Groups urge government to respect citizens’ rights
Human rights groups, Legal Defense and Assistance Project (LEDAP) and the Improved Sexual Health And Rights Advocacy Initiative (ISHRAI) have called on the government at all levels to respect human rights principles.
They also admonished the government to ensure that security agencies work in line with the constitutional provisions in the discharge of their duties and not undermine the fundamental rights of citizens.
Speaking at the commemoration of International Human Rights Day, LEDAP through its Programme Manager, Mrs. Pamela Okoraigwe, stated that it was imperative for Nigeria to honour its human rights obligation to its citizens, adding that human right is an un-extinguishable universal language, the observance of which is the fulcrum of peace, democracy and sustainable development.
According to her, “LEADAP is greatly worried over the deliberate clampdown of the civic space and the failed attempt to stifle free speech with the re-introduction of the hate speech bill, even after Nigerians roundly defeated it during the 8th National Assembly.
“The attempt at suppressing freedom of speech under the guile of regulating social media and the continued clampdown of peaceful protests are worrying signs of a state degenerating into anarchy.”
She further stated that the nation has witnessed “a thunderstorm of human rights violations and many people, including journalists and youths have been victims of indiscriminate arrest and detentions by security agencies who have become the tools of oppression in the hands of the state.”
According to her, extrajudicial killings and torture of civilians by law enforcement agencies have become the order of the day and nothing is being done to bring perpetrators to book.
“It is quite appalling that despite Nigeria’s adoption of major international human rights instruments and incorporation of human rights in the constitution, human rights protection in the country remains in an abysmal state.
“The continued harassment of citizens, especially youths by agents of the state creates an atmosphere of insecurity to life and property, which is the highest threat to political stability and economic development in any nation”, she held.
The Executive Director, ISHRAI, Olubiyi Oludipe and Nathaniel Ngwu of Justice for Peace and Development Initiative suggested regular training for the law enforcement agencies to keep them abreast of current issues.
They added that people need to be educated on the fundamental rights that are in place to protect them when assaulted.
“The public should be informed that there are laws in place to fight for their rights and obtain justice for them no matter how difficult the cases might be.”
They consequently called on the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and other law enforcement and investigative agencies to implement Torture Act, noting that implementation of the Act should be assigned a particular office or unit of the agency concerned.