As part of its efforts in promoting the enjoyment of Human Rights in Nigeria, Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France or Lawyers Without Borders), in collaboration with its partners, the Carmelite Prisoners Interest Organisation (CAPIO) and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has set up “The Police and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Situation Room” in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

A statement made available to CITY LAWYER shows that the Situation Room was established under the “Strengthening the National Actors Capacities and Advocation for Ending Severe Human Rights Violations in Nigeria project” (SAFE) funded by the European Union and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and is targeted at addressing human rights violations such as torture, extra-judicial killings and arbitrary detention.

In attendance at the maiden convening of the situation room were representatives of ASF France, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACON), Federal Ministry of Justice (FMOJ), CAPIO, NBA, and key CSOs working on justice sector reform in Nigeria such as Amnesty International, CLEEN Foundation, Access to Justice. Others were representatives of CSOs from Lagos, Enugu and Kaduna States.

In line with ASF France’s objectives for establishing the situation room, insightful contributions were made by members of the situation room as follows:

  • Create a pool of possible reforms that are consistent with international best practices in respect of Police accountability and human rights;
  • Create a platform for CSO monitoring and collaboration with the Police on its operations towards human rights enforcements;
  • Develop strategies aimed at improving the respect of human rights by officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force; and 
  • Boost the image of the Nigerian Police Force before the citizens.

The situation room also considered recommendations generated from State-level stakeholders roundtable meetings organised on the SAFE Project on Human Rights. The Head of Office of Avocats Sans Frontières France, Angela Uwandu, in her opening remarks said: “The work for the advancement of Human Rights in the country should be a collaborative effort between CSOs and the Government hence the dire need for the situation room”. She also called on CSOs to replicate this effort so as to sustain the gains of the engagement.

In his contribution, the representative of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, restated the commitment of the Police to the advancement of human rights and the strengthening of the rule of law in the country.

The O/C of the Police Complaints Response Unit (P-CRU), ACP Martins Ishaku Basiran, during his presentation on the Police Internal Mechanism for Accountability for Human Rights Violations by Police Officers said “a total of 2,156 complaints were reported during the 2019 period, 1,617 (75%) complaints were resolved, 108 (5%) complaints were found to be false and 431 (20%) complaints are still under investigation. There is an urgent need to establish P-CRU Desk offices across various States of the country to ensure that complaints are reduced to the barest minimum”.

ASF France aims to build on a successful maiden convening of the situation room to ensure sustainability of this initiative. The situation room would continue to expand and operate remotely as it gears up for its next convening.

ASF France’s SAFE project is co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the French Agency for Development (AFD) and is implemented in partnership with the Nigerian Bar Association and the Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organization (CAPIO).

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