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Lawyers, justices charged on alleged human rights abuse by government

By Onoharhigho Omovudidi
17 December 2019   |   3:49 am
Legal experts have charged lawyers and justices to unite against alleged rights violations and abuse of power by the government.

Legal experts have charged lawyers and justices to unite against alleged rights violations and abuse of power by the government.

The charge was made during the 2019 Human Rights Summit organized by Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch, to mark the United Nations Human Rights Day with a theme, ‘Youth Standing Up for Human Rights.’

Speaking at the event, the Chairman of the occasion and human right activist, Femi Falana (SAN), stated that Nigeria is almost back to the era of human rights suppression of 1948.

He said: “The only times human rights were violated in Nigeria were during the British and military rules. We should not forget these challenges were fought by youths including Justices such as Akinola Aguda who was then a High Court Judge”, he added.

Falana further explained that in the 1990s, cases were handled with urgency, especially when it was related to human rights abuse.

“But the case is different now”, he said.

He, therefore, urged the Nigerian Bar and Bench in Lagos State to lead the fight for other Nigerians, stressing that any Attorney General that does not obey the rule of law or flout court orders should be petitioned.

Also speaking was a human right activist and writer, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, who blamed lawyers for the role played so far towards government’s power abuse and human rights violation.

“When President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation insinuated that state security preceded the rule of law, lawyers did not oppose them. Rather, you clapped for them. This was a big step taken in the wrong direction for the legal profession”, he said.

Odinkalu expressed worries that 25 per cent of Nigerian girls and 10 per cent of the boys suffer sexual violence before they attain 18 years.

“Six out of ten occur in the home or that of a relative or friend. There are also attacks on the streets, in schools and workplaces”, he added.

In the circumstance, he noted that media freedom is essential for a democratic state as they help to check government’s excesses.

Meanwhile the Chairman of NBA, Lagos Branch, Yemi Akangbe, held that every lawyer is a human right activist and must be ready to drop personal gains and fight for what is right.

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