Category: Uncategorized

Army Chief commissions human rights office in Maiduguri

The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, on Tuesday in Maiduguri, Borno State, commissioned a new office building for handling cases of human right abuses by soldiers.

The office is located within the Brigadier General Maimalari barracks where the headquarters of the Operation Lafiya Dole is located.

The human rights office is amongst other projects that were executed by the army through its direct labour initiative.

The army had in February 2016 announced the setting up of a human rights desk at its headquarters where issues of alleged rights abuses by soldiers during any military operations could be handled.

The need for such desk came up amidst wild accusations that soldiers prosecuting the Boko Haram war in the North-east have engaged in several cases of human right abuses.

Civic rights groups like Amnesty International have been relentless in exposure of human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by Nigerian soldiers in the country’s war against Boko Haram and the military’s ruthlessness in quelling protests in other parts of Nigeria.

The organisation’s reports stated that 240 people including infants died in a dreaded military detention centre in Borno in 2016 while 177 pro-Biafran agitators were extra-judicially killed same year.

But the military described the claims in the said report as a continuation of AI’s “series of spurious fabrications aimed at tarnishing the good image of the Nigerian military.”

Commissioning the building projects which also comprise the Corporal and Below Quarters, Senior Non-Commissioned Officers Quarters, Single Officers’ Quarters, Married Officers’ Quarters and a Hospital Ward, the Army chief said the initiative was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts towards addressing the acute shortage of accommodation in the Nigerian Army, in order to boost the morale of troops as they strive to surmount the daunting security challenges in the North-east.

He said the projects “are meant to provide decent living accommodation for officers and soldiers and their families as well as conducive office environment to execute your tasks efficiently.”

He urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the facilities while remaining focused in their tasks to consolidate the army’s achievements in the country so far.

“The Nigerian Army under my direction will continue to provide you with the requisite welfare and logistics to enhance your efficiency in the discharge of your constitutional responsibilities.

“I wish to reiterate here that the execution of these projects could not have been possible without the support of the federal government which has remained fully committed to the provision of welfare and logistics support for the Nigerian Army to perform its roles professionally. I therefore urge you to remain loyal and be reassured of the unflinching support of the President, Commander-in-Chief and the entire nation.”

culled from

How pure water seller was allegedly killed by police officer for flouting sanitation rule

The September 30 environmental sanitation day in Rivers state led to the death of a pure water seller in Port Harcourt. The pure water seller was allegedly killed by an officer of the Nigeria Police Force for reportedly failing to observe the sanitation in which the movement of residents is restricted for three hours. The incident happened along Okporo Road while the young man was said to be on his way to supply water to customers.

The killing forced some angry residents to threaten to burn down the police station. reports that police brutality in Nigeria has remained a major issue for the country and its government. Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers recently accused the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of being responsible for most of the kidnappings taking place in the state. Wike alleged that the commander of SARS in the state, Akin Fakorede, and some of his men had been indicted by an official police signal. He said the signal also showed that the operatives are responsible for many deadly robberies across the state.

culled from

Making courts for corruption cases work

The National Judicial Council (NJC), under the leadership of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has been praised by stakeholders for creating the Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO). This came after the CJN ordered the creation of special courts for corruption cases. How best can the committee, headed by the former Court of Appeal President, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, achieve its tasks? Lawyers offer suggestions. ERIC IKHILAE writes.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) on September 27, set up the Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO) to monitor the handling of corruption and financial crimes-related cases in the courts.

NJC Director of Information, Soji Oye, said in a statement that the decision to establish the committee, its composition and functions were agreed during the council’s 82nd meeting on September 27.

Members of COTRIMCO


The COTRIMCO, according to Oye, has 15 members, with retired President of the Court of Appeal Justice Isa Ayo Salami heading it.

Other members are four serving state Chief Judges; the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN); four ex-NBA presidents; three members of the NJC, including its secretary; a representative each from the Federal Ministry of Justice, civil society and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

The Chief Judges are: Justice Kashim Zannah (Borno State); Justice P. O. Nnadi (Imo); Justice Marshal Umukoro (Delta) and Justice M. L. Abimbola (Oyo State).

The four ex-NBA presidents are: Chief Wole Olanipekun, Olisa Agbakoba, Joseph Daudu and Augustine Alegeh (all Senior Advocates), while the three members of the NJC are its Secretary, Gambo Saleh, Dr. Garba Tetengi (SAN), and Mrs. R. I. Inga.

Its functions

According to Oye, the COTRIMCO, which will drive the NJC’s new policy on the anti-corruption war, has as core functions:

  • Regular monitoring and evaluation of proceedings at designated courts for financial and economic crimes nationwide;
  • Advising the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on how to eliminate delay in the trial of alleged corruption cases;
  • Giving feedback to the Council on progress of cases in the designated courts, conduct background checks on judges selected for the designated courts; and
  • Evaluating the performance of the designated courts.




Oye said the committee’s creation is informed by the renewed zeal of the judiciary’s leadership to eliminate delay in the handling of corruption and financial crime cases and ensure an effective criminal justice administration.

The CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, reflected this new zeal when he acknowledged public concern about the slow pace with which the court was handling corruption and financial crimes-related cases in an address at the event marking the commencement of the 2017/2018 legal year on September 18.

Onnghen assured the gathering that it was no longer going to be business as usual, announcing measures to be adopted in the new legal year to address delay.

Among such measures is his directive to heads of courts to ensure the designation of some courts as special courts, solely for the trial of corruption and financial crime-related cases. For Supreme and Appeal courts, the CJN directed them to set aside a day every week for the hearing and determination of appeals from such cases.

He also directed court heads to compile and forward to the NJC comprehensive lists of corruption and financial crime cases being handled by their various courts.

Who is Justice Salami?

Justice Salami, no doubt, elicits different personalities, depending on what side he is being viewed from.  While many see him as a courageous, pious and incorruptible judge, some think otherwise, citing the confusing circumstance under which he exited the Bench.

Justice Salami was born on October 15, 1943 in Ganma, in Kwara State. He obtained the West African School Certificate (WASC) at the Provincial Secondary School, Kano in 1963. He bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in 1967 and was called to Bar on June 28, 1968, after the mandatory Law School training.

He began his career as a Collector of Customs and Excise Grade II, and in 1971 was transferred to North Central State Public Service Commission, where he served as State Counsel Grade II.

Justice Salami later became the Acting Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of the Kaduna State Ministry of Justice, Kaduna before he was deployed to Kwara State in 1976 as a Senior State Counsel, where he later served as Acting Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Ilorin till 1978.

He later became a judge and was, in 2009, appointed president of the Court of Appeal, to succeed Justice Umaru Abdullahi. He later had a disagreement with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, over the handling of Sokoto State governorship election dispute.

On August 2011, the National Judicial Council suspended him on the grounds of his alleged refusal to apologise to the then CJN, who headed the NJC’s panel, which found him to have lied against the NJC.

Aside the indefinite suspension handed him, the NJC also recommended his retirement to President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan agreed to suspend him, but did not retire him.

On May 2012, the NJC reversed itself and recommended his immediate reinstatement by the President, a recommendation Jonathan disregarded. Justice Salami did not return to the Bench until he retired on October 15, 2013 at the mandatory age of 70 years.




COTRIMCO ‘s creation, since it was announced, has attracted varied views. While a number of people welcomed its creation, others have queried its necessity in the face of the NJC. They also faulted its composition.

Those, who believed that the committee was necessary for the realisation of a speedy and an effective criminal justice system, were of the view that a committee to monitor the trial of high-profile corruption and financial crime cases was desirable.

They argued that, with such a committee  peopled by highly-qualified and accomplished legal minds, most judges, who hitherto were not keen on giving such cases the diligence they required, now have no option than to sit up.

It has equally been argued that the calibre of individuals on the committee will discourage bad practices among lawyers because of the fear of being identified and sanctioned.

There is also the view that the committee, aside acting as an agent of the NJC, is in a better position to advise the CJN and the NJC on inadequacies in the process of criminal justice administration.

Supporters of the initiative also argued that COTRIMCO is in a position to identify other measures to be adopted for the achievement of the goal of prompt disposal of corruption and financial crime cases, particularly those involving high-profile defendants.

A Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akin Oyebode, hailed the COTRIMCO initiative, which he observed will reassure people of the state’s commitment to the anti-graft war.

At a roundtable organised in Lagos by a group, Social-Economic Rights and Accountability project (SERAP), Oyebode said the designation of special courts to handle cases of corruption, in addition to other existing anti-corruption measures, were pointers to the government’s resolve to aggressively confront corruption.

He stressed the importance of speedy determination of corruption cases, and noted that “by effecting prompt and adequate sanction against acts of malfeasance, the anti-corruption crusade would win new and more committed converts among the population”.

Also, Prof Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN) commended the CJN for COTRIMCO. He said the committee was highly welcome, adding that the CJN had done the right thing.

Akinseye-George said the creation of the committee reflected the determination of the leadership of the judiciary to ensure that trial of corruption cases was not business as usual.

He added: “There is a determination on the part of the CJN to make a mark on the sands of time He wants criminal cases, especially the high profile ones, to be fast-tracked. “If we had this kind of committee in place before now, I know that by now, many of the cases that have been hanging since 2003 would have been resolved.”

He continued: “He has chosen very eminent people, who understand the workings of justice system; people like Justice Salami, who was known as a progressive judge; Chief Wole Olanipekun and J.B. Duadu,” Prof Akinseye-Goerge, who heads the justice sector reform advocacy group, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS).

Akinseye-George faulted the argument that the committee was a replication of the duties of the NJC, which is mandated to monitor, supervise and discipline judges.

To him, COTRIMCO is like a stop committee of the NJC, which is acting on its behalf. He added that the involvement of senior and highly-responsible lawyers as members of the committee showed that the CJN intends to respect its voice. “It shows that the CJN believes that the Judiciary needs support from the private bar,” Akinseye-George said.

On the flip side, however, are those who queried the committee’s importance and its composition.

The first point raised by critics of this initiative is that its existence raises to two the number of agencies saddled with the responsibility of monitoring judges in the country.

They argued that the creation of a separate body to monitor judges was an indication that there are judges, who need to be monitored for them to do their job, and an admission that the Bench is populated by incompetent or uncommitted judicial officers.

Critics further contended that without necessarily saying it, the headship of the judiciary has, by the creation of a body to monitor judges, admitted that it has lost hope in the ability of the judges to act independently and exercise their discretion.

This, they noted, is a fatal admission on the part of the managers of the judiciary that, over the years, they have recruited incompetent and uncommitted individuals to fill the Bench.

They argued that rather than creating multiple bodies and committees to do nothing, but monitor judges, efforts should be directed at addressing the problems associated with judges’ recruitment process.

Critics asserted that if the point of entry for judges was sanitised and judges’ appointment process made public for enhanced scrutiny, they would be able to ensure that known bad members of the private Bar did not find their way to the Bench.

They noted that the current recruitment procedure, which is shrouded in secrecy, devoid of merit and driven mainly by nepotism, partly accounts for why the judiciary was recently labelled (in a survey by the National Bureaus of Statistics) as next to the police in the rank of corrupt public institutions in the country.

Another issue raised by the critics of COTRIMCO is its composition. They argued that the choice of Justice Salami as its head is a veiled admission by the NJC that it was wrong in penalising the then President of the Court of Appeal on allegation of indiscipline.

Critics particularly queried the choice of former NBA presidents, some of who are currently defending the majority of corruption and financial crime cases pending in most courts nationwide.

For instance, Daudu is said to be involved in the defence of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, who is named in three major cases relating to money laundering and corruption. The cases are before the Federal High Court, Abuja and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Also, Olanipekun has featured in the defence team of a chieftain of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Raymond Dokpesi, in his money laundering trial before Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

To the critics, the inclusion of private lawyers, whose clients are currently involved in the cases their committee are to monitor, is tantamount to handing a life goat to a famished lion.

They urged the CJN to first address the issue of possible conflict of interest that may involve some members before the committee commences operation.

Akinseye-George agreed with this point when he said the lawyers on the committee, who may be involved in the defence of high defendants, should now know that they have a new role to play.

He said: “In other words, they cannot be monitoring what they are involved in. They can no longer defend clients in anti-corruption cases. They can do other cases, but not representing clients in the anti-corruption cases, otherwise, they will be disqualified for being on that committee. “

To enable the public measure the committee’s performance, Akinseye-George argued that there was a need for a set of rules to guide its function, so that the people could judge its members based on the rules

He also canvassed the inclusion of more representatives of the civil society in the committee.  He said one or two individuals, who have been working on justice reform should be included.

Akinseye-George said: “The only person that we can see in that category is probably, Olisa Agabkoba. We need people, who understand what we call development lawyering. Such a person should be a known voice, a leader in development work; somebody who has been involved in promoting reforms in the justice system.”

Another lawyer, Dr. Abdulaziz Mohammed, agreed with Akinseye-George that it was wrong to include  lawyers, who are defence lawyers in corruption and financial crime cases, which COTRIMCO is to monitor.

Mohammed said: “I support the CJN for trying to reform the Judiciary. But the fault is in the composition of the committee. There are some people, who are not supposed to be there.

“Some former NBA Presidents on the list are currently defending the people accused of corruption. For them to be required to monitor the judges handling these cases is confusing. How do you explain that? The past NBA Presidents should not be there

“The CJN and others in NJC should have looked for people who are not actively involved in these corruption cases, like law professors in schools or retired judges/justices,” Mohammed said.

Director of a group Access to Justice (AJ) Joseph Otteh suggested the declaration of a state of emergency in the judiciary. It argued that, while the creation of special courts for corruption cases was good, no case was more important than others.

He noted, in a statement, that several suspects had spent years in detention due to delays.  It added that according high-profile cases priority, while other cases that border on human rights were left to suffer, should not be allowed.

Otteh said: “Monitoring of courts should not be limited to high-profile cases involving the rich alone. Let reforms be across board. Let it be for all cases pending in court, not just for corruption cases.

“The Chief Justice of Nigeria said Chief Judges of states had been directed to create special anti-corruption courts. But if judges of these courts have to be away for about three months each year, not counting other ‘no-show’ days, we may not see the expected changes in the time taken to conclude corruption cases.

“Let us bear in mind that there are already designated courts in various states handling corruption cases, but it does not appear that these courts have achieved their designed purpose.

“The judiciary can begin by saying that judges handling anti-corruption cases should not go on extended holidays like other judges, but arrange their own individual vacation schedules. There are countries that already do this. This will give a ring of urgency to the anti-corruption role of courts,” Otteh said.

culled from


NJC Sets up Panels to Probe 15 Judges for Corruption

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has said that 15 judges including two chief judges are being investigated for alleged violation of the code of conduct for judicial officers.

A statement by NJC’s Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, added that the decision to investigate the judges was taken at the council’s 83rd meeting at which the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, who also doubles as its chairman, presided.

The statement said 15 separate committees had been constituted to investigate the judges. Each committee will investigate each judge and submit its report to the council which will take a final decision on their reports.

Oye said the NJC decided to investigate the judges after considering reports of its two preliminary complaints assessment committees on 46 petitions written against judicial officers at both the federal and state levels.

He said the council also issued letters of advice to Justice M.A. Dada of the Lagos State High Court of Justice and Justice Chukwudi Charles Okaa of the Anambra State High Court for violation of extant laws in the course of their judicial duties based on petitions written against them by Dayo Adamolekun & Ridwanulah Olanite, and Reverend F.U. Ekavhiare & Associates, respectively.

He also said that the council dismissed 31 petitions, 29 of which it found unmeritorious, while the remaining two written against Justice J.T. Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja and Justice O.O. Akeredolu, the acting Chief Judge of Ondo State, were withdrawn by the petitioners.

The statement said: “Al-Sagr National Insurance Company which wrote against Hon. Mr. Justice Tsoho withdrew its petition since the judge had delivered the ruling in its case.
“Chief Raheem A. Badmus who wrote against Hon. Justice Akeredolu also voluntarily withdrew his petition for personal reasons.

“Council treated the two petitions as withdrawn since it did not find anything in them sufficiently serious for further consideration as stipulated in Regulation 9 (1) of the Judicial Discipline Regulations.”

However, NJC said it considered and found worthy of further investigation, the petition written by Azi A. Phillip on behalf of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Plateau State Chapter, accusing Justice P. D. Damulak, the immediate past Chief Judge of Plateau State, of bias, for failing to make his judgment in Suit No. PLD/J/236/16 delivered on 4th November 2016 available to the parties till the time the petition was written against him.

But NJC said it decided not to constitute a committee to look into the matter because the chief judge had already retired from service and was therefore no longer in the employment of the council.

The council also considered and dismissed petitions written against two other judges, namely, Justice L.T.C. Eruba of the High Court of Justice, Abia State and Grand Kadi Abdullahi Waiya of the Sharia’h Court of Appeal, Kano State, for lack of merit.

Oye said NJC further agreed to report a legal practitioner, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) for misconduct, for the use of uncouth language in a petition written to the NJC against Justice O.O. Atilade, the immediate past Chief Judge of Lagos State.

The statement further read: “Council welcomed as good development, a letter from the Zamfara State Government approving the recommendation of the NJC for the compulsory removal of Justice Musa Ibrahim Anka from office for allegedly receiving a bribe of Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200,000) from one Zubairu Abdumalik in order to deliver judgement in his favour.”

NJC had in 2011 made a recommendation to the Zamfara State Government for the removal of the judge.
The council last week also set up a mixed committee headed by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, to monitor judges handling corruption cases.

culled from

Groups criticise Nigerian Police, Saraki over attack on SaharaReporters’ supporters

Two civil society organisations have criticised the Nigerian Police and Senate President Bukola Saraki over alleged attack on supporters of online platform, SaharaReporters.

The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education, CHRICED, and Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA, made their position known in a press conference in Ikeja, Lagos.

In a statement signed by Zikrillahi Ibrahim and Olanrewaju Suraju, the groups were reacting to reports of attack allegedly unleashed on supporters of the online news medium and other activists during a court sitting in Ilorin recently.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported the clash between supporters of Messrs. Saraki and Sowore who had thronged the court premises for the resumed hearing of the case involving Mr. Saraki and SaharaReporters, alongside its publisher, Mr. Sowore.

Earlier, in a Suit No. KWS / 23 / 2017, the court had awarded N4 billion against Mr. Sowore and SaharaReporters, who were the defendants/respondents in cases of libel brought before it.

Consequently, a judge, Adeyinka Oyinloye, had issued an order to the United Bank for Africa, UBA and Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, bankers of Mr. Sowore and Sahara Reporters, to seize all funds held in a string of accounts associated with the defendants.

The judge also said SaharaReporters and Mr. Sowore must pay 10 per cent (N400 million) interest on the N4 billion monthly until both the principal damages and accrued interests are finally cleared.

Mr. Saraki instituted the case in Ilorin, where he ruled for eight years as governor, accusing SaharaReporters of publishing defamatory content against his personality.

Mr. Sowore later approached the high court presided over by Mr. Oyinloye through Falana and Falana Chambers to set aside its judgement.

At the resumed hearing on September 14, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that journalists were attacked, including other supporters of the online medium.
Also, a middle-aged woman identified as Funmi Ajayi, who travelled from Lagos to Ilorin to support Sahara Reporters, was reportedly stripped naked by Mr. Saraki’s supporters.

The police later said some suspects indicted in the violence had been arrested, many of them supporters of the online medium.

In their reactions, the civil groups alleged that in the last three weeks, supporters of Mr. Sowore who had belief in the Nigerian state and its judiciary’s ability to fairly adjudicate on the case, “have been visited with terror by thugs and miscreants, said to be sponsored by the Senate President and officials of Kwara State Government.”

The groups condemned the “barbaric assaults” on Ms. Jolade, an activist, who they said was beaten and her clothes torn in the full glare of the police, within the the sacred precinct of court premise.

“CHRICED and HEDA unequivocally condemn the mindless, wicked and criminal assault on the fundamental rights of fellow Nigerians to free speech and peaceful assembly,” the statement said.

“We make no mistake about the fact that the reason for these violent attacks is the resolve of citizens and activists to challenge the plunder of national resources, and hold powerful politicians to account.”

The groups wondered why in a democracy, citizens, student leaders, market women, artisans and journalists who converged at a court premise to observe and cover legal proceedings in the hallowed premises of court, would be brutally attacked, beaten and their clothes torn, while electronic gadgets were forcibly taken away by hoodlums.

“Has Nigeria descended so low to become a banana republic, where jungle behavior is tolerated?” they asked, stressing that it is a serious challenge to the authority, cohesion and stability of the Nigerian state.

“No group possesses the monopoly of violence; the Nigerian state, through its law enforcement institutions do not have to wait until the innocent citizens being attacked mobilise to launch reprisals before they act to stop this impunity.

“The police and State Security Service must act now to investigate and prosecute those responsible for this sacrilegious defilement of a court of law.

“Unfortunately, in the face of these egregious violations of the rights of these activists who converged at the court because of their faith in the rule of law, the role of the primary law enforcement institution, the Police has been ignoble.”

The groups said rather than arrest and haul the thugs perpetrating the violence before courts for prosecution, the police officers, at the behest of the state government either turned the blind eye to the violence, or turned round to arrest the victims of the attacks.

“We expect the Police to understand by now that every form of lawlessness condoned creates incentives and opportunities for further violations,” the groups said, adding that the use of thugs by powerful and corrupt political interests to intimidate opposition and subvert the rule of law, could well be a dress rehearsal as the 2019 General Elections approaches.

“It is therefore shameful and most disappointing that the Nigerian Security Agencies, apart from letting citizens down in the area of social justice, the embarrass spate of armed robbery and kidnapping, has not demonstrated the resolve to protect them from the jungle antics of corrupt and powerful interests,” the statement noted.

“For CHRICED and HEDA, what is playing out in Ilorin should not be seen as a normal skirmish. It is a sad commentary on the horrible and lopsided nature of the nation we are running, a place where the weak is not protected, a nation space where many now believe that might is right.

“This reality of constant impunity also puts the spotlight on the tendency of the nation’s primary law enforcement institution, the Nigerian Police Force, to shirk its responsibility to the Nigerian people. We must make it clear that it amounts to criminal dereliction of duty for the Police to look the other way, while innocent citizens are being violently attacked in the hallowed premises of a law court.

“CHRICED and HEDA alongside all patriotic human rights groups strongly denounces the silence of the police force, and at many times, their complicity in the face of this criminal use violence as a means of coercing concerned citizens, activists and journalists to remain silent over the plundering of national resources by corrupt politicians.”

The groups, therefore, called on the police, the Police Service Commission, the State Security Service and Office of National Security Adviser to “investigate this criminal breach of public peace and sanction officers, who looked on while innocent citizens were being attacked by sponsored miscreants.”

It also expressed reservations about the actions of the police, stressing that under the current Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris, the police is yet to demonstrate a clear strategy to rein in lawlessness in the land and effectively police the country.

“As the case of mindless, and unchecked violence against supporters of SaharaReporters shows, the state must now wake up to its responsibility of protecting all citizens from the corrupt and powerful interests, who have the cynical belief that might is right, and that everyone can be beaten into line. A stitch in time, as they say, saves nine,” the groups said.

culled from

Cameroon ‘has forcibly returned 100,000 Nigerian refugees’

Cameroon has forcibly returned 100,000 Nigerian refugees in breach of international agreements, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

The rights group accused soldiers of deporting refugees escaping Islamist violence, as well as attacking and sexually exploiting them.

Cameroon is “punishing” refugees for Boko Haram attacks, HRW said.

Cameroon has rejected similar accusations previously, saying Nigerians have returned willingly.

“Since early 2015, the Cameroonian authorities have summarily deported at least 100,000 Nigerians living in remote border areas back to war, displacement and destitution in Nigeria’s Borno state,” HRW said in a report.

“In carrying out these deportations, Cameroonian soldiers have frequently used extreme physical violence.”

A 43-year-old man from Borno state told the rights group that his brother had died of internal bleeding after Cameroonian soldiers beat him with a stick.

“They humiliated us like animals and beat us like we were slaves,” he said.

HRW’s associate director for refugee rights, Gerry Simpson, said the Cameroonian army often accused the asylum seekers of being members of Boko Haram themselves, “including women being Boko Haram wives”.

Earlier this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) criticised Cameroon for forcibly returning hundreds of refugees to north-east Nigeria.

It said the returns had “continued unabated”, despite the signing of an agreement ensuring that any returns would be voluntary.

The Cameroonian authorities have previously claimed that Boko Haram militants have been entering the country disguised as refugees.

The UNHCR says forced return constitutes a serious violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1969 OAU Convention, both of which Cameroon has ratified.

It has previously called on Cameroon to honour its obligations under the conventions and continue keeping its borders open to allow access to territory and asylum procedures for people fleeing the Islamist insurgency.

culled from

Nigerian Senate Approves Death Penalty for Kidnapping

Ther Nigerian Senate has approved the death sentence for kidnapping, wrongful restraints or wrongful confinement for ransom, in a move meant to combat the increasing cases of kidnapping in the country.

The new law will replace the section of the country’s Criminal Code Act which puts the punishment for anyone convicted of kidnapping as 10 years in imprisonment.

The Senate also approved a 30-year jail term for anybody who conspired with an abductor. This followed the passage of a bill on abduction, wrongful restraints or wrongful confinement for ransom.

While considering, the report of its committee on judiciary,  Human Rights and Legal Matters, the Senate adopted the clause which specified death sentence for kidnapping.

Senator Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North) presented the report of the committee on behalf of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters Senator David Umaru.

The Bill to amend the law on kidnapping was sponsored by Senator Isa Hamma Misau (APC-Bauchi), the Nation reports.

Utazi said the bill sought to combat and prevent any form of kidnapping in Nigeria by giving wider powers to the Inspector-General of Police to ensure adequate policing of the crime.

Clause 1 (3) of the Bill stated: “Whoever is guilty of the offence and then results in the death of the victim shall be liable on conviction to be sentenced to death.”

Clause 3 provides a 30- year jail term to anyone who colludes with abductors to receive any ransom for the release of any person who has been wrongfully confined.

The report was unanimously accepted by the lawmakers after a voice vote.

The bill requires the consent of the President Muhammadu Buhari before it would be passed into law.

Lagos state had previously passed a similar law against kidnapping but the death penalty is only meted in a situation where a kidnapped person dies in the custody of the kidnappers.

culled from