There are strong indications that the security operatives involved in the killing of some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) may face litigation abroad.
Already a suit is being perfected against the Inspector General of Police to be prosecuted in any of the twenty-seven countries in Europe in order to bring the perpetrators to book.
A United Kingdom based Human Rights Lawyer Barr Paul Nwachalla who spoke to reporters on phone yesterday announced that;
“Even though the Nigerian government claims to have outlawed IPOB there are concluded arrangements to sue the Inspector General of Police and the Nigerian Police force under what is called extended jurisdiction over extra judicial killings”.
The AIG zone 13 has acknowledge the fact of killing as well as conflicting figures in the number of death hence confirming that the police, DSS and Army are culpable.
DanMallam said, “the incident is unbecoming and unfortunate and the zone has employed best security strategies to prevent future occurrences.
“The zone under my watch will continue to maintain peace, law and order in Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States. I stand for justice, human right, constitutionalism, peace and development. I say no to torture, illegal arrest and detention, intimidation, and abuse of power.
“You can’t get development in atmosphere of crisis. Northerners migrating to South East are doing that because the zone is peaceful. We should continue in making the zone peaceful,” he added.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting him to “urgently rescind your assent to the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, [CAMA 2020], and to send the legislation back to the National Assembly to address its fundamental flaws, including by deleting the repressive provisions of the Act, particularly sections 839, 842, 843, 844 and 850 contained in Part F of the Act, and any other similar provisions.”
The organization is also urging him to “instruct the Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, not to implement or enforce the CAMA 2020 until the legislation is repealed by the National Assembly, and brought in line with the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations.”
In the letter dated 22 August, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “With these provisions, the government now has overly broad and discretionary powers to arbitrarily withdraw, cancel or revoke the certificate of any association, suspend and remove trustees, take control of finances of any association, and to merge two associations without their consent and approval of their members.”
According to SERAP, “Rather than taking concrete measures to improve the legal environment and civic space that would ensure respect for human rights and media freedom, your government has consistently pursued initiatives to restrict the enjoyment of citizens’ human rights. These rights are protected from impairment by government action.”
SERAP said: “These restrictions, coupled with repressive broadcasting codes and Nigerian security agencies’ relentless crackdown on peaceful protesters and civil society, demonstrate the government’s intention to suppress and take over independent associations.”
The letter, read in part: “SERAP is concerned that the provisions would be used by the authorities to exert extensive scrutiny over the internal affairs of associations, as a way of intimidation and harassment, which would eventually unduly obstruct the legitimate work carried out by associations.”
“We would be grateful if the requested action and measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel you and your government to take these measures in the public interest.”
“Please note that SERAP has instructed its Legal Counsel Femi Falana, SAN to take all appropriate legal actions on our behalf should your government fail and/or neglect to act as requested.”
“Citizens’ decision to join with others in pursuit of a common goal is a fundamental aspect of their liberty. The right to freedom of association also plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate. This freedom is at risk if the government can compel a particular citizen, or a discrete group of citizens, to merge their associations.”
“Constitutional guarantees of freedom of association would be very limited if they are not accompanied by a guarantee of being able to share one’s beliefs of ideas in community with others, particularly through associations of individuals having the same beliefs, ideas or interests.”
“Similarly, freedom of association creates a forum for citizens in which they may freely seek, without any unlawful interference by the state, to move public opinion and achieve their goals. That “forum” cannot exist if the government is at liberty to treat one association as forming part of another or coercing one association to merge with another association.”
“By seeking to suspend and remove trustees, and appoint interim managers for associations, the government seems to want to place itself in a position to politicise the mandates of such association, and to undermine the ideas that the right to freedom of association and related rights are supposed to protect in a democratic society.”
“SERAP believes that the government granting itself the powers to suspend and remove trustees of legally registered associations and to take control of their bank accounts constitute an effective restraint on human rights.”
“Allowing the government to take control of the bank accounts of association would impact on the rights of the associations, and also seriously undermine civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights as a whole.”
“These rights are in fact parts of the attributes of citizenship under a free government. “Liberty” includes the right to enjoy the rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly. Our constitutional jurisprudence and international standards allow only the narrowest range for their restriction.”
“Combatting fraud, mismanagement, corruption, money-laundering and other modes of trafficking by associations is legitimate. However, it is not sufficient to simply pursue a legitimate interest, limitations need also to be prescribed by law and be necessary in a democratic society.”
“Under the Nigerian Constitution and international human rights law, controls need to be fair, objective and non-discriminatory, and not be used as a pretext to silence critics. Your government has legal obligations to create an enabling environment in which associations can effectively carry out their legitimate activities.”
“These restrictions have no legal basis, as they fail to meet the requirements of legality, legitimacy, proportionality and necessity. The Human Rights Council has called on States to ensure that any regulations of associations ‘do not inhibit the independence and functional autonomy [of associations]’”
“We have also sent a Pre-Action Notice of a lawsuit pursuant to Section 17 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020, to the Corporate Affairs Commission to urgently initiate, promote and support deletion of Sections 839, 842, 843, 844 and 850 and any other repressive provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020.”
“In communication No. 1274/2004, the Human Rights Committee observed that ‘the right to freedom of association relates not only to the right to form an association, but also guarantees the right of such an association freely to carry out its statutory activities. The protection afforded by article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights extends to all activities of an association.’”
“According to the Committee, ‘the existence and operation of a plurality of associations, including those which peacefully promote ideas not necessarily favourably received by the government or the majority of the population, is a cornerstone of a democratic society.’”
“Under international law, the use of the term “democratic society” places the burden on States imposing restrictions on freedom of association to demonstrate that the limitations do not harm the principles of pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness.”
“The Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights has also called on states not to pass legislation that would ‘give the Government control over the right of associations to manage their own activities.’”
“Associations, as organised, independent, not-for-profit bodies based on the voluntary grouping of persons who pursue activities on a wide range of issues, such as human rights, democratic reforms, and social and economic development, are an integral part of democratic institutions.”
“The right to freedom of association is to be enjoyed alone or in community with others. Without this collective dimension, the effective realisation of the right would often not be possible. SERAP believes that the rights to freedom of association, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly to advance beliefs and ideas are inseparable aspects of the “liberty” assured by due process of law.”
“The right to freedom of association is interrelated with other human rights and freedoms, including the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, protection of property, the private life and correspondence, an effective remedy, fair trials; and right to be protected from discrimination.”
“A genuine and effective respect for freedom of association cannot be reduced to a mere duty on the part of the State not to interfere. Therefore, it is incumbent upon your government and all public authorities to respect and protect this right, and to guarantee the proper functioning of an association, even when they annoy or give offence to persons opposed to the lawful ideas or claims that they are seeking to promote.”
“Any limitations on human rights, including the right to freedom of association must be proportionate to the interest to be protected, and must be the least intrusive means to achieve the desired objective.”
“Implementing or enforcing these repressive provisions will have a significant chilling effect on legitimate activities of associations, and would seriously undermine their independence and operations.”
“SERAP considers the CAMA 2020 the most repressive legislation in Nigeria’s history, especially given the unlawful and impermissible restrictions contained in Part F of the Act. Sections 831, 839, 842, 843, 844 and 850 of the Act are manifestly inconsistent with sections 36, 39 and 40 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999.”
“Under section 831[i][ii], the government through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is empowered to treat any unregistered association as part of an already registered association, and without any lawful justifications whatsoever. The government also has the power to treat two or more associations as a single association on the flimsy pretext that the associations have the same trustees.”
“Section 839 and  of the Act also grants the government through the Corporate Affairs Commission the powers to arbitrarily and unilaterally suspend and remove the trustees of any legally registered association, and to appoint an interim manager or managers to run the affairs of any such association, if the Commission reasonably believes that there is “misconduct, mismanagement, and fraud” in the association, or on the basis of undefined “public interest.”
“The government will determine and decide what constitutes “public interest” in all cases. The exercise of the powers under section 839 is subject only to the approval of the supervisory Minister, a political appointee.”
“Similarly, sections 842, 843 and 844 grants the government through the Corporate Affairs Commission overly broad powers and discretion to arbitrarily, unlawfully and unilaterally regulate the finances of any association, and to take control and take over bank accounts lawfully belonging to legally registered associations under Part F of the CAMA 2020.”
“Further, section 850[e] empowers the government through the Corporate Affairs Commission to arbitrarily and unilaterally withdraw, cancel or revoke the certificate of registration of any duly and legally registered association.”
“These repressive provisions clearly and directly threaten and violate the rights to freedom of association, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, privacy, property, and other human rights guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution and international human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”
“SERAP notes that legally registered associations have also deposited their constitutions and other documents with the Corporate Affairs Commission under the now repealed and replaced CAMA 2004.”
“The Commission also enjoyed wide ranging powers under CAMA 2004 to regulate these associations, as the associations are required to periodically report to the Commission. Registered associations are also regulated under other existing laws, including anti-corruption and money laundering laws, the Criminal Code and Penal CoCAMA
The leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, has said that despite being granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja where he is being prosecuted alongside others on charges of treasonable felony, he is still entitled to the $800m compensation for his alleged unlawful arrest and detention in 2015.
This is contained in his response to the motion filed by the Federal Government asking the Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States sitting in Abuja to dismiss a fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by the IPOB leader.
Kanu had filed the suit on March 3, 2016 demanding $800m as compensation from the Federal Government for his alleged unlawful arrest in 2015 and detention.
But the Federal Government, through its lawyer, Mrs. Maimuna Shiru, filed its motion on November 13, stating that Kanu having been granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja on April 25, 2017, and allegedly jumped bail, the judgment of the ECOWAS Court on the suit would serve no purpose.
But Kanu, through his lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, objected to the Federal Government’s motion contending that granting bail to the IPOB leader was just a partial satisfaction of prayers sought in the suit.
He maintained that the ECOWAS Court had the power to grant his client the $800m compensation sought since the IPOB leader’s rights had been violated.
Ejiofor stated in his written address, “We submit therefore that the court has powers to order for payment of compensatory damages when found that the plaintiff’s right has been violated.” (Punch)
A United Nations Human rights and election monitoring group, People’s Right to Life Development Foundation (PERLDEF) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to veto any legislative proceeding involving contribution of Senator Bassey Akpan.
Senator Akpan, represented Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial Zone before he was sacked by a Federal High Court, on February 27, 2017.
In his place, the court declared Bassey Etim as the validly elected candidate for the senatorial seat.
Estim was accordingly, ordered to be sworn in as the authentic Senator for the zone.
However, since the court order was made, the group said the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has refused to swear in Etim, the Senator-elect.
In a petition to President Buhari, dated October 17, 2017 and made available to our reporter, the group wondered why a sacked Senator would continue to sit and take part in senate’s legislative process, even when his Certificate of Return had been withdrawn.
The petition was signed by Ifot Nathaniel, National Chairman; Ali Abacha, Secretary; and Chief Oni Emmanuel, Zonal Coordinator South-West.
The group complained to Buhari that “Despite, his sack, Bassey Akpan is still attending senate proceedings, thereby invalidating such proceeding and making them null and void.
“Your Excellency, such invalid proceedings as bills or resolutions for assent or implementation negate the principle of due process and impaired the constitutional right of Mr. President on assent” the group stated.
“In view of the threat that the violation may cause to the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act and Senate Standing Rule, we hereby call on President Muhammadu Buhari to veto any legislative process involving contribution of the erstwhile senator since March 6, 2017 as one cannot build something on nothing” the group wrote.
More so, PERLDEF urged President Buhari to order for the investigation and arrest of Akpan for illegally participating in the senate proceedings without Certificate of Return.
“Rather than execute the judgement delivered by a court of competent jurisdiction in the country, National Assembly continues to pay salary to Akpan. This is corruption and abuse of rule of law” the group insisted. (The Sun)
I congratulate Justice Binta Nyako for being courageous enough to even grant bail at all to IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, on health grounds. This is predicated on the truism that the Judiciary has been so humiliated, browbeaten, terrorised and emasculated by the Executive that it takes extraordinary courage and daring bravado, for a judge to even grant bail to a much vilified Nnamdi Kanu, whose only “crime” is that he seeks self-determination for his repressed, oppressed, suppressed and marginalised indigenous people of Biafra, a right recognised even by the UN and AU in all self-determination instruments.
The catch here, however, is that in granting the bail, the judge, apparently trying to tread softly, took back with the right hand what she gave with the left hand. Bail is a constitutional right. It is guaranteed by section 35(5) of the 1999 Constitution, with or without conditions attached. But any conditions so attached to bail must be such that the grant of bail is itself not rendered meaningless and impotent, as in the Nnamdi case. Kanu’s bail conditions are outrightly stringent, punitive, discriminatory, profiling and stereotyping. Hear them:
(1) He must produce 3 sureties, who must deposit the sum of N100m each (a ready recipe for corruption).
(2) One of the sureties must be a highly respected Jewish leader since Kanu practises Judaism as his religion (discrimination on the basis of religion).
(3) Produce a highly placed person of Igbo extraction (discrimination on the basis of place of origin and ethnic group).
(4) Produce a respected person, who resides and owns landed property in Abuja (a call for the elitist money bags).
(5) Must not attend any rally or grant an interview (breach of freedom of movement and speech).
(6) Must not be in a crowd exceeding 10 persons (denial of freedom of association).
(7) Must surrender his Nigerian and British passports (denial of freedom of movement).
(8) Must sign an undertaking to be available for trial at all times (normal. This is the main purpose of bail).
(9) His wedding ring and reading glasses to be given back to him (thank God for tokenism).
(10) Must provide monthly update on Kanu’s health (yes, to ensure his health is improving).
Some of the bail conditions are not only troubling, upsetting and punitive, but are simply unconstitutional, as briefly highlighted above.
Section 42(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that:
“A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject to; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.
(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.
It is crystal clear from these constitutional provisions that the stringent bail conditions granted to Nnamdi have clearly discriminated against him and subjected him to “certain disabilities or restriction” on the basis of his religion, place of birth, political opinion and ethnic group.
What the bail conditions are simply saying is that it will be illegal, forbidden and contrary to the bail conditions were Kanu to do the following:
(a) Kanu cannot be received by a multitude of his village people, kindred and kinsmen, who have missed his presence since his mindless incarceration over one and half years ago, contrary to the right to freedom of association granted by section 40 of the 1999 Constitution.
(b) That Kanu cannot express his right to freedom of expression clearly guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution.
(c) That Kanu cannot exercise his freedom of movement guaranteed by section 41 of the Constitution.
(d) That Kanu cannot receive sympathisers, well-wishers and political associates, once they are more than 10.
(e) That Kanu cannot freely exercise, without being monitored, his freedom of religion and conscience contrary to section 38 of the Nigerian Constitution.
(f) That Kanu cannot, at any given time, even in his household or larger family setting, host more than 10 people (ludicrous; unnatural!).
(g) That Kanu cannot even visit any hospital to take care of his health, because the hospital staff of doctors, nurses, para-medical staff and other patients, must surely exceed 10 (contrary to section 17(3)(c) of the Constitution
(h) That Kanu cannot attend church service or the synagogue worship to glorify God in thanksgiving for his release, since such place of worship will harbour hundreds if not thousands of people (contrary to section 10 and 38 of the Constitution).
(i) That Kanu cannot even go to a busy motor park, airport, seaport, parks and gardens, cinema hall, theatre, to transport himself, watch films or relax, or even go to Shoprite to shop.
(j) That Kanu cannot deliver lectures to students or groups, or participate in seminars, workshops, summits, conferences, etc., as these involve many people.
(k) That by way of summary, Kanu should remain a hermit, marooned like Robinson Crusoe in the 1719 novel of the same name, by Daniel Defoe, who spent over 28 years as a castaway, after he was washed up on the shores of a deserted island, near the mouth of Oronoco River in South America.
Day by day, we subject the Nigerian society to bottomless ridicule and derision in the comity of nations. Bail conditions are simply to ensure the attendance of a person in court, and nothing more. Once excessive or punitive, bail loses its purpose, function and goal.
I urge Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyers to immediately file an application before the same Justice Binta, for variation of the bail terms to more favourable ones that will make Kanu a human being once more. I urge the Nigerian judiciary to stand up “gidigba” to defend the rights of all Nigerians against executive lawlessness, judicial timidity and legislative rascality.
God bless Nigeria and Nigerians.
•Ozekhome (SAN) is a constitutional lawyer and human rights activist.