A civil society organisation, Citizens’ Gavel, Tuesday, April 4, said courts should be exempted in the 14-day lockdown by the Federal Government to attend to rising cases of human rights abuses and other sensitive cases.
Communication Associate, Citizens’ Gavel,
Taiwo Makanjuola, in a release said the Federal Government should review the lockdown and allow the justice system to go on to guard against a ‘pandemic of human rights’ abuses.’
The organisation said in the alternative, the Chief Judges of states could also designate some courts for arraignment of such cases, noting that the “closure of the criminal justice system in Nigeria has brought the wheel of justice to a halt.”
PUNCH quoted the group saying, “The outbreak of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown have drastically affected our way of life and system. One of such systems affected is the criminal justice system of Nigeria. The shutdown of the judicial process has raised several issues; how do the police and other law enforcement agencies arraign defendants during this pandemic to prevent violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights in Section 35 of the constitution?
“Two, how are suspects arrested for various crimes prosecuted? Are they left to languish in the police cells thereby exposing them and other inmates to the risk of infections?
“With a potential increase in domestic violence, child defilement and other sexual and gender-based violence issues, how do victims of abuse get recompense during this trying time? The law enforcement and court will obviously need to urgently redesign the way they carry out their statutory activities. We propose a periodic sitting of courts or in the alternative the Chief Judge of respective states designate courts for arraignment.
“We propose that Magistrates pursuant to Section 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act should help checkmate inordinate detention of citizens.