NAIRA ABUSE: APPRAISING RECENT CONVICTIONS  By Ifeanyi Kevin Ewuziem Esq

NAIRA ABUSE: APPRAISING RECENT CONVICTIONS By Ifeanyi Kevin Ewuziem Esq

Introduction

Once considered a dead letter law largely due to its non-enforcement, Section 21 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act (CBN Act) 2007, which criminalizes Naira abuse, has become in recent times quite popular. The resurgence of enforcement initiatives in respect of this might not be unconnected with the controversial Naira redesign policy implemented in the wake of the 2023 general elections. This policy resulted in the purported scarcity of the Naira (especially the 500 and 1000 Naira denominations).

However, in spite of the acute shortage of the Naira notes and to the bewilderment of many citizens, several influential and famous Nigerians made a public spectacle of spraying the redesigned Naira notes at social events and parties drawing strong public criticisms and condemnations. The re-awakened interest of government agencies charged with the responsibility of both enlightening the Nigerian public, and enforcing financial-based crimes can be traced to this period. In the space of a little over one year since the Naira redesign policy, Nigerians have witnessed the suspension of a traditional ruler over alleged abuse of the Naira notes[1] and the conviction of two famous Nigerians[2] under section 21 CBN Act.

 Section 21 of the CBN Act

This Section is structured as five subsections. Subsection (1) prescribes that

“[a] person who tampers with a coin or note issued by the Bank is guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than six months or to a fine not less than N50,000 or to both such fine or imprisonment.”

[1] Editorial, ‘Ogun Monarch Suspended for Abusing the Naira Notes’ <https://www.google.com/amp/s/punchng.com/ogun-monarch-suspended-for-abusing-naira-notes/%3famp> accessed 12th April 2024.

[1] In February 2024 an actress Oluwadarasimi Omoseyin, was jailed six months for abuse of the Naira. However she was given an option of fine. See, Deborah Sanusi, Actress jailed six months for spraying, stepping on Naira notes The Punch of 1st February 2024 https://punchng.com/actress-omoseyin-bags-six-months-jail-for-stepping-on-naira-notes The conviction of Okuneye Idris Olanrewaju (AKA Bobrisky) is reported in the media. See eg The Guardian, Naira Abuse: Bobrisky sentenced to 6 months Imprisonment without Option of Fine at https://guardian.ng/news/naira-abuse-bobrisky-sentenced-to-six-months-imprisonment-without-option-of-fine/ accessed 22/4/24

Subsection 2 states that –

“a coin or note shall be deemed to have been tampered with if the coin or note has been impaired, diminished or lightened otherwise than by fair wear and tear or has been defaced by stumping, engraving, mutilating, piercing, stapling, writing, tearing, soiling, squeezing or any other form of deliberate and wilful abuse whether the coin or note has or has not been diminished or lightened.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, spraying of, dancing or matching (sic) on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall” according to subsection 3, “constitute an abuse and defacing of the Naira or such note and shall be punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section.” The penultimate subsection[3] provides that “[i]t shall also be an offence punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section for any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in the Naira notes, coins or any other note issued by the Bank”.

The final subsection[4] defines the words matching and spraying. The former includes “spreading, scattering or littering of any surface with Naira notes or coins and stepping thereon, regardless of the value, volume, occasion or intent”, while the latter includes “adorning, decorating or spraying anything or any person or any part of any person or the person of another with Naira notes or coins or sprinkling or sticking of the Naira notes or coins in a similar manner regardless of the amount, occasion or the intent.”

 

Recent Convictions Under Section 21 of the CBN Act

The two recent convictions for the abuse of the Naira involved a Nollywood actress, Oluwadarasimi Omoseyin, and a popular cross-dresser Bobrisky.

 Oluwadarasimi Omoseyin’s Case

The case of the prosecution was partly: “[t]hat you, Oluwadarasimi Omoseyin, on the 28th day of January, 2023, at Monarch Event Centre, Lekki, Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, whilst dancing during a social occasion tampered with the sum of N100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria by spraying same in the said occasion and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 21(1) of the Central Bank Act, 2007.”

[1] Section 21(4) CBN Act 2007
[1] Section 21(5) CBN Act 2007

 

She initially pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges preferred against her and was subsequently granted bail. But at a resumed hearing, she changed the plea to ‘guilty’ and was convicted accordingly. Premium Times reports that:

The defence counsel, Afuye Adegbola, pleaded for leniency saying, “she’s a first-time offender; she is a mother of one; she is remorseful and pleads for mercy.” He further pleaded for a non-custodial sentence on behalf of the convict. Delivering judgement, Mr Aneke sentenced the defendant to six months’ imprisonment, with an option of N300,000 fine to be paid into the consolidated revenue account of the federation[5].

 

Okuneye Idris Olanrewaju (Bobrisky)

One of the charges brought against Olanrewaju include: “[t]hat you, Okuneye Idris Olanrewaju, on the 24th day of March, 2024, at Imax Circle Mall, Jakande, Lekki, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court whilst dancing during a social event tampered with the total sum of N400,000.00 (Four Hundred Thousand Naira) notes issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria by spraying same and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 21(1) of the Central Bank Act, 2007.”

Unlike Omoseyin, Olanrewaju pleaded guilty from the onset and in his allocutus, the informed the court that he was ignorant of the law and if released, he would use his social media platform with over 5 million followers to educate Nigerians on the law against Naira abuse.

He was however sentenced to six months imprisonment without an option of fine. Justice Abimbola Awogboro, while sentencing the convict, said the judgment would be a deterrent to others who are found abusing and mutilating the Naira[6].

General Comparison of Both Cases

Area of Comparison Omoseyin’s Case Olanrewaju’s Case
Gender of convict Female Male
Plea entered upon arraignment Initially, ‘not guilty.’ Subsequently changed to ‘guilty.’ ‘Guilty’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Premium Times ‘Court Convicts Actress of Spraying, Stepping on Naira Notes at Wedding Party’ <https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/664514-court-convicts-actress-of-spraying-stepping-on-naira-notes-at-wedding-party.html?tztc=1> accessed 12th April 2024.

[1] Editorial, ‘Court Sentences Bobrisky to Six Months in Prison’ <https://www.google.com/amp/s/punchng.com/breaking-court-sentences-bobrisky-to-six-months-in-prison/%3famp> accessed 12th April 2023.

Sentence Six months imprisonment with an option of N300,000.00 fine Six months imprisonment without an option of fine
Name of Judge Chukwujekwu Aneke J. Abimbola Awogboro J.
Gender of Judge Male Female
Marital Status (and children) Married with a child Single and no child.
Year of Birth 1995 1991
Date of Conviction 2nd February 2024 12th April 2024

 

Conclusion

There are opinions in certain circles that the punishment meted on Olanrewaju was quite harsh. But given the media coverage the Omoseyin case garnered, it would have been expected that all Nigerians, particularly social media influencers and personalities, turn a new leaf. Perhaps, the option of fine given by the judge in Omoseyin’s case created a soft-landing which did not deter future offenders. It should also be noted that the six months imprisonment is the minimum penalty permissible under the Act and therefore section 416(2)(d) of the ACJA which cautioned against the imposition of maximum punishment for a first offender was inapplicable to the case.

 

 

 


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The Police and prosecution for unlawful killings, By Helen Ogunwumiju

The Police and prosecution for unlawful killings, By Helen Ogunwumiju

 

Invariably by the time the cases/appeal processes come to an end, Police officers and members of the public would have forgotten the incidents.

The point l want to make, my Lords, is that when Police officers are prosecuted or convicted for killing innocent members of the public, such incidents are not adequately publicised. I believe that this lack of knowledge of how the legal process works is responsible for the belief of some Police officers that they can get away with killing members of the public, since they don’t see the immediate consequences of their actions.

The erroneous belief of Police officers about their immunity from prosecution and the sense of impunity has once again been shattered by the High Court of Lagos State in Bolanle Raheem’s case. The point l want to make, my Lords, is that when Police officers are prosecuted or convicted for killing innocent members of the public, such incidents are not adequately publicised. I believe that this lack of knowledge of how the legal process works is responsible for the belief of some Police officers that they can get away with killing members of the public, since they don’t see the immediate consequences of their actions. All they see is that their colleagues involved in such incidents are given Orderly Room Trials, if they are junior officers, and are dismissed by the Police. They don’t know that the legal process of prosecution and appeals inexorably continues to the highest court, especially where the defendants had been charged and sentenced to death at the trial court.

Invariably by the time the cases/appeal processes come to an end, Police officers and members of the public would have forgotten the incidents. It’s only those who lost their loved ones who remember where they’ve kept track of the case. It is also important to make the point that it is not because of the public outcry over Bolanle Raheem’s case that ensured the prosecution of the Police officer, but that the law had always taken its course in most cases of such incidents. The following are a few decisions l can remember off the cuff in the last couple of years, where the Supreme Court had affirmed the conviction of Police officers who killed members of the public. There are many more of these decisions and many at different stages of trial and appeal. My point is that Policemen, at large, need to be enlightened about the consequences of their actions. Let us educate those within our sphere of influence. Hopefully, this will minimise similar incidents.

  1. In P.C Henry Ekum v. The State – Appeal No. SC.1103/2017, reported in (2022) LPELR-57683(SC), delivered on 13th May, 2022, the following happened: On 23 October, 2010, at Number 24 Ochedore Street, Four Corners, Ikom in Calabar, Cross River State, the appellant (a Police officer) murdered one Ebam Takim Obiba by shooting him on the head  with an AK47 rifle. The appellant had held a certain woman hostage in a salon and after an altercation with his colleague on one side and the woman’s husband and the deceased on the other side, he started shooting randomly and killed the deceased. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. His death sentence was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

 

Onyebucho Onwunze v. The State – Appeal No. SC.215/2017, delivered on 2nd December, 2022. On 25th of March, 2007, in Ilupa Village at Godwin Ozuma’s compound, the appellant (a Police officer) took a combatant position on being commanded by his superior officer, and shot and killed one Anna Otari  Ogbodo, an unarmed elderly woman. The court convicted the appellant of murder and sentenced him to death by hanging. The death sentence was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

 

  1. Matthew Egheghe v. The State – Appeal No. SC.304/2017- Reported in (2020) LPELR- 50552 (SC), delivered on 10th January, 2020, the following happened: On Sunday 16th October, 2011, along Sani Abacha Express Way, Yenagoa, one Emmanuel Victor was on his way from church when he encountered some Policemen. The appellant (a Police Officer) chased down the motorcycle wherein Victor was a passenger after having slapped him previously, pulled him down and shot him several times to death. The appellant was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. His death sentence was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

 

  1. Akinyede Olaiya v. The State – Appeal No. SC.562/2014 reported in  2017) LPELR-43714delivered on 8th December, 2017, the following happened: On 23rd March, 2011, at Ota Junction, Omuo Ekiti in Ekiti State, the appellant (a Police officer) fired two shots into the crowd without provocation or any real threat to his life or the lives of other policemen with him. The shots fired by the appellant killed one Kehinde Ayo Faluyi who was in that crowd. The appellant was convicted and sentenced to death. His death sentence was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

 

  1. P.C Adeusi Adesina v. The People of Lagos State – Appeal No. SC. 622/2014, Reported in (2019) LPELR – 46403 SC), delivered on 18th January, 2019, the following happened: On 27th November, 2008, the appellant, a Police constable, in Apogbon Blackspot, Lagos State, shot a lorry driver named Dauda Isiako Akao and killed him. He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. His sentence was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

 

  1. The State v. P.C. James Egigia (SC)(unreported) delivered on the 26th day of January, 2024. The respondent, who is a policeman, on or about the 16th day of February, 2006, at Ayama village in Auyo Local Government Area of Jigawa State, seriously beat and fractured the leg of the deceased, one Ismaila Dodo, while investigating a case. The injuries led to the death of the deceased. The trial court found the respondent guilty of the offence of committing serious assault under Section 224 and punishable under Section 225 of the Penal Code Law and sentenced him to five years imprisonment without the option of fine. The sentence was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

 

Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju is a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

This is the text of a paper shared with the National Association of Women Judges.

 

CREDIT. Premiumtimes

 


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Justice Must be Rooted in Truth and Not Fantasy and Arid Legal Technicalities   By J.S. Okutepa

Justice Must be Rooted in Truth and Not Fantasy and Arid Legal Technicalities By J.S. Okutepa

 

Not too long ago, seventeen senior advocates of Nigeria, SANs, of Kogi State extraction wrote and protested to NJC and the Hon Chief Judge of Kogi State about the appointments of additional judges for Kogi State.

The protest was based on the lopsided proposals to appoint some persons as additional judicial officers for the state and the lack of infrastructures to accommodate such appointments given the terrible unhygienic judicial environments that judges in the state are currently subjected to.

Given our vintage positions and the privilege we enjoyed under the law, we had thought that we would at least be heard by the relevant authorities and a reply done to our protest letter. Nothing of such was done.

We then thought and reasonably too that there were justifiable causes to complain, and in the process we decided to approach the court where we felt we can be given level playing ground of hearing that would be just and fair. Seven of us sued. I was among the seven eminent senior advocates of Nigeria that went to court.

That is the case of YUNUS USTAZ USMAN, SAN & 6 ORS vs NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL & 3 ORS suit No FHC/ ABJ/ CS/ 05/2024. It was filed on 8th of January 2024. On the 18th of April 2024, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja delivered a judgment in that case in which that court found no merits in the case and dismissed it.

Before judgment, the court formulated two issues for determination.These are: Whether the court has jurisdiction to determine the suit filed by the plaintiffs and whether the plaintiffs are entitled to the reliefs sought. These said issues were resolved against the Plaintiffs in favour of the Defendants on the grounds of lack of locus standi.

It was the view of the court that as plaintiffs, we failed to demonstrate infringement of our rights by the Defendants, and the suit was dismissed on this ground. The court held further that the plaintiffs’ failure to establish interest rendered the suit academic.

The court then held that by the failure to establish locus standi, the plaintiffs were deemed to be busybodies, resulting in dismissal of the matter.

The court went further to hold that assuming we the Plaintiffs had Locus standi, our reliefs were dismissed on the grounds of failure to exhaust administrative remedies of doctrines of rightness and exhaustion. The Plaintiffs it held did not pursue administrative remedies, rendering the suit unripe for adjudication for what the court called failure to give NBA due notice.

The court further held that there were procedural omissions: The plaintiffs, according to court, neglected essential procedural steps outlined under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. The court also held that by virtue of section 271 of the 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, the first defendant has discretion in judges’ appointments. Consequently, the suit was dismissed accordingly for having no leg to stand.

The court also expunged the DVD video, and photos tendered through my humble self for having not been tendered by the maker and that it amounts to documentary hearsay, amongst other reasons. The dismissal of this case is as unfortunate and unfair as the fact that the court closed its eyes to obvious truth on the arid legal technicalities in sabotage of a just cause.

I have always wondered the sense of justice we see in our courts. Justice must be rooted in truth and not fantasy and arid legal technicalities that fail to see truth where truth is visible. The photos and videos I attached to my affidavit were downloaded from the Internet. There was a certificate of compliance. The court watched and viewed these videos and saw the horrible state of dilapidation of the courts in Kogi State. The court did not hide its lamentations on the state of the courts in Kogi State on the day it watched these videos in open court.

The way courts decide cases and have the mind to close eyes to obvious truth before them in abuse of the sacred duties bestowed on them by law makes me wonder why they do so. It appears the courts appear ready to do the bidding of the system and pandered to the dictate of unjust system to the prejudices of the progress of the judiciary and appointing process.
I have come to think that as a system, some of courts enjoyed the rotten processes in judicial appointments.

Anyone who labours to ensure that the right things are done are branded as busy bodies and persons with no interest in the matter. Nigeria is ours to make or destroy by the kind of justice system we operate.The kind of appointments we make to the bench have ripple and multiple effects on the justice we get and the morals we boosted.

When the system and power that be decided to recommend appointments to the bench based on persons who may be and who appear morally and intellectually inept and those who know somebody and connected to power that be and not based on moral uprightness and intellectually sound knowledge of the law, those who have reasons to approach the courts should not be turned away on arid legal technicalities of Locus Standi.

By this decision, the judiciary and those who are responsible for appointments have wittingly and / or unwittingly laid and solidified the foundation for destruction of the judiciary.

To describe seven eminent Senior Advocates of Nigeria who raised genuine and real concerns about the rotteness of the infrastructures of Kogi judiciary and the breaches of the Nigerian constitution in the processes for the proposed appointments of judicial officers in that state as busybodies is uncharitable and laughable to say the least. It is an abuse of judicial knowledge and language.

But let it be known that when slaves are comfortable in their slavery they see every effort at giving them freedom as obstacles. For me, posterity will decide tomorrow who has destroyed justice and the judiciary in Nigeria. No legal practitioner is a medlesome interloper in the affairs of justice and administration of justice, including appointments to the bench.

The bar fights for the welfare and interests of the legal profession and to hold any members of the noble profession as being a busybody in the affiairs of justice is to say the least sad and unfortunate generalization of the phrase busybody.

For me and the rest of us, we are not busybodies. We are reasonable legal practitioners with sincere concerns for the welfare and interests of judiciary and judicial officers, both serving, retiring, retired and those yet to be appointed. The suit we filed was in furtherance of our concerns for the good of the judiciary and our fidelity to the oaths we took both when we became lawyers and as senior Advocates of Nigeria.

We sworn to defend and uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. To describe the suit filed by seven eminent silks in furtherance of the oaths we took as been suit filed by busybodies is not only sad, it is unfortunately uncomplimentary and uncharitable. It’s sad, to say the least. We leave the rest for posterity to judge. That is my stand on this matter and I wish the judiciary well in Nigeria.

 

 


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Legal Measures to Combat Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria:  by Queenetta Bassey, Esq

Legal Measures to Combat Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria: by Queenetta Bassey, Esq

 

Introduction

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, refers to the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted gender inequality and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. Despite efforts to eradicate the practice, FGM continues to be prevalent in Nigeria, affecting the fundamental human rights of women across the country.

The Practice of Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria

Female Genital Mutilation is a deeply ingrained cultural practice in Nigeria, particularly among certain ethnic groups. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria has one of the highest prevalence rates of FGM in the world, with an estimated 20 million Nigerian women and girls having undergone the procedure. The practice is often justified on cultural, religious, and social grounds, and is believed to control women’s sexuality, ensure their chastity, and prepare them for marriage.

 

Impact on Fundamental Human Rights of Women

The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) has far-reaching implications for the fundamental human rights of women in Nigeria. Female genital mutilation violates the rights to health, security, physical integrity, and freedom from discrimination and violence of women and young girls. It can lead to a range of physical, psychological, and sexual complications, including severe pain, hemorrhage, infection, infertility, psychological trauma and in very extreme cases death. Furthermore, FGM perpetuates gender inequality and reinforces harmful gender stereotypes, depriving women of their autonomy and decision-making power over their own bodies.

 

Existing Legal Provisions

  1. 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Section 34 (1)(a) of the Nigerian Constitution states that “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly – (a) no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.”

The above provision of law although not explicitly referring to the act of Female Genital Mutilation, however covers every act that subjects a person to inhuman or other degrading treatment which gives a clear description of what a victim of FGM is put under while going through the crude procedure involved in FGM.

  1. Child Rights Act (CRA) 2003

Section 11(b) of this Act provides that “no child shall be subjected to any form of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”

This Act, applicable only in 35 States of Nigeria including the FCT with the exclusion of Gombe State, prohibits degrading acts against children and provides for the protection of children’s rights. It imposes penalties on offenders and emphasizes the importance of education and awareness programs against actions that are detrimental to a child’s welfare. Notwithstanding the umbrella protection contained in the proviso above, the Act just like the 1999 CFRN did not expressly refer or mention Female genital mutilation (FGM) thereby limiting the prosecutorial power of the law in cases of FGM under this Act.

 

  1. Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015

Section 6 (1), (2) , (3) and (4) of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 provides that;

  1. (1) The circumcision or genital mutilation of the girl child or woman is hereby prohibited.

(2) A person who performs female circumcision or genital mutilation or engages another to carry out such circumcision or mutilation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 4 years or to a fine not exceeding N200,000.00 or both.

(3) A person who attempts to commit the offence provided for in subsection (2) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding N100,000.00 or both.

(4) A person who incites, aids, abets, or counsels another person to commit the offence provided for in subsection (2) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or to a fine not exceeding N100,000.00 or both.

 

The provision of this Act unlike other previously mentioned legislations directly criminalizes female genital mutilation and provides for punishment, including imprisonment and fines, for offenders. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) established for the implementation of the VAPPA, upgraded the Sexual and Gender Based Violence Unit to the Violence Against Persons Prohibitions Department to ensure the effective implementation of the Act.

Enforcement Challenges

Despite the existence of the above mentioned legislations, criminalizing the commission and enabling of female genital mutilation in Nigeria, the prosecution of these cases still faces significant challenges and limitations. One major challenge is the deep-seated cultural acceptance of FGM, which makes it difficult for survivors and witnesses to come forward and report cases. Additionally, limited awareness of the legal provisions and inadequate enforcement of the laws contribute to the under-reporting and impunity surrounding FGM cases. Furthermore, the lack of specialized training for law enforcement officials and judicial personnel hinders the effective investigation and prosecution of FGM cases.

 

Reform Measures

To combat the practice of FGM in Nigeria and protect the fundamental human rights of women, here are some reformative and legal recommendations:

  1. Implementation of Legislation Against FGM: there is need for proper Implementation of existing legislations that specifically criminalizes all forms of FGM in Nigeria.
  2. Legal Protection for Victims: there is need to strengthen and widen legal protections available for victims of FGM, including provisions for restraining orders and emergency shelters for those at risk of undergoing the procedure. Also, it is important to ensure that victims have access to legal aid and support services to seek justice and protection from further harm.
  3. Institutional Capacity Building: Government must build the capacity of law enforcement agencies, judiciary, and healthcare professionals to effectively respond to cases of FGM. Provide training on identifying, investigating, and prosecuting FGM cases, as well as sensitization on the rights of women and girls.
  4. Education and Awareness Programs: stakeholders including State actors should introduce and fund educational programs targeting communities where FGM is prevalent. These programs should focus on raising awareness about the harmful physical, psychological, and social consequences of FGM. They should also emphasize the importance of gender equality and human rights.
  5. Community Engagement and Empowerment: there is need for State and non-state actors to engage with community leaders, religious authorities, and traditional practitioners to gain their support in abandoning the horrific practice of FGM. While empowering local leaders to champion the cause and promote alternative rites of passage that respect cultural traditions without harming girls and women.
  6. Healthcare Support and Counselling Services: Government along with other state actors must ensure the provision of adequate access to healthcare services, including counselling and medical treatment, for survivors of FGM. Establish specialized clinics and support centres equipped to provide medical and psychological care to survivors. These services should be sensitive to cultural norms and provide support without stigmatizing survivors.
  7. Data Collection and Research: State and non-State actors involved in FGM campaigns must invest in comprehensive data collection and research to understand the prevalence and root causes of FGM in different regions of Nigeria. This information is essential for developing targeted interventions and evaluating the effectiveness of existing strategies.
  8. International Collaboration: all relevant agencies including government and non-governmental organizations must collaborate with international organizations, such as the United Nations and World Health Organization, to leverage resources and expertise in the fight against FGM. Participate in regional and global initiatives aimed at ending FGM and share best practices with other countries facing similar challenges.

 

CONCLUSION

While it seems that there are proper legislations put in place to prosecute cases of FGM in Nigeria, it still remains a wonder that there are no judicial precedents available to show that a competent court of law in Nigeria has tried a case of FGM. With this being the case, there is little or no doubt that perpetrators of these inhuman acts will continue unabated. There is therefore a need for the swift prosecution of FGM cases by Law enforcement agencies in other to serve as a deterrence to others against future commission. There is also, an urgent need for government both in the State and Federal level to set up supervisory committees, to ensure that proper implementation and revised standards are put in place to tackle the menace of FGM in the country. This will go to show that the country has moved past lip service in its war to end FGM.

 


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kidnapping for Ransom and the Terrorism – economic crime nexus By Queenetta Bassey

Fig.1

Just a few days before the world paid tribute to the resilience, industry and resourcefulness of women, members of a non-state armed group (NSAG) allegedly abducted an unverified number of women, girls and boys – IDPs from the ISS, Zulum, Kaigama, and Arabic IDP camps who were out in the bush in search of firewood. Some days later –  March 7 to be precise 7th of March, 2024, bandits attacked the Kuriga community in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State and kidnapped about 286 students including some teachers at the LEA Primary School Kuriga. The bandits are reportedly demanding one billion naira as ransom for the victims.

 

An unhealthy Spike

From 2011 to 2023, Nigeria experienced a dramatic increase in kidnapping incidents, with various reports and databases documenting the alarming trend. The Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) recorded about 19,800 incidents of kidnapping across the country within the past decade . While The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) identified Nigeria as the country with the highest number of reported kidnappings globally in 2019, underscoring the severity of the situation. Topping the list of most kidnapped persons are women, children, and internally displaced persons (IDPs), who are particularly vulnerable to kidnapping due to their perceived lack of protection and resources. Women and children, often targeted for ransom, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, and recruitment into armed groups, while IDPs face additional challenges stemming from their displacement and precarious living conditions.

 

Children, in particular girls, have been subjected to mass abductions from schools, such as the infamous incidents in Chibok and Dapchi, the recent kidnapping of over 280 school children in Kuriga town in Kaduna State and another 15 children in Gidan Bakuso in Sokoto State all between the ages of eight and fourteen. While some of the abducted children from the Chibok and Dapchi incidences of 2014 have been rescued or released, many including the recent victims of Kuriga and Gidan Bakuso remain missing, enduring unimaginable suffering at the hands of their captors while the search for them by the Nigerian government continues. Women are abducted for ransom or as part of broader criminal activities, including human trafficking, baby making machines and forced labour. The psychological and emotional toll on survivors of kidnapping, especially women and children, is profound and long-lasting, with many struggling to reintegrate into society even after their release.

 

Internally Displaced Persons

Targeting IDPs for kidnap and violations adds an ironic twist to official assurances on the security situation in Nigeria and the state of government’s preparedness to tackle kidnapping for ransom. Displaced by insurgency, tribal and inter-tribal conflicts, violence, and natural disasters, IDPs make up the most vulnerable populations in Nigeria.

The recent abductions of women and girls in three IDP camps in Borno State Nigeria highlights the vulnerability and lack of protection faced by these vulnerable groups, shedding light on the dire situation internally displaced persons, most especially women and children in Northern Nigeria are subjected to and the critical need to address their rights.

It is worth noting that these abductions not only underscores the vulnerability of internally displaced women to various forms of violence, including sexual assault, death, abduction and exploitation but also undermines the efforts of government and human rights organizations in securing the rights of internally displaced women and children.

Secondly, the incident exposes the failure of authorities to adequately protect and support internally displaced populations, particularly women and girls. Despite numerous reports of insecurity and threats within IDP camps, there appears to be a lack of effective measures to prevent such abductions and to ensure the safety of residents.

While the issue regarding the abductions of women from IDP camps remain a security concern, it is further intriguing to note that some of these women have been reported to have willingly returned to the bushes rather than remain at the camps. According to Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State in a Statement on the 8th of March 2024, over 500 women living in IDP camps had demonstrated their interest in leaving the camp. Were these latest victims really in search of firewood or wandering away from abandonment?

 

Relevant Laws and Frameworks on The Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

In Nigeria, the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially women and children, are protected by various international and domestic laws, as well as policies and guidelines established by the government. Below are some of the key legal instruments and frameworks relevant to the rights of IDPs in Nigeria:

 

Nigerian Constitution: The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) under Chapter IV guarantees the fundamental rights of all citizens, including IDPs. These rights include the right to life (Section 33) , dignity of the human person (Section 34), and freedom from discrimination (Section 42), among others.

 

Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Nigeria, as a member of the United Nations, is bound by the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which provides a comprehensive framework for the protection and assistance of IDPs. These principles emphasizes on the rights of IDPs to protection, non-discrimination, access to humanitarian assistance, and durable solutions to displacement.

 

National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons: In 2012, Nigeria adopted the National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons to provide a framework for addressing the needs and rights of IDPs. The policy emphasizes on the protection of vulnerable groups, including women and children, and outlines measures for their assistance and support.

 

Humanitarian Assistance Framework: Nigeria has established a framework for coordinating humanitarian assistance to IDPs, which includes guidelines for the protection of vulnerable groups, such as women and children. This framework outlines the roles and responsibilities of government agencies, humanitarian organizations, and other stakeholders in providing assistance and support to IDPs.

 

Fig.2

Fig.2

 

Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

Regardless of how wide the legislation and laws for the protection of the rights of Internally Displaced persons are, there are certain fundamental rights which encompasses a broad spectrum of rights, these are;

 

  1. Right to Safety and Security:
    • The United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (UNGP) outlines the right of IDPs to protection and security during displacement. It emphasizes the responsibility of the government to ensure the safety of all displaced persons, including women and children.
    • The Nigerian Constitution, particularly Chapter IV, Section 33, guarantees the right to life and security of all citizens, including IDPs.
  1. Right to Non-Discrimination:
    • The UNGP prohibits discrimination against IDPs on the basis of gender, age, ethnicity, or any other grounds. It emphasizes the need for equal treatment and non-discrimination in the provision of assistance and protection.
    • The Nigerian Constitution, specifically Chapter IV, Section 42, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, ethnic group, or social origin. This provision applies to all citizens, including IDPs.

 

  1. Right to Access to Basic Services:
    • The UNGP recognizes the right of IDPs to access basic services such as healthcare, education, and shelter. It calls for the provision of essential services to meet the needs of displaced persons.
    • The National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria provides a framework for the provision of basic services to IDPs, including women and children.

 

  1. Right to Freedom from Violence and Exploitation:
    • The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) both emphasize the right of children and women to be protected from violence, exploitation, and abuse.
    • The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 in Nigeria criminalizes various forms of violence, including domestic violence, sexual violence, and harmful traditional practices. This law provides protection for women and children, including those who are internally displaced.
  1. Right to Dignity and Respect:
    • The UNGP recognizes the right of IDPs to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their displacement status. It emphasizes the importance of upholding the human rights and dignity of all displaced persons.
    • The National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria emphasizes the need to respect the rights and dignity of IDPs, including women and children, in all aspects of their displacement.

 

Recommendation and Conclusion

In light of these issues, it is imperative for the Nigerian government, as well as international organizations and civil society groups, to take immediate action to protect the rights of internally displaced women and children in Northern Nigeria, through the implementing of adequate security measures within IDP camps, providing psychosocial support and assistance to survivors of violence, and addressing the root causes of displacement and conflict in the region.

We also need to revamp the security approach to take account of convergence between criminals and the present day terror gangs. The financing of terror groups or Non state armed groups or bandits through direct or laundered proceeds of such crimes like kidnapping, trafficking, cattle rustling drugs and counterfeiting signifies the need for enforcement and security agencies to adopt integrated or collaborative investigation instead of working in silos and in segmented patchworks.

Finally, efforts should be made to empower internally displaced women by ensuring their meaningful participation in decision-making processes and by addressing the structural inequalities that contribute to their marginalization. This may involve providing access to education and vocational training, promoting economic opportunities, and challenging harmful gender norms and stereotypes within the camps.

 

 


NOTE: The section on legal Briefs is a forum for frank and open scholarly notes by research staff and guest contributors. Views expressed in these notes are personal to the authors and are not to be attributed to the Centre.

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THE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (PROHIBITION) ACT, 2018: APPRAISING THE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT SAFEGUARDS FOR PERSONS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

THE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (PROHIBITION) ACT, 2018: APPRAISING THE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT SAFEGUARDS FOR PERSONS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

By Collins .I. Georgewill Esq, with assistance of Lydia Abbey and Ifeanyi Ewuziem Esq

 

Introduction

On the 23rd of January 2019, former President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 (the Act) following nearly a decade of persistent advocacy by human rights activists and organisations. The Act provides for the full integration of persons with disabilities into society and establishes the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities. It also  vests the Commission with the responsibilities for the education, health care, social, economic and civil rights of persons living with disabilities. On the strength of the foregoing, it is axiomatic that a new legal framework for human rights protection was birthed the day this legislation was enacted. Little wonder, it has been said that the rights of persons with disabilities are human rights.

 Rights of Persons with Disabilities as Human Rights

Who is a person with disabilities?

For conceptual purposes, this question is necessary. The Act in section 57 provides that the phrase ‘person with disabilities’ means: (a) a person who has received a temporary or permanent Certificate of Disability to have a condition which is expected to continue permanently, or for a considerable length of time which can reasonably be expected to limit the person’s functional ability substantially, but not limited to seeing, hearing, thinking, ambulating, climbing, descending, lifting, grasping, rising, and includes any related function or any limitation due to weakness or significantly decreased endurance so that he cannot perform his everyday routine, living and working without significantly increased hardship and vulnerability to everyday obstacles and hazards; and (b) a person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on equal basis with others.

Now that the meaning of a person with disabilities has been put in context, the next operative question is whether the rights of these persons qualify as human rights? Much will depend on the meaning of human rights. The definition put forward by Professor Louis Henkin[1] is apposite to our purpose. The erudite professor defined human rights as those liberties, immunities and benefits which by accepted contemporary values, all human beings should be able to claim as of right of the society in which they live. Thus, if human rights are named  because of their universal application to all and not just some; do the rights of persons with disabilities qualify as human rights?

This poser has a relatively long-standing existence as it caught the attention of social scientists and  policymakers at the international scene during several high-level discussions culminating in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Responding to propriety of classifying rights of persons with disabilities under the UNCRPD as human rights, Caroline Harnake and Sigrid Graumann opined that: human rights obviously also applies to people with disabilities. The justification of human rights is often based on human dignity…Yet the conclusion that human rights necessarily also apply to people with disabilities seems to question the necessity of a special human rights convention for disabled people. If everyone including disabled persons is protected by other human rights instruments, why then is the convention needed. The reason is that some humans seem to be insufficiently protected by the general human rights legislation. This holds not only for disabled people, but also for children or women. Therefore, they require tailoring of the general rights regime to their needs. Therefore, the rights of persons with disabilities are equally human rights. Just that, as Frederic Megret[2] observed, they are ‘specific to persons with disabilities, yet rooted in the universality of rights’. Under the Act, one core human right which was specially expounded to address the sensitive needs of persons with disabilities was freedom of movement.

Right to Freedom of Movement

Ordinarily, the human right to freedom of movement is available to all persons in Nigeria. Section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as altered) [the Constitution) provides that “[e]very citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria.” Article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights 1981 similarly provides that “[e]very individual shall have the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of a State provided he abides by the law.”[3]

It cannot be seriously asserted that persons living with disabilities are excluded from the entitlement to move freely throughout Nigeria or anywhere in the world. But it cannot be denied that their special needs with respect to movement lacked the much needed visibility. Of what use or meaning is freedom of movement if, for example, a person who can only move with the aid of a wheelchair is unable to enter, exit or access places or facilities available to other humans by reason of the lack of attention or concern by government and society to his special needs?

Indeed, it has been rightly argued[4] that no one is really living with disabilities; but some persons are merely suffering from a disabled environment. Hence to give the required visibility to free movement of persons with disabilities, the following provisions were enacted:

 Right to Access Public Buildings

Thus, the Act declares in section 3 that “[a] person with disability has the right to access the physical environment and buildings on an equal basis with others.” To this end, section 4 of the Act provides that a “public building” shall be constructed with the necessary accessibility aids such as lifts (where necessary), ramps and any other facility that shall make them accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. ‘Public building’ is defined to mean ‘a building owned or used by government or government agency or a building available for the use of members of the public’

The, from its commencement date (23rd January 2019), within which all public buildings and structures, whether immovable, movable or automobile, which were inaccessible to persons with disabilities shall be modified to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities including those on wheelchairs. The implication of the foregoing is that, all buildings owned or used by government or government agencies or a building available for the use of members of the public should already be modified for access and use by persons with disabilities.

 Right to Access Special Facilities

Section 5 of the Act provides that “[r]oad side-walks, pedestrian crossings and all other facilities as set out in the First Schedule made for public use shall be made accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities including those on wheelchairs and the visually impaired” The “other special facilities as set out in the First Schedule” include: handrails and grab bars, entrance doors, parking spaces and passenger loading zones, crutches and guide canes etc. No doubt, compliance with this provision would aid the movement of persons with special needs.

Right to Access Vehicles, Seaports, Railways and Airport Facilities

Section 10(1) of the Act provides that “[g]overnment transport services providers shall make provisions for lifts, ramps and other accessibility aids to enhance the accessibility of their vehicles, parks and bus stop to persons with disabilities including those on wheel chairs. Section 11(1) evidently imposes a similar obligation on private transport service providers. Section 11(5) provides that when a person with disability intends to board a vehicle, all other intending passengers shall wait for him to board before them.

By virtue of section 13(1) and (2), seaports facilities and vessels, railway stations, trains and facilities in the trains shall be made accessible to persons with disabilities. Section 14 similarly enacts that all airlines operating in Nigeria shall, inter alia, ensure the accessibility of their aircraft to persons with disabilities.

 Right to Complain of Inaccessibility

In the event of the existence of a state of inaccessibility or barrier to access of a person with disability to an environment that he has a right or duty to access, section 8 of the Act provides that such person may, without prejudice to his right to seek redress in court, notify the relevant authority in charge of the environment of the existence of the state of inaccessibility and the relevant authority shall take immediate and necessary steps to remove the barrier and make the environment accessible to the person with disability. Furthermore, it is an offence for a relevant authority to ignore such a notification. If the defaulting authority is a corporate body, it shall be liable to pay N10,000 damages to the affected person for each day of default.

 Conclusion

It is evident that the Act has expanded and expounded the right to freedom of movement as it applies to persons with disabilities. However, the preservation of these rights do not depend on mere written declarations. These rights can only be meaningful if the provisions of the Act are properly implemented. Therefore, this paper calls for a collaboration by civil society organisations to conduct an empirical survey across the country to precisely ascertain the extent of compliance with the Act. C.V. Georgewill Foundation is open for strategic partnerships and collaborations with other similar organisations in this regard.

About C.V. Georgewill Foundation

This is the humanitarian service arm/department of the Firm of C.V. Georgewill & Co established to promote the Founder’s Legacy of Virtue, Service and Goodwill in honour of his memory. It is currently a work in progress.

 

About the Writers

Collins I. Georgewill Esq.

He is a scholar of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law presently pursuing his post graduate studies at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt. He is Lead Partner of the Firm of C.V. Georgewill & Co and Head of C.V. Georgewill Foundation.

Lydia O. Abbey, Esq.

She is a scholar of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law also pursuing her post graduate studies at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt. She is an Associate with the Firm of C.V. Georgewill & Co and Member of C.V. Georgewill Foundation.

 Ifeanyi Kevin Ewuziem, Esq

He is a graduate of Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, a prolific writer and legal researcher with a passion for global humanitarian service impact. He once served as the President of the Legal Aid Community Development Service in Bayelsa State. He is presently a member of the Legal Team of C.V. Georgewill & Co. where he heads the Legal Research Department and doubles as Programs Manager at C.V. Georgewill Foundation.

 

[1] L. Hankin, ‘Human Rights’ in R. Beenhardt (ed), (Encyclopedia of International Law, 1985) 268.

[2] F. Megret, ‘The Disabilities Convention: Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities or Disability Rights?’ Human Rights Quarterly (30) (2008) 515.

[3] See also African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 1983

[4] See C.Harnacke and S. Grauman, ‘Core Principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: An Overview’ in J.Anderson and J. Philips (eds) Disability and Universal Human Rights: Legal, Ethical and Conceptual Implication on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, 2012)

[1] L. Hankin, ‘Human Rights’ in R. Beenhardt (ed), (Encyclopedia of International Law, 1985) 268.

[1] F. Megret, ‘The Disabilities Convention: Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities or Disability Rights?’ Human Rights Quarterly (30) (2008) 515.

[1] See also African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 1983

[1] See C.Harnacke and S. Grauman, ‘Core Principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: An Overview’ in J.Anderson and J. Philips (eds) Disability and Universal Human Rights: Legal, Ethical and Conceptual Implication on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, 2012)

 


 

NOTE: The section on legal Briefs is a forum for frank and open scholarly notes by research staff and guest contributors. Views expressed in these notes are personal to the authors and are not to be attributed to the Centre.

DO YOU WANT TO SHARE YOUR VIEWS ON OUR BLOG?

JURITRUST Centre for Socio Legal Research and Documentation invites submission of short articles from VOLUNTEER CONTRIBUTORS who are interested in sharing their perspectives on salient issues in the administration and development of the Nigerian Criminal Justice System, comparative systems and related issues. CLICK HERE find out how to send us your articles. Thank you

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