‘STOP THE KILLINGS NOW!’ ADEGBORUWA TELLS BUHARI

BY EBUN-OLU ADEGBORUWA, SAN

In the course of last week, both Chambers of the National Assembly took up the issue of failing security across the land. Whilst the Senate asked that the service chiefs be sacked, the House of Representatives interacted with the security agencies. It is now clear to all and sundry, at least from the comments and contributions of lawmakers across party lines, that Nigeria is approaching a failed state. The pogrom going on in Southern Kaduna presently is totally unacceptable. In a programme that I monitored on television recently, a presidential aide was challenged to take a drive around his constituency without security patrol if indeed he feels Nigeria is safe enough. The worsening security situation across the land should be a cause for concern to all of us. The President has a duty to act fast, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

Nigeria became a State formally in 1960, with sovereign powers transferred from the British colonialists to the representatives of the people. By law however, section 2 (1) of the 1999 Constitution states that “Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, and by section 2 (2) thereof, “Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of states and a Federal Capital Territory”. So, in the real sense of the word, Nigeria is created as a sovereign state consisting of federating units. Fair enough, the same Constitution that created the Nigerian Federation also specified the kind of powers that it should exercise and the functions it should perform, for its citizens. In this regard, Chapter 2 of the self-same Constitution, comes to bear. I will limit myself for this discourse however, to section 14 of the Constitution.

Under and by virtue of section 14 (2) (a), “sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution, derives ALL its powers and authority” (emphasis supplied). In very simple terms therefore, the sovereignty attached to the entity known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, resides in the people of Nigeria. In essence, all our leaders hold power in trust for the people of Nigeria and they cannot go on acting as if it is the other way round. To break it down more, there is no President who should claim to be in power, there is no Governor who should assert any authority and there should be no legislative house or even a court of law, that should rule over and above the people and be lording policies and decisions over them. Power belongs to the people, pure and simple. The fact that the people of Africa and especially Nigeria, have been living in the opposite of civility and modernisation, whereby those elected into office by the people turn around to arrogate power to themselves, cannot be an excuse to obfuscate this simple truth.

Now to section 14 (2) (b) of the Constitution, wherein it is stated expressly and without equivocation, that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” A community interpretation of section 14 (2) (a) and (b) respectively will show clearly that the Nigerian State was created for the people of Nigeria, that the focus of the entity called Nigeria is the people and that the target of power and existence of that Federation, is the people. It is good therefore, to sound it loud and clear, that the very existence of government, the totality of the exercise of power, by all and sundry, is for the security and welfare of the people and anything outside this, anything done that cannot achieve this, means a failure of governance. Pure and simple.

According to the learned authors of Merriam-Webster Dictionary, SECURITY means: “(a) freedom from danger (safety); (b) freedom from fear or anxiety; … something that secures, protection or measures taken to guard against espionage or sabotage, crime, attack, or escape.” The priority of security in governance is better illustrated by section 4 of the Police Act, wherein it is stated that the police shall be “… employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged, and shall perform such military duties within or outside Nigeria as may be required of them by, or under the authority of this or any other Act.” What stands out in this section is the phrase “protection of lives and property”. Now, let us match this with certain data recently released by the Inspector-General of Police himself.

At the quarterly Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council meeting held in Kaduna in, 2019, the then Inspector-General of Police stated that in the first quarter of 2019 alone, 1,071 persons lost their lives in crime-related cases across the country. He stated further that between January and April 2019 alone, 685 persons were kidnapped. Amnesty International has a higher figure of deaths and casualties. In 2018, it was estimated that about 6, 562 persons died from crime-related cases whilst generally, an estimate of about 13,000 persons are said to have died from the insurgency going on in the land, whilst about 1.1m people have been displaced thereby. Just in one year! This is surely frightening, to the extent that no one can claim to sleep with the two eyes closed, any longer. It may well be that the government is taking all necessary steps to contain the rising spate of insecurity across Nigeria, but this remains to be seen by all and sundry, in terms of security and safety, in the real sense of the word. The summary now would seem to be that the government has not been able to rise up to the challenges posed by insecurity. The death rate is climbing everyday.

Now to welfare, since the two main points of governance are security and welfare. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines WELFARE as “the state of doing well, especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity.” Are we doing well as a people, presently? Are we enjoying some form of good fortune economically? Is the well-being of the people of this nation improving in any form at all? Are we happy, with the state of things in Nigeria? Is there prosperity in the land? Without any doubt whatsoever, suicide cases have increased, the economic power of the people has dwindled considerably and virtually everyone now depends on handouts from the government, as private businesses are all struggling to survive, in the absence of basic infrastructure, especially power supply. I have no doubt in my mind that the true testimony across the land is that the majority of the people are suffering indeed. I see it in the text messages that I receive every now and then, for financial assistance, I read it in the news daily, of how many States in the Federation are owing their workers salaries, for several months and how the ordinary people are just living from hand to mouth, barely eking out a living, just surviving and tagging along. Companies are closing down, on account of COVID 19 and there is palpable suffering across the land.

The present circumstance of Nigeria is that many people have become beggars of some sort. Even as businessmen and women, professionals and even as manufacturers, the bulk of the little profit margin is spent on infrastructure, whereby you are forced to generate your own electricity, provide your own water, build your own road, employ your own security, train your children in private schools or send them abroad, if they must excel, provide yourself health care if you must live, and may be buy your own car, if you must move around. It is that bad, that the government seemed to have shifted all its responsibilities to the citizens. And how exactly is anyone expected to survive in such hostile environment, where you spend most of your valuable time in traffic, you get home to sleep in intense heat and darkness and then you eventually manage to make it to the office the following day, only to be confronted with power outage, all day long, draining all human capacity, productivity and usefulness. Can we then say that we have a nation or that any form of governance is in place?

From all the above frightening scenarios, how do you then describe the entity created as Nigeria, if it is agreed that the two critical responsibilities of government are the security and welfare of the people? This piece became necessary as it would seem that those in authority do not well appreciate the enormity of the situation that we presently face in Nigeria or that state propaganda has so prospered and become the art of governance, that some of them are totally ensconced from the reality of present day Nigeria. Whereas I know that some well-meaning persons exist in authority presently, I verily believe that the time has now come, for some frank introspection that will translate into some genuine appreciation, of the debilitating welfare and security conditions of our people, if we are to say that there is governance at all. In the absence of that, the reasonable conclusion is that we are gradually moving to a failed state, as echoed by those legislators, who, very unfortunately, are themselves part and parcel of the failure of the state.

The President must act and act quickly, as time is running out on him. As an expert in security matters given his background as a military general, it is totally unacceptable that the President is unable to stem the rising tide of insecurity in the land, especially the terror of bandits, criminals and insurgents. How do we have leaders and we live like nomads, victims and aliens in our own country?

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

FIDA LAGOS LAUNCHES PDSS PROJECT

The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, Lagos State Branch has launched its Police Duty Solicitors Scheme (PDSS). The event took place during the weekend at the FIDA Lagos headquarters at Makoko, Lagos.

Speaking on the rationale for the scheme, the Chairperson of FIDA Lagos Branch, Mrs. Philomena Nneji said it was aimed to assist indigent persons who come in contact with the law, adding that special focus will be placed on protection of women and girls against rape and sexual assault.

Tracing the history of PDSS in Nigeria, the Lagos State Coordinator of Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACoN), Mrs. Iyabo Akingbade stated that approximately 70 per cent of total prisoners are awaiting trial detainees. She identified multiple adjournments as a major handicap in pre-trial detention, adding that State prosecutors charged with ensuring due process in criminal arraignments lack mechanisms to monitor or control the police.

“There are instances where detainees are held longer in pre-trial detention than would have been the case if they had been convicted for the offence charged,” Akingbade said, adding that duty solicitors are meant to “stand in the gap” and resolve many of the cases to reduce judges’ dockets.

On his part, Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch PDSS programme, Mr. Emeka Nwadioke commended FIDA Lagos for the initiative, noting that there is a need to boost the provision of legal assistance to indigent persons. He however canvassed the need for an “urgent review of the PDSS framework in view of the fact persisting overhang in pre-trial detention.”

Former Chairman of NBA Ikorodu Branch, Mr. Adebayo Akinlade traced the implementation of the PDSS programme in the Ikorodu area, adding that the scheme posted several successes under his leadership. He urged the chapter to ensure that the scheme is sustained in order to foster access to justice for more citizens.

A senior officer with the Legal Department of the Nigerian Police Force, State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Lagos, Ibijoke Akinpelu spoke on the modalities put in place by the force to tackle rape and sexual offences among other crimes. She pledged the cooperation of the force with FIDA Lagos in carrying out its PDSS project. She also took questions from Makoko residents and duty solicitors during the interactive session.

Following the formal unveiling of the scheme, the chapter bestowed an award on Akinlade for his contributions to the growth of the duty solicitors’ scheme.

Other stakeholders who attended the launch are Mrs. Felicitas Aigbogun-Brai, Executive Director of REPLACE as well as a representative of the Chairman of Yaba Local Council Development Authority (LCDA), Kayode Omiyale. Members of the chapter held a legal clinic on the sidelines of the launch to offer legal counseling to some Makoko residents who attended the launch under the programme.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

AMNESTY INT’L, ODINKALU, BALLASON, OTHERS SEEK ACCOUNTABILITY FOR MASS KILLINGS

Amnesty International and human rights advocates have warned that unless there is accountability for mass killings in Nigeria, the trend will not stop.

Rising from the 2020 Annual Lecture of the Molluma Medico-Legal Centre held recently at House of Justice, Kaduna, the panelists noted that survivors, victims and communities affected by mass killings deserve empathy from government as well as dignity and closure. The theme of the lecture was “From atrocity to closure: Managing victims and deploying forensics in the aftermath of mass killings”

Country Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, decried the acceptance of impunity and lack of accountability for mass killings in Nigeria. Ojigho, who was on the panel of discussants, referred to cycles of killings and reprisals by terror groups and security forces or in so-called inter-communal clashes and regretted the seeming lack of interest on the part of the Nigerian government to bring these cycles to an end.

She gave the example of the massacre of Shiites in Zaria, Kaduna State, in December 2015 where security forces were involved in the mass killing and disappearance of hundreds with no consequences and no closure for the families despite the recommendations of a judicial commission of inquiry.

Ojigho underscored the importance of the “right to truth”, pointing out that truth has often times been caught in between a citizenry who demand accountability and government officials who disdain the kind of work that groups like Amnesty do in pursuit of truth about mass killings.

The keynote speaker at the lecture was world-renowned geneticist, Mishel Stephenson, representing Fredy Peccerelli, Executive Director of the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (GAFG). Ms. Stephenson called attention to the needs of families affected by mass killings and disappearances and underscored the obligation of government to address these needs.

Her words: “Families affected by such killings or disappearances usually have a diverse range of emotions, needs and priorities, such as locating the bodies of their loved ones, knowing the cause of death (right to truth), according their loved ones a burial, finding closure or ensuring justice. The skills required to fulfill these needs are multi-disciplinary, and include genetics, anthropology and psycho-social support. Forensic genetics helps in identifying the bodies when they are located and could also help in prosecution of alleged perpetrators or bringing to justice persons behind mass atrocities for the purpose of truth and justice.”

Stephenson revealed that in Guatemala, the work of the FAFG has helped to locate over 3,500 victims and to bring many people, including a former President of the country, to justice. According to her, the families and communities of victims are the real victims and the driving force behind investigations of this nature.

She warned that investigating mass killings takes time, effort and could be excruciating but is the only way that the collective dignity and humanity of both victims and survivors could be validated.

Drawing from the experience of Indian-Administered Kashmir, Khurram Parvez, a panelist and Chair of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances stressed the obligation of government to protect its citizens and communities, pointing out that quite apart from their impact on individuals and families, mass killings also undermine bonds of coexistence and faith in institutions. Mr. Parvez explained the importance of ensuring effective documentation of such crimes even when it is not immediately evident that any prosecutions will take place. In Kashmir, he disclosed, they have worked to document over 6,700 mass killings and mass graves.

Another discussant, Abiodun Baiyewu, Executive Director of Global Rights said closure would be much easier to achieve if government were to show empathy and sincerity in investigating mass killings and bringing their perpetrators to justice. “…this is the most effective way to break the cycle of atrocities and reprisals. When this does not happen, atrocities and impunity can be said to be ‘state-backed’, “she argued

Ahmed Salkida, Editor-in-Chief, “HumAngle” and foremost conflict reporter from Nigeria, argued that mass killings and massacres will continue as long as government and its agencies neglect their primary duty which is to protect the citizens and their communities. He complained that in Nigeria, government deploys effective assets to protect property but often behaves as if its people are expendable. “The government must choose its citizens over properties”, said Mr. Salkida.

Advocate, Peter Kiama, Executive Director of Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) in Kenya, who was also a panelist at the event argued that mass killings do not occur by accident but are enabled by government policies which means that policies can also be made to curb or eradicate them. He also called attention to the need to address the trauma needs of survivors who are often affected in ways that society and government are unwilling or unable to pay attention to.

Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, who chairs International Advisory Board of the Molluma Medico-Legal Centre added that it is important for families to have closure and to be able to locate and identify the remains of their loved ones and that could be made possible if citizens and government learn to count and account for each other. Citing the examples from both Guatemala and Kashmir, Dr. Odinkalu underscored the importance for attention to detail, documentation and dignity in responding to mass killings. ‘All these require patience and time’, he said.

Participation in the lecture came from over 30 countries, including Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States. They included former Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice K.B Akaahs, former Attorney-General of Kaduna State, Zakari Sogfa; Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana at Legon, Professor Raymond Atuguba; and Head of Advocacy in Christian Solidarity World-wide (CSW), Dr. Khataza Gondwe.

Executive Director of the Molluma Medico-Legal Centre, Gloria Mabeiam Ballason, said that the 2020 lecture was necessary to empower citizens to put pressure on Nigeria’s federal government to ensure accountability for the instigators, sponsors, perpetrators, catalysts and enablers of the mass killing that now characterize the country. “These killings will not stop until no one benefits from them”, Ballason noted, concluding that Guatemala is a great example of the power in citizenship movements.

Commissioned in 2014, the Molluma Yakubu Medico-Legal Centre works to ensure accountability for victims of medical crimes and mass atrocities, and to give victims dignity even in death. The Centre is located in Kaduna, Nigeria. The 2020 lecture is the third in series.

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

COVID-19: LAWYERS, COALITION SEEK MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY

* CITE LACK OF FAIR TRIALS, POOR LEGAL REPRESENTATION

Lawyers under the aegis of Avocats Sans Frontières France (Lawyers Without Borders France) and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty have called for a global moratorium against death penalty during the Coronavirus pandemic period.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the two groups warned that it would be “contradictory and perverse” to carry out executions during the COVID-19 crisis when there are concerted efforts to save lives.

“When the whole world is trying hard to save lives from COVID-19, an execution by the state is contradictory and perverse” said Kevin Miguel Rivera Medina, President of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

In the statement, Avocats Sans Frontières France and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty called on all countries that still use the death penalty to impose a moratorium on death sentences and executions on the ground that fair trials and fair legal representation are impossible to maintain during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement reads: “While some countries now sentence people to death by videoconference, as in Nigeria or Singapore, in others the prison restrictions have seriously infringed the rights of those awaiting execution because courts are stalled and law firms are closed. Options to help people whose lives are at risk are decreasing.

“The current global health crisis has demonstrated how profoundly unfair the system has been on people already weakened by their heavy sentence. A lack of visits to people on death row and the inability for lawyers and judges to work normally are all unfair consequences of an ill-equipped system.

“By comparison, those countries that have had the courage during this time to take a step, big or small, towards abolition shows that our world is made better without this archaic, cruel and degrading practice of capital punishment. For example, Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco and Zimbabwe nave granted commutations, which also extended to those sentenced to death.”

The groups note that “This 10 October, civil society will mobilize to celebrate the 18th World Day Against the Death Penalty, which will focus on the right to legal representation and highlight the role of lawyers in protecting those facing the death penalty. A right that is fractured by the health crisis since lawyers are less able to assist their clients and who are also economically weakened.”

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

MISSING CORPSE: FAMILY DISAGREES WITH POLICE

The family of Late Mrs. Mary Ehinlaiye (nee Lawani) has disagreed sharply with Lagos State Police Commissioner Edgal Imohimi on the circumstances surrounding the corpse of the deceased. Continue Reading

GUNMEN KILL RICKEY TARFA ASSOCIATE’S PARENTS

* Victims to be Buried Wednesday

Suspected assassins have gunned down the parents of Mr. Andrew Malgwi, a Partner in the law firm of Messrs Rickey Tarfa & Co. Dr. Mwajim Malgwi, a renowned medical doctor and proprietor of Polyclinic in Jimeta, Yola was killed alongside his wife and maid by unknown gunmen around Boggare village, Jimeta, Yola. They were returning home from a meeting with farm hands on Saturday. Continue Reading

FG Must Stem the Killings – OBAJAJA

By Stephen Obajaja

I got home to the warm embrace of my wife and children this evening from a campaign event of the NBA and whilst at it my phone rang. I answered immediately as it is my Partner Adebola Lema calling. What l heard next and the pictures he later sent to me were for want of better words gruesome and incomprehensible. Continue Reading

‘Father of ACJA’ Leads Pro Bono Talks

Senior Advocate of Nigeria-designate, Mr. Chino Obiagwu will on August 15 spearhead talks on pro bono and legal aid services in Nigeria. Also known by his sobriquet, ‘The father of Administration of Criminal Justice Act’ due to his pioneering work in birthing the seminal law, Obiagwu will also give an inspirational talk to budding and established pro bono lawyers and legal aid service providers on the theme of the conference. Continue Reading

ICC Concludes Shiites Massacre Investigation, Probes IPOB Killings

The International Criminal Court is moving gradually towards prosecution of Nigerian officials involved in the December 2015 massacre of members of Islamic Movements of Nigeria.

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Telephone Banking Fraud: London Court Jails 5 Nigerians

An Inner London Crown Court has sentenced five Nigerians to various jail terms over the theft of £610,000 from business bank accounts.
Desmond Abifade, Victor Oke, Moses Kuye, Melinda Mensah-Oke, Arinola Kuye, were caught after being spotted by fraud investigators at HSBC, who passed the case to the dedicated card and payment crime unit (DCPCU) to investigate.
According to reports, Victor Oke, 39, of Galleons Drive, Barking, used stolen data provided by Desmond Uyiosa Abifade, 25, of Henniker Road, Stratford, to falsely impersonate company directors via telephone banking.
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