Month: May 2019

IT IS NOW AN OFFENCE TO FORCE WIFE/HUSBAND TO STOP WORKING.

It is a criminal offence for any person to cause forced financial dependence or economic abuse of another person. Hence, it is a crime for husband/wife to force the order to stop work or financially dependence on another or any form of economic abuse including denial of inheritance, deprivation of financial resources and household necessities.

The offence is punishable with imprisonment for not more than 2 years and or fine of not more than #500,000.00.

Also note that, it is an offence to merely attempt to commit this offence or to incite or aid another in the commission of the offence. It is punishable with imprisonment for not more than 1 year and or fine of not more than #200, 000.00, respectively.

Kindly note that the law creating the above offences is operational in Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Similar laws are now operational in Anambra State, Ebonyi State and Oyo State. Soon, more States will enact similar laws.

My authorities are sections 12, 47 and 48 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 and similar laws across states in Nigeria.

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Feel free to reach the author, ask questions or make inquiries on this topic or any other via info@LearnNigerianLaws.com or onyekachi.umah@gmail.com or +2348037665878.

Legal Implication Of Armed Conflicts In Nigeria

Armed conflict is the intentional use of illegitimate force (actual or threatened) with arms or explosives, against a person, group, community or state, which undermines people- centred security and/or sustainable development.

International Committee of the Red Cross defines armed conflict as protracted armed confrontations occurring between governmental armed forces and the forces of one or more armed groups, or between such groups arising on the territory of a State (party to the Geneva Conventions). The armed confrontation must reach a minimum level of intensity and the parties involved in the conflict must show a minimum of organisation and have the capacity to sustain military operations.

There are three types of conflicts that are recognized by International Humanitarian Law: International Armed Conflict, Internationalized Armed Conflict, and Non-International Armed Conflict.

International humanitarian law does make it clear what an international armed conflict is. According to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, common article 2 states that “all cases of declared war or of any armed conflict that may arise between two or more high contracting parties, even if the state of war is not recognized, the convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a high contracting party even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance ” (Geneva Convention, 1949, common art . 2 ).

The basic requirement for an IAC is that there must be an armed conflict between two or more states. Common Article Two of the Geneva Conventions sets out the commonly accepted definition of an IAC:

In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peace-time, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognised by one of them. The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.”

The second armed conflict recognized by international humanitarian law is a new phenomenon known as ‘ an Internationalized Armed Conflict’. The situation of an internationalized armed conflict can occur when a war occurs between two different factions fighting internally but supported by two different states. The most visible example of an internationalized armed conflict was the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998 when the forces from Rwanda, Angola , Zimbabwe and Uganda intervened to support various groups in the DRC

The meaning and nature of non-international armed conflicts receives its definition in article 3, where it is defined as one that occurs within the confines of a state or nation and does not go beyond the boundaries of the state. Non-international armed conflicts are those restricted to the territory of a single state, involving either regular armed forces fighting groups of armed dissidents or armed groups fighting each other.

Hence, there are two keys elements needed for a NIAC: protracted armed violence, and the involvement of an organised armed group. The case of Haradinaj set out some possible factual indicators to help in the assessment of the existence of a NIAC.

The following are indicative of the level of protraction and intensity of violence needed for a NIAC:

The number, duration and intensity of individual confrontations; the type of weapons and other military equipment used; the number and calibre of munitions fired; the number of persons and type of forces partaking in the fighting; the number of casualties; the extent of material destruction; the number of civilians fleeing combat zones; the involvement of the UN Security Council may also be a reflection of the intensity of a conflict.

The following factors would be indicative of the level of organization of an armed group:

The existence of a command structure and disciplinary rules and mechanisms; the existence of a headquarters; the ability to gain access to weapons, other military equipment and training; the ability to plan, coordinate and carry out military operations; the ability to define a unified military strategy and use military tactics; the ability to speak with one voice and negotiate and conclude agreements such as cease-fires or peace accords.

However, whatever definition is accorded to armed conflict, one thing is certain and that is the flagrant violation of fundamental rights as provided in most written constitutions of various sovereign states. The activities of this armed conflict shall be considered against the background of the 1999 constitution of federal republic of Nigeria bringing to fore specific fundamental rights that has been notoriously abused and infringed.

Chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria provides for fundamental rights. These rights are fundamental in that they are protected and provided for in the constitution. Section 46(1) provides that “any person who alleges that any of the provision of this chapter has been is been or likely to be contravened in any state in relation to him may apply to the high court in that state for redress”.

Section 33(1) provides for the right to life, thus “every person has the right to life and no person shall be deprived intentionally of his life save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria”.

This right to life has received judicial blessing in plethora of cases particularly in the case of Emmanuel Eze v State (2018) LPELR-SC 487/2015, p.23, paras.A-E where the court per AUGIE JSC stated that the only exception of denying one his right to life is in execution of the sentence of a court.

This right to life is one right that has been flagrantly abused by armed conflict activities. The activities or effect of this armed conflict have resulted in the displacement of more than half a million people and the death of uncountable innocent civilians including children and suckling. Those engaged in this armed conflict activities has constantly carried out extra-judicial killing without the consent of the court and this amount to the infringement of people’s right.

The importance of right to life is constantly repeated and reaffirmed in many UN resolutions and the fourth Geneva Convention. The right is mentioned in the context of indiscriminate attacks affecting civilians, vulnerable groups (women, children, IDPs), as well as human rights defenders and humanitarian workers by emphasizing the fundamental value of the right to life and calling relevant parties to abide by their obligations in this respect. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights. Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. It is on records that the Boko Haram fighters do not appreciate this provision (that is if they know the provision at all).

Section 34(1) provides for right to dignity of human person thus “every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and accordingly”-

  1. No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment;
  2. No person shall be held in slavery or servitude

This is another right that has been abused by the activities of armed conflict. Innocent individuals have been subjected to all forms of torture, maiming and eventually death. The abduction of persons are on the high in areas affected by armed conflict. Most times this abducted persons are made slaves to this armed groups with the option of ransom or death. Often times these people post viral videos of how they maim unlucky fellows, bury them alive or stone them to death and all these are gruesome and sickening.

Section 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 –

(a) in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty;

(b) by reason of his failure to comply with the order of a court or in order to secure the fulfillment of any obligation imposed upon him by law;

(c) for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of the order of a court or upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence, or to such extent as may be reasonably necessary to prevent his committing a criminal offence;

(d) in the case of a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years for the purpose of his education or welfare;

(e) in the case of persons suffering from infectious or contagious disease, persons of unsound mind, persons addicted to drugs or alcohol or vagrants, for the purpose of their care or treatment or the protection of the community; or

(f) for the purpose of preventing the unlawful entry of any person into Nigeria or of effecting the expulsion, extradition or other lawful removal from Nigeria of any person or the taking of proceedings relating thereto:

Provided that a person who is charged with an offence and who has been detained in lawful custody awaiting trial shall not continue to be kept in such detention for a period longer than the maximum period of imprisonment prescribed for the offence.

In the case of DUKUBO ASARI V FRN (2007) ALL FWLR (PT.375) 558 @ 586-587 – The Court held that the above provisions of section 35 (1) of the constitution leave no one in doubt that the section is not absolute. The only legal ground the right of liberty can be denied or restricted is only the exceptions provided for in paragraph (a-f) and the activities of armed conflicts which denies people their right of liberty has no legal backbone.

Section 37 of 1999 Constitution provides for the  privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected. This is a fundamental right which cannot be waived. However, section 45(1) of the constitution provides that nothing shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health or for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.- OKAFOR & ORS V NTOKA & ORS (2017) LPELR-CA/E/380/2012. This right of privacy is always violated, the situation of Nigerian during the Nigerian Civil War is a barefaced instance. However, argument abounds as to whether the Nigerian Civil War is an example of NIAC.  People tend to sleep with one eyes open because at anytime, houses can just be entered without permission.

Furthermore, it is worthy of note that section 38 and 39 of the constitution constitutes the bedrock of the sects’ agitation and acts of insurgency. This section 38(1) provides “every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance”.

It is evident that members of this sect tend to forcefully impose the Islamic religion upon individuals and the state generally. It is vital to note that religious intolerance has unfortunately been a recurring decimal ushering in various states of Nigeria crisis, innumerable loss of property.

Section 39(1) “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”. The Islamic sect alleges that western education is sinful and as such directs all its effort at its extinction. However, this instance does not by any chance intend to mean that the Boko Haram Sect is an example of NIAC. This religious attempt infringes upon the rights of affected individuals.

Section 41 of 1999 Constitution of Nigeria- (1) Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom. However the activities of this armed conflict has deprived and restricted persons from enjoying this right either in international or non-international armed conflicts. These activities of armed conflict have forcefully expelled citizens of Nigeria to other neigbouring countries because of insecurity and failure of government to protect these rights.

ENFORCEMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF ARMED CONFLICTS VICTIMS

ORDER II RULE 1 Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009 (FREP) — Any person who alleges that any of the Fundamental Rights provided for in the Constitution or African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act and to which he is entitled, has been, is being, or is likely to be infringed, may apply to the Court in the State where the infringement occurs or is likely to occur, for redress:

Provided that where the infringement occurs in a State which has no Division of the Federal High Court, the Division of the Federal High Court administratively responsible for the State shall have jurisdiction.

PREAMBLE3 (e) FREP— In human rights litigation, the applicant may include any of the following:

(i) Anyone acting in his own interest;

(ii) Anyone acting on behalf of another person;

(iii)Anyone acting as a member of, or in the interest of a group or class of persons;

(iv) Anyone acting in the public interest, and

(v) Association acting in the interest of its members or other individuals or groups

So, victims of Armed Conflicts whose rights has been infringed or about to be infringed upon can maintain an action against the leaders of the Identified Armed group involved in the conflict, the Federal Government of Nigeria can still maintain an action on behalf of its citizens and in my opinion I think action can be maintained against the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Angry mob destroy police post, smash vehicles in Abuja

There was confusion in the Zuba area of the Federal Capital Territory on Thursday after an angry mob set a police post and four patrol vehicles ablaze over alleged police brutality.

The mob, consisting mainly of motorcyclists and hoodlums numbering over 200, burnt tyres on the Madalla-Zuba end of the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway.

The rampaging mob also threw stones and pebbles at police personnel in sight.

Their action disrupted human and vehicular movement on the expressway from around 8am to 10am when police reinforcements arrived and brought the situation under control.

Our correspondent learnt that trouble started around 8am when a motorcyclist identified as Salisu Hamidu was knocked down by policemen on a stop and search duty.

An eyewitness said the motorcyclist sustained injuries on the head.

Other eyewitnesses, who corroborated this account, alleged that the policemen involved tried to seize the victim’s motorcycle in order to extort money and the development led to a protest by other motorcyclists, who witnessed the accident.

One of the protesters, simply identified as Hassan, said, “The policemen have been disturbing the peace of okada riders on this road for long. They also collect money from us and the taxi drivers.

“We are (like) their Automated Teller Machines. This cannot continue. They may kill some of us but this will not continue.”

The FCT Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, confirmed the incident, adding that the command would carry out “discreet investigation that will lead to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the act.”

He added, “The FCT Police Command sternly condemns the unfortunate activities of some hoodlums in the early hours of Thursday that resulted in the obstruction of vehicular movement, vandalism and burning down of observation posts belonging to the police and the Federal Road Safety Corps at Zuba.

“The miscreants attacked police personnel on their legitimate duties and set observation posts belonging to the police and the FRSC on fire as a result of which four vehicles parked within the premises were also burnt.

“The Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, in company with some senior police officers, visited the scene to assess the situation and ensure normalcy was restored to the area.

“He has ordered a discreet investigation that will lead to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the heinous act in order to serve as a deterrent to others.

“The road has since been opened for vehicular movement and members of the public are enjoined to go about their legitimate activities as calm has been restored to the vicinity.”

Source: Punchng.com

Family of slain LUTH doctor decries police silence on investigation

Family of Stephen Urueye, a resident doctor at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba stabbed to death by hoodlums, has cried out over the alleged silence by the police on the case.

The family lamented that about seven weeks after the 25-year-old doctor was cruelly killed, the police had not called to update them on investigation into the murder.

It was reported that Urueye, who was supposed to finish his housemanship at LUTH in December 2019, was attacked on Thursday, April 4, around 9pm while he was seeing off a female friend along the Canal area – a route near the College of Medicine campus said to be notorious for robbery attacks.

The assailants reportedly stabbed him in the thigh while trying to dispossess him of his phone and ATM card.

He died at the hospital in the early hours of Friday.

The police in a statement had said two suspects, Gbadebo Jimoh and Malik Adeboye, were arrested in connection with the murder.

However, an elder sister of the deceased, Mrs Amina Wahab, in an interview with City Round on Thursday, said that was the last they heard about the case.

She said the police had kept the family in the dark about the investigation, adding that justice appeared to be elusive.

Wahab stated, “We have not heard anything from the police. They have not contacted the family at all. We don’t know what happened to the suspects they arrested. We don’t know whether they have been released or not.

“It is almost two months now, no information from the police; no justice. At least, we deserve to know what is happening. The bandits stabbed him near his private parts which aroused suspicions. A robber will probably stab somebody in the chest or hand to injure him.

“The most annoying part of it is that my mother called a policeman, one Officer Nurudeen, at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department over the case on Wednesday and he was insulting her. Maybe they have concluded that we are weak and cannot do anything.”

Wahab stated further that attempts by the family to get first-hand information on the attack from the female friend Urueye was seeing off that evening had proved abortive.

She said, “One of Stephen’s (Urueye) friends gave us the phone number of the girl whom he was seeing when the attack happened. Her real name, according to Stephen’s friends, is Deborah and not the name the police gave out. Whenever we call her and introduce ourselves as Stephen’s relations, she would just end the call. All attempts to trace the girl have been abortive. Why is she running away if she has nothing to hide?

“She is not his girlfriend and we don’t know her. We all know his girlfriend. She (Deborah) is the only eyewitness to the incident yet she has not deemed it fit to contact the family to give us information about what actually happened. Somebody lost his life because he took the risk to see you off in a dangerous area; courtesy demands that you show up to tell the family exactly what happened.”

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Bala Elkana, said the command had been relating with LUTH authorities on the case.

He said, “We have been engaging the hospital authorities in our investigation and the chief security officer of the hospital has been coming for updates.”

But Wahab said the family had not received any information from LUTH as regards police investigation.

The spokesperson for LUTH, Kelechi Otuneme, promised to reach out to the CSO to confirm the police claim.

Source: Punchng.com

Court sentences Beninese to death for killing employer’s mother

Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere, on Monday, sentenced a Beninese domestic help, Christian Yavine, to death for killing his employer’s 78-year-old mother, Mariam Abiola.

The judge found 23-year-old Yavine guilty of severing Abiola’s head with a knife while she slept in her daughter’s residence in the Ipaja area of Lagos on July 1, 2014.

It was gathered that the convict’s employer, Ajoke Abiola, had gone to a vigil in a church when the incident happened.

Delivering her judgment on Monday, Justice Ipaye, who noted that there was ample corroborative evidence to disprove Yavine’s claim, dismissed his defence that he was 14 years old at the time of the offence.

The judge noted that the evidence showed that Yavine was seeking admission into a university and would have registered to sit an entrance examination, but was unable to because of  financial challenges at the time of the incident, adding that it was unlikely that the defendant was seeking university admission at the age of 14.

She stated further that the birth certificate obtained by the Lagos State Government from Yavine’s alleged birth hospital in the Benin Republic showed that he was born in 1996.

The judge said, “Yavine had lived with the deceased for two weeks before the incident, during which he also went to the market with her. I wonder what language he spoke to her if he truly did not understand English.

“The deceased was caught by the doctrine of last seen and Yavine was the only one with Abiola while she was alive on the night of June 30 and in the early hours of July 1, 2014, when she was found dead. He was thus the last person to see her alive and the first person to see her dead.

“The doctrine of last seen requires that a person charged with murder, who was the last person seen with the deceased, should offer some explanation as to how the deceased met his/her death, which the defendant was not able to do.”

Pronouncing judgement, Justice Ipaye held that the prosecution had proved the case of murder against Yavine beyond reasonable doubt and consequently sentenced him to death by hanging.

She said, “The defendant is hereby found guilty and convicted of the murder of madam Mariam Abiola.

“You, Christian Yavine, is hereby sentenced to death by hanging. May God, the giver of life, have mercy on you.”

Source: Punchng.com

Call for Papers and Panels: The 2019 ASAA Conference

The theme of ASAA’s 3rd Biennial Conference 2019 is African and Africana Knowledges: Past Representations, Current Discourses, Future Communities. The conference will be held for the first time in East Africa at the United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, from October 24-26, 2019.

The aim of this year’s conference is to invite and initiate a scholarly stocktaking of the knowledge produced by Africans in Africa and the Diaspora in various forms—from scholarly work to artistic expressions—and to examine representations and current African realities and emerging futures with African knowledges. In other words, by stocktaking accomplishments and challenges facing African peoples globally, we hope to address the ideological basis of the current disproportions in the distribution of worth, power and wellbeing affecting Africans and diasporic Africans.
 

Although Africa has contributed more human and material resources to global welfare, it is ironic that it continues to be regarded as the poorest continent intellectually and materially. Besides, the ‘African condition’ today is a result of those past representations and the production of a knowledge that still represents Africa in popular media and scholarship as hopeless, poor, dark and devoid of knowledge. Obviously, the multifaceted crises facing contemporary African societies are rooted in and stem from old structures of knowledge production. As a result, a disconnect has ensued between academic knowledge, often produced from an outsider’s vantage point, and African lived realities.

As academic debates intensify about the possibility of producing theoretical knowledge with bearings on transformational praxes in Africa, it is an important time to rediscover and benefit from the Afrocentric canon and kinship between African and Africana Studies. These two different perspectives on African ontologies have been pitted against each other—separated by historical, political, geographical, and economic trajectories as if they were competing disciplines, and yet they complement each other. It is ASAA’s hope that this politically-motivated dichotomy introduced between African and Africana studies can be overcome.

To this end, and against existing hegemonic discourses, this conference invites scholars, artists and activists to look at old representations, Afrocentric counternarratives, and the futures that Africans and Africans in the Diaspora imagine and want for themselves. With a view to contributing toward the canonization of new perspectives emerging from both African and Africana scholarship, we invite interdisciplinary scholarship using empirical, theoretical and methodological approaches, including those highlighting African emancipatory traditions. It is an opportune time to critically challenge both dominant discourses on Africa and the inherited structures of knowledge production that still constrain our African imaginations.

The ASAA executive committee and the local organising committee welcome the submission of paper and panel proposals addressing the theme: African and Africana Knowledges: Past Representations, Current Discourses, Future Communities under the following subthemes. The list is not exhaustive and the conference co-chairs welcome other proposals.

Subthemes

  1. The politics of knowledge production on Africa
  2. Reuniting Africana and African knowledges
  3. Celebrating and canonizing African and African Diaspora Thinkers
  4. Decolonizing pedagogy in education in Africa and diasporas
  5. Higher education in Africa
  6. Emerging digital counternarratives on Africa
  7. African agency and perspectives in international relations
  8. The politics of museums and African artifacts restitution
  9. Pan-African consciousness and identity production
  10. Belonging: Space, race, and culture
  11. Africa’s historiographies and Africa’s intellectual histories
  12. African philosophy and theology
  13. Sex, queer and African sexualities
  14. African and black masculinities and feminisms
  15. African anthropocenae
  16. Invention and science in Africa
  17. Security, conflicts and African resolution perspectives
  18. Development and development politics in Africa
  19. Ethnomusicology and African music performance
  20. Afrocentric perspectives and indigenous knowledge systems in the disciplines
  21. African languages and emerging languages
  22. African cinema and film
  23. African democracies
  24. African literatures

The conference will present distinguished African/a and Africanist keynote speakers, award-winning films, inspirational performances and the opportunity to join pre-conference workshops.

Deadlines

May 30, 2019 (Individual Submissions)

June 15, 2019 (Panel Submissions)

See Call for Papers in Portuguese | Call for Papers in French 

Judge Declines Defense Request to Change June Hearings Dates of Ongwen Trial

By Tom Maliti on May 24, 2019 09:56 am

The Single Judge of Trial Chamber IX has declined a request made by the defense of Dominic Ongwen to change the schedule of hearings in June in order to accommodate Ongwen’s mental health needs.

Judge Bertram Schmitt said in a May 15 decision that Trial Chamber IX made changes to the June schedule of hearings keeping in mind Ongwen’s mental health needs. He said there were several breaks in between hearings in June that would allow Ongwen time to rest.

“The decision of the Chamber to schedule five additional hearing days in June was based on the necessity to compensate for six hearing days which had to be cancelled in May due to unforeseen and urgent personal circumstances within the Chamber, this also with a view to ensuring that the trial proceedings advance expeditiously,” said Judge Schmitt.

Previously, hearings were scheduled for May 2-3, May 6-7, May 9-10 and then May 20. The chamber cancelled the hearings between May 2 and May 10. Trial Chamber IX then rescheduled those hearings to June 13-14, June 17-18 and June 20. The cancellation and rescheduling of the hearings were done via email from Trial Chamber IX, according to Judge Schmitt’s May 15 decision.

Since that decision it is apparent the schedule of Ongwen’s trial has changed again. This week there was only one hearing scheduled, that is on Monday, May 20. However, hearings were also held on Tuesday and Thursday. Further hearings are scheduled next week Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. It is likely these changes were communicated to the different lawyers via email from Trial Chamber IX.

Ongwen has been on trial since December 2016. He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity he allegedly committed in northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005. Ongwen has pleaded not guilty to all counts. The prosecution and victims have presented their cases, and the trial is currently in the defense phase.

In a May 7 submission, Krispus Ayena Odongo, Ongwen’s lead lawyer, asked the chamber to reconsider the change in the June schedule, arguing it would cause Ongwen to “suffer undue stress and adverse mental health effects.” He also said the changed schedule would not give Ongwen enough time to instruct his lawyers.

Judge Schmitt said the defense request did not give “any concrete information” about how the new schedule would affect Ongwen negatively.

“More importantly, the Request disregards in this respect that while hearings are indeed scheduled for every week in June, only one of these weeks will encompass four hearing days and that the Chamber will never sit more than two days in a row,” he said.

Judge Schmitt noted that there would be only one hearing in May, and therefore Ongwen would have enough time to consult his lawyers ahead of the June hearings.

The prosecution and lawyers for victims in the trial all opposed the defense request. Joseph Akwenyu Manoba and Francisco Cox, who represent one group of victims, said the request was “speculative.” They also said victims were “greatly concerned” at the slow pace the trial had taken since the defense began presenting their case in September last year.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a May 14 submission the defense asserted that the five days added for hearings in June would be detrimental to Ongwen’s health and “could trigger the incidents like the one

[that]

occurred on 7 January 2019.” She said this argument was “unsupported by any evidence.”

“There is no link between the hearings and the Incident. There was not a single hearing scheduled between 30 November 2018 and 7 January 2019,” said Bensouda. She did not given any details about the incident, and the defense May 7 request had sections redacted in the public version posted on the ICC website.

Community Members Commemorate the Lukodi Massacre Anniversary; Express Hope for Justice and Reparations

By Lino Owor Ogora on May 24, 2019 10:29 am

2016.

Lukodi, like other case locations, conducts annual memorial prayers in commemoration of the victims who lost their lives during the massacre. Present at this year’s memorial prayers were community members, representatives of civil society organizations, and local leaders.

When asked to state if the prayers were beneficial to them in the context of Ongwen’s ongoing trial at the ICC, many community members noted that it was an opportunity for reflection.

“Survivors and the community use this time to meditate and compare the past and relate it to the present. The general interest overall is to find justice in the end. That is why they come here every year. The prayer is supplementing Ongwen’s trial,” said Lalobo, a community member.

“For me it is a time to pray for the departed souls, but we also use this time to petition God to help us get Ongwen convicted and imprisoned for the suffering he laid upon us,” said Ojok.

For another community member called Florence, the prayers were also an opportunity for victims to consider forgiving Ongwen.

“The coming together of several people for the annual prayers brings us some form of consolation and a sense of relief. It makes us think of forgiving Ongwen,” she said.

Another community member called Ochora reiterated the need for forgiveness.

“The prayer gives me the strength to stand firm. I think we should just forgive Ongwen on our side but also leave the court to do its work,” said Ochora.

 “The prayers remind me a lot about what Ongwen did to us in the past. The image of what took place is brought too close to me. I hope we get justice,” said Rubangakene.

 “I think we should utilize the annual prayers to pray for the souls of our children to have eternal rest. The issues of the trial will not help us soon,” said Ayaa.

“I find the prayers heart quenching. It helps me to be strong as I wait for the court verdict,” said Opiro.

For other community members, like Margaret quoted below, the prayers were a reminder of how long Ongwen’s trial is taking to conclude.

“I have to admit that my heart breaks during the prayer. The trial is taking too long, yet our people are growing older each day, and it is possible that by the time a verdict is reached, they will be dead,” she said.

The community members also underscored the importance of the memorial prayers in keeping their hopes alive for a positive outcome in Ongwen’s trial.

“The prayers give us hope because the preaching of religious and others leaders during the commemoration act as a constant reminder that the massacre which took place should never repeat itself. We hope to attain justice from Ongwen’s trial,” said Lalobo.

“The prayer brings us hope for reparations if Ongwen is convicted. The day also brings together our leaders to whom we send our petitions after the mass,” said Ojok.

“The prayers give us hope for reparations because the message is often repeated during the commemoration,” said Florence. “Who knows? Maybe one day we shall get reparations.”

“The prayers keep our hopes for justice alive,” said Rubangakene. “It reminds people that the massacre did indeed happen. Even those who were not present at the time get to know. In that way the government will always be reminded that they owe us for not protecting us from the LRA and the whole world will know what took place in 2004.”

“The annual commemoration is evidence for the ICC that truly there was a massacre in Lukodi,” said Ochora. “Hence the court needs to ensure that there is justice for the victims.”

“The prayers help to erode the negative feelings in us, and in a few years we shall be coming here to pray only, and not to mourn and be sad,” said Ayaa. The prayers are evidence that there was a massacre here and the victims need justice.”

“The hope I get is that our departed friends and relatives are at rest. In addition, it strengthens me in light of the orphans I am looking after that at least their parents are being remembered and prayed for annually as we wait for the court verdict,” said Opiro.

“The prayer gives us hope of a better life someday. We pray that Ongwen is convicted so that we get reparations for the losses we encountered,” said Margaret.

As Ongwen’s trial progresses at the ICC, the above comments reiterate the high expectations that community members have for justice. It remains to be seen whether those expectations will be met.

Lino Owor Ogora is a peace-building practitioner who has worked with victims of conflict in northern Uganda and South Sudan since 2006. He is also the Co-Founder of the Foundation for Justice and Development Initiatives (FJDI), a local Non-Government Organization based in Gulu District that works with children, youth, women and communities to promote justice, development and economic recovery in northern Uganda

On Sunday, May 19, over 1,000 community members in Lukodi village converged at Lukodi Primary School to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the Lukodi Massacre that occurred in 2004. The massacre resulted in the death of several civilians and the displacement of thousands more into Coorom internally displaced persons (IDP) camp. In this article, community members offer insights on the significance of the memorial prayers as they relate to Dominic Ongwen’s trial, which is currently ongoing at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ongwen is a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) whom prosecutors charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the former IDP camps of Lukodi, Pajule, Odek, and Abok in northern Uganda. Among the 70 counts are charges of sexual and gender-based violence and the use of child soldiers. His trial has been ongoing since December 2016