The National Human Rights Commission Independent Investigation Panel has been asked to compel the Nigeria Police Force to pay a compensation of ₦200 million to a petitioner, Kingsley Kalu who allegedly lost his left leg as a result of an accidental discharge from the rifle of Daniel Akpabio of the FCT Police Command.
At the resumed sitting of the panel in Abuja on Monday, Kalu said that his left leg was amputated in 2017 after there was an accidental discharge from the rifle of a police officer who has been dismissed from the force.
He also asked for a refund of all the hospital bills procured by him and an artificial limb, claiming the police only gave him ₦150,000 since the incident occurred.
According to the petitioner, the lawyer to the police opposed the request for compensation to be paid by the Force as he insists that the right person to compensate the petitioner is the dismissed officer, Daniel Akpabio.
After listening to the oral testimony of the petitioner and the cross-examination by the police, the Chairman of the panel, Justice Suleiman Galadima fixed March 24 for the re-examination of the petitioner.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has raised concern over the increasing cases of rape and gender violence in Niger State.
Addressing reporters on Thursday, NHRC Coordinator in Niger, Nuhu Mohammed, noted that at least 60 cases were reported to the commission annually.
Mohammed, who led a rally in Minna to mark this year’s 16 Days of Activism, stated that the figure could be higher if victims of rape and gender violence were reporting to relevant authorities.
He decried that despite the awareness in place, people still prefer to settle rape cases at home instead of seeking legal redress, a development which he said gave reason for perpetrators to continue to carry out the heinous crime.
“We have received a number of cases. The last submission we submitted to our national office was 20 cases of rape and domestic violence,” the NHRC coordinator said.
He added, “We don’t receive less than five cases on a monthly basis; those are the ones reported, some don’t like to report.
“But even those who report, by the time we want to take the necessary action before you know the victims would go behind the back door and ask for a withdrawal of their case. This is a major setback to the fight against rape and gender violence.”
Mohammed, however, gave an assurance that the NHRC would use the occasion to raise more awareness and pay advocacy visits to relevant bodies that would help in the fight against rape.
He explained that the march was organised to create more awareness for residents to see rape as a crime against the state and should not be settled at home.
“Families need to know that hiding a case of rape is an act of wickedness, especially to the victim who will continue to die in silence.
“But if the perpetrator is exposed and justice is sought for the victim, it will encourage more victims to speak up when they are violated,” the NHRC coordinator said.
On her part, the chairperson of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in Niger, Christiana Barau, commended the Federal Government for signing into law the Violence Against Persons (VAP) Act.
She believes the VAP law will further strengthen the fight against rape and other gender violence offences and stressed the need for enforcement of all the relevant laws against rape.
Barau said, “The VAP law is a right step in the right direction. It has further expanded the issue of rape and gender violence to cover not just females but all persons.
“The VAP law has also expanded the definition of rape, which means that even penetration with finger and any object is recognised as rape.”
“So, the law is a welcome development as far as FIDA is concerned. We only hope that the VAP law and all the relevant laws that are in place to fight rape are adequately enforced and that offenders are handed due punishment to serve as a deterrent to the entire society,” she added.
The Director-General of the Niger State Child’s Rights Agency, Maryam Kolo, who represented the governor’s wife, Dr Amina Abubakar, and representatives of some civil society organisations in the state participated in the march.
A witness, Doris Idedia, on Wednesday narrated how her brother allegedly died in the custody of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian police and the subsequent refusal by the police to release his corpse to the family.
Idedia speaking before a nine-member panel set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to investigate allegations of violations of human rights by the police said her brother, Festus Idehen, was arrested in Kaduna and subsequently died in police custody in Abuja.
She told the panel that a police inspector identified only as Kingsley tortured her brother over a false accusation that he stole a car in 2016.
He eventually died on September 6, 2016, three days after he was taken into police custody in Abuja.
“He left us. He didn’t eat anything till he died on the 6th. He died in pain. This is someone that was supposed to be in Canada. He never got there,” Idedia said amid tears.
Mrs Idedia is demanding N200 million compensation from the police over the death of her brother.
Counsel to the police, Malik Taiwo in response requested for more time to get their facts ready for cross-examination.
The chairman of the panel, Justice Suleiman Galadima, therefore adjourned the case to December 15th, for cross-examination.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has constituted an 11-man Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) to look into allegations of human rights violations levelled against the operatives of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigeria Police Force.
NHRC Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu revealed on Friday in Abuja, saying the panel will hear petitions, complaints and memoranda from Nigerians across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
The committee headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima, is expected to make recommendations to the federal government on how best to reform SARS and other units of the Force.
Other members of the committee include: Other members of the Panel are: Abdulrahaman Yakubu, Yemi Ademolakun, Chioma Chuka, Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa, Tijani Mohammed, Dr. Uju Agomoh, DIG Ibrahim Lamorde, Dr. Garba Tetengi, Feyikemi Abudu, John Aikpokpo Martins, Hilary Ogbonna
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NHRC CONSTITUTES 11-MAN PANEL TO HALT HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BY SARS, OTHER POLICE PERSONNEL
In line with the National Human Rights Commission’s mandate and in response to the nationwide agitations by some Nigerian youth groups under the auspices of End SARS, the NHRC has constituted an 11-man Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) to look into allegations of human rights violations against the defunct SARS and other units of the force.
The Committee headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima will hear petitions, complaints and memoranda from Nigerians across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, and thereafter make recommendations to the federal government on how best to reform SARS and other units of the Police force.
The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu Esq. who made this known in Abuja Friday evening noted that the terms of reference of the Panel include, investigate all complaints of human rights violations against SARS and other units of the Police force, make appropriate recommendations as per the damages and compensations to be paid to the victims of Police brutality.
Besides, the Panel is given the powers to refer any matter, in the course of their assignment to the Attorney General of the Federation, or that of a State for prosecution in accordance with the law.
The panel is empowered as well to make recommendations to government on measures to be taken in respect of operatives of defunct SARS or officers of the Nigerian Police Force, if any, found in violation of human rights of citizens and propose remedial steps that may enhance the professional conduct of defunct SARS operatives, any succeeding unit and other members of the Nigerian Police Force and any other recommendations that may be considered appropriate.
Other members of the Panel are:
. Member – Abdulrahaman Yakubu
. Member – Yemi Ademolakun
. Member – Chioma Chuka
. Member – Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa
. Member – Tijani Mohammed
. Member – Dr. Uju Agomoh
. Member – DIG Ibrahim Lamorde
. Member – Dr. Garba Tetengi, SAN, mni
.Member – Feyikemi Abudu
.Member – John Aikpokpo Martins
.Secretary of the Panel – Hilary Ogbonna
Ojukwu also disclosed that all petitions, complaints and memoranda must reach the Commission, which is the Secretariate of the Panel on or before 31 October, 2020.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has condemned in very strong terms the incessant killings and wanton destruction of properties in various communities in Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State and some other parts of the country, charging the Police and other law enforcement agencies to sit up and stop the blame game so as to bring the perpetrators to book.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq who stated this while reacting to the Southern Kaduna killings earlier this week restated that the primary duty of government and its agencies, in this case the security agencies is to protect lives and properties of citizens and those of other nationals residing in the country, which is guaranteed in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, as well as other national, regional and international treaties to which Nigeria is a signatory.
He stated that the alleged invasion of Gora Gan village in Zango-Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State which resulted in the killing of no fewer than 10 persons including a 7-year-old boy and the village Head is most annoying and devastating.
Executive Secretary also lamented a similar incident in Kakun Daji village in Kaura Local Government of Kaduna State where 21 people were allegedly murdered in cold blood by yet to be identified gunmen.
In the light of the above, he called on the relevant Ministries and agencies of government like the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to visit the affected communities and provide the necessary humanitarian support and aids to the families of victims and survivors to forestall further violation of their human rights.
Ojukwu called on the Police and other law enforcement agencies to refrain from watching helplessly while the lives of those whom they are supposed to protect are cut short by miscreants and other categories of enemies of the state.
This is to rekindle people’s confidence in the government which has a sacred duty to protect their lives and properties despite any security challenges.
The Chief Human Rights Officer in Nigeria opined that state and local government policing structure can no longer be wished away especially in the wake of grave security challenges like senseless killings, kidnappings, banditry, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), communal clashes, ethnic and religious violence etc. in various parts of the country.
According to the Executive Secretary, “most of these criminal elements are citizens and they live amongst the people in various towns and communities. Accordingly, state and local government policing will surely rid the society of criminals who unfortunately pose a serious challenge to the protection of human rights over the years”.
The Chief Executive Officer of the NHRC used the opportunity to once again call for the implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on Reform of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the Nigeria Police Force which, amongst other, recommended the establishment of State and Local Government Police to check the spate of criminality and insecurity in the country.
The Commission is also urging Nigerians to volunteer information to the Police and other security agencies so as to enhance intelligence led policing which is the practice in some other climes where insecurity has posed a challenge like in Nigeria. The security agencies must rise to the demands of the moment and stop the blame game going on presently.
The National Human Rights Commission has expressed concern on recent ‘unwarranted attacks and harassment’ of judicial officers in the legitimate and constitutional exercise of their functions.
In a communique by its Director of Corporate Affairs and External Linkages, Lambert Oparah, the NHRC noted that the situation is further accentuated by the increasing lack of safety for Nigerians while pursuing their legitimate duties or businesses due to acts of hoodlums, criminal-minded elements, banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and others thereby undermining human security to abysmal levels.
Mr Lambert Oparah quoted the Executive Secretary of the Commission Tony Ojukwu Esq as stating that “Judicial independence is greatly undermined when judges are no longer able to exercise their functions without fear of reprisals, kidnappings, reprimand or attack on their persons, immediate family and property”.
He (Ojukwu) further stated that the recent attacks on the person and private property of Honourable Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court, the kidnapping of Justice Ijeoma Iheme of the Court of Appeal Benin Division and other judicial officers are but a few cases amongst a host of others.
“It is worse where such attacks on judicial officials result from the performance of official duties following the delivery of judgements in election-related cases.
Such are highly condemnable and portend great danger for Nigeria’s democracy and the enjoyment of the human rights especially the rights to life, freedom from fear of personal security, dignity of human persons, privacy and ownership of property as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary” he said.
The rule of law and the realization of human rights he posited can only be attained when judges and our courts are able to dispense justice without any inclination to fear, bias and intimidation.
According to him, it may seem fashionable today to criticize judgements and judges when cases go for or against us but such exercise of rights must be within the law by respecting the rights of the judicial officers and the judiciary as a key institution of government, the destruction of which will uproot the very foundations of our democracy and do no one any good.
“We acknowledge the right of every Nigerian to fair comment on judgements of courts, freedom of expression and to hold and impart opinions as guaranteed by the Constitution. However, the enjoyment of these rights does not extend to, or encourage violent acts, invasion of privacy and destruction of private properties which also violate the human rights of others and are crimes against the state.”
Consequently, the National Human Rights Commission said it wishes to appeal to all political actors and their supporters to:
a. Respect the human rights of citizens to express fair comments on the judgements of courts without personalizing any issues arising therefrom or infringing on the rights of others.
b. Observe and respect the human rights of judicial officers in the exercise of their lawful duties. This extends to their personal and official properties and privacy.
c. Respect the right of other Nigerians who hold divergent political or legal opinions as the basis for a free, just and democratic society.
The Commission further calls on security agencies to ensure the rights and security of Nigerians and especially judicial officers performing their official duties are protected and should bring those responsible for the attack on Justice Mary Odili’s home as well as other judicial officers who have suffered similar attacks are brought to book in accordance with the law.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for the arrest and subsequent trial of operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security officials involved in the invasion of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, made the call in a statement on Saturday barely a day after some DSS operatives stormed the court.
“The Commission directs all the relevant agencies of government to arrest and try all law enforcement officers involved in the desecration of the hallowed chambers of the Federal High Court Abuja on Friday 6th Dec 2019 for contempt in the face of the court.
“They should be tried, and this should serve as a reminder to all law enforcement agents that they must obey the law in carrying out their law enforcement duties,” he said.
Ojukwu added, “They must enforce the law within the law.
“Impunity by law enforcement officials cannot be indulged in our democracy because impunity uproots the very foundation of our constitution and our democracy.”
The NHRC boss said the commission watched with dismay the conduct of law enforcement officers in the court and condemned it in its entirety.
He reiterated the need for law enforcement officials to understand that to qualify as law enforcement agents, they must first of all be law-abiding and not be above the law.
According to the NHRC boss, as officials paid with taxpayers’ money, there must be no room for impunity and utter disregard for the constitution.
“Our democracy is founded on the principle of separation of powers and all citizens including law enforcement officials must understand the implications of that and are enjoined to respect the law and the constitution in the enforcement of the law,” he stressed.
The statement came a day after DSS operatives in at least three pickup trucks stormed the court on Friday to re-arrest Mr Omoyele Sowore who had just been released two days ago.
However, the attempt to make the arrested inside the court was resisted by Sowore and his supporters while a scuffle ensued between both sides.
Sowore’s lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, who was part of the group that confronted the security operatives informed them that such an operation cannot be carried out in court.
Thereafter, he asked the DSS operatives to go out of the court premises after which he drove Sowore in his vehicle to the DSS office where he was re-arrested and detained.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has kicked against the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, also known as the Social Media Bill which has scaled second reading in the Senate.
According to it’s Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu said the commission stands with the opposition of Nigerians while urging those who exercise their rights to do so with caution.
“We stand with Nigerians and we believe that the media space should be free, people should be able to air their views, in doing so, and we urge those who exercise their rights to be mindful of the rights of others.”
The NHRC boss urged social media users to show commitments to responsibility and ensure that the rights of others are not breached.
“In exercising our freedom to express ourselves, we believe that those freedoms should be expressed and utilized responsibly and we will not encourage irresponsible conduct on the part of Nigerians but we don’t support the gaging of Nigerians in any way possible.
“We urge social media users to show commitments to responsibility and if they exceed their bounds, the laws are there for anybody who feels aggrieved can use.”
The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq, has advised law enforcement agents to stop desecrating the judiciary.
Ojukwu made the appeal while reacting to the alleged refusal of officials of the Department of state services to release on bail the social campaigner Sowore after the order of his release by the trial court and his lawyers meeting the bail conditions.
“There is need for the three arms of government to work harmoniously with utmost respect for each other as envisaged under the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.
According to Ojukwu, many cases have been reported to the commission about investigating police officers and state security officers deliberately refusing or delaying to verify bail conditions following court orders just to punish suspects unduly for reasons that are not constitutional.
He, however, holds the opinion that “the constitution guarantees the innocence of every citizen of Nigeria until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction”.
He further stated that a situation where the order of courts are continuously disobeyed by security agents makes such security agents judges onto themselves and such situation does not augur well for our democracy based on separation of powers and rule of law.
According to him, it makes the law uncertain at any point in time and leads to loss of confidence of the people in government and state institutions of which the judiciary is one.
He, therefore, called for a renewed commitment on the part of law enforcement agents to submit to constituted authority and oversight and release all detainees who have met their bail conditions as ordered by the courts of the land.
“You cannot approbate and reprobate” he said.
On the part of the Commission, “we shall continue to train and sensitize law enforcement agents on the need to respect the law and the constitution which they have sworn to protect so as to engender a culture of respect for human rights in the country”.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed serious concern over the proliferation of illegal detention centres across the country saying that such centres must be closed to save their victims from further torture, inhuman and degrading treatments.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq who stated this in Abuja while reacting to the discovery of some illegal detention centres in some parts of the country , regretted that such centres by their atrocious activities have further expanded the frontiers of human violations in the country.
The country he said has in the last few weeks been inundated with reports of brazen abductions, particularly involving minors and youths who are unjustifiably subjected to various forms of inhuman and degrading treatment by their adductors .
According to Ojukwu, acts of torture and all forms of inhuman and degrading treatment under whatever guise are clearly illegal, constitute human rights violations under the 1999 constitution of the FRN as amended as well as the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and other International treaties to which Nigeria is a signatory. Furthermore, the Anti Torture Act of 2017 signed into law by President Buhari clearly outlaws and abhors acts of torture ,inhuman and degrading treatment and makes them punishable with imprisonment.
Ojukwu who was deeply concerned about the spate of abduction particularly among children and youths stated that the reported 300 inmates uncovered by the Nigerian Police in Daura, Katsina state, the children abducted from Kano as well as the two Torture centers uncovered in Kaduna are incidents among other similar cases across the country. These constitute grave human rights violations which must be thoroughly investigated and the culprits brought to book.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary has directed the Commission’s State Coordinators in the North West to carry out in-depth investigations into the alleged illegal detention centres including the case of the abducted children in Kano in line with the Commission’s mandate. “This will enable the Commission ascertain the various aspects of human rights violations perpetrated by the operators of the so called educational and rehabilitation centers preparatory to ensuring their prosecution and punishment in line with the law”, Ojukwu added.
Ojukwu frowned at the idea of abducting and dumping people, including children at unapproved centres in the name of rehabilitation saying that any form of training or education that is not approved and monitored by the relevant authorities’ must not be allowed to operate.
The Executive Secretary called on the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and other relevant law enforcement agencies operating at the federal and state government levels to be more vigilant and fish out the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and ensure that they are diligently prosecuted in accordance with the law.
He said that the Commission will scale up its advocacy campaigns to sensitize people on the dangers of sending their children, ward or relations to illegal detention centres for the purposes of ‘rehabilitation.’
The Commission urged the Ministries of Education, Social Services and all other agencies responsible for the approval of the centers in all the states to recall all the approvals for the running of these centers and re-certify them after thorough inspection and monitoring of their activities.
The Commission further noted that henceforth, all persons with mental problem are to be admitted and treated in psychiatric hospitals and not in rehabilitation homes as any violators will be held accountable for human rights violation of the victims.
Ojukwu said the investigative panel is necessary following the arbitrary arrest of women in Abuja by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and the BBC documentary which exposed some lecturers demanding sexual relationships from female students in exchange for grades.
He also made reference to the case of 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje who died in 2018 due to complications from an alleged rape by a senior lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic.
“The rising cases of gender-based violence have necessitated the need for a stronger policy and laws to protect the rights of Nigerians especially women and children,” he said.
While demanding for a transparent and conclusive investigation, Mr Anthony Ojukwu promised to work with the station as Nigerians await police probe into Owolabi’s tragic death.
Although the young corp member’s funeral was held at the Wusasa cemetery in Zaria, prominent Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari have commiserated with the management of Channels Television and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
NYSC members and staff of the station were on ground to ensure that Owolabi was given a befitting ceremony.
Notably present at the funeral service is the Director-General of NYSC who was represented by a Director in the corps.