Month: November 2017

Human Rights Watch condemns summary executions in eastern Libya


Human Rights Watch condemned a series of summary executions of dozens of people in areas of eastern Libya under the control of controversial strongman Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
The New York-based watchdog called on Haftar’s Libyan National Army to make good on a promise to investigate the latest killings and to hand over a suspect wanted by the International Criminal Court in connection with previous executions.
Police discovered the bodies of 36 men, all of them executed, near Al-Abyar, 50 kilometers east of Libya’s second city Benghazi, on October 26.
Two days later, Haftar ordered the military prosecutor to investigate but no findings have been announced and no suspects have been detained.
“The LNA’s pledges to conduct inquiries into repeated unlawful killings in areas under their control in eastern Libya have so far led nowhere,” said HRW’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director, Eric Goldstein.
“The LNA will be condoning apparent war crimes if their pledge to investigate the gruesome discovery in Al-Abyar proves to be another empty promise,” he added.
A local security official said at the time that the bodies found in Al-Abyar belonged to suspected jihadists, 19 of them foreigners.
Human Rights Watch said it had reviewed multiple lists containing a total of 25 names of men found at Al-Abyar, but could not verify which were civilians and which, if any, were fighters affiliated with forces opposing the LNA.
However, it cited relatives of six of the dead as saying that they were civilians who had been taken from their homes by armed men in front of family members.
The Al-Abyar killings were the latest in a series of summary executions in areas of eastern Libya under Haftar’s control over the past two years.
In August, ICC judges issued an arrest warrant for Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli, a commander of the Benghazi-based Al-Saiqa brigade, on suspicion of involvement in war crimes including executions of 33 people.
Werfalli is accused of having ordered or personally carried out seven executions between March and July this year and in June 2016 that were filmed and posted to social media sites.
The LNA has said Werfalli is already in custody and will be tried by a military tribunal.
Libya has been wracked by lawlessness ever since the NATO-backed overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
It has two rival administrations — a UN-backed government based in the capital Tripoli and a rival one backed by Hafar in the east.


Gender violence: Actionaid trains traditional rulers, others in Borno

As part of her deliberate efforts to reduce sexual gender based violence (GBV) among the vulnerable in liberated areas and other parts of Borno Satate, Actionaid Nigeria has embarked on training of traditional rulers and other stakeholders to create awareness against menace.

Against the backdrop of the training, participants under the tutelage of Actionaid have agreed to establish a network comprising of traditional rulers, security agencies, health personale, members of CSOs working on GBV, media, legal aid council, the judiciary etc for better coordination and coverage of GBV activities in the state.

The training which was conducted at Command Guest House Maiduguri had participants drawn from four local Governments of Kala-Bage, Kaga, Gwoza and Bama Local Government Areas of Borno State.

Actionaid had earlier trained about forty psycho-social support counselors who have already commenced psycho-social counseling services to the displaced people in liberated communities from the four local government councils.

Briefing journalists on the whole concept of the project after the training workshop, the Program Manager Health Actionaid Nigeria, Ms Marryann Obadike explained the project is fashioned towards Strengthening Sexual and Reproductive Health service provision in conflict affected communities in Northeast Borno state Nigeria (STRESPCIN) ,  a partnership agreement between ActionAid Nigeria and the United Nations for Population Fund (UNFPA).

She added that, “the goal of the project is to reduce excessive maternal mortality and morbidity in the targeted states and the output of the project is to increase national capacity to provide sexual and reproductive health services in humanitarian settings

“ActionAid Nigeria is expected to scale up care and support services that will contribute towards the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity in this conflict affected states through the provision of Integrated Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) interventions and Sexual and Reproductive Health services based on the Minimum Initial Service Package for Reproductive Health in humanitarian settings (MISP).

“The project seeks to improve the provision of SGBV prevention and response and Reproductive Health services including psychosocial support in humanitarian settings in these affected areas. The project also plans towards increased awareness and knowledge of communities on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) issues, SGBV prevention and response services that are gender-responsive and meet human rights standards for quality of care and equity in access,”she said.

While speaking on the strategies to achieving the overall goal of the project, Ms Obadike said; “The project has as its strategies; Capacity Building, Systems Strengthening, Awareness Creation, Community Engagement, Promoting Integrated Partnership, Granting and Knowledge Management. Each of these strategies have a number of activities to be carried out that will all eventually lead towards the attainment of the projects overall goal.

“Part of the ongoing activities under the Systems Strengthening component, is the training of psychosocial support counselors (PSS) on prevention and response to GBV,” she explained.

Both the Zanna of Gwoza, Wali Ibrahim Abu and the District Head of Rann ,  Kala-Bage Local Government , Babagana Shettima  told our correspondent that the training has added to their knowledge on how to deal with the Sexual Gender Based Violence which they admitted are prevalent in their communities.

Both were in agreement to ensure that cases of SGBV are no longer covered or hidden in their domains, pledging that whoever commits such offence would be exposed and handed over to the appropriate quarters not minding how highly placed such a person maybe in the community.

Both traditional rulers promised to step up their campaigns against SGBV by creating more awareness in their localities.


WARDC Tasks Government On Gender-Based Violence

The Federal Government has been advised to urgently create more institutions that can address the root causes of gender-based violence, the impunity that often goes with the scourge, implement policies and enact laws that can support victims and survivors.

According to the Founding Director, Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre, WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, who made this appeal in commemoration of this year’s global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, curtailing gender-based violence is crucial to national growth.

Dr. Akiyode-Afolabi said: “Gender-based violence is hindering national productivity as it is occurring amongst people in the productive age group, who have to deal with its physical and psychological consequences.

“This year alone, WARDC received and responded to about 2,151 cases of gender-based violence, including rape, acid attacks, molestation, wife beating and corporal punishment.”

She, however, commended Ogun State House of Assembly on the passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill, calling on Governor Ibikunle Amosu to ensure the bill becomes a law as soon as possible.

She revealed the commencement of a two-week public awareness programme by WARDC, tagged Leave No One Behind: Ending Violence Against Women and Girls, which will feature football matches in Lagos, Bauchi, Borno and Ogun states.


Adaobi Egboka, Executive Programmes Director, of Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) speaking at the Global Washington 2017 Annual Conference titled Renewing Global Leadership held on November 29, 2017. She was speaking at a panel on “Authentic Leadership Development”.

Adaobi Egboka, Executive Programmes Director, of Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) speaking at the Global Washington 2017 Annual Conference titled Renewing Global Leadership held on November 29, 2017. She was speaking at a panel on “Authentic Leadership Development”.


It was a great opportunity to share the impact of LEDAP’s work within and among the communities it serves. As NGOs continue to evolve their engagement practices, leadership development and capacity building is becoming a critical strategy in creating real and lasting change.  LEDAP has been at the forefront of empowering and mentoring individuals, survivors and communities across Nigeria to find their voice, mobilize and take action. Adaobi, shared her experience on what is working and what are the challenges in authentically developing and supporting leaders from the local communities through legal empowerment, legislative advocacy, training, network building amongst others.


Apo Six: Senate Investigates Reinstatement Of Police Officer

The Senate has resolved to investigate alleged recent reinstatement of a Deputy Police Commissioner, Mr Danjuma Ibrahim, who was indicted by a judicial panel of inquiry set up in 2005 to probe killing of five young Igbo traders and a young lady in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The resolution followed a Point of Order raised by Sen. Sonni Ogbuoji (PDP-Ebonyi) on the floor of plenary on Wednesday.

Ogbuoji expressed concern that two police officers who operated under the directive of Ibrahim to kill the young traders were convicted but he was acquitted.

He further expressed concern that the Police Service Commission (PSC) exonerated and reinstated the leader of the police team that committed the murder while his subordinates were severely punished.

“My personal explanation is on an incidence that took place that led to the death of six young people, five of them male and one a female at a police checkpoint. That incidence involved Ifeanyi Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Isaac Ekene, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwokike and Augustina Arebu.

“The then President Olusegun Obasanjo, set up a judicial panel of inquiry because the police report was unacceptable to him when they insisted that those young people were armed robbers.

“Following that, some police officers were found to have killed these young people.

“They were then taken to court by the state. The commander of that particular police unit, one Danjuma Ibrahim, as we speak today, has been reinstated by the police.

”Also, one of them, Othman Abdulsalami, till today is at large. But the court on the 12th of last month sentenced two of the police men to death for murder.

“One is worried that the commander of that particular patrol unit that killed what is now known as Apo six has been reinstated by the police whereas the police found others who were under his command culpable.

”This has generated a lot of tension among the people whose children were killed in cold blood.

”I call on the Senate to find out how one of the police officers is at large and the police is unable to trace his whereabouts till today, almost twelve years after.

”Also, one of them has been reinstated and reabsorbed into the Police Force.

”I urge the Senate to take interest to find out what has happened with this exercise, ” he said.

In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, asked Ogbuoji to bring a formal petition on the matter so that it would be referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.

He said, “I think this would have come under a petition so that we easily refer it to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions but as a ranking Senator, we give you this privilege.

”The matter will be referred to Ethics and Privileges when you come with a formal petition.’’

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had set up a panel of inquiry into alleged extra-judicial killing of five young men and a lady, said to be between ages between 21 and 25 on June 7, 2005.

The police officers allegedly involved in the murder were placed on suspension following findings of the panel.

Twelve years later, 2017, two of the officers were convicted and sentenced to death.

However, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court presiding judge, Ishaq Bello, said there was no evidence to convict Mr Danjuma, who was a Deputy Commissioner of Police and two others.

The victims, Ifeanyi Ozor, Ekene Mgbe, Paulinus Ogbonna, Chinedu Meniru, Anthony Nwokike and Augustina Arebu, were said to be returning from a nightclub when they were stopped at a police checkpoint.

The police had claimed that the victims were members of an armed robbery gang that had opened fire on the officers when accosted at the checkpoint.

The judicial panel of inquiry, however, found the police account to be false and recommended the trial of five officers for extra-judicial killings.

The indicted officers are Danjuma Ibrahim, Othman Abdulsalami, Nicholas Zakaria, Ezekiel Acheneje, Baba Emmanuel, and Sadiq Salami.


Senate debates alleged ‘sale’ of Nigerian migrants in Libya

The Senate on Wednesday debated the alleged auction of Africans, mostly Nigerians, in the North African country of Libya.


The lawmakers took turn to condemn the act which has drawn public outcry following gory pictures and videos currently in circulation on social media.

Presenting the motion, Baba Kaka Garbai, Borno-APC, said that the inhuman condition aired in the latest report by CNN is a “humiliation not just to Nigeria and Africa as a whole but also to human civilization and the fundamental principles of human rights under the United Nations Charter.”

He noted that even though protests are ongoing in European countries such as Paris and Brussels, “we who are the most affected as these are our children, our brothers and sisters, our youths, are indifferent.”

“The report by Libyan officials is that its detention centres are full and they have only deported five per cent of the 20,000 in the detention centres because of lack of response from the home governments of the migrants;

“The Libyan government does not have the means nor the commitment to crack down on the perpetrators as their hands are full. Hence these smuggling networks are killing, torturing, extorting and detaining migrants at will.”

In his contribution, Dino Melaye, Kogi-APC, expressed surprise that the federal government has remained silent since the emergence of videos of the slave trade.

“Mr. President, the social media has been awashed for over a month now with different video clips with very excruciating pictures of Nigerians being humiliated,” he said. “It is high time we resigned to citizen diplomacy as practised by the United State of America. Nigeria and Nigerians must take the life of every Nigerians not only seriously but to defend Nigerians anywhere in the world. I am particularly surprised Mr. President that these video footages has been on YouTube and social media for over one month and there’s not been one very drastic position by the federal government to condemn and take very proactive position on the lives of Nigerians outside the shores of this country.”

He urged government at all levels to take the security of Nigerian citizens as priority.

Ali Wakili, Bauchi-APC, wants the government to give more attention to education as a way to nip the menace in the bud.

“We need to address the root causes of these issue of illegal migration. There is the issue of poverty that is bedevilling our people. There is the issue of poor governance, there is the issue of fact that we have corrupt leaders that have taken our wealth to the western countries and it is not helpful to them, nor to their descendants nor to us people,” he said.

“Our education needs to be looked into. We churn out graduates that are not employable, especially in the digital period in which we find ourselves. Our education system need to be looked into so that we can have vocational training and others so that they can meet up with local challenges.”

The Senate resolved to “condemn in totality the current depravity and sheer animalism being exhibited by these Libyans selling fellow Africans as slaves, urge the federal government to urgently investigate how many of our people are affected and urgently commence the process of repatriation and rehabilitation of Nigerian citizens caught up in these despicable treatment and human rights abuses.’

The Senate also resolved to invite the Libyan ambassador in Nigeria to brief the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and urged the government at all levels in Africa to take steps to ameliorate economic hardship feeding this migration crisis.

The lawmakers also adopted an additional prayer by Bala Ibn NaAllah, Kebbi-APC, that President Muhammadu Buhari should seize the opportunity of the ongoing EU-AU all summit in Abidjan to table the matter.


Law Pavilion boosts Judges’ feedback system

The administration of justice has received another boost with the introduction of an innovation aimed at assisting the Judiciary to effectively monitor judgments on appeal from the court of first instance, usually High Courts  to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.The innovation was launched by a leading legal technology company, Law Pavilion. Speaking at a media briefing, Managing Director of Law Pavilion, Mr Ope Olugasa, pointed out that while working closely with the Court of Appeal, the Appellate Feedback System for Judges (AFSJ) was conceptualised and developed by the organisation. According to him, the initiative was a response to the obvious need by Judges of courts of first instance to be promptly notified whenever matters they pronounced upon which went on appeal were decided by appellate courts. He stated that the innovation was unveiled at the Biennial Judges’ Conference organised by the National Judicial Institute (NJI), in Abuja. The AFSJ is an unprecedented innovative solution that proposes to celebrate the skill and sagacity of high court judges who adjudicate and pronounce on millions of cases across the federation, to have their decisions upheld all the way to the Supreme Court. The AFSJ is also an attempt to give Judges an impartial feedback on their performance such that they are personally motivated to consider all facts and the law before making pronouncements on matters before them. Speaking further, Olugasa stated that a solution like the AFSJ was the needed incentive to facilitate massive improvement and support for the judiciary, especially from the Executive, as  AFSJ could serve as a testament to the quality of judges on the Bench in a particular state. Olugasa was optimistic that having demonstrated the rich possibilities of the AFSJ, the administrators of the judiciary at both the state and federal levels would be at the forefront of procuring this new innovation.

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ACJA as key to modern criminal justice

By Chino Obiagwu, National Coordinator LEDAP

In the next 12 series, I will discuss the innovations in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, and will demonstrate how, if well implemented,they will reduce delays, modernise criminal justice administration and protect the rights of citizens in conflict with the law.

The first is the provisions to deal with protracted pre-trial detention. In the past under ACJA, remand proceedings were used to buy time in order to allow the Police conclude investigation or receive legal advice from the office of the Attorney-General on whether or not the evidence in the case file raise prima facie case to arraign the suspect. The suspect is charged before the magistrate’s court that, because it has no jurisdiction to try the offence would remand the suspect and remit the case for legal advice. In practice, this process creates bottleneck because if the case file is not moved to the AG’s office on time, it may get lost, and the suspect will be on remand detention indefinitely. This results in unduly protracted and long pre-trial detention. The ACJA has not created time protocols to ensure that criminal proceedings are handled with minimal delays. Under section 264 ACJL Lagos or sections 293 and 294 ACJ Act, where a suspect is arrested for an offence for which the magistrate has no jurisdiction to try, he shall ‘within a reasonable time,’ be brought before a magistrate’s court for remand using the ‘Request for Remand Form’ prescribed in the Appendix. A remand order may be made by the magistrate detaining the person in prison custody pending the time the prosecution files the proper charge or information at the court with jurisdiction to try him. Such remand order will be made if the information supporting the request for remand disclosed ‘probable cause’ to suggest that an offence might have been committed. In other words, the ACJA has given the magistrate the power to examine the ground for remand request, thus giving him jurisdiction over remand proceedings of such offence even if he does not have the jurisdiction to try the offence. The remand order must be made returnable within specified period of time, and if the person is not arraigned before the appropriate court within the set time limit, the magistrate is under obligation to grant bail to the person or discharge him unconditionally, after serving hearing notices on the Police and Attorney-General. The time frames for this remand protocol differ from one ACJ to another. Under ACJA, it is a total period of 28 days and under ACJL Lagos, a total of 90 days. The innovative implication of this provision is to separate the interlocutory remand proceeding from the proceeding for the substantive trial of the charge.

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