Month: October 2017

Dozens of Boko Haram members convicted in mass secret trial in Nigeria

The 45 people were jailed for between three and 31 years, while another 468 suspects were ordered to undergo de-radicalisation programs.

A Nigerian court has convicted 45 Boko Haram members in the largest ever mass trial involving the Islamist extremist group.

The closed-door proceedings began early this week at a military barracks in northern Nigeria but have raised the concerns of human rights groups about whether the hearings of 1,669 suspects will be fair.

The judges are drafted from civil courts, while the barracks are being used for security reasons.

The 45 people were sentenced to between three and 31 years in prison, the country’s information minister said in a statement on Friday. Another 468 suspects were released, but the court ordered that they undergo de-radicalisation programs. The government has not said what exactly the hundreds of suspects are charged with.

More than 2,000 detainees are being held at a military base in Kainji, in the central state of Niger, and the Giwa barracks in Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno.

Nigeria is trying to show it is making progress against the extremist group that has killed more than 20,000 people during its eight-year insurgency. Boko Haram has yet to comment publicly on the mass trials.

Nigeria has arrested thousands of suspected Boko Haram members in recent years, and military detention facilities are overcrowded. Human rights groups say most of those detained, including women and children, have been picked up at random and without reasonable suspicion. Former detainees have described malnutrition, mistreatment and deaths in the facilities.

Boko Haram’s attacks have spilled into neighboring countries and displaced more than 2.4 million people in the Lake Chad region, creating a vast humanitarian crisis. Some fighters have allied with the Islamic State group. The group provoked international outrage by kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls, known as theChibok girls, in April 2014.

In northern Cameroon, nearly 60 men who said they were captured by Boko Haram and forced to fight for them in Nigeria surrendered to authorities.

After spending two years with Boko Haram, the men decided to flee with their families and hand themselves in, according to several men who had surrendered and spoke to journalists at a ceremony in the town of Mozogo on Friday.

A total of nearly 400 people originally from Cameroon – 58 men, 86 women and 244 children – said they had been taken hostage by Boko Haram fighters during attacks on their villages and taken to Nigeria, where they were forced to join the jihadist group.

The men told reporters they had fought for Boko Haram and were laying down their arms of their own will. They surrendered at the border with Nigeria to a village vigilante group formed to combat the jihadists. The vigilantes then handed them over to the authorities.

Ousmane Kouila, the head of the vigilante group, said they had been out on patrol in the border area when they met the fleeing Boko Haram fighters. “They said they were returning and that they were surrendering,” he said.

The local governor went to meet them and ordered them to be moved away from the border to avoid any reprisals by Boko Haram.

“We are counting on them to also convince others who are hesitating (to surrender) and there are a lot of them, they tell us,” said Midjiyawa Bakari, the governor of the Far North region.

Authorities would provide the escapees with psychological help, he said.

“They have been through brainwashing, perhaps also having taken an oath on the Qur’an or made a blood pact,” the governor said, adding they needed help with “all they must have endured” at the hands of Boko Haram.

While Nigeria’s military has arrested many top Boko Haram fighters and last year declared the extremist group had been “crushed”, its leader Abubakar Shekau remains elusive. The group in recent months has carried out a growing number of deadly suicide bombings and other attacks, many carried out by women or children.

source https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/14/dozens-of-boko-haram-members-convicted-in-mass-secret-trial-in-nigeria

NCICC CONDEMNS THE SECRET TRIAL OF BOKO HARAM SUSPECTS

Press release:  17th  October 2017

 

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) expresses deep concern at the ongoing mass trial of the Boko Haram suspects.

Over 1600 Boko Haram suspects are being detained in Niger state and SECRET trial is going on.

We commend the Attorney General of the Federation for taking the initiative to ensure that justice is served to the many victims of gross human rights abuses and severe crimes alleged to have been committed by the Boko Haram sect.

However, it is pertinent that due process is followed in the course of administering justice. Section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended provides for fair trial for all Nigerian citizens.  Public hearing is a yardstick for free and fair trial which forms a fundamental principle of Natural justice so it is quite disturbing that the trial of the Boko Haram suspect is being done privately.

NCICC maintains that accelerated/secret hearing in criminal matters of this nature is not advisable as it may present a glitch in the administration of justice. Suspects must be afforded the opportunity to be represented by a legal practitioner of their choice and lawyers must be given reasonable time to prepare their defense. It is important that all the antecedents of criminal trials be upheld as they are mere suspects and have to be proven guilty or otherwise.

NCICC call on Judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers to get involved in the prosecution of the suspects.  Lawyers should be given adequate time and facilities to prepare for and ensure fair trial of the suspects.

NCICC Calls on the Attorney General of the  Federation to ensure open trials and adequate protection of witnesses, we urge the judiciary to designate more judges and assign these cases to them. There is no way four judges can do justice to 1600 cases. It will take them a decade to do so.

Finally we appeal to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to provide more pro bono defence counsel because the Legal Aid Council is so thinly staffed and poorly funded to be able to give quality legal defence to 1600 defendants.

Chino Obiagwu

Chair, Steering Committee

source http://ncicc.org.ng/2017/10/17/ncicc-condemns-the-secret-trial-of-boko-haram-suspects-by-the-nigerian-government/

Oyo women lawyers hail state’s child rights law, want enforcement

Impressed with the domestication of the federal Child Rights Act in Oyo State, the Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA), the state chapter, said on Wednesday that it would give fillip to the protection of children . The female lawyers, who described as commendable the domestication by the Gov. Abiola Ajimobi-led administration, noted that the rights of children particularly the girl-child were often violated by adults. Mrs Folake Ajayi, the association’s chairperson, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan that the girl-child in Nigeria is faced with several challenges and her rights were at a “higher risk” of being breached. “The Child Rights Acts 2003 has been domesticated by Oyo State and is known as the Child Rights Law. This law will provide for and protect every child in the state. “These rights can be divided into four major parts — Survival Rights, Protection Rights, Development Rights and Participation Rights,” she said. The lawyer named the challenges as genital mutilation, harmful traditional practices, child betrothal, child marriage, indecent assault, prostitution, sexual abuse, domestic violence and death. According to her, the most peculiar rights of the girls most violated are child betrothal and early marriage. Ajayi said:“Child betrothal and marriage is when a girl-child is betrothed or married off. Section 23 and 24 of Oyo State Child Rights Law prohibits child marriage and betrothal. “Under the law, a child is said to mean a person under the age of 18 and section 23 of same law says a person under the age of 18 is incapable of contracting a valid marriage. “If such a marriage does take place or  is contracted, it should be declared null and void and of no effect.” She, however, said the country’s 1999 Constitution “technically” approved of child marriage. “It is depressing that Section 29(4) (b) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has technically approved child marriage by its provision that: any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age.” On genital mutilation, the FIDA boss described it as a gross violation of a female’s body and the wicked mutilation of her genital., saying “it is a calculated attempt to suppress and oppress the woman in a girl.” “Section 26 of Oyo State Child Rights Law specifically prohibits mutilation of the female genitals and any one guilty of this offence is liable on conviction to a fine of N20,000 or imprisonment for a term of two years. “Section 6 of Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 carries a penalty of four years imprisonment and a fine of N200,000 or both.” Ajayi regretted that in spite of the the prohibition of female genital mutilation, some mothers still submit their daughters for genital mutilation and called on parents, teachers, religious organisations, the media, the CSOs, as well as law enforcement agencies to rise up to the defence of the rights of the Nigerian child. She also called for increased advocacy by the media, the schools and parents on the rights of the girls at home and at school. “There should be full implementation of these laws because a law that is not implemented, in my own opinion, is a toothless bull dog. “Parents and guardians should be alive to their responsibilities; it is unfortunate that some parents still violate the rights of their children more. “Our young girls should see themselves as God’s creation that have been commanded to rule their world. They are not created for man’s pleasure,” said the FIDA chairperson.
source https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/oyo-women-lawyers-hail-states-child-rights-law-want-enforcement/

Kano resolute in implementing anti-corruption reforms

The Chairman of Kano State Anti-Corruption and Public Complaints Commission and focal point for Open Government Partnership (OGP), Muhuyi Magaji Rimingado has said the state remains resolute in implementing anti-corruption reforms.

Rimingado, who made the disclosure in Kano on Tuesday, said the expectation is that the state will be a model for other states to follow in the implementation of anti-corruption reforms.

The OGP Chairman, stressed that the anti-corruption reforms in the state will be fully owned by the people.

According to Rimingado, “This session aimed at deepening the understanding of civil society about OGP which is crucial to our overall success.

“Knowledge based engagement will mean that the voice of civil society is not only amplified but also bold and responsive to the needs of the communities and other relevant stakeholders.

“The beauty of OGP is the unique relationship between government and civil society which it promotes. However, as you all know the whole idea of partnership-creation and co-responsibility will be sterile and ineffective unless we build the required capacity.

“Both government and civil society need to have clarity, understand and internalize all the principles of OGP to make sure that we are all on the same page from time to time.”

source http://dailypost.ng/2017/10/18/kano-resolute-implementing-anti-corruption-reforms-muhuyi-magaji-rimingado/

Lagos State, Airtel partner to curb domestic, sexual violence

Leading telecoms operator, Airtel Nigeria, has partnered with the Lagos State government to curb the menace of domestic and sexual violence across the metropolis. Through the Shortcode, 6820, the organization and the Lagos state government are encouraging victims and other residents to report cases of domestic violence, sexual violence and child abuse.

Lagos is leading the campaign through the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) while Airtel is providing network resource for the short-code and other telecoms related support. Speaking at the launch of the initiative today (16/10/16), the Director of Citizens Right, Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Clara Omotilewa Ibirogba, who also chairs the DSVRT, said the use of technology in combatting sexual and gender based violence is the first of its kind in Nigeria, noting that Lagos state is optimistic that the short-code will yield great results in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. Explaining how the short-code is used, Ibirogba said victims or eyewitness can either dial *6820# or send an SMS to 6820 using the key word, child abuse. Upon sending the SMS, users will receive information on steps to take for the respective case (rape, child abuse, domestic violence, etc). The short code will enable the government gather information that can be used for the formulation of prevention policies for Lagos state. “A report would also be logged and forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement Agency or Ministry,” she said. She also commended Airtel Nigeria for its support to the campaign and for backing the State to fight the ugly incidents of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual abuse.

source https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/lagos-state-airtel-partner-to-curb-domestic-sexual-violence/

Intervene In Unlawful Retirement Of 38 Army Officers, CSNAC Tells Human Rights Commission

The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), which is a coalition of over 150 anti-corruption organizations across Nigeria, has expressed concerns over the deafening silence and inaction of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to a petition it sent to it on the human rights violation of 38 senior officers of the Nigerian Army, unlawfully retired over a year ago.

In a follow-up petition sent by CSNAC to NHRC, and signed by its chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, the network urged the NHRC to immediately call for a public hearing to shed more light on the matter with a view to investigate and construe these allegations in the best interest of justice.

According to the coalition, the right to a fair hearing is a universally acclaimed right, and is duly enshrined in the Nigeria Constitution. But, this right has been infringed upon in this case, adding that, “It’s over a year, since these 38 retired officers were unjustly punished and all efforts at seeking redress in line with the Nigerian Army’s own modus operandi have all so far been frustrated by the leadership of the Military.”

Taking the cue of its petition from a ThisDay Newspaper report of June 20, 2016, where the news revealed that the Nigeria Army Council under the leadership of the Minister of Defense, Rtd Major General Mansur Dan Ali, Chief of Defense Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai conveyed a sudden sitting of the Army Council, where they superintended over, and announced the wrongful dismissal by way of compulsory retirement of 38 Senior Officers of the Nigerian Army, the network said the list has nine Major Generals, 10 Brigadier Generals, seven Colonels, 11 Lieutenant Colonels and one Major.

“In this report, we were made aware that none of these thirty-eight senior officers were at any point investigated for the infraction, indicted, tried by a court martial or found guilty/convicted of any disciplinary offense or criminal breaches whatsoever in line with Armed Forces extant rules and regulations. These 38 Senior Army Officers have expressed their profound shock upon learning about their unjust, unlawful and baseless compulsory retirement in the media.

“We are reliably informed that two separate panels were set up, one to examine allegations of electoral malpractices by Nigerian Army personnel and the other to investigate allegations of corruption associated with arms procurement under the office of National Security Adviser.

“The report further revealed that, 18 out of the 38 Senior Army Officers were never invited to appear before any of the two panels. 8 out of the 38 Senior Army officers appeared as witnesses before the first panel that examined allegations of electoral malpractices by Nigerian Army personnel, while 11 out of the 38 Senior Army Officers also appeared as witnesses before the second panel that investigated allegations of corruption associated with arms procurement under the office of National Security Adviser. It is important to emphasis that, 26 out of these officers went to the panels as witnesses and not as persons of interest with respect to these investigations.”

CSNAC averred further that: “Media reports about Army records have severally revealed that some of these unjustly retired officers were in the frontline of North Eastern operations during the election as against the allegations that they participated in election duties. Several others in that same list were on Army posting outside the shores of Nigeria during the period of General elections. As well as during the time the two panels were sitting in Kaduna and Abuja.

“The right to fair hearing is a universally acclaimed right, and is duly enshrined in the Nigeria Constitution. But, this right has been infringed upon. Despite, an order of mandamus made by the National Industrial Court directed specifically to the Chief of Defense Staff, and requiring Gen. Olonisakin to (as a matter of his duty) transmit the affected officer’s administrative appeal for redress to Mr. President and to show proof of doing same to the Court Registrar, the Chief of Defense Staff has continued to defy the order duly made by a court of competent jurisdiction in a flagrant show of impunity and disrespect for the rule of law. This clearly shows bad faith and the fact that they, the leadership of the Nigeria Army, have something to hide.”

It also lamented that, “It is regrettable to note that the above issue has led to the untimely death of one of the 38 officers, the late Col Baba-Ochankpa. This brave officer died broken hearted. It is very unfortunate that the leadership of the Nigerian Army rather than motivate and inspire our gallant men and women who are serving their fatherland in the most dangerous yet noble ways, chose to exhibit such crass injustice and abuse of powers.”

Calling the NHRC’s attitude to the question, the petition noted that, “As saddening and disheartening as issues surrounding this gross rights violation is, what is even more perturbing for us is to continue refusal of your Commission to act on this matter even though a petition has been duly submitted. All it takes for injustice and anarchy to reign in any society is for very critical institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission to decide to look the other way or throw its hands helplessly in the air when issues of gross rights violation such as this are taking place.

“The assumption is that your Commission appears to be intimidated by the involvement of the top echelon of the Nigerian Army. If this is the case, it is most unfortunate and sends ominous signals for the stability of our polity. The National Human Rights Commission is crucial in deepening our democracy and ensuring that the military submit herself to civil authorities. Your Commission should be, and be perceived to be fearless, tenacious and fiercely forthright in the discharge of its mandate.

“Though the National Assembly has justifiably decided to wade into the matter, we wish to reiterate that your Commission has the mandate to deal with issues like this without fear or favor. The National Human Rights Commission is obligated under national and international statutes to protect human rights of all persons at all times.”

Expressing its demands, CSNAC said, “It is on the basis that we call on the National Human Rights Commission to immediately call for public hearing to shed more light on this matter with a view to investigate and construe these allegations in the best interest of justice. We demand that those who are found to be complicit in this matter be recommended to face punishment to the fullest extent of the law. Consequent upon the above, your Commission should recommend the immediate re-instatement of these 38 senior officers into the Nigerian Army.”

source http://saharareporters.com/2017/10/17/intervene-unlawful-retirement-38-army-officers-csnac-tells-human-rights-commission

N8.5bln fraud: Court adjourns trial of major-general

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday adjourned until Oct. 20, trial of a former military Commander, Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, and three others charged with N8.5 billion fraud. Atewe, a former Commander of the Niger-Delta Military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, is charged alongside Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Also charged are two staff members of NIMASA – Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga. The accused are standing trial on an amended 22-count charge. The trial was adjourned following absence of the judge, Justice Ayokunle Faji, who was on an official assignment. The accused were re-arraigned before Faji on Feb. 3, following transfer of Justice Saliu Saidu, who was handling the case. Saidu was transferred from Lagos to Port Harcourt. The accused pleaded not guilty before Faji, who allowed them to continue on the bail terms granted by Saidu. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting the accused. The commission accused them of conspiring to defraud NIMASA of N8.5 billion using seven companies. The companies are: Jagan Ltd., Jagan Trading Company Ltd., Jagan Global Services Ltd., Al-Nald Ltd., Paper Warehouse Ltd., Eastpoint Integrated Services Ltd., and De-Newlink Integrated Services Ltd. The EFCC claimed that the accused committed the fraud from Sept. 5, 2014 to May 20, 2015, in contravention of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering Act, 2012, and Section 390 of the Criminal Code, 2004.

source https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/10/n8-5bln-fraud-court-adjourns-trial-major-general/

Int’l Day for Poverty Eradication: Obaseki calls for global consensus on strategy

Obaseki made the call on Tuesday on the occasion of the commemoration of the United Nations Day for the Eradication of Poverty, observed on October 17, each year.

According to the governor, “world leaders need to review their social and economic policies to accommodate the needs of people in the rich, developing and underdeveloped countries.”

He explained that “what causes poverty in some countries is in actual fact, the result or effect of some policies in the developed countries,” arguing “anti-free trade and protectionist policies abound that put developing countries in very precarious situations and ultimately, in poverty.”

To create a level-playing field for all economies to take equal leap at development, Obaseki proffered “a broad-based and an all-inclusive global development plan anchored on fair trade policies,” which he said is in line with the theme of the 2017 event: “Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A Path Toward Peaceful and Inclusive Societies.”

He challenged political actors, thought and business leaders in third world countries to rise to the occasion and tackle the barriers to accessing quality education, health care, land and other forms of capital, housing and employment by the populace to drag them out of the poverty net.

The governor said his administration has prioritised technical education to equip Edo youths with the skills to confront poverty and defeat it.

“Our emphasis on primary health care is deliberate and the wisdom behind it is that a healthy population, especially the middle class and those on the lower rung of the ladder, can withstand the pressure of life. With the right capacity, they can compete with their counterparts in other parts of the world,” he added.

Obaseki recalled how irritated and frustrated Edo people used to feel until his administration signed the Private Property Bill (PPP) into law, which has since brought sanity to land acquisition and management in the state.

“Today people can acquire land and develop their property without being harassed by thugs and criminals” he said, adding that his administration through the several people-oriented programmes in agriculture, wealth and employment creation, has empowered thousands of Edo youths across the state.

According to the United Nations, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the declaration by the General Assembly, in its Resolution 47/196 of 22 December 1992, which set October 17 aside as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Call to Action by Father Joseph Wresinski — which inspired the observance of October 17 as the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty — and the recognition by the United Nations of the day as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

source https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/10/17/intl-day-for-poverty-eradication-obaseki-calls-for-global-consensus-on-strategy/