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A Nation And The Dented Human Rights Record



Kunle Olasanmi, in this report looks at the level of Human Rights violation in the country and the negative effect it would have on the country’s Human Rights record

“Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law‎. Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty‎”.

The above was quoted from section 35 (1) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution.

Unfortunately, those at the helms of affairs, especially security agencies have violated these laws over and over again with constant and illegal detention of accused persons.

In the last few years, no administration can be said not to have violated these laws but the present administration of President Mohammadu Buhari is worse of it.‎

A case in hand is that of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria‎, ibraheem El-zakyzaky and his wife who have been clamped into detention by this government for close to three years now without trial.

There have been series of protest in Abuja in the last few weeks. Of their detention without trial, despite a court order which ‎asked the federal government to release them unconditionally.

Many Nigerians, especially stakeholders are divided in the views about the detention of an accused person. Some believed anyone accused of wrongdoing should be treated with respect and dignity until the contrary is proved. They believed the government should not hide under the guise of anti-corruption fight, security challenge and perpetrate illegality by trampling on people’s rights. Other however, feel treating accused persons, especially the influential ones with respect is what led the country to where it is today. To them, it breeds more corrupt persons.

Under this administration, some suspects, especially in some of the high profile cases have been in custody for about a year now. Even, when granted bail by a competent court, they were blatantly refused.

Some of those languishing in detention of security and anti-graft agencies across the country are the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, former federal capital territory minister, some leaders of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), El-zakyzaky and many others. Some of these people have been granted bail, but agents of government blatantly refused to let them go and enjoy their bails.

Some of these people are currently in court challenging what they describe as illegal detention.

A civil society organisation Coalition of Civil Society Groups for Transparency and Good Governance (CCSGTGG) described the continued detention of suspects who have been granted bail as vindictive.

The Secretary of the group, Comrade Muhammed Goni Alhassan, said while the group is in strong support of the current fight against corruption, it is in the overall interest of Nigerians and the nation that the fight against corruption is carried out with strict adherence to due process and rule of law.

“It is now speculated that the current anti-corruption searchlight on the judiciary is a cover to harass, intimidate, and prosecute all those who are seen to have, one way or another, aided the tribunal victory of most governors of the Peoples Democratic Party extraction.

“In as much as we support President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda and initiatives, we urge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to go about with worthy considerations in respect of rule of law and due process”.

A United States based legal practitioner and the Co-ordinator, Justice for Jos Project, Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe, on his part called on the federal government to immediately release the Shiite leader and ‎his wife had been in detention for more than two years.

They’ve been in the custody of the Directorate of State Security (DSS).

Justice Gabriel ‎Kolawole, had over year ago ordered the release of the Shiite leader and his wife and also ordered the government to pay them damages for infringing on their fundamental human rights.

Ogebe, the son‎ of a retired Supreme Court Justice, described the continuous detention of El-zakyzaky as a dent on the human rights record of the country.

He said, “This government has failed woefully in thhe area of human rights. The FG may be creating another Boko Haram unknowingly. The FG. Hhas a moral burden to ‎release the Shiite leader. Their peaceful protest should not be taken for granted.

“It is not only the country’s economy that is being destroyed, the human rights record of thhis country is also being affected”.

He also accused the government of not doing enough to reescue the remaing Chibok girls.

According to him, some of the Chibok girls that were taken to thhe United States by the government for studies have been abandoned.

He said he took ten out of the Chibok girls to the US and are currently doing well.

He said the FG claimed it has spent $1m on the girls with nothing to show for it.‎

Some lawyers who also reacted to the situation described it as an absurdity in a country that is governed by law. According to them, Nigeria should not descend into a jungle where anyone does whatever he likes.

A lawyer, Abidas Ogoomasidu, said what is happening in the country today is very surprising that under a civilian government, you will have someone thrown behind bars for about a year without being tried, honestly, it is unfortunate. “The most‎ annoying thing is that you will still see some lawyers defending these things. It is quite unfortunate to say the least. We can’t continue this way. A lot of Nigerians are aggrieved with what is going on in the country today”.

Another lawyer, who disagreed with the position of Ogoomasidu, Bimtafu Agusuda, said the country will change for the better, if the‎ present government is allowed to clean up the system that has been destroyed by past government. “Sometimes, for the sake of the country, some drastic measures needs to be taken to salvage the country from destruction. As far as I am concerned, some sections of the constitution need to be looked into because in the past, it has slowed us down”, he said.