Month: September 2017

Freedom Of Information Case Update

Coalition On International Criminal Court V. The Nigerian Foundation For The Support Of Victims Of Terrorism, Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/980/2013;
The case is pending at the Court of Appeal, seeks information from the Victims Trust Fund of the amount of money already collected into the Fund and their disbursement. The Federal High Court heard the case and ordered the Trust Fund to disclose the requested information in February 2017. The Trust Fund filed an appeal against the order, and have refused to comply. The appeal is abandoned and LEDAP has this week filed application to strike out the appeal for want of prosecution to enable the order of the court be enforced.

LEDAP casework on Implementation of FOI Act

With over 152 Freedom of Information requests made by LEDAP since 2011 for disclosures from public and private institutions, and 46 cases in various courts, 3 of which are on appellate courts, LEDAP is a leading voice in Nigeria on promoting accountability and transparency in government through the Freedom of Informational Act. Passed in June 2011, the FOI Act remains a dormant law as nearly all public institutions from which critical public accountability information are requested decline or challenge such request. Since 2011, only Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority has voluntarily submitted requested information to LEDAP, and most would hire senior lawyers to challenge requests. Thus an example is our suit against the Clerk of the National Assembly for disclosure of the salaries and allowances of legislators. The high court order that the disclosure be made in July 2012 was the first FOI judgment, but it was not obeyed. Rather NASS appealed to the Court of Appeal stating it cannot make such disclosure and a judgment of that court in April 2017 was the first appellate judgment on FOI in this country, and further appeal now lies at the Supreme Court. The issue is whether salaries of legislators can be made public. The infamy of failed FOI Act is the character of our poor governance.

Five SARS operatives found guilty of extrajudicial killing

 

A High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, has found a five-man patrol team of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, also known as SARS, guilty of extrajudicial killing of two friends.

The SARS operatives were led by one Samuel Chigbu while the victims of extrajudicial killing were Michael Akor and Michael Igwe in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the State.

Michael Akor (28) and his friend, Michael Igwe, were said to have been arrested while going about their businesses on June 22, 2009 by the security agents, who eventually killed them in a bush  in Oyigbo the next day.

Apart from finding the SARS operatives guilty, the court ordered the Nigeria Police to pay a N50 million compensation to the families of the victims.

The judge, Justice Adolphus Enebeli, gave the order in an enforcement of fundamental human rights suit that was brought before the court, even as he asserted that ASP Chigbu and his men intentionally killed the two men.

Justice Enebeli noted that no investigation or trial was carried out by the security agents before shooting and killing the two young graduates, adding that their action was contrary to some sections of the Constitution.

Explaining that the alibi that the deceased were hit by bullets during a crossfire between the police and a group of hoodlums were not substantiated, the judge insisted that it was not a coincidence that the two victims were shot at the same part of their bodies.

The judge added that victims of extrajudicial killing died at Briathwaite Memorial Hospital and buried at the same place and at a similar time.

He specifically said that SARS in the state had acquired the notoriety of extra-judicial killings, adding that this was destroying the image of the State Police Command.

It will be recalled that Chigbu and four other erring SARS operatives had since been dismissed from the Police Force after the incident.

The five SARS operatives are also standing trial for murder and extra-judicial execution before Justice Margaret Opara of the State High Court in Port Harcourt.

Speaking after the judgement, the counsel for the late victims, Mr. Johnson Ejekwu, maintained that a death sentenced for the offending SARS operatives would have been better than a N50 million compensation.

Ejekwu, however, thanked the court for the ruling, even as he suggested that relevant authorities should intervene and help to stop the extrajudicial killings by men of SARS in Rivers State.

But the mother of one of the deceased, Mrs. Catherine Akor, lamented that no amount of compensation would bring back her son.

She added that the murder of her son had also caused her spouse memory loss, adding that her husband was currently experiencing a terrible health condition as a result of SARS operatives’ action.

culled from http://punchng.com/five-sars-operatives-found-guilty-of-extrajudicial-killing/

 

The NGO Regulatory Commission of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill, 2016

The Non-Governmental Organizations Regulatory Commission(Establishment) Bill, 2016, is one the 1716 bills currently pending in the 8th National Assembly.

The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on June 2, 2016 by Umar Buba Jibril, a lawmaker from Kogi State, elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The bill was first read on June 2, 2016, with a second reading on July 14, 2016. It was thereafter referred to the House Committee on CSOs and Development Partners.

The proposed controversial law seeks to establish a federal agency responsible for the supervision, coordination and monitoring of Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria.

Many Nigerians have criticised the bill, with many seeing it as a ploy to stifle civil society groups and silence critical voices in the country.

A serving senator of the APC, Shehu Sani, vowed to fight the bill when it comes to the Senate.

“The bill on NGOs will reinforce those with tyrannical tendencies and further stifle rights to freedom of speech and assembly. I’ll oppose it,” he tweeted.

Chidi Odinkalu, a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, has launched a campaign against the bill, saying the proposed law would affect religious bodies and humanitarian agencies and organisations.

He also argued that the bill was unnecessary as there were already enough laws and institutions to regulate NGOs.

Download watermarked_NGO-Bill-Copy

culled from https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/244083-download-ngo-regulatory-commission-nigeria-establishment-bill-2016.html

PETITION: Public Hearing for Persons from Bama LGA Detained by the Nigerian Army

The Presidency,

Special Services Office,

Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,

Shehu Shagari Complex,

Three Arms Zone,

Abuja.

 

Attention:  Secretary to the Presidential Panel

 On Review of Compliance of the Armed Forces

With Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement;

 

Dear Sir,

 

Request for Public Hearing for Persons from Bama LGA Detained by the Nigerian Army

 

We demand for a public hearing for 279 persons detained in 2015 by the Nigeria army on allegation as members of the Boko Haram sect in Bama Local Government Area. This is a sequel to a petition to the House of Representatives dated 27 April, 2017.

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project is a non-governmental organization of lawyers and law professionals, engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights, rule of law and good governance in Nigeria. We are writing on behalf of Knifar Movement, a group of hundreds of displaced persons in North East soliciting for the release of persons who have been in detention since 2015 without access to legal assistance.

The said victims were arrested between July-December 2015, during military screening after they escaped Boko Haram brutality in Bama LGA and had to leave their villages. They were taken to Banki and thereafter to Bama prison where they were detained. From the information available to the relatives, they learnt that the victims were transferred to Maiduguri maximum security prison where they are currently kept incommunicado. All attempts made by the relatives to reach out to them have proved abortive as the victims are not allowed access to anyone.

It may interest you know that some of the victims in detention are children below the age of 5 and adults above 50. It is worrisome that these persons have been kept in detention without access to their relatives or legal assistance. The condition of the prison is also deplorable as there are indications that the prison is overcrowded with civilians who are not allowed to have legal or medical assistance. Based on this fact, there are also indications that many civilians in detention especially under-aged children and aged men are dying on daily basis. Reports available to our partner reveal that the victims especially the children are suffering from meningitis which could result to their untimely deaths if urgent actions are not taken. We fear for their well being as there is no substantial information on the chances of them been alive till date.

Also we wish to bring to your knowledge the existence of gross misconduct and corruption in Banki and Bama IDP camps. The soldiers and members of Civilian Joint Task force have been accused of engaging in hoarding of relief materials, food and drinks in exchange for sex with the young women. The young women are constantly abused and exploited sexually by the soldiers and members of the Civilian Joint Taskforce. Due to scarcity of food, drinks and medicines, large numbers of the internally displaced persons in these camps are dying on daily basis.

In line with the mandate of the panel to investigate alleged acts of violations  by the Nigerian Security Operatives of International humanitarian and human rights laws under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other relevant laws, we request that the panel deem it fit to properly investigate the above statements and equally call for public hearing for the victims as the continuous detention and incarceration of the above citizens of Bama is a violation of human rights that work against the principles of international humanitarian laws.

Please accept the warm assurances of our best regards.

Yours Sincerely,

 

Chino Obiagwu

National Coordinator (LEDAP)

 

Attached:

List of detained and missing persons

List of persons who died in Bama Hospital Camp

Read more

 petition 

 

MEMORANDUM TO PRESIDENTIAL PANEL OF INVESTIGATION TO REVIEW COMPLIANCE OF THE ARMED FORCES WITH HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS AND RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

Overview

Since the emergence of insurgency in North East Nigeria, there have been various reports of human rights violations by the military and other security forces.

These violations are grave and often times downplayed by the media and side actors. The perpetrators of these grave violations and injustice are most times not held accountable to their acts. More so, the delay in process characterizing the justice sector makes it difficult if not almost impossible for the victims of these human rights violations to access justice in terms of reliefs, compensations, or reparations.

Against this backdrop, this memorandum is made in line with the Panel’s mandate to investigate these acts of human rights violations as it relates to the identified victims under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other relevant laws, and make reparation orders or such further orders as the Panel deems fit in the circumstances.

Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) is a not-for profit organization that is working towards the promoting of rule of law, good governance, and human rights in Nigeria.

LEDAP through its victims’ identification mechanism has identified 65 victims of human rights violations by the military in the North Eastern states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe.

PRESENTATION OF FACTS

The following summarizes and categorizes the acts of violations meted out on the identified victims. A full list of the victims of human rights violations, details of violations, and reliefs sought is hereby attached to this memorandum And marked ‘’Exhibit A” .

Unlawful arrests, detention, and torture

LEDAP has identified 65 victims with varying degrees and forms of human rights violations ranging from unlawful arrest to prolonged detention in facilities, inhuman and degrading treatment and torture.

Sections 34 (1) (a) and 35 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provide interalia:

Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly –

  • No person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.

35(1) every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law –

 

We wish to state that some of these human rights violations were borne out of allegations levied on the victims by the military as being members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect while some were arrested, detained unlawfully, and tortured for no just cause.

One of the victims, Kachalla Suleiman was visited in his home by some members of the military, killed his both parents, inflicted bodily harm on him with metallic chains, and finally shot him with an arrow.

We submit that these violations are in breach of the fundamental human rights guaranteed and enshrined under the Nigerian Constitution and other relevant statutes.

We therefore urge this panel to investigate these rights violations and ensure that justice is done for the victims.

 

  • Killings, maiming, and enforced disappearance

One of the victims, Mallam Umar died after he was detained and tortured for 6 months by the military. Another of the victims, Falmata Modu Jibulwa had her brother arrested alongside her father by members of the military, while her brother was released; her father was kept in detention until his death.

Abubakar Fatima, a victim had her home bombed by the military jet fighter and as result; she lost her mother, her two brothers, and sustained injury on her leg.

There had also been report of enforced disappearance by one of the victims’ relatives. Ali Mohammed was arrested by officers of the Nigerian Army in 2014, till date; there is no information as to his whereabouts.

These and many more are some of the human rights violations perpetrated by members of the security armed forces in the North East and LEDAP wishes to use this platform to demand accountability and reparation for the victims.

CONCLUSION

My Lord, from the foregoing, we wish to submit that these human rights violations have occasioned untold hardship, losses, and injustice to the victims and their relatives.

To this end, LEDAP urges the Panel to use its good offices to investigate these human rights violations and grant the following reliefs:

  1. A declaration that the Victims’ arrest and detention by the security forces constitutes a violation of their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

  1. An order of general damages for each of the victims.

 

  1. A written Public Apology

 

  1. Such further order or orders as the Panel may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this matter.

 

Senator, other Nigerians condemn NGO regulatory bill

A serving senator of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Shehu Sani, has kicked against the Non-Governmental Organisation, NGO regulatory bill which is currently before the House of Representatives.

The controversial bill seeks to set up a federal agency to be known as the NGO Regulatory Commission to regulate activities of NGO’s and civil society organisations, CSOs, across the country.

In a tweet from his official twitter handle, the senator vowed that he would fight against it when it comes to the Senate.

“The bill on NGOs will reinforce those with tyrannical tendencies and further stifle rights to freedom of speech and assembly. I’ll oppose it,” he tweeted.

Many Nigerians have also criticised the bill on different platforms, while others expressed support for it.

While critics see it as a way to silence civil society groups in the country, some other Nigerians see it as a way to regulate the sector.

Chidi Odinkalu, a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, has launched a campaign against the bill, saying the proposed law would affect religious bodies and humanitarian agencies and organisations. He also argued that the bill was unnecessary as there were already enough laws and institutions to regulate NGOs.

A twitter user, Shuaibu Mumuni, while responding to the leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, also opposed the bill.

“When we begin to over regulate everything including the CSOs on the pretext of terror we are gradually sliding into a police state,” he tweeted from his handle, @mumunishuaibu.

Mr. Gbajabiamila had in a series of tweets tried to justify the need for the controversial bill.

 

“NGOs cannot be above the laws of the land. They must be regulated,” the lawmaker tweeted from his twitter handle @femigbaja.

He asked those opposed to the bill to send their reservations to him, saying the reservations would be looked into “at the public hearing.”

In his reaction to the debate, another Nigerian, Bolaji Odunfa, @bolajiodunfa, said foreign donors already do their own form of vetting before assisting NGOS.

“Foreign donors don’t dash money! They monitor how their funds are spent and get reports from NGOs they support.”

However, some Nigerians called for more transparency in the running of NGOs

“I Don’t give a ***** about NGO bill but about time those collecting billions under the guise of NGO open their books for public scrutiny,” activist Kayode Ogundamisi tweeted on his handle @ogundamisi.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the deputy leader of the House of Representatives, Umar Jibril, had earlier defended the bill.

Mr. Jibril, who sponsored the bill, argued that it is to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in the way NGOs collect funds from donors.

He also said the bill will not affect religious bodies and quasi-financial institutions.

The NGO regulatory agency, if established, would be headed by an Executive Secretary and a 17-member Governing Board to be appointed by the Nigerian President for a five-year tenure.

Its functions would, amongst others, be to issue licences to all NGOs, which would equire renewing such licences every two years. And if the agency’s board doesn’t renew an organisation’s license after the two years, such organisation will seize to exist; a clause many say would make NGOs function at the will of government.

An NGO would also have to receive permission from the regulator before it executes any project and the agency would also regulate how funds received from donors are spent.

culled from https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/244015-senator-nigerians-condemn-ngo-regulatory-bill.html