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
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The need for citizens of the world to rise up in defence of their fundamental human rights, was the trust of this year’s commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR.The United Nations General Assembly, 69 years ago adopted the UDHR as Resolution 217 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France on December 10, 1948. Already, the United Nations has kicked off a year-long campaign to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The world body has started a campaign with hash tag #Stand Up 4HumanRights. According to the United Nations, UN, the UDHR is a document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being-regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Already, the document has been translated into more than 500 languages across the world. The document which was drafted by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all people and nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. The campaign by the world body is that everyone needs “to stand up for our own rights and those of others.” The questions that still agitate citizens of the world, particularly Nigerians as he world mark the Day remains: “ Has the dignity of the people been uplifted and the foundation for a more just world been built?” The struggle for a just society and anticipation for a better living has become one of the major issues bordering the minds of every reasonable Nigerians. Vanguard Law and Human Rights got reactions of Nigerians and some civil society groups on this issue. Let government implement socio-economic rights —NHRC Lagos zone Mr. Lucas Koyejo, Zonal Coordinator, Lagos zone National Human Rights Commission, NHRC said the body held a sensitization programme with pupils and students with the theme: “Our Rights, Our Freedom Always. “We should stand up for our rights all the time. Our focus is for the Federal Government to step up actions on the National Action Plan on Human Rights in ensuring that human rights of the citizenry are realised. “The rights are specifically based on social economic rights of the people. There is need for more action by the government to ensure that Nigerians enjoy the benefit of democracy by ensuring that the provisions in Chapter 2 of the 1999 are realisable, that is that the economic and social rights of Nigerians are achievable. “The message is that every person, especially, the youths should be made to know the provision of the UDHR. “The commemoration of the UDHR, established on December 10, 1948, is an event worthy of celebration every year. My advise is that every Nigerian should be active in the protection of his or her fundamental rights by holding the government and political office holders accountable for upholding the human rights of the citizenry.” Another rights group, Access to Justice, AJ in a statement by its Deputy Director, Dr. Adenike Aiyedun, said: “As the United Nations has said on several occasions, human rights are inalienable rights and every state is under an obligation to respect, promote, defend and protect the rule of law. The rule of law requires respect for the principles of supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, public participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency by all arms of government. Some of these precepts have, however, not been duly observed by the government of the day. “With the present state of affairs in the country, unfortunately, the significance of “human rights day” for Nigerians will be a pale one. Practical evidence shows that the Nigerian government regards the rule of law and human rights as expendable obligations and rights and will readily sacrifice these values for any cause of action it chooses to take, without due regard for the protection of the rights of its citizens. “With the recent activities of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, he has managed to re-create an era of imperial Presidency, where no one is able to hold off the powers of the State and no court can compel the State to respect its decisions. “The present administration has exhibited and continues to exhibit no regard for court orders, by willfully disobeying and flouting various court orders and rulings, thereby undermining the role of the judiciary. “Furthermore, some State security officers have exhibited excessive forms of brutality and on some occasions leading to death. Under President Buhari’s government, thousands of Nigerians have lost their lives to State violence perpetrated by forces of the State. “We hereby urges President Buhari to repair the huge damage done to the security and enjoyment of human rights of Nigerians, as well as, the rule of law in the country. In order to do this, we ask the President to lead by example and show more accountable leadership whenever there are human rights violations. We also implore him to respect the authority of courts, urgently reform the institutions of law enforcement and security, and bring to justice all those who have gravely violated the rights of others.” Also, Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP in a statement by its Executive Programmes Director, Adaobi Egboka, on the state of human rights in the country at present, said “LEDAP observes that Nigeria is at a critical stage where the questions of human rights and its priority in our national existence must be seriously regarded by the Nigerian Government. “LEDAP is greatly concerned over the frequent coercive interaction of law enforcement agencies, the military and other security agencies with civilians which brings to the fore the need for more to be done by the current President Buhari led administration in the area of human rights protection. “The recent end SARS campaign, the move by the federal legislators to regulate the NGOs, the widely reported cases of inhuman treatment of civilians by the soldiers in different forms of “dances” are but a few human rights questions in our recent past. “It is worrisome that despite Nigeria’s adoption of major International human rights instruments and the incorporation of human rights in the constitution, human rights protection in Nigeria remains appalling. “LEDAP recommends that proper training of law enforcement agencies on the imperative duty to respect human rights is necessary to reduce the unlawful infraction of human rights. “We also recommends legislative action and strongly advocates for the decriminalization of “petty offences” under Nigerian penal statutes as their criminalization has not served the end of justice or rehabilitation but have rather being a tool for wrongful arrests, increased criminality, illegal detention without proper trial, bribery and Human rights violations. “LEDAP therefore, calls on the government to uphold international legal obligations and incorporate constitutional and institutional reforms at all levels with the overall objective of advancing the cause of human rights.” Similarly, Human Rights Monitoring Agenda, HURMA’s Convener/Executive Director, Mr Buna Isiak, on the need for Nigerians to be mindful of their rights, attributed the frustration in the country to the breaches in the fundamental rights of many Nigerians. At a seminar to mark the day, he said “Today is an opportunity for us to know where we are in term of human rights. We see people leaving the country everyday, this is as a result of breaches in fundamental human rights. That is why HURMA is enlightening people about what constitutes their rights and we are encouraging them to fight for these rights.” A Lagos-based lawyer, Dr. Muiz Banire, SAN, attributed human rights breaches in the country, to the ignorance of Nigerians to their rights, which he said contributed to the suffering of many in the country. The lawyer urged Nigerians “To go and learn more about their rights because there is too much ignorance about their rights, that is why the suffering in the land will continue.” A Lagos State House of Assembly member representing Shomolu Constituency 1, Emmanuel Olowo, called on Nigerians to be active in the electoral processes in the country, as it was their right, if they desire to be free from the burden of those who governing them. He said: “Nigerians should be active in choosing their leaders. They should choose leaders that will make them to achieve their purpose in life, choose the leaders that will make them achieve their hearty desires, choose leaders that will protect their welfare and provide security for them. All these can only be achieved by the power of their vote and if they know their rights.”
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/12/intl-human-rights-day-must-stand-rights-csos/
Dr Chidi Odinkalu, a Civil Rights Activist, has cautioned the National Assembly against the passage of the bill seeking to regulate activities of Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) in the country.
Odinkalu, an Abuja based lawyer, and a former Chairman, Governing Council of National Human Rights Commission made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He expressed fears that the bill, if passed would affect the rights of the people.
“This bill basically seeks to bring all of the Nigerian Civil Societies, NGOs and organisations that are not funded by government under state control.
“It means we no more own our country, we can’t organise in our neighbourhood those little things we do to help ourselves or any form of community development, the state will intrude into those little things,” Odinkalu said.
He said that the bill was proposed on the premise that some leaders of NGOs were misappropriating resources.
“Civil societies, churches and mosque they all have people who are not living up to standard.
“And there is no where we say stealing is right whether by a Pastor or Imam or an executive director masquerading as the saviour of the people.
“We have enough laws to deal with it, prosecute the persons, put them away and throw away the keys.
“We are not going to surrender our citizenship on the excuse that somehow, some people are thieves.
“If that is the case, then there should be no politician in the National Assembly because we know that some politicians do steal money too.
“So what do we do, legislate all politicians out of existence, that is why we are telling the politicians that this country belongs to us all so that the politicians will get it right,’’ he said.
The lawyer advised that the bill be thrown out “and let’s make the country work by applying the existing laws properly.’’
Concerned about allegations of extrajudicial killings and other acts of professional misconduct against officers and personnel of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS), the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, has ordered the reorganisation of the special unit. Apart from the squad’s reorganisation, the IGP also ordered investigation of complaints made against personnel.
The directives were contained in a statement signed yesterday by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr. Jimoh Moshood, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP). The development came barely 24 after a sustained social media campaign (#ENDSARSNOW) against activities of the special police unit.
Before the Force Headquarters’ directive, there had been widespread reports of SARS’ operatives allegedly acting at variance with standard operation.
Though, SARS was established primarily to fight cases of armed robbery, there had been allegations of personnel dabbling into land/property dispute, relationships and other civil matters, which its mandate did not cover.
Among prominent personalities that had raised serious concerns over SARS’ alleged misconduct, is the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who, on several occasions, had called for the redeployment of the Commander, Federal SARS in his state, CSP Akin Fakorode.
But, the Police, in a statement by Moshood, said the litany of complaints would be thoroughly investigated, with a view to bringing errant officers to deserved justice. As part of the reorganisation process, the FPRO said the Federal Squad would, henceforth, be brought under the control of a Commissioner of Police (CP), and domiciled in the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.
Also, Zonal and State Commands, as well as Divisions, will operate “anticrime units” and other crime prevention squads. Moshood said: “The Nigeria Police Force has observed the recent trends of event in the Social Media on the #ENDSARSNOW and the controversy being generated by the innuendos from the allegations and other misconceptions as it concerns the operational roles and activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a detachment of the Nigeria Police Force.
“Undoubtedly, SARS has been doing very well in fighting violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnappings and cattle rustling in the country in the recent time and this has resulted in drastic reduction of incidents of the mentioned violent crimes nationwide.
“However, the Inspector General of Police, concerned with public interest and the need to reposition SARS for more efficiency and effective service delivery to all Nigerians and ensure that SARS operates based on international core value of policing with integrity and make sure the rule of law prevails in the operations and activities of the outfit, has directed the immediate re-organization of SARS nationwide and instant investigation into all the allegations, complaints and infractions levelled against the personnel of SARS across the country by the IGP X-Squad of the Force.
“In the new arrangement, a Commissioner of Police is now the overall head of the Federal Anti- Robbery Squad nationwide under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.” This was as he added that zonal and state commanders of F-SARS, will be officers between the ranks of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and Superintendent of Police (SP).
His words: “The Police Zonal Commands, State Commands and Divisions will continue to operate anti-crime units/sections, crime prevention and control squads and teams, imperative to prevent and detect crimes and criminalities in their Area of Responsibilities, and other crack squads necessary to sustain law and order and protection of life and properties in their Area of Responsibilities (AOR).
“Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) will now exist and operate in the State and Zonal Commands under the Commissioner of Police (F-SARS) at the Force Headquarters. A Federal SARS Commander of a rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and not below Superintendent of Police (SP) will be in charge of F-SARS in State and Zonal Commands across the Country.
“All Commissioners of Police have been directed by the Inspector General of Police to comply with this directive with immediate effect and warn their personnel not to pose as SARS operatives.
The IGP XSquad has been mandated to go round the Commands and Police Formations nationwide to ensure strict compliance and apprehend any erring police officer.
“Furthermore, a new training programme to be organized by the Force, in collaboration with some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), local and international NGOs, and other human rights organizations on core police duties, observant of human rights and handling, care and custody of suspects have been directed by the Inspector General of Police for all Federal SARS personnel nationwide with immediate effect.”
Nigeria’s police chief has ordered an immediate re-organisation of the anti-robbery unit after a social media outcry over alleged police brutality.
The campaign began when footage was shared allegedly showing the aftermath of the police killing of a young man.
Many Nigerians responded with their own accounts of their ordeals at the hands of officers from the Anti-Robbery Squad SARS, using the hash tag #ENDSARS.
Nigeria’s police has long been accused of human rights abuses and corruption.
On Sunday, a video was posted on Twitter showing an angry mob chasing after a black van, allegedly containing SARS officers fleeing the scene after killing a man.
An online petition was launched calling for SARS to be disbanded, while some shared graphic videos of alleged police brutality.
“The SARS here in Port Harcourt go about with cutlasses and axe, red ribbons and bandana around their arm or head. Sick something” @tickin_clocks tweeted.
“I was stopped at Iwo road by SARS, my bags and phones were searched and found nothing. Took all the chocolate I bought for my sis” @Dabidamioraye
Initially, the Nigerian Police Force tried to downplay the issue by tweeting: “If u’ve contact with SARS personnel and u’ve any complaints about deir actions or inactions, u’re at liberty 2 report deir conducts 2 various platforms provided by the NPF to deal with unprofessional conduct of members of the Force rather dan call 4 end SARS 08057000001”.
However, Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris later ordered an “instant investigation into all the allegations, complaints and infractions levelled against the personnel of the Special Anti Robbery Squad across the country”.
Segun Awosanya, who started the petition, told BBC Pidgin that there would be a protest to Aso Rock, seat of power of the Nigerian government in January, if the government does not disband SARS by the end of 2017.
Apparently fed up with the increasing impunity of officers of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police have gone about their duties, Nigerians from all works of life have begun a social media drive aimed at scraping the unit.
The demand to scrap SARS is being championed by the hashtag #EndSARS and is dominated by hundreds of complaints of people who have either fallen victim to the squad or their family members.
The hashtag was littered with complaints of wanton and illegal arrests, acts of extra-judicial killings, physical assaults, intimidation, accusations of fraud and forcefully dispossessing people of their money and properties.
Already, a petition has been started on citizengo.org tasking the federal government, the National Assembly and the police to put a stop to the reign of impunity.
The campaign which was started by Segun Awosanya read this: “For over 10 years now the growing criminal activities of the Nigeria Police with emphasis on the SARS across Nigeria has been a topical discourse, until recently when it took a deadly turn.
“Thousands of reports pour in daily on the activities of these deadly and lawless bunch (SARS), with evidence backed accusations of extra judicial killings, robberies at gun point and torture.
“The Nigeria Police set up to protect the people are now a major threat to our society, torturing (youthful) victims with complete impunity while instilling a toxic climate of fear, intimidation and corruption.
“The social media is awash with eyewitness reports as well as victim accounts of this seeming legal racket across Nigerian states.
“The pattern of human rights violations where victims are arrested and tortured until they either make a false confession to free themselves and/or be marched to an ATM machine to cough out a huge sum as bribe as a mandatory condition for release.
“Our youths are now endangered and more cases of extortion, torture and extra judicial killings (after which victims are labelled as cultists or robbers) are on the rise on the daily.
“There seem to be a huge cover up here and the undersigned citizens call upon the Nigerians legislature for an immediate intervention.
“A few commissioners of police have been helpful (case in point, Lagos) leading to the apprehension of some of these criminals with subsequent charges by competent courts but there’s a lot more work to be done as more cases surface even as we speak.”
In another petition to the National Assembly he said, “The activities of the SARS across Nigeria is tainting the image of the Nigerian Police. We have been following up on diverse cases for over two years now and we must say that it has since escalated to an alarming rate.
“The public feedback on social media as well as editorials in the print media is alarming to the point that it seems we have the very same criminals in the society in the police as we speak and this calls for the declaration of a State of Emergency on our policing.
“On behalf of Nigerians under siege and those who are not lucky enough to survive the onslaught of the SARS, may we humbly ask that you address this?
“It will go a long way for citizens to know you are listening and that they have at least representation at the helms that understand the duty of care our leaders owe to the people.
“Our hearts are broken as we speak with the feedbacks received across Nigeria on SARS’ illegal and exploitative activities with impunity.
“Nigerians are now demanding that the SARS be scrapped and the Police reformed.”
Other Nigerians who learnt their voice include Miller Ham who said, “Sometimes, one of the reasons you don’t see SARS or other members of NPF at a robbery scene is because they are involved in the robbery.
“They are either the robbers themselves, or are providing the robbers with support (i.e weapons, Intel etc). #EndSARS.”
Chinko Ekun said: “The brutality by SARS should be looked into and apprehended. They’re meant to protect and not instill unnecessary fear in the heart of youths. The incessant killings and harassment should stop. #EndSARS.”
Christopher Okagbare also said: “Enough of the humiliation, intimidation, extortion and murder. Every well meaning Nigerian must lend their voice. #EndSARS Now!”
Meanwhile, reacting to the recent brutalisation of a citizen by SARS officers, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, said victims can reach out to the command to lay their complaints.
In a statement by the state police spokesman, SP Chike Oti, the CP
said: “In view of this, the commissioner of police wishes to encourage all residents of Lagos state who have complaints against police action or on any issue, to report to any of the police patrol vehicles which now serves as mini police station.
“They are parked conspicuously at vantage points across the state. They can also call on the Citizen Complaint Centre (CCC) established by the present commissioner of police through some cellular phone numbers.
“The cellular numbers include; 08067945296, 08063025274,
08089781657, 08126404930 and
“The commissioner of police further enjoins members of the public to take advantage of these complaint channels as matters reported will be treated speedily and the outcome made public in the usual frank manner.”
Similarly, the Police Public Complaint Response Unit (PCRRU), while responding, said it has opened channels through which the public can report complaints.
The unit made this call through a poster which they made public on their official Twitter handle.
According to the PCRRU, anyone with a complaint against SARS should call the following listed numbers; 08057000001 and 08057000001 for calls; 08057000003 for SMS and WhatsApp messages; 2BA2B5DE for BlackBerry messages; @PoliceNG_PCRRU for Twitter and www.facebook.com/PolicePCRRU for Facebook messages.
For those with access to email, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com was provided while www.npf.gov.ng/complaint was provided as the website.
The unit assured Nigerians through the poster that complaints would be handled swiftly as they purportedly do not tolerate impunity.
December 2 2017.
Human Rights Agenda Network joins the rest of the world to advance for the elimination of violence against women with the theme: Leave no one behind: End violence against women and girls.
On this 8th day of #16daysofactivism, HRAN devotes attention to ‘domestic violence’. Domestic violence is a major violation of rights of women in Nigeria and across the world. Most perpetrators are never punished as millions of women and girls suffer death or disability from violence on then by spouses, intimate partners, or family members. HRAN calls on Nigerian governments at federal and state levels to advance efforts towards its eradication.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. In Nigeria, the occurrence of domestic violence is often linked to the cultural belief that is socially right to hit a woman to discipline her. This form of violence has been on the increase with no hope of lessening given the very low reportage in Nigeria. Domestic violence has multiplier effects on the victim ranging from mental, health, physical and psychological and it is evident that more than two thirds of women and girls are victims of this form of violence. In a small scale study conducted in Lagos and Oyo states, it revealed that nearly 65% of educated women have been beaten by their husbands while 56% percent of low income market women have experienced similar violence. Domestic violence is a serious violation of human rights which the Nigerian constitution is against. Despite the legal framework in Nigeria that takes special stand on elimination of violence against persons especially women and children such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015, and other provisions in Criminal and Penal Codes, this form has failed to receive full legal support as victims prefer to remain silent than leave and face societal ridicule.
The Human Rights Agenda Network therefore calls on NGOs, relevant government agencies, the security operatives, the courts and members of the public to rise up against this form of violence and desist from seeing domestic violence as a private and matrimonial affair but rather as an offence against the state.
The HRAN pledges its support to the Nigerian society and urges the government and NGOs to put more efforts on promotion of women’s rights and protection of victims of domestic violence.