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ECOWAS Court Finds FG Guilty of Violating Rights of #EndSARS Protesters

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The Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, has ruled that the Federal Republic of Nigeria violated the human rights of Obianuju Udeh and two others.

The court found Nigeria in breach of Articles 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, specifically on the right to life, security of person, freedom of expression, assembly and association, prohibition of torture, the duty of the state to investigate, and the right to effective remedy.

The applicants, Obianuju Udeh, Perpetual Kamsi and Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka, alleged that these violations occurred during the peaceful protests at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State on October 20 and 21, 2020.

The presiding judge, Justice Koroma Sengu, who delivered the judgment, dismissed the allegation that the right to life as guaranteed under article 4 of the ACPHR is violated.

He, however, said that the Federal Government must pay each applicant N2 million as compensation for violations of their security of person, prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, duty to investigate human rights violations, and right to effective remedy.

Additionally, he said the Federal Government must adhere to its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, investigate and prosecute its agents responsible for these violations, and report to the court within six months on the measures taken to implement this judgment.

The applicants alleged that during the peaceful protests against the SARS unit of the Nigerian Police Force at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20 and 21, 2020, the respondent committed several human rights violations.

Triggered by the alleged killing of Daniel Chibuike, the protests aimed to address police harassment and brutality.

The first applicant’s claims include that the soldiers shot protesters, resulting in deaths and injuries, which she live-streamed, subsequently receiving threatening phone calls that forced her into hiding and eventual asylum.

The second applicant, responsible for protesters’ welfare, described how soldiers began shooting after a power cut, leading to her hospitalisation due to police tear gas.

The third applicant recounted narrowly escaping being shot, observing the refusal of ambulance entry by soldiers, and later witnessing inadequate hospital care for victims.

She argued that she and her colleagues took over the victims’ care and she faced ongoing threats and surveillance, believed to be by respondent’s agents.

The applicants sought declaratory relief and compensation from the court for these violations.

The respondent denied all claims made by the applicants, asserting that the protesters unlawfully assembled at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020, under the guise of protesting against SARS.

The respondent also maintained that its agents followed strict rules of engagement and did not shoot or kill protesters.

It argued that the first applicant incited the crowd by playing music and using her Instagram page to stir disaffection against law enforcement, who were targeting escapee members of Boko Haram and bandits.

The respondent contended that the second applicant’s logistics and welfare support provision indicated her support for the violent protest.

It claimed that soldiers were present to restore peace until the police arrived, denying any harm inflicted on protesters and the refusal of ambulance access.

The respondent also denied that the third applicant’s presence was peaceful, asserting it was meant to escalate violence.

It argued that the Lagos State Government managed the treatment and care of the injured and submits that the applicants have not provided credible evidence to support their claims, or the reliefs sought.

In its judgment, the court found there was no violation of the right to life.

However, the court held that the respondent breached several articles of the ACPHR which occasioned fundamental breaches of human rights violation therein.

Furthermore, the court declared that the applicants were denied the right to an effective remedy.

The court ordered that the respondent make reparations to the applicants for the violation of their fundamental human rights.

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We’re Already Preparing 2025 Budget, Pro-Wike Lawmakers Are Gone – Fubara

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The Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, on Wednesday, said his administration has started the process of preparing the 2025 budget.

The governor also dismissed the threat by the Martin Amaewhule-led faction of the state House of Assembly that he should present the 2024 budget again, saying that having defected to the All Progressives Congress from the Peoples Democratic Party platform on which they got election, their seats remained vacant.

Fubara said this when he received on a solidarity visit, the leadership structure, critical stakeholders, opinion leaders, women and youths of Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas, led by Ogbakor Etche, the apex socio-cultural organisation of Etche Ethnic Nationality Worldwide, at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Nelson Chukwudi, and sent to newsmen, the governor described the recent ranting of the Amaewhule faction as noise-making from delusional folks.

He urged the “25 former lawmakers” to wake up from their slumber, adding that the ship of governance in the state was sailing smoothly.

The lawmakers loyal to the former governor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, had been having issues with Fubara over the political control of the state.

After an unsuccessful attempt to oust the governor, resulting in the demolition of the Assembly quarters, the lawmakers announced their defection to the APC, a move the state PDP latched on to declare their seats vacant.

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the state capital, granted an interim injunction restraining the pro-Wike lawmakers from parading themselves as legislators in the state.

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on July 4, affirmed Amaewhule and 24 other lawmakers as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Holding a session at the state Legislative Quarters on Monday, the court-reinstated lawmakers asked Fubara to re-present the 2024 budget to the Assembly and gave him a one-week ultimatum.

The government, in a swift move, approached the court to restrain the state Chief Judge and others from recognising the Amaewhule-led Assembly, while it also appealed the judgment of the Appeal Court at the Supreme Court.

Foreclosing the idea of presenting the 2024 budget again, Fubara said his administration had commenced preparing details of the 2025 Appropriation Bill, with priority placed on education, healthcare and agriculture.

“Let me assure you that agriculture is an area that we have promised the very special and peace-loving people of Rivers State that our 2025 budget, which we have already started preparing, will address.

“Don’t bother about those people that are delusional. They think we are still sleeping. Let me tell you people so that they can hear anywhere they are.

“I wanted to help them, sincerely because I know them. And I have said it before, these are people that I have helped. I paid their children’s school fees. I paid their house rent. So, I wanted to help them.

“We all knew what happened when they crossed (defected), and how did they cross? Because of our God, for them to make that mistake, they crossed. They are gone, and they are gone. Now, let me tell you: when I wanted to help them, I accepted to help them because we are all one. We disagree to agree as it is said,” he said.

He added, “They thought they were smart. What is holding them is the declaration of their seats vacant as done on December 13, 2023. We are not doing any budget to nullify that decision. It is what will send them to their villages.

“As I am talking to you, I have started preparing my budget for 2025, which I am going to present very soon. And, in that budget, my key areas will be education, healthcare and agriculture.”

Fubara said the three priority areas would ensure that even if more roads were constructed, emphasis would be placed on quality healthcare services for the people of the state.

“Our children need to go to quality schools. Even if they can’t go to private schools, let them go to the public ones that have standards. We need to go to good health facilities owned by the government and get standard healthcare services.

“Even if we cannot afford those private hospitals, when you go to the public ones, you can get the same services with qualified professionals. That is our thinking.

“And when we get to the issue of agriculture, it will address the issue of unemployment. When we start engaging our youths, they won’t have time to be involved in crime. So, our thinking is to secure and protect our state,” he added.

He reiterated that he was fighting nobody as insinuated, adding that being loyal did not mean losing one’s liberty, sense of discretion and doing what was right.

“I want to assure you of one thing: we are not fighting anybody. We appreciate what God has used people to also do in our lives. But, we are not going to rule (govern) this state on our bent knees. We will rule standing this way I am standing.

“If it is only being on our knees to rule that is the way that they will see us as being loyal, then, I will pack my few things that I have here, and go and relax in my house comfortably, because it will be a disaster, not just to me but to everyone in the state and even my generation.

“So, I will continue to stand tall and stand on the side of the truth. Let me thank the President General (of Ogbakor Etche) for bringing your people, the great people of Etche and Omuma together to come and pay us a solidarity visit,” he said.

Fubara urged the people of Etche Nation to sustain their support for his administration because its vision was clear and encompassing to advance the well-being of all Rivers people.

He promised to work with the Nigeria Police to resolve the issue of herdsmen attacks on farmlands and farmers in the area, including the issue of illegal dredging activities.

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Yoruba Elders Council Rejects Agitation for Yoruba Nation

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The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has voiced its opposition to idea of carving out Yoruba Nation from Nigeria.

The group, through a statement on Sunday, said it would rather commit to true federalism in Nigeria.

The statement read: “We have perused the document on the position of YSDM on the state of the Nation and their views for the Yoruba race to be separated from Nigeria. The Yoruba Council of Elders remains firm in its position that the entity called and known as Nigeria should remain as one Nigeria.

“Accordingly, the YCE has pooled-in all shades of thoughts, which show that majority of the Yoruba race feel cheated by the present lop-sided arrangement of the federating powers but they are solidly against going away from the Nigerian arrangement. They would rather go back to the agreement of our founding fathers when the Region administration was autonomous.

“YCE, therefore, stands firmly on the position of the founding fathers, who maintained togetherness but operated independently and contributed their quota to foster administration at the centre. To this extent, we would rather have a restructured Nigeria which will allow states to function independently as part of a whole.

“YCE wants Nigeria to remain one but, like the American arrangement, stay and function administratively devoid of interference by the centre. Let it be known that the strength of the unity lies in the socio-cultural inheritance of each section of the country and these can be deployed through education and efficiency of management. Our great country must rise again and we all will be in it together,” it added.

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Wrongful Conviction: Nigeria in Focus

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By Hezekiah Olujobi

Wrongful convictions are a grave injustice that can have devastating consequences for individuals, families, and communities. In Nigeria, as in many other countries, cases of wrongful conviction have come to light, highlighting systemic issues within the criminal justice system. The wrongful imprisonment of innocent individuals not only deprives them of their freedom but also erodes public trust in the legal system.

In recent years, the Centre for Justice, Mercy, and Reconciliation (CJMR) has been at the forefront of advocating for individuals who have been wrongfully convicted in Nigeria.
On June 14th, 2024, the Centre for Justice, Mercy, and Reconciliation (CJMR) successfully secured the release of two individuals, Lukman Adeyemi and Ishmaila Lasisi, who had been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 24 years. Since then, we have been receiving calls from inmates on Death Row at Ibara Abeokuta, Kirikiri Maximum Security Custodial Centre in Apapa Lagos, and even from Dooly Prison in Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America. These inmates claim that they have been sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit.

At Kirikiri Maximum Security Centre, three convicts from Osun State have sent messages to our office claiming innocence of the convictions they are awaiting execution for. Unfortunately, one of them is mentally derailed. The individual maintains that he never committed any crime with the person he was convicted with. A police officer from Osun State, who was accused by a fellow police officer of armed robbery in 2001 and sentenced to death over the allegation, has appealed for our intervention regarding the conviction. The man, Victor Akpoyibo, has sworn that he never committed such an offense in his life. The family of Robert Israel, who was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 13, 2024, by the Lagos State High Court for the alleged rape of a minor, has reached out to the Centre for Justice for help in rescuing their father and husband. The family expressed their dissatisfaction with the judgment, citing a lack of valid evidence.

Contact was made with the man in Kirikiri, and he also adamantly declared his innocence of the offense.

At Ibara Custodial Centre, we received phone calls from three individuals: Monsuru Mukaila, Abdulai Ogundijo (a driver), and a motor boy who were sentenced to death over allegations of armed robbery. The driver and his motor boy claimed that they were hired to transport iron rods from Mowe to Lagos, unaware that the iron rods were stolen. The individual who hired them was later released by the police, but due to inability to meet the demand for police bail, they were charged with armed robbery and sentenced to death.

Monsuru Nurudeen, an Okada rider, claimed he was falsely accused of being an armed robber because he rode an Okada without a number plate and got into an argument with others, leading to false testimony against him in court.

From Dooly Prison in Atlanta, Georgia, a Nigerian man, Olaniyi Adedoja, serving three life sentences plus 76 years for rape, has reached out to CJMR claiming innocence of the crime. A father of two children who married a Japanese woman, he maintains his innocence and seeks our intervention.

At the Centre for Justice, Mercy & Reconciliation, we are dedicated to seeking justice for individuals in these challenging circumstances. Upon hearing their stories, we carefully review the judgments from trial or appeal courts and connect these individuals with pro bono lawyers who can assist them. We cover the costs associated with transmitting court records for appeals and submit applications for review to the Board of Mercy if appeals are unsuccessful. If our arguments are compelling, the Board may consider granting freedom to these individuals.

Our mission is to ensure that those wrongfully convicted or detained receive the justice they deserve. We are committed to advocating for these individuals and working towards their release. While reviewing individual case files and proceedings, it became evident that these individuals are victims of circumstances.

Thorough investigations are necessary to validate the claims made by the inmates and determine the credibility of their assertions.

HOW WE ASSESS THE CREDIBILITY OF CLAIMS MADE BY THE INMATES?

To evaluate the credibility of claims made by individuals seeking intervention, the Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation (CJMR) employs a thorough and systematic approach. Here are some common steps that CJMR usually takes to assess the credibility of claims:

CJMR conducts further investigations to gather more evidence, interview witnesses, or explore new leads that could shed light on the case.

We conduct an initial screening of the claims to gather basic information and determine the nature of the case.

We obtain certified true copies (CTC) of court documents for review, trial transcripts, and any available evidence related to the case to understand the legal proceedings and basis of the conviction.

We conduct interviews with the individuals seeking intervention, witnesses, and relevant parties to gather additional information and perspectives on the case.

We engage experts to analyze the legal aspects of each case, including potential errors in the legal process, inconsistencies in evidence, or violations of rights.

We verify the information provided by the individuals seeking intervention through independent fact-checking and corroborating evidence.

We examine any previous appeals, motions, or legal actions taken in the case to understand the history and challenges faced by the individuals.

We work closely with pro bono lawyers who can provide legal expertise and assist in evaluating the credibility of claims.

By following these steps and conducting a comprehensive assessment of each case, CJMR can make informed decisions regarding the credibility of claims and determine the appropriate course of action to advocate for justice on behalf of the individuals seeking intervention.

Below is a table listing our candidates.
DEATH ROW:

17 people on death row and life sentences are on the list of intervention.
S/N NAME Status State Convict D of Arrest Convicted Year spent
1 Adeyemi Faleye IDR Ogun State 28/2/2011 17/2/2018 13 Years
2 Monsuru Mukaila & IDR Ogun State 24/1/2017 20/5/2020 7 Years
3 Abdulai IDR Ogun State 24/1/2017 20/5/2020 7 Years
4 Monsuru Nurudeen IDR Ogun State 14/3/2016 27/6/2020 8 Years
5 Victor Akpoyibo IDR Osun State 25/11/ 2001 22/7/2010. 23 Years
6 Segun Olowookere& IDR Osun State 20/11/2010 3/12/2014 14 Years
7 Sunday Morakinyo IDR Osun State 20/11/2010 3/12/2014 14 Years
8 Sunday Bewaji IDR Osun State 22/9/2010 27/9/2015 14 Years
9 Friday Okoro IDR Oyo State 23/4/2009 15/5/2014 15 Years
10 Tunde Adewale IDR Oyo State 20/10/2010 7/10/2015 14 Years
11 Kolawole Makinde & IDR Ekiti State 6/10/2021 27/7/2022 3 Years
12 Haruna Bikau IDR Ekiti State 6/10/2021 27/7/2022 3 Years
13 Ebenezer Jacob & IDR Oyo State 15/5/2012 16/5/2024 12 Years
14 Anyim Chinweta and IDR Oyo State 16/5/2012 16/5/2024 12 Years
15 Demion Irekha IDR Oyo State 17/7/2012 16/5/2024 12 Years
16 Robert Israel Lifer Lagos State 29/9/2021 13/6/2024 3 Years
17 Adedoja Olaniyi BAH 3 Lifers Dooly State Prison, Geogia, USA 27/7/2017 9/12/2019 7 Years

We look forward to hearing from you to collaborate with us and join our team of volunteers.

Visit our website at https://www.cjmr.com.ng

You can click the donate button to offer your support.

Pastor Hezekiah Deboboye Olujobi is the Managing Director of Centre for Justice,  Mercy and Reconciliation (CJMR).

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