Category: Press Release

LEDAP’S STATEMENT ON THE 62ND ORDINARY SESSION OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLE’S RIGHTS

STATEMENT ON THE 62ND ORDINARY SESSION OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLE’S RIGHTS HOLDING IN  NOUAKCHOTT, MAURITANIA FROM APRIL 25 – MAY 9 2018.

Executive Summary

The human rights situation in Nigeria from the 33 year military rule to the 19 year civilian administration makes an interesting subject for review in view of the dire situation in Nigeria viz-a-viz counter insurgency war, ethnic mass killings, and violent extremism prevalent in the country.

This statement urges the Commission to review Nigeria’s compliance with its human rights obligations under the Banjul Charter which the Country has adopted and domesticated; and other international human rights instruments in line with the under listed areas of concerns and also, adopt the recommendations stated therein.

The statement examines Nigeria’s compliance with human rights standards and principles as it relates to Torture, Extra-judicial Killings, and Responses to Terrorism and Crisis;  Violent extremism and the Right to Life; and Gender Inequality.

Torture, Extra-judicial Killings, and Responses to Terrorism and Crisis.

The 9 year insurgency in the country has greatly exacerbated rights abuses in Nigeria. Online and offline reports reveal that counter-insurgency operations have led to rights violations and abuses by both state and non-state actors. These rights violations range from torture to enforced disappearances, arbitrarily long detentions, summary executions and extra-judicial killings, detention incommunicado and also sexual and gender based violence.

Creditably, Nigeria has adopted and domesticated the Banjul Charter as its national law, there is still an obvious poor level of implementation of this law as the unrestricted rights of Nigerians recognized under the Charter and guaranteed by the Constitution of the FRN are still not adequately protected.

There still exist, recorded incidences of torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and  detention incommunicado, perpetuated by state actors in response to terrorism and adequate redress mechanisms do not exist for victims because impunity thrives when there is no political will to punish offenders irrespective of their status or affiliation.

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project, between 2015 – 2017 through its identification mechanism has been able to identify and file 142 fundamental human rights cases in Northeast Nigeria bordering on unlawful arrest and prolonged detention, torture and other cruel inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment.

To further buttress these points, LEDAP in rendering support to a loosely organized movement of over 300 people seeking the release and re-union with their family members who were abducted by men of the Nigerian army since 2015 has adopted various strategies to seek redress for these victims including writing to the National Assembly and Presidential Panel demanding for public hearing on behalf of the 276 persons detained by the military since 2015. So far, nothing has been done.

There is a more urgent need for the government to make conscious and concerted efforts to better protect and promote the rights of citizens.

Recommendations

  • The Nigerian security operatives need to review their rules of engagement to mainstream human rights standards and principles during counter-insurgency operations.
  • With the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act 2017, government needs to collaborate with NGOs to facilitate implementation and adoption at the states level.
  • There is also a need to adopt rules and regulations that will strengthen the legal framework on torture in Nigeria and also support the training and re-training of security operatives in the country to maintain human rights standards.
  • We urge the government to officially gazette prisons and detention facilities available in the country to enhance accountability on incidences of torture, enforced disappearances, and detention incommunicado.

Violent Extremism and the Right to Life

The right to life is the most basic right provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and under the Banjul Charter.

Acknowledging the efforts that have been made by the government to fight insurgency in the country, the upsurge in violent extremism and land grabbing attacks by herdsmen is an uprising which if left unchecked, will lead to a total annihilation of Nigerians and will undoubtedly affect the West Africa Region and African Continent. Almost everyday, Nigerians are killed in their numbers in flagrant disregard for the right to life. News of horrendous and gruesome killings especially in the North Central and North West regions of Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, Zamfara, Southern Kaduna, etc have inundated the media space. The government needs to take a decisive stance and action to end mass killings and crimes that have infiltrated the country.

On this note, we urge the Commission to review Nigeria’s obligation to protect lives and properties in line with efforts that have been made to strengthen its security apparatuses in order to meet its foremost responsibility.

On death penalty, it’s a truism that it doesn’t act as a deterrence in the criminal justice sector and it targets mostly indigent people.

It has become imperative for a nation wide moratorium to be called on the death penalty and positive de-jure measures taken to abolish same.

Recommendations

  • Strong positive measures need to be taken to address insecurity in the country including adopting MECHANISMS that prioritize conflict resolution and peacebuilding while making efforts to bring perpetrators of these international crimes to justice. Right to life is sacrosanct and the government needs to respect and value human lives as much as much as they value and promote their political agenda and gains.
  • In doing so, we urge the Nigerian government to protect indigenous people’s and minority group rights as this will go a long way to address the mass killings arising from land grabbing and farmers/herders clashes.
  • We also urge the Nigerian government to abolish the use of death penalty in criminal justice administration and facilitate reforms made in the criminal justice sector for effective administration of justice.

 

Gender Inequality

Irrespective of Nigeria signing and ratifying the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, otherwise known as the Maputo Protocol, not much affirmative actions have been made to address issues fostering discrimination against women in the African region.

Women and girls still face a lot of rights violations including but not limited to various forms of SGBV, child marriages, SRHR violations such as high maternal and morbidity rate, lack of access to adequate health care facilities, inadequate representation in the political and governance structure of the country, etc.

Recommendations

  • We urge the government to domesticate the Maputo Protocol adopted in 2003 so that Nigerian women can partake in the political, social, and economic processes, protect their reproductive health rights and eliminate all forms of discrimination against them.
  • In addition, we implore the legislature to expedite actions to pass the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill into Law in order to promote the 35% affirmative action clause for women.
  • Local instruments and framework established to protect the rights of women in Nigeria should be strengthened so that Nigerian women would be empowered to take their place of pride in the region.

 

LEDAP LAUNCHES TORTURE PROJECT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH UNDEF

Picture from Amnesty International
Picture from Amnesty International

In partnership with the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and the National Committee against Torture, LEDAP has launched a project to tackle torture and ill treatment in policing. The project will be located Lagos, Adamawa , Yobe States, as well as at the Federal Capital Territory.

PROJECT SUMMARY
The use of torture and sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in law enforcement has remained a major human rights challenge in Nigeria and has further increased with the current counter-terrorism operations of the police and military. Torture and other forms of ill treatment are widely used by police to obtain information and confessions from suspects, to intimidate, exploit, and to exert dominance and superiority over the weak. Also, women detainees are raped within the first hours of detention. In all these violations, most survivors are unable to report or seek redress and perpetrators are rarely punished. The Nigerian criminal and penal codes fail to explicitly criminalize the use of torture to extract information. As such, everyday law enforcement practices are in many cases inconsistent with the constitutional provision prohibiting torture.

This project seeks to address the increasing incidents of torture and SGBV committed by the police in Nigeria especially in the context of the on-going fight against terrorism and the introduction of Shari’a laws in 12 northern states including two target states of the project; Adamawa and Yobe state. The strategy is to address the specific problems of both the supply and demand sides in torture prevention. It will address the police’s poor anti-torture knowledge and attitudes (supply side), and at the same time empower the civil society and the public to monitor and demand for accountability wherever torture occurs (demand side).

The overall objective is to move Nigeria towards effective prevention and reduction of incidences of torture. This will be achieved by improving the understanding of police personnel and encouraging a human rights centered approach towards the treatment of suspects by police personnel. Also, by providing capacity for civil society organisations and victims of torture to demand for accountability. Particularly, this project is designed to increase knowledge and improve the attitude of over 7,300 police staff in Nigeria (supply side) towards torture prevention, and empower the demand side of human rights (330 representatives of CSOs (180), lawyers (50), journalists (20), Paralegals (80)) to report and support survivors and victims of torture and SGBV to assert and defend their rights to freedom from torture and ill treatment. The project will give assistance to 120 victims, including providing direct legal support to at least 20 cases (including 5 high impact cases) to improve jurisprudence in the area.

Furthermore, the project advocates for policy change and legal reform including engaging in dialogue with key actors, adopting a national policy on torture prevention and advocating for passing into law of the anti-torture bill, which is pending in the parliament. If successfully implemented, the project will build a sustainable pilot that addresses the needs and capacity of both the supply and demand sides of the prevention of torture and ill treatment, which could be replicated to all police formations and other law enforcement institutions in the country.

PRESS RELEASE TO COMMEMORATE WORLD DAY AGAINST DEATH PENALTY

As the world marks today the World Day Against the use of the Death Penalty with the theme “Poverty and the death penalty” LEDAP reaffirms its position that the abolition of death penalty in law and practice should be the firm desire of the Nigerian government as death penalty is cruel and inhumane treatment, which has no place in modern society. LEDAP contends that the application of death penalty is discriminatory in Nigeria as it has become a punishment exclusive to the poor in society.

LEDAP is 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. Currently LEDAP has legal actions in court where it challenges the imposition of mandatory 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 warrants 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. LEDAP contends that the reason for the discriminatory outlook is due to the fact that the rich have the resources to settle the police or afford the best lawyers who ensure they are not convicted. LEDAP therefore takes the commemoration of the World Day Against Death Penalty, to re-live the experiences of the inmates saved from the gallows, inviting freed former death-row inmates to tell their stories in a media parley. It is LEDAP’s conclusion that poverty is a common factor to all prisoners on death row in Nigeria.

LEDAP beckons on the Government to ensure that it gives life rather than exercise eagerness in taking it away while it condemns the recommendation that prisoners on death row be executed as a means of decongesting the prisons. LEDAP believes that the government has a duty to protect and respect the sanctity of human life rather than supervising its termination and recommends a moratorium law be passed against executions in Nigeria.

 

 

Chinonye Obiagwu

National Coordinator

LEDAP CONDEMNS DEPLOYMENT OF SOLDIERS TO STREETS OF SOUTHEAST

Lagos, September 13, 2017: The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) condemns the deployment of soldiers to the streets of southeastern states of Nigeria by the Federal Government. LEDAP states that military is not set up to conduct civilian policing duties but rather, only to interfere where there is war against Nigeria. Therefore, the southeastern states are currently at peacetime and the deployment of soldiers in such massive numbers is provocative and unnecessary. It indicates a justification of the allegation of high-handedness of southeastern activists by the federal government.

LEDAP is concerned that continued militarilization of the Nigerian society will continue to increase violent crimes, extra-judicial killings, and violent extremist agitations across the country. LEDAP recalls that the excessive militarilization against peaceful protests and agitations in the Northeast between 2007 and 2009 resulted in the emergence of violent extremist Boko Haram especially the extrajudicial execution of Mohammed Yusuf, the former leader of the sect. It appears this regime of the Federal Government is poised to commit the same error of judgment of the former regime who, rather than engaging with protesters and political oppositions in peaceful dialogue, used excessive force resulting in the death of many people and consequently insurgency in the north-east.
LEDAP warns the Federal government that the massive deployment of soldiers in the so-called operation “Egwu Eke” will definitely result in violations of rights of ordinary citizens, extra judicial killings, violent crimes, and more importantly turning erstwhile civil protesters into extremist violent agitators. This is because the military are not trained to conduct civilian policing duties but only to wage war and therefore do not have the skill, the patience and the tools to engage with civilian population. It is therefore not proper to deploy soldiers in peacetime to a people who, for perhaps for justifiable reasons, are asking for self determination. All the federal government need do is to engage in dialogue with the stakeholders to ensure that their concerns are addressed in fair, transparent and right-based manner. The people of southeast are bona fide citizens of this country and therefore should not be in any way mistreated. LEDAP is of the strong view that there is no reason under the law or the Constitution of this country, justifying deployment of soldiers in states where there is neither violent uprising nor war.
We therefore call on the federal government to stop immediately, the so-called operation “Egwu Eke” by the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, recall all soldiers mobilized to the streets of the southeast, dismantle all road blocks mounted by the military or any security agency in the southeast and commence peaceful dialogue with all stakeholders involved in the southeast.
Signed
Chino Obiagwu
National Cordinator

LEDAP Contemporary Slavery Project

On Tuesday July 4th 2017, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) launched its Project on Contemporary Slavery by conducting an ‘Experts Seminar on Strategies to Address Contemporary Forms of Slavery’. This Project will begin both advocacy and grassroots work for advancement in the areas of Child Marriage, Child Labour and Trafficking in Persons. In presenting a Background Paper based on research conducted by LEDAP’s research assistants, the presenter highlighted that efforts to curb contemporary slavery in Nigeria require collaboration across board between NGOs, the government, international bodies and persons/bodies working to see the end of contemporary slavery in Nigeria and around the world. To download the extended Seminar Report and the Background Paper, please click the links below:

LEDAP Seminar Report- Contemporary Slavery

Background Paper on Contemporary Slavery

 

 

PRESS RELEASE TO COMMEMORATE 2017 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

Released date: March 8th, 2017

As the world marks International Women’s Day with the theme “BE BOLD FOR CHANGE”  LEDAP reaffirms its position that the creation of  equal opportunities for women at all levels and the empowerment of the girl child is the key to economic, political and sustainable development in Nigeria.

A recent study by LEDAP shows that young women are still underrepresented in many sectors of society, undermining progress and access to justice. With focus on achieving the 2030 agenda on equality as well as building momentum for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world speaks to full empowerment of women in all spheres. The 2030 Agenda holistically addresses issues across environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development. Gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls – including young women, are embedded in the Agenda as intrinsic to progress.

LEDAP is perturbed that the proposed bill to promote the equality, development and advancement of all persons in Nigeria especially young women and children is still not passed by the present administration. It therefore calls on the National Assembly and Lagos State House of Assembly to take immediate steps to ensure that the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill is passed into law.

LEDAP beckons on the Government to promote economic empowerment, skills development of young women, end violence against young women and girls and ensure that there is no form of discrimination against women, girls or women with disabilities.

To mark this year’s event, LEDAP’s teen club has produced a short clip with some entrepreneurs who against all odds survive in our patriarchal society. The clip is to encourage other young women and girls to continue with their struggles despite any obstacle they may face in their different spheres of life. Watch clip below

For: Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP)

 

Chinonye Obiagwu

PRESS RELEASE: COURT DECLARES FREE COMPULSORY PRIMARY & JUNIOR SECONDARY EDUCATION AN ENFORCEABLE RIGHT.

Abuja, March 1, 2017: A Federal High Court in Abuja presided  by Hon Justice J.I. Tsoho today declared that the every Nigerian child has the constitutional right to free and compulsory primary education, and free junior secondary education, and the federal and state governments have constitutional duties to provide adequate fund for it. The court held that any failure by any government to fund free primary and junior secondary education will constitute breach of the constitution.

The court stated that even though the right to free education in section 18(3)(a) of the Constitution was ordinarily not enforceable being in chapter 2 of the Constitution, by the National Assembly enacting the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, of 2004, the Act has made that provision  of the constitution an enforceable right.

The judgment was delivered in a suit filed by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) against the Federal Ministry of Education and the Attorney General of the Federation, in which it asked the court to determine whether by the combined effect of section 18(3)(a) of the 1999 Constitution and section 2 (1) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act,  (UBE) 2004, the right to free and compulsory primary education and free junior secondary education for all qualified Nigerian citizens are enforceable rights in Nigeria. The NGO also asked the court to determine whether the Federal and State governments are under constitutional obligation to provide financial and institutional resources for free, compulsory and universal primary education and free junior secondary education for all Nigerian citizen, and whether failure by any government to adopt and implement free, compulsory and universal primary education and free junior secondary education amounts to a breach of constitutional obligation of the government in accordance with its duty and responsibility under section 13 of the Constitution. The court answered all the questions raised by the plaintiff in affirmative, and stated that in doing so, it relied on the Supreme Court decision in Attorney General of Ondo State & Others vs. Attorney General of the Federation (2002) 9 NWLR (Pt. 772) 222, where it was held that the provisions of Chapter 2 of the Constitution, even though they are not enforceable by virtue of section 6(6)(b) of the constitution, can be made enforceable or justiciable by legislation. Thus, following this decision of the Supreme Court, Justice Tsoho held that by enacting the UBE Act, the National Assemble has made the right to free and compulsory primary and free junior secondary education contained in Chapter 2  an enforceable or justiciable right.

Reacting to the judgment, the lead counsel to LEDAP, Mr. Chino Obiagwu said that ‘Honourable Justice Tsoho has today given life and hope to over 28million Nigerian children who are currently out of primary and junior secondary school or who are at risk of being withdrawn from school because of the inability of their parents or guardians to pay the tuition fees and school expenses, or who are withdrawn from school so that they can be given out in early marriage or be sent to the streets to hawk or beg for alms. By this judgment, any child not enrolled in school or who is withdrawn from school can exercise his or her constitutional rights against the parent or guardian or against the government.’

On the possible difficulties of the governments to fully fund free primary and junior secondary education in the country because of the current economic recession, Mr. Obiagwu said that the UBE Act makes very clear provisions on how free education will be funded, and that part of the fund for free primary education has been provided under the federal government’s UBE Fund to the state governments since 2009, but that most of the funds are not properly utilized for the purpose they are meant. ‘it is now time for every government to close all fiscal leakages and reduce the size and cost of government in order to save money to meet the basic constitutional obligations of primary and junior secondary education’.

Also reacting to the judgment, Mr. Ray Onyegu, executive director of Social Economic Rights Initiative (SERI) said  that the judgment is long overdue. The right of education is a right of all Nigerian children, and government cannot give any excuse of lack of fund because primary education should be the priority of any government in the 21st century.

LEDAP welcomes this laudable judgment and urges the federal and state governments to start its implementation without any delay.

Adaobi Egboka,

Executive Director, LEDAP

Press Release: LEDAP Condemns Senate’s Decision To Summon Judges

LEDAP Condemns Senate’s Decision To Summon Judges

Channels Television.
Updated October 23, 2016

LEDAP, Senate, JudgesThe Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has condemned the plan by the Senate Committee on Judiciary to summon the judges who were recently arrested by the DSS.

LEDAP’s National Coordinator, Mr Chino Obiagwu, in a statement on Sunday, notes that the legislature has no oversight power over judicial officers under the constitutional principle of separation of powers in sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution.

Mr Obiagwu explained that it is only the National Judicial Council (NJC) that has the power of control and discipline of judges and justices of superior courts in Nigeria.

“Any interference by the legislature or the executive into the conduct of judges in carrying out their judicial functions will amount to unlawful interference with the independence of the judiciary.

“The 1999 Constitution, unlike the legal framework of past military regimes, has consolidated the independence of the judiciary and established the NJC as the only body responsible for management of the judiciary,” he stated.

The statement further reads in part: “LEDAP is concerned that the recent raid and arrest of judges and justices by the DSS, and continued assault and raid on judges by other agencies of the executive, have the effect of opening up the judiciary to unlawful and unconstitutional interference and intimidation by other arms of government, the reason for which the Senate has the temerity to speak about inviting judicial officers for questioning.

“LEDAP will shortly approach the courts to seek orders restraining any such invitation or summon of the arrested judicial officers as it amounts to attempt to brow-beat and intimidate the judiciary.

“There are a lot of corruption issues and corrupt politicians in the legislature and executive which should preoccupy the Senators.

“The scandal arising from the padding of the budget, which has been going on for many years in the legislature with connivance of the executive, as well as bogus and secretive huge allowances and emoluments claimed by legislators are more damaging economic crimes against the Nigerian people that the Senate should address rather than intimidating few judges alleged to be corrupt.

“There are several court orders directing the National Assembly to disclose salaries and emoluments of its members, and details of constituency allowances claimed yearly by legislators. It has refused to obey these judgements of the courts.

“Nigerian legislators, adjudged as the most corrupt and most expensive in the world, has no legal or moral right to superintendent over alleged corruption in the judiciary.”

LEDAP called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to resist attempts by the executive and legislature “to control and manage the judiciary” as such situation will on the long run denigrate the judiciary and legal profession and threaten the rule of law.

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