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Ecowas Court Awards N18 Million Against Nigeria in Rights Suit

The Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has imposed a N18 million fine against the Federal Government in judgment of a case of violation of the fundamental human rights of one Dorothy Njemanze and two other Nigerians.

The judgment, read by Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke of the three-man panel, after over 25 minutes, rendered the award of sums of N6 million each to the parties: Justina Etim, Amarachi Jessyford and popular actress, Dorothy Njamenze to be paid by the Federal Government for the unlawfully arresting, detaining and declaring them as prostitutes in Abuja.

Justice Nwoke ordered the Nigerian government to pay the money as compensation for humiliation and inhuman treatment they suffered during their arbitrary arrest and proclamation as women of cheap virtue.

The judge held that the Nigerian government was liable for the arbitrary arrest and detention of the plaintiffs carried out by the military, police and officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board who claimed to be acting on the directive of the Federal Government.

He further held that the government’s labeling of the three ladies was a gross violation of their rights to dignity, as there was no shred of evidence from the defendants to back it.The court agreed with counsel to the plaintiffs, Bolaji Gabari that there was no law in the Nigerian statute book prohibiting women from being outside in the late hours.


Nigeria seeks re-election into UN Human Rights Council

Nigeria has launched a bid for re-election into the UN Human Rights Council, UNHRC, in Geneva for the 2018 to 2020 term at an election scheduled for Monday at the UN Headquarters, New York.


Audu Kadiri, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN Office and Other International Organisations in Geneva, stated this in New York at a reception/party to launch Nigeria’s re-election bid.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that UNHRC is a UN system inter-governmental body responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the world.

If re-elected, Nigeria, currently serving out its 2015 to 2017 term, would be among the four countries representing West Africa and the 13 countries representing Africa in the 47-seat Council.

Mr. Kadiri said: “You are already aware that the Federal Government of Nigeria has presented its bid for re-election into the UN Human Rights Council for the 2018 to 2020 term”.

Presenting Nigeria’s manifesto to a group of envoys, Mr. Kadiri said “we solicit your firm support” adding, Nigeria’s re-election bid for membership of UNHRC is informed by many considerations.

The Nigerian envoy said, “We are motivated by the conviction that in representing Africa while serving the global community in the Council, Nigeria would advance the work of the Council.

“The country will therefore retain the opportunity to continue to share best practices with other members of the Human Rights Council in the important task of the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Nigeria, Africa and the world”.

He noted the increasingly turbulent and conflict-prone world, occasioning imminent and present dangers to upholding the dignity and safety of the human person as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“These worrisome developments, notwithstanding, Nigeria remains undaunted in striving to make its contributions to the preservation of the ideals, aspirations and core principles upon which the Council was founded.

“Permit me to note that barely two weeks ago, we colourfully celebrated Nigeria’s National Day, here in New York.

“It is important to observe in this regard that since it’s attainment of independence in 1960, the promotion and protection of human rights have provided the fulcrum for Nigeria’s foreign policy.”

On the home front, Mr. Kadiri said Nigeria had put in place various institutions and policy measures to enhance the flowering and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country, as provided for in its Constitution.

He pledged Nigeria’s commitment to the international human rights agenda, noting that the country had illustriously served the global community on UNHRC for three terms – 2006-2009, 2009-2012 and currently, 2015-2017.

The Nigerian envoy said, “Throughout these terms, Nigeria endeavoured to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Council by approaching and dealing with human rights issues objectively.

He recalled Nigeria’s fulfilment of its pledges and commitments upon admission to the Human Rights Council in 2006.

“Nigeria is on record to have issued a standing invitation to all, I repeat, all Special Procedures Mandate Holders to visit the country.

“We have therefore continued to subject our country to the scrutiny of these independent human rights experts and representatives of treaty bodies, many of whom have commended Nigeria’s cooperation.”

According to him, in doing so, Nigeria demonstrates its readiness to be held to a higher standard of human rights observation as a serving member of the Council.

“We do not take lightly, the fact that, as a member of this hallowed body, we are required to comply fully with our human rights and international humanitarian legal obligations.

“I wish to recall in this regard that only recently, the Nigerian Government set up a Judicial Commission to review compliance of the Nigerian Armed Forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement.

“This is especially in local conflicts and the fight against terrorism in the country. The panel is also empowered to investigate alleged acts of violations of humanitarian and human rights laws.

“This action, along with the fact that Nigeria had established human rights desk in its Defence Headquarters, demonstrate the extent to which the country takes seriously, its international human rights obligations.

“We wonder how many countries have taken this path,” the Nigeria Permanent Representative said.

Mr. Kadiri pledged that Nigeria would remain concerned with other evolving human rights-related issues, including the impact of climate change, violent extremism and intolerance, global inequality, illicit financial flows, inclusive growth and sustainable development.

“We will continue to champion the cause of democracy in Africa and the cause of peoples of African descent. In light of the foregoing reasons, it is essential for Nigeria to retain its seat in the Human Rights Council.

“If re-elected, through your invaluable support, Nigeria intends to continue its positive contributions to making the Council more effective and efficient in delivering its mandate on the global human rights agenda.

“With a view to enabling the Human Rights Council to realise its core objectives in our increasingly polarised world, Nigeria has stood out as a voice for moderation.

“This voice has brought the much-needed balance and credibility to the work of the Human Rights Council. With your support on Monday, we intend to continue doing this and more,” Mr. Kadiri said.

Freed from hangman’s noose after 13 years, two ex-prisoners start afresh

As a teenager, his dream was to play professional football. Williams Owodo, then 16, knew he had the skills and therefore needed to maintain his training routine daily to acutalise his passion. Little did he know that fate had a different plan for him.

On February 1, 1995, in one of his usual evening trainings in Ajegunle area of Lagos, a fight broke out around the neighbourhood where the football field he trains is located. And someone died in the fracas and the Police apprehended him on his way home from football training.

That was the beginning of his travails that culminated in a death sentence. He waited 18 years of harrowing experience for the hangman before he was freed through the providential intervention of the Legal Defence Assistance Project (LEDAP).
Accused of murder, Owodo was tortured, tried, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. But LEDAP launched an appeal against his conviction, which exonerated the condemned ‘criminal’ and validated his innocence.

He reminisced: “I spent nine years in Ikoyi Prison and was later transferred to Kirikiri Maximum-Security Prison, where I spent another nine years. In total, I spent 18 years in prison for an offence I didn’t commit.

“Before the incident happened, my daily routine was to play football every evening in the field with my friends. While playing, a fight occurred and someone got killed. The Police arrested me and asked me to come and make statement at their station.

“I got there and made a statement, but the Police tore it and forced me to sign an already written confessional statement that I conspired to murder the man. “When the torture became unbearable, without even reading the content of the statement, I signed it.”

It was on account of that statement that the Judge convicted him. Following the nullification of his conviction, Owodo was finally discharged from prison on November 13, 2013 after wasting 18 years of his youthful and productive life in wrongful incarceration.

Owodo is not alone. Ganiyu Wahab, 53, then a businessman, was 40 when he had similar experience. He told The Guardian that he spent 13 years in condemned prisoners cell for an offence of murder he did not commit.

He said: “I sell drinks, like beer and others, in cartons. Every year, I organised a party as a carnival for the people that patronised my business in that area. I had done that for about five or six years before then.

“In that particular year, a musician came to perform. Area boys and girls, as well as my customers also came to enjoy themselves, because it held every December.

“There was this girl in my area that had an issue with her boyfriends. Suddenly, two guys began to fight over her and I was inside my shop when someone informed me that people were fighting outside.

“Before I got outside, one of the girl’s boyfriends had stabbed the another one with a small knife. I wasn’t even at the scene. “When the injured guy was shouting for help, I decided to take him to the hospital for treatment. I just helped him. I don’t know him because he was not from my neighbourhood.

“After I took him to the hospital, some hours, they treated him and the next day, the guy died. So, the doctor said I was the one who brought the boy to the hospital and took me to the Police station.”

Wahab said he was offered bail, but because he could not afford the amount of money demanded from him, he was later tortured and made to sign a confessional statement upon which the court convicted and condemned him to death.

He said regarding the day he was condemned to death: “I ran mad! For about two to three months, I wasn’t myself. My children will come to the prison to plead and preach to me, so I could get myself back.

“We didn’t have influential people. Assuming I came from a wealthy family, it would not have been like that. The law of this country deals with poor people.”

The issue of the poor being victims of Nigeria’s death penalty laws formed the fulcrum of the statement issued by the National Coordinator of LEDAP, Mr. Chinonye Obiagwu, as the world marked the World Day Against the use of the Death Penalty, with the theme, ‘Poverty and the death penalty.’

LEDAP used the opportunity to reaffirm its position that the abolition of death penalty in law and practice should be the firm desire of the Nigerian government, describing death penalty as cruel and inhumane treatment, which has no place in modern society.

“The application of death penalty is discriminatory in Nigeria, as it has become a punishment exclusive to the poor in society,” Obiagwu stated, adding that LEDAP was continually in legal battles with the federal and state governments in its quest to ensure that fundamental rights of citizens are safe-guarded and death penalty is abolished.

He stated further: “Currently, LEDAP has at least three actions in court challenging the imposition of death sentences and the proposal of the federal and state governments to execute death row inmates.

“LEDAP urges state governors not to sign any death warrant, as it constitutes state murder. With high number of criminal convictions overturned on appeal, continued execution is risky, as innocent people may be wrongfully killed.

“LEDAP strongly believes that in its practical application, death penalty is discriminatory, as there is hardly any rich or influential person in society who is sentenced to death, because the rich have the resources to settle the Police or afford the best lawyers to ensure they are not convicted.


Presidential panel on rights violations by military concludes sitting in South-east

The Presidential Investigation Panel to review compliance of the Armed Forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement has concluded its sittings in the South-east zone on Tuesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the nine-member panel chaired by a judge, Georgewill Biobele, sat for two days in Enugu during which several alleged cases of military brutality were heard.

NAN further reports that most of the cases were from Rivers and Bayelsa states with some dating back to 2007.

Speaking during the closing ceremony, Mr. Biobele said that the panel would come up with unbiased recommendations that would be presented to the Federal Government.

He said that the commitment of the panel was for the peace and unity of the country.

“It has been an interesting time which ended peacefully in Enugu and we thank the military for their cooperation.

“We appreciate all the people that appeared from Port Harcourt, Yenegoa and Enugu as well as the Nigerian Navy and Air Force.”

He said that the panel would proceed to Kaduna for the North-west zonal sitting and then to Lagos.

Mr. Biobele said that the final sitting of the panel would be in Abuja by the end of October, during which cases which were not heard from any part of the country would be entertained.

NAN further reports that the media was not allowed access to report the main hearing.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government inaugurated the panel to review extant rules of engagement applicable in the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the extent of compliance with them.

Part of the terms of reference of the panel was to also investigate alleged acts of violation of international humanitarian and human rights law under the Constitution of the country, Geneva Convention and other relevant laws.

The panel was also to investigate matters of conduct and discipline in the Armed Forces in local conflicts and insurgencies and recommend measures to prevent the violation of international humanitarian and human rights law in conflict situations.


“Poverty and death penalty are inextricably linked”

Our justice system treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent,” says Bryan Stevenson of NGO Equal Justice Initiative. This is a good summary of some American justice. This observation glazing is unfortunately in or latitudes. Poverty and death penalty are inextricably linked to four corners of globe. In addition to being an inhuman, ineffectual and irreversible punishment, capital punishment is proving to be profoundly unfair and discriminatory. The 15th World Day to combat capital punishment on 10 October will show it amply. READ ALSO: Who practices death penalty in world? Because facts are re, relentless. In United States, 95% of condemned planters in death row come from disadvantaged backgrounds according to Equal Justice Initiative. Their office lawyers often do not have means to pursue genetic or ballistic expertise to dismantle version of accusation … Same striking finding in India. Over re, 74% of condemned to death are “economically vulnerable”, according to a recent study by University of New Delhi. Of se, 20% have never been in school. The Vietnamese Penal Code, in its version of June 2017, provides that persons sentenced to death for corruption but able to make 75% of sum y have earned by ir package, will see ir sentence commuted to life imprisonment In question, again, a largely flawed legal representation. While law provides for access to a lawyer prior to first appearance, 89% of death row convicts claim not to have been entitled to it. Mindful of this bias, Supreme Court of India considered in a judgment of 2013 that poverty should be considered a mitigating circumstance (Sunil D. Gaikwad against state of Maharashtra). In that case, judges commuted a sentence to death in prison for life. Modest victory, however, since supreme punishment is still in force. Anor country, anor context … but such blatant discrimination: in Nigeria, poorest are, again, first targets of capital punishment as shown in an investigation by NGO Legal Defence and Assistance Project. His secretary general, Chino Obiagwu, summed up situation: “The question of guilt is almost secondary in our criminal system.” It is a question of whether you can keep away from legal system by paying police at investigation stage, by paying a lawyer to defend you or by paying to have your name on list of those eligible for a pardon. » Europe comes out of way – with exception of Belarusian ‘ case ‘ In Saudi Arabia, it is migrant workers who are particularly affected by supreme punishment. There is nothing surprising: y are ostracized because of ir foreign nationality, have a bad language skills and often do not have means to pay Diyat – sum to be paid to victim’s family to ask for cancellation of execution. This situation obviously does not concern poorest, generally not guilty of corruption, but clearly illustrates impact of social situation in fact of being or not executed. The Vietnamese Penal Code, in its version of June 2017, applicable from January 2018, provides that persons sentenced to death for corruption but able to make 75% of sum y have earned by ir package, will see ir sentence commuted to imprisonment at Life. Europe has been spared from this macabre tour of world. And for cause, continent has gradually become abolitionist. Remains Belarusian “case”. And in this country again, death penalty and social misery go clearly toger. The death penalty does not aim, at bottom, worst criminal Why are smaller ones discriminated against? First of all because legal aid – which allows m to benefit from a defender paid by community – is often not at height of his mission. Having an office lawyer is one thing, picking up a competent and having means to carry out a real counter investigation, is anor … In addition, re are a number of obstacles, linked to social environment in which disadvantaged people evolve. As economist Esr Duflo very aptly says, ” poor are not rich without money.” Their precariousness is not only financial. We know, for example, that y have difficulty in accessing law professionals. Complicated, refore, to enforce “ir” rights … In United States, 156 condemned to death have been exonerated since 1973. One every three months It is also known that y do not have high-placed relays or expanded address books. However, in countries reaversed by corruption, sentence that we are bailing on can largely depend on support that we have – or not – within regime. Clearly, discrimination is a full play. But first to suffer, stigmatized and marginalized, often do not have means to denounce it. READ ALSO: After a long process, Mongolia abolishes death penalty In addition to being humanly and morally intolerable, legally debatable, politically often exploited by unscrupulous governments, supreme punishment proves to be profoundly discriminatory. It does not aim, at bottom, worst criminal but one who has received worst lawyer or most deprived lawyer. A finding all more glazing that he reveals, in Hollow, anor: With such a flawed defence, one probably condemns to death … wrongly. In United States, 156 condemned to death have been exonerated since 1973. One every three months. How long will this iniquitous sentence last? That’s whole point. The current global trend is clearly abolished: Forty years ago, sixteen countries were abolitionist, y are 141 today. The death penalty is clearly in agony. Hurry his disappearance.

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France hits bid to revive death penalty in PH

MANILA, Philippines – France voiced its concern about the Duterte administration’s proposal to reintroduce the death penalty in the Philippines, as the European country joined the observance of the 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty.

“We want to signal our concern at the continued use of the death penalty, notably in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq, and the United States, and at the resumption of executions in Nigeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Jordan,” the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said in a statement sent to Filipino reporters on Wednesday, October 11.

“France is also concerned about the determination of the Philippine authorities to reintroduce the death penalty, following its abolition in 2006,” the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said.

The French ministry said that aside from the 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty on Tuesday, October 10, it was also marking “the 40th anniversary of the last execution in France.”

“France is opposed to the death penalty everywhere and under all circumstances,” France said.

“It is committed to the universal abolition of this unjust, inhumane and ineffective punishment and calls on all states that still impose the death penalty to establish a moratorium with a view toward its definitive abolition,” France added.


HEALTHNigerian govt bans private practice for medical doctors


Nigerian Government has banned medical doctors working in public hospitals from private practice.

The decision was taken at the Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Government added that henceforth the doctrine of no work no pay which was contained in the nation’s law would be invoked for workers embarking on strike.

In a joint media briefing after the FEC, the Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, noted that most of the unions that recently embarked on strike contravened the labour laws especially the Trade Dispute Act.

The ministers further disclosed that a committee had been set up for comprehensive evaluation of job done by workers, especially in the public sector.


Local Government Officials Allegedly Kill 38-year-old Widow | Photo

A petty trader, Mrs. Toyin Adelanke, has reportedly died when tax officials from Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State wanted to collect tax from her, NewTelegraph has reported.
Speaking about her death, the victim’s 89-year-old mother, Mrs. Abike Ijiyemi, told journalists yesterday that Toyin planned to give her food the day she died in the hands of the tax collectors.
Toyin (38) reportedly died while the tax officials were trying to seize her television for failure to pay tax. It was learnt that Toyin fell down while dragging her television with the government officials which they wanted to seize because she did not pay the money demanded from her. The local government officials were said to have taken the television to their vehicle and left without attending to the woman.
It was also learnt that the woman died later and her remains were deposited at the morgue of the State Specialist Hospital, Akure.
However, Toyin’s distraught mother told journalists at Idanre in Idanre Local Government that: “In the morning of the day she was killed, she called me and said that she had bought some foodstuffs for me. She promised to bring them to me at Idanre the second day. Instead of coming to fulfil her promise, it was the announcement of her death they brought to me.
“My daughter was a widow. Her husband died four years ago. She has been singlehandedly taking care of their only child since then. She was the one who sponsored the education of their 24-year-old son up to the Gateway Polytechnic in Ogun State. She was the person taking care of me and paying my debts. Also, Toyin’s sister, Mrs. Mojisola Otitilowo, said the deceased was in her shop at Bolajoko Street, Oke-Aro area of Akure about 2p.m. when the government officials invaded her shop.
She said: “They were four in number. Three of them disembarked from the vehicle they brought. “They did not accept her plea. One of them removed the television from where it was but Toyin started dragging it with them.
She fell down. Despite that, the council officials went away with the television. “A woman, who came to buy sachet water, discovered that Toyin was unconscious where she lay on the floor of the shop and raised the alarm which attracted neighbours who rushed in and started pouring water on Toyin to revive her.
“When it was realised that Toyin had given up the ghost, the matter was reported at the Police B Division, Oke-Aro.”
Toyin’s son, Ayodele Adelanke, demanded that his mother’s killers be brought to book, saying she must not die in vain. The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Femi Joseph, who confirmed the incident, described it as unfortunate. Joseph said some suspects had been arrested over Toyin’s killing.

Source: NewTelegraph