Category: Press Release

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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LEDAP Sues DSS, AGF Over Arrest Of Judges

Plateau Po

PRESS RELEASE: LEDAP SUES DSS, AFG OVER OF ARREST JUDGES, SEEKS INJUNCTION TO STOP THEIR ARRAIGNMENT

Lagos October 24, 2016: Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has asked the Federal High Court Abuja to declare as unlawful the raid and arrest of judges by the State Security Services, and an order of injunction stopping the planned charge and arraignment in court of some of the arrested judges. The group claims in the suit that the judges cannot be charged and arraigned in court without the authorization of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
In a motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed at the Federal High Court Abuja today, LEDAP seeks for “an order restraining the defendants/respondents (DSS and AGF) from filing any charge in court or arraigning before any court or arresting and/or detaining, inviting for questioning or searching the office or residence of any of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder or any other judicial officer in Nigeria unless with the authorization and referral of the National Judicial Council (NJC) pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons filed in this suit.”
In the originating summons also filed along with the motion for injunction, the court is asked to make the following orders:
  1. A DECLARATION that the statutory functions of the 1st defendant is the prevention and detection of crime against the internal security of Nigeria, and the protection and preservation of non-military classified matters concerning internal security of Nigeria.
  2. A DECLARATION that the 1st defendant is not authorized under its enabling law, namely, the National Security Agencies Act or any other law in force to engage in the investigation and prosecution of corruption, economic, or financial crimes in any form or manner, or in the investigation and prosecution of any crime whatsoever against any criminal suspect in Nigeria.
  3. A DECLARATION that the statutory functions of the 1st defendant is to collect intelligence information on crimes against internal security and non-military classified matters concerning internal security of Nigeria and to pass such information to the appropriate agency authorized by law to investigate and prosecute such crimes, namely, the Nigerian Police Force created under the Police Act, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission created under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, the Independent anti-Corruption and related Practices Commission created under the Independent anti-Corruption and related Practices Commission Act, the National Agency on the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons created under the National Agency on the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency created under the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act; and in matters concerning serving judicial officers of any of the courts mentioned in section 6(5) of the 1999 Constitution, to the National Judicial Council established under section 153(1)(i) of the 1999 Constitution and authorized under section 158 (1) and paragraphs 20 and 21 of Part 1 Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution to exclusively deal with matters relating to judicial officers.
  4. A DECLARATION that the raiding and search of residences of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder by the staff of the 1st Defendant in the night of 7th October 2016 on allegations of corruption and economic crimes was outside the statutory functions of the 1st defendant and therefore ultra vires and unlawful.
  5. A DECLARATION that the search of the residences of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder by the staff of the 1st defendant on 7th October 2016 without search warrants or properly issued search warrants and at night, and their arrests without warrants, were unlawful and constituted breach of their rights to personal liberty, privacy, family life and presumption of innocence.
  6. A DECLARATION that the search of the residences and arrest of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder on 7th October 2016 by the staff of the 1st Defendant without prior recourse to, and authorization of, the National Judicial Council was ultra vires, and constituted an unwarranted encroachment by the defendants on the independence and integrity of the judiciary, which are guaranteed under section 6 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
  7. A DECLARATION that the arrest, charge and purported arraignment of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder or any judicial officer by the 1st defendant before the Magistrate Court of the Federal Capital Territory or any court whatsoever were ultra vires and unlawful.
  8. AN ORDER directing the 1st defendant to forthwith cease, terminate, and withdraw any charge, information, arrest or invitation of any of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder or any other judicial officer on any matter relating to corruption or economic and financial crimes or any crime whatsoever.
  9. AN ODER of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant from engaging in the arrest of any suspect for any crime in Nigeria unless it strictly relates to crime against the internal national security of the nation, namely, the crimes of treason and treasonable felony.
  10. AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant from undertaking the prosecution of any offence whatsoever of any crime in Nigeria as prosecution of offences is not part of its statutory functions under the National Security Agencies Act or any other law in force in Nigeria.
  11. AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants, and through the 2nd defendant as the chief law officer of the federation, all other law enforcement agencies from arresting, inviting for arrest, searching the residences, charging, arraigning and/or prosecuting or otherwise dealing with any judicial officer of any of the courts mentioned in section 6(5) of the 1999 Constitution without first obtaining the authorization of the National Judicial Council.
  1. AN AWARD of N1 million Naira against the 1st defendant in favour of each of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder as general and exemplary damages on grounds stated in the particulars of damages hereunder.
The arrested judges and justices named in the schedule of the suit are:
  1. Hon Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
  2. Hon Justice Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
  3. Hon Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya formerly of the Court of Appeal
  4. Hon Justice Innocent Umezurike OFR former Chief Judge of Enugu State
  5. Hon Justice Kabiru Auta former judge of High Court of Kano State
  6. Hon Justice Muazu Pindiga of High Court of Gombe State
  7. Hon Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court Abuja
  8. Hon Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court Abuja
The grounds postulated upon which the order for injunction is sought include:
  1. The defendants/respondents plan to charge, arraign, arrest and detain the said judicial officers despite the fact that in most of the cases, no complaint has been laid against the said judicial officers by the defendants to the NJC, the body constitutionally mandated to regulate and manage judicial officers.
  2. There is need to preserve the status quo ante until the substantive suit herein is determined.
  3. If the said judicial officers are charged to court before the determination of the originating summons, the crux of the entire substantive suit will be defeated and any judgment the plaintiff/applicant may obtain in its favour will be nugatory. If the said judicial officers are charged and arraigned in court, they will be subjected to undue intimidation, opprobrium, and further denied their right to presumption of innocence under section 36(5) of the Constitution (as amended). They will suffer great loss and damage that cannot be compensated, assuages or redeemed by monetary damages because their reputation as long servicing judicial officers would be jeopardized for no just case, by a body not constitutional mandated to disciple them.
  4. The balance of convenience is in favour of the plaintiff/application because the defendant/respondent will lose nothing if they are restrained from charging, arraigning, and in effect, tarnishing the image and good names of the judicial officers. The defendants can in any event go ahead with such charge or arraignment if at the end of hearing of the substantive summons it was found by this honourable court that the defendants indeed have the legal powers to arrest and arraign the said judicial officers without the authorization of the NJC. On the other hand, if the defendants/respondents go ahead to arraign the judicial officers before the suit is determined and it was later found that there was no legal authority for them to do so without authorization of the NJC as the plaintiff claimed in the originating summons herein, the judicial officers would have suffered irredeemable damage to their reputation, career and rights.
  5. The plaintiff/applicant has signed an undertaken and filed along with this application, to compensate the defendants/respondents should it be discovered at the end of the day that the injunction sought is frivolous.
No date has been fixed by the court.
Chino Obiagwu
National Coordinator & Lead Counsel, LEDAP

Channels Television : LEDAP Condemns Senate’s Decision To Summon Judges

The 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

VANGUARD: LEPAD Queries NASS’ Invitation of Arrested Judges

ABUJA – The Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, has challenged the powers of the National Assembly to summon or question any of the seven judges arrested by the Department of State Service, DSS, over allegation of corruption. The body, in a statement on Sunday, said it was wrong for the National Assembly to summon the accused judges to appear before the Senate Committee on Judiciary. It maintained that the legislature has no oversight powers over judicial officers under the constitutional principle of separation of powers as entrenched in sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

LEDAP draws the attention of the National Assembly that under the Constitution, 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.

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 pre-occupy 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.

The legislators appropriate nearly a quarter of national wealth to themselves and account to no one. 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 calls on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to resist attempts by the executive and legislature to control and manage the judiciary. Such situation will on the long run denigrate the judiciary and legal profession and threaten the rule of law.

The independence of the judiciary, as guaranteed in the Constitution, is essential element of any democracy. The NBA can work with NJC to improve on its complaint management system to ensure that judicial discipline is effectively and efficiently enforced. “The association cannot, as a result of current challenges, allow the other arms of government to destroy the age-long integrity of the Nigerian judiciary”, read the statement signed by National Coordinator of the body, Mr. Chino Obiagwu.

 
Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/10/lepad-queries-nass-invitation-arrested-judges/