The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) worked with other civil society groups in Edo State to organize a peaceful rally in Benin City, Edo State capital to call for a stop to human rights violations. The rally was held on Wednesday 11th November, 2015 and over 150 persons representing different organizations and the public took participated. The event was held in pursuance of the Resource Governance Enhancement in Niger Delta Project which ANEEJ is currently implementing with support from Bread for the World – Protestant Development Service, Germany. The mission of the project is to boost human rights and promote good governance practice in the region.
Addressing the rally, ANEEJ Executive Director, Rev David expressed great delight for the opportunity to address the crowed and noted that the rally was organized to call for an end to human rights violations in Edo State and other parts of the country and as well encourage security agents and other authorities concerned to take urgent steps to protect the rights of citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
Ugolor made it clear that cases of human rights violations were common and some of such cases include but not limited to extra-judicial killings, unlawful arrest, detention and oppression of the weak and marginalized groups in the society who often times do not have highly placed persons to fight for them and do not also have the resources to engage the services of legal practitioners.
He made reference to some specific cases of human rights violation and lamented that a lot of persons do not even know their rights, a situation that makes it easy for those who are lawless to trample on such rights and go away unchallenged.
He used the opportunity to call on Edo State Government to domesticate the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 in the State to improve administration of criminal justice system. He also urged Edo State Government to fulfill the promise made in 2012 to set up a Public Defenders Unit to provide free legal aid to victims of human rights abuses.
The rally started at the King’s square, with a brief stopover at Edo State House of Assembly and the clerk was on ground to receive the group. The group then headed to the Office of Edo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice at Ezoti Street through airport road where a position paper was presented to the Commissioner containing specific demands. The rally then terminated at the Nigerian Union of Journalist press centre where the group addressed the press.
At the State House of Assembly, the clerk appreciated the peaceful conduct of the rally, and promised to convey the message of the rally to the Speaker and other members of Edo State House of Assembly. He promised emphatically that ANEEJ will hear from the House in a few weeks.
At the office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the Permanent Secretary also commended ANEEJ and stated that the Commissioner is unavoidably absent and has instructed him to meet with the ANEEJ and other groups. He promises to deliver the CSOs Statement to the Commissioner.
Earlier, materials such as banners, flyers and T-shirt with appropriate inscriptions were produced and then used during the rallies
CIVIL SOCIETY STATEMENT SUBMITTED TO EDO STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND COMMISSIONER FOR JUSTICE DURING A PEACEFUL RALLY HELD ON NOVEMBER 11, 2015
We, members of the undersigned Civil Society Organisations have decided to embark on a peaceful rally to call for an end to human rights violations in Edo State and other parts of the country and as well encourage security agents and other authorities concern to take urgent steps to protect the rights of citizens as guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
We are using this opportunity to remind Edo State Government of the promise made to Edo people in 2012 regarding that setting up of a Public Defender Unit to provide free legal aid to victims of human rights abuses. To use the exert words of the governor – “Government may not be able to deliver food to all the citizens but government must not tamper with the citizens’ right”. We are aware that the process of setting up this unit has commenced, but we urge the State government to hasten up the process of actualizing the noble promise.
Again, we are aware that that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, have been put in place by the Federal Government. We are as well using this opportunity to call on Edo State Government to domesticate the Act to improve administration of criminal justice system. We are aware that this is the hottest law in the country right now and All the provisions of the Act are geared towards ensuring that the system of administration of criminal justice in Nigeria promotes efficient management of all criminal justice institutions, speedy dispensation of justice, and protection of the rights and interests of the suspect and the victim of crime.
Increasing cases of extra-judicial killings have been witnessed in the State and other parts of the country and we are worried that if urgent steps are not taken to check the growing trend, a time may come when that citizen may not be able to walk freely without being killed, arrested or unlawfully detained. We appeal to Edo State Government to liaise with the relevant authorities to see that is issue is put under control.