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SERAP petitions African Commission over alleged harassment of Falana, others

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Mrs. Soyata Maiga, and the commission’s members requesting them to pressurise Nigerian government to stop the harassment of detained politician, Omoyele Sowore, Femi Falana, and others.

The group urged the commission “to urgently intervene and put pressure on the Nigerian authorities and their agents to immediately end the intimidation and harassment of detained journalist and activist Sowore and Olawale Bakare, their sureties and lawyers, particularly Femi Falana (SAN), simply for defending their clients’ rights.”

According to SERAP, the State Security Service (SSS) has stated that it would not release the activist until it is allowed to vet sureties that have already been verified by the court, implicitly harassing the sureties apparently with the aim of pushing them to disown the detained activists.

In the petition dated November 22, 2019, signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, and copied to Mr. Diego GARCÍA-SAYÁN, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the group said: “The harassment of detained activists for demanding strict compliance with court orders, and then their sureties as well as lawyers who come to their defence, shows a steady slide away from the rule of law and underscores the urgent need for the Commission to insist on the restoration of respect for human rights in Nigeria.

“The harassment is emblematic of a broader pattern of official threats to and harassment of Nigerian civil society. We are concerned that rather than releasing Sowore and Bakare as ordered by the court, the Nigerian authorities are now implicitly intimidating the activists, sureties, and lawyers.”

Meanwhile, the government of Ghana has begun the registration and issuance of the ECOWAS Biometric Identity card, its delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament has disclosed.

In a report presented at plenary, the Ghanaian representatives to the Parliament said that the exercise, which commenced in April in Accra, would be extended to all parts of the country.

The registration, which is on the first phase, is for persons not less than 15 years while in the second phase, those under the age of 15 would be captured.

The Ghana card, according to the NIA, harmonises all information on other identity cards and also serves as an ECOWAS passport to facilitate free movement within the sub-region.


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