National Human Rights Commission says it will not fold its arms and watch while law enforcement agencies, entities or individuals continue to trampled and violate the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
Tony Ojukwu, Esq, Executive Secretary of the Commission disclosed this in Benin on Monday March 2, at a public sitting on Special Investigation Panel on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria, organised for the South-South geo-political zone.
SGBV was set up April 2019 as a result of complaints received after security men led by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), under the auspices of FCT Task Force raided night clubs and the streets of Abuja.
Ojukwu said enssence of the SGBV Panel sitting was to check the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence in the country and increase access of Nigerians to the services of the Commission.
He added that the aim was to seek accountability where there is evidence to indicate that any officer, officials or individuals have been involved in acts of sexual and gender-based violence, stressing that it will also provide opportunities for fair hearing to both complainants and alleged violators.
“The public sitting is also to provide opportunities for fair hearing to both complainants and alleged violators and to mainstream human rights norms and tenets into the operation of AEPB, law enforcement officials and members of the public, etc, in line with global best practices and internationally accepted human rights standards.
“The SGBV Panel sitting will furthermore provide stakeholders opportunity to contribute to ideas on how best to develop guidelines and policies on sexual and gender-based violence for institutions, MDAs, public and private organisations and homes that can serve as good practices against the backdrop of reported cases of abuse”, he added.
While decrying the spate of human rights violation, Ojukwu said the SGBV Panel, since it was set up April 2019, has so far received one and hundred and thirteen (113) complaints/memorandum across the six geo-political zones, stressing that the South-East takes the lead with a total of thirty-five (35) cases, representing 30%.
He added that South-South comes next in human rights violation with twenty-six (26) cases, while the North-Central accounts for 19 cases and the North-West 17 cases. 12 cases of human rights abuse were recorded in the South-West while the North-Esst has the lowest with the total number of 4 cases.
The Chairman, who disclosed that the Commission had completed sittings in major cities in the country and had so far recorded success in handling gender-based violence, called on members of the public particularly South-South residents with gender-based violence to forward their complaints to the panel, assuring that identities of such persons would be fully protected.
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The Public Sitting which was attended by Civil Society Organisations, security agencies, antigraft agencies and other key stakeholders lasted for two days (Monday March 2 to Tuesday March 3).
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Terrorism: Court Frees Rivers APC Chieftain After Two Years
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has discharged and acquitted a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and Deputy Chairman of Youth Movement in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, Chief Fubara Ohaka, of charges filed against him by the Federal government.
Ohaka had been standing trial on six counts of alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering, terrorism, dealing in illegal refining products without a licence, and conspiracy among other charges preferred against him since 2022 by the Federal government through the Department of State Services.
Delivering judgment in the matter, the trial judge, Justice Stephen Dalyop-Pam, held that the Federal Government failed to provide evidence to back its claims, hence failing to prove its allegations against the defendant.
Our correspondent reports that Justice Dalyop-Pam agreed on no-case submission by the counsel for the defendant and thereby discharged and acquitted him.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, Ohaka expressed happiness that he has been vindicated, saying the judgment has put shame on the faces of all those who conspired to tarnish his image.
He said, “I’m happy that the judiciary has vindicated me today. I told the world that I never had any idea of the allegations against me, I am not a bunker, I have never sponsored any person to do bunkering,
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“Thanks to the judiciary who in its wisdom have reached to the root of the matter and proven to be the last hope of the common man.
“I want to thank those who stood by me in the time of trial, I’m happy that I never disappeared from them when I was told I was innocent of the allegations against me.
“Let me also use this medium to advise government agencies to always carry out proper investigation before engaging in legal battles, because if they had I would not have spent the number of months I spent in detention before the legal action that turned out in my favour today.”
NLC Insists On Planned Protest, Knocks DSS
The Nigeria Labour Congress has insisted that the planned protests against the prevailing economic situation in the country will hold contrary to the warning issued by the Department of State Services to shelve its protests.
The organised labour, on Monday, began mobilising its members for a nationwide protest slated for February 27 and 28 over the cost of living crisis in the country.
The Federal Government’s failure to fulfil its promises after the 14-day ultimatum by Labour, according to sources, will be met with a two-day nationwide protest already slated for February 27 and 28.
Reacting to the planned protests in a statement on Wednesday, the DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, urged the union to shelve the plan in the interest of peace and public order.
The Secret Service urged the union to pursue dialogue and negotiation rather than engage in conduct that could heighten tensions.
However, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday evening, noted that the protests will still hold and questioned why the DSS had yet to execute the arrest of those planning to disrupt the protests.
“We are concerned by the unsolicited advice of the Department of State Security to shelve our planned protest against the unprecedented high cost of living despite the indescribable suffering in the land, spiralling inflation, deepening poverty and the Naira at an exchange rate of N1,900 to the US Dollar.
“According to the Service, the planned protest should be shelved ‘in the interest of peace and public order’, pre-supposing that the action is intended to be violent and disruptive even when we have a history of peaceful protests’.
“More worrying is the new role the Service has assigned to itself, the chief spokesperson of the government.
“We are equally worried that although the “Service is aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence and yet have not executed the arrest of these elements,” the NLC president said.
Ajaero noted that the NLC will not compromise the sovereignty or security of the country while assuring that the protests would be peaceful.
“We are equally intrigued by the innuendos of the Service, their philosophy of “peace” and wild allegations and we want to reassure them that no one loves this country more than us and on our honour, we would never do anything that will compromise its sovereignty or security.
“Having said this, we would not have ourselves blackmailed or lied against by the Service. Our protest is a peaceful one against the unpardonable cost of living of which the unserviced personnel of the Service are also victims.
“We cannot fold our hands and pretend all is well. That will be a grievous conspiracy that history will not forgive,” he said.
VIDEO: Give Tinubu Time To Get Things Done, Gowon Begs Nigerians
A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), has urged Nigerians to exercise patience with President Bola Tinubu’s administration, emphasizing that it’s premature to anticipate flawless outcomes at this stage.
Gowon spoke in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with Tinubu on Wednesday.
The former Head of State, who noted that he was visiting Tinubu for the first time after the latter’s inauguration, disclosed that discussions revolved around matters concerning peace and security within the West African sub-region.
Responding to inquiries about his advice to the President regarding the prevailing national circumstances, Gowon acknowledged the existing challenges but stressed that it’s too early to anticipate perfection.
He said, “I was telling him that there’s no Nigerian leader that can get there, that will not get all of these, all that is being said about him. But certainly, there is no doubt about all that one has heard and seen from various media. I think the government is trying its best to deal with the various problems of the country.
“But with Nigerians, don’t worry, you will get criticised but people who get there know better than you know. I think all one can say to Nigerians is that they have to give the President time to get things done and it is too early to sort of say a perfect result will be achieved. That is my opinion.
“At least, if I remembered, I was told that I was too slow, fighting the war and that probably Nigeria would not make it and we should seek for discussion. Well, did we do it or not? They probably did not know the problem there on the ground there.”
VIDEO: Give Tinubu Time To Get Things Done, Gowon Urges Nigerians
A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), has urged Nigerians to exercise patience with President Bola Tinubu's administration, emphasizing that it's premature to anticipate flawless outcomes at this… pic.twitter.com/14oXWyQ9Ze
— Punch Newspapers (@MobilePunch) February 21, 2024
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