we need to assume our conscience and laws were parcels of land adjacent to each other, where beakers would be used to create boundaries to avoid trespass.

Sex work is not contained in any Nigerian law as an offence, because it is a way of life which when juxtaposed with effect on society, would probably rate least. As a right-thinking member of the society, you would not expect to see a man and a woman on the road carrying out any sexual activities, except if they are both mentally enslaved. If this affair is private rather than public and is not contained in any written law as an offence, I beg to be educated on what informs the minds of the society in violating the fundamental human rights of persons who are called “Female Sex Workers”.

Unfortunately, the law goes beyond morals. Therefore, a person’s moral values should not compromise or prejudice the provisions of the law.

Lawyers Alert Nigeria in their recent publication of report of violations in Nigeria, educates thus:

  1. The Federal Capital Territory has the highest rate of violation of Female Sex Workers
  2. Kogi State and Benue State come immediately after the Federal Capital Territory
  3. Bornu State and Lagos State have the least amount of violation of Female Sex Workers.
  4. Persons between 20 to 24 have a high violation rate by 65%
  5. Persons between 25 to 40 follow the list by 29%
  6. Persons between 10 to 19 rank as the group with the least violation rate by 6%

The report further gives an expository to the various forms of violations these persons (Female Sex Workers) go through and they are as follows:

  1. Verbal Abuse 19%
  2. Emotional Abuse 17%
  3. Privacy 10%
  4. Blackmailing 3%
  5. Freedom of Movement 7%
  6. Forced Detention 1%
  7. Physical Abuse 7%
  8. Harassment 9%
  9. Sexual Exploitation 6%

A cursory look at the statistics above, bares a display of morality which can by investigation of some other words be termed display of double standard. An enquiry into the recent raiding of women in Abuja by men of Abuja Environmental Protection Board, Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security and other various security agencies in Nigeria with disparate visions and modes of operation from matters like this, in the name of ridding the society of sin, also gives an expository to the trespass to morals in legal societal issues.



Success of the nation (Nigeria) leans extremely on the level of importance we attach to matters and what matters we attach high level of importance to. Amidst the chaos and economic redundancy the country is facing, detention and violation of the fundamental human rights of Female Sex Workers is a distraction from the goal. On this basis, I recommend the following:

  1. That a deliberate and conscious effort should be made by law enforcement agencies in carrying out their functions.
  2. That law enforcement agencies should engage in human rights trainings and studies as a course for qualification.
  3. That Female Sex Work should be seen as “just a name” that it is, distinct from persons who are involved in the acts of female sex work. Because I believe that would help law enforcement agencies to see them as human beings and also treat them as human beings.



Section 405 (1) (d) of the Penal Code Act, chapter 53 LFN (Abuja) defines vagabond as thus:

“A common prostitute behaving in a disorderly or indecent manner in a public place or persistently importuning or soliciting persons for the purpose of prostitution”

The law is like a manual by which we all (with no exception to a particular people) should live. Explicitly observed in the afore stated provision is the fact that prostitution is not a crime in the Penal Code Act, chapter 53 LFN (Abuja). Rather, what constitutes a crime in this Act is a disorderly or indecent behaviour in a public place persistently importuning or soliciting persons for the purpose of prostitution.

I strongly believe that meddling in the affairs of persons with regards to their private lives and how they choose to live it is rather indecent and a show of irresponsibility.

For better examination and study of the report made mention of above, kindly visit Lawyers Alert Nigeria website




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Lawyers Alert views with concern the Gishiri village mob action led by one Pastor Blaze wherein he embarked on a path of “cleansing” Gishiri village of people he termed as, or suspected to be homosexuals on the 12th and 13th days of February 2014.

On these days                Pastor Blaze became a law unto himself and at about 01.00am and 02.00am on the respective days; he assembled a team and embarked on a breach of the law by disturbing the peace of the sleepy village. The mob broke into the homes of some citizens, destroying doors and windows in complete acts of unlawful destruction of people’s properties using wood and other harmful objects like rakes and hatchets.

About 14 citizens were dragged out of their homes and attacked without any provocation whatsoever, and in the process, looting of valuables and properties ensued alongside other vices. After the orgy of assault and battery of these defenseless citizens for no reason whatsoever, Pastor Blaze alongside his mob dragged these citizens to the police station at Gishiri and subsequently to the Divisional Office of the Nigeria Police at Mabushi Abuja.  At the Mabushi Divisional office, these citizens were further detained, after suffering unprovoked attacks, looting and assault for absolutely nothing and the assailants allowed to go home.

Please note that these citizens were not caught contravening any law of the federal republic of Nigeria,

We however commend the actions of the Divisional Police Officer, who next day, let the citizens go home as no charges could be brought against them as they were not breaching any laws, but were themselves the object of brutal attacks by a mob.

Lawyers Alert notes that we live in a democracy that is increasingly being threatened by lawless and violent sects. These violent sects and people start from somewhere and gradually grow into a terminal menace to the society. Pastor Blaze and his followers (mob) is one of such, and we are worried that up to till date, no arrest has been made and this mob and their ilk across the country will view the handling of this situation as a compass for future similar acts.

This culture of violence, particularly extra judicial killings, is gradually becoming the norm in Nigeria. The manner our security agents and the law react to the advent of these tendencies is important. The Gisihiri incident appears to be but the beginning of another form of religious extremism, this time right in the heart of the Federal Capital Territory. We implore the police to decisively deal with the situation by the arrest and trial of the suspects. We understand useful statements have been made to the police regarding Pastor Blaze and his followers and we call for action.

Our country is a country governed by laws, and we implore citizens, no matter our level of belief, bias or conviction in like situations, to allow the law take its course. We, as a people cannot begin to express hate and violent acts towards defenseless citizens when we have the law to resort to.

It could be said that every human being stands the chance of being in a situation where s/he is the minority. It could be due to reasons of ethnicity, race, religion, social standing, physical attributes etc. Such situations should not be used to justify violence nor invite it on us for the reason of our various minority statuses.




19th Feb, 2014


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Monitoring and Documentation of Economic and Social Rights Violations in Mbayion Community of Benue State, site of Benue Cement Company

Lawyers Alert has commenced the above project in Benue State, project location being the community hosting the Benue Cement Company.

The project which commenced six weeks ago is to:

1) view the negative effects of cement production through human rights lens
2) conduct consultations in the affected community in order to assess their most critical needs
3) document and monitor ESR violations related to cement production within the framework of national law, national and international human rights norms, and corporate accountability standards, where applicable.
4) Gather findings in a detailed report on the violations and the obligations of the state and BCC to address them.

The Mbayion Community have for long suffered untold environmental degradation and pollution over the years with the corporate entity (BCC) not doing much to ameliorate the challenges probably owing to the inability of the community to scientifically and technically push for adequate responsibility from BCC in the provision tailored support system that speaks to proven needs.

To this end Lawyers Alert will help the Community to identify needs and build their capacities to gather crucial information about critical human rights violations associated with cement production in their community.
Lawyers Alert is working with local community members and leaders to discuss the ways in which their lives and livelihoods have been affected, and, using the data gathered, design a capacity building program tailored to the communities’ specific circumstances.

In the final analysis Lawyers Alert expects the BCC to address the documented violations.

Lawyers Alert will share the documented violations with the National Human Rights Commission towards reliefs for the community.

Lawyers Alert will use its imminent consultative status with the Human Rights Council of the United Nations to lodge a formal complaint in the event no desired result follows.

This is calling on volunteers, especially experts in these field and more importantly persons from and within the community to partner with us. Please visit or or call 092202090, 08036081967 (Rommy) or 08034270027 (Agerzua) for partnership

1 Comment

Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Uncategorized


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