Category: Press Release

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LEDAP Warns Tertiary Institutions Against Post -UTME Screening

The Legal Defence Assistance Project (LEDAP) has warned managers of the nation’s tertiary institutions against conducting the post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), warning that there’s a subsisting order of the court against the exercise.

LEDAP, in separate letters to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, alongside heads of Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, obtained by The Guardian said the court had declared the conduct of post-UTME in the nation’s tertiary institutions as illegal.

The letter signed by LEDAP’s National Coordinator, Chino Obiagwu read in part: “It has come to our notice that some universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in Nigeria are currently selling forms for post-UTME examinations and other screening tests for admission into the institutions. Please take notice that there is a subsisting Judgment of the Federal High Court in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/979/15 between LEDAP and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), the Minister of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC), wherein the court held that only JAMB can conduct examinations and give admissions into tertiary institutions by virtue of Section 5 (1) (2) of the agency’s act. Furthermore, the court declared the post-UTME conducted by the institutions as illegal, and further issued a perpetual injunction restraining them from conducting post-UTME or any other form of examination.”

Subsequently, the letter stated that it is a contravention of the order of court for any of the concerned institutions to continue conducting screening tests and demanded that they stop selling these forms and immediately refund all the money collected from candidates.

LEDAP warned that if the erring institutions fail to comply with the court’s directive, it would file a contempt charge against them.

Culled from the Guardian Website.

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PRESS RELEASE: LEDAP COMMEMORATES THE INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE

Picture gotten from www.andyworthington.co.uk
Picture gotten from www.andyworthington.co.uk

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) join the United Nations and other Human Rights Organizations to commemorate the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this auspicious occasion, LEDAP uses this medium to commend the National Assembly of Nigeria for the adoption of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017. The Act criminalizes torture by the police and other law enforcement agencies; therefore we call on all concerned institutions to see to its full implementation. We also call on the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to develop appropriate guidelines for effective implementation as mandated by sections 10 &12 of the Act.

In Nigeria, there are daily reports of torture of suspects by police, military and other law enforcement agencies. These everyday law enforcement practices are in many cases not in accordance with the constitutional provision prohibiting torture yet the perpetrators are not prosecuted and victims are unable to seek redress. LEDAP also uses this medium to call on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) and Civil Society organizations (CSOs) to document incidents of torture and demand prosecution of offenders in line with the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act.

Torture is a criminal offence punishable by law and LEDAP is in partnership with United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and the National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) to seek ways to reduce incidents of torture and improve access to redress for victims through an ongoing project titled “Community Mobilization Against Torture in Nigeria“.

In observance of the International Day in Support of victims of torture, LEDAP in partnership with the National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is set to launch a torture prevention campaign and an anti-torture awareness walk in the Federal capital territory Abuja, on 26th June, to lend its voice against the crime of torture and also render support to torture victims and survivors all over the world.

Chino Obiagwu
Legal Defence and Assistance Project
National Coordinator

 

LEDAP Marks The United Nations International Day In Support Of Victims Of Torture.

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The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, came into effect on the 26th day of June, 1987, hence 26th of June was set aside to mark the event and is an opportunity for the world to unite in support of hundreds of people around the world who have been victims of torture and those who are still tortured today.

To mark this year’s International Day In Support Of Victims Of Torture, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project- LEDAP, in partnership with the National Committee Against Torture-NCAT and the National Human Rights Commission-NHRC undertook a solidarity and awareness march from the Federal Ministry of Justice to the National Human Rights Commission and back to the Ministry to join in the world press conference given by the Honorable Attorney General of the Federation.

The Honorable Attorney General was represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation, also present were, the Chairman and Vice-chairman of NCAT, the Director of the Directorate of Citizens Rights, the Executive Secretary of NHRC, the National Coordinator of LEDAP and representatives of CSOs.

The highlight of the occasion was the formal handing over of the draft of the Rules and Regulations for the effective implementation of the Anti-torture Act, to the Chairman of the NCAT by the Solicitor General of the Federation.

LEDAP is currently implementing a project aimed at tackling the use of torture and SGBV in policing in Nigeria.  In furtherance of the project, LEDAP is undertaking training of police and other law enforcement officials, monitoring and redressing torture and SGBV practices, strengthening civil society and community responses to support victims across the nation, also, the organization has launched social media campaign tagged; #stoptorturenaija which aims at creating awareness on the dangers of torture and mechanisms of redress.

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

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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: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2018

LEDAP CALLS THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TO STAND UP AGAINST GENDER INEQUALITY

As the world marks the International women’s day, LEDAP lends its voice to that of the global activists, global governments, and women’s organizations to press for the progress of all women in all spheres of life and particularly for gender equality.

LEDAP recognizes the gains in women’s rights advocacy in the recent years ridden on the back of active campaigns for women’s progress. It is apparent that the eras where women were satisfied with being subjugated and subdued have phased out and a new dawn of free-expression and voicing-out against the oppression and tyranny of parochial society is at the horizon.

LEDAP particularly recognizes the active social media campaigns against sexual violence and abuse of women highlighted by the #MeToo and #Timesup movement, the involvement of several women in politics vying for the high offices which were hitherto inconceivable aspirations for women, the outcry against sexual violation of women in the work place and several other cases. LEDAP however admits that despite these pockets of achievements there is still much to be done for the actualization of gender equality in Nigeria.

LEDAP observes that in Nigeria several women especially those in the rural areas remain exploited, discriminated against and are unable to actualize their dreams due to illiteracy and lack of enabling environment. Many of these women do not get a fair opportunity for progress in politics, employment and have no access to reproductive health services. Women in the internally displaced camps have encountered all forms of sexual and gender based violence including sexual exploitation often in exchange for food and other necessities. These women exist in several societies as the voiceless women for whom the press for progress has remained largely illusive.

LEDAP expresses concern that in Nigeria the issues of women’s rights such as the need to create an enabling environment for women in the Nigerian society to receive expression and attain self actualization has not received much attention and many bills to address these grey areas have not been passed under the current President Buhari-led administration. LEDAP believes the confinement of women to the “kitchen” or “the other room” does not align with global trends and civilized existence and Nigeria Government has a major role to play in the emancipation of the Nigerian woman.

LEDAP beckons on the government to take immediate steps to ensure the domestication and implementation of the convention on the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW) and the protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of women in Africa.

LEDAP therefore uses the commemoration of this day to advocate for the voiceless women and girls who continue to live daily facing discrimination, violation and abuse. LEDAP calls on the Nigerian government at Federal and State level to create an enabling environment for women empowerment and ensure equal rights for all women in all spheres of life; access to education, access to reproductive services, equal pay for equal work as well as protection from all forms of violence.

FOR: Legal Defence & Assistance Project-LEDAP

Chino Obiagwu

 

Download press release below:

PRESS RELEASE0001

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