CLEEN Foundation in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission and support from Open Society Foundations, August 19, in Abuja, held a Zoom meeting on Counter-Terrorism Legislation in Nigeria.
With Nnmadi Odo and Jenny Torhee, as Moderators, the participants at the meeting were:
o ONSA: Office of the National Security Adviser.
o NCS: Nigeria Correction (formally Prison) Service.
o NPF: Nigerian Police Force.
o NBA: Nigerian Bar Association.
o CDD: Centre for Democracy and Development.
o PSC: Police Service Commission.
o FRSC: Federal Road Safety Corps.
o CRN: Confluence for Right of Nigeria.
o DSS: Department of State Services (SSS).
o FCC: Federal Character Commission.
o NIPCR: National Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution
In his opening remarks and Statement of Purpose, the Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Dr. Benson Olugbuo, stated that the meeting is a collaborative effort between CLEEN and NHRC because we believe that the NHRC has the responsibility to promote and protect Human rights.
There’s a responsibility to ensure that the right of those who are accused of committing crimes are also protected even as they go through trial proceedings.
The 2019 National Security Strategy list out what we need to do as Nigerians to secure the country. The meeting would look at the security challenge we have in Nigeria and specifically at terrorism legislation and how it has affected security areas. It is important to look at these issues critically and create a better Nigeria.
In his remarks, the special guest of Honour Chief of Staff to the Deputy Senate President, Otive Igbuzor commends the effort of NHRC and CLEEN Foundation. He encouraged stakeholders to ensure that human rights are protected.
Goodwill message by representative of ONSA, Dennis Ozioko: He thanked CLEEN for their intervention in the direction of counter-terrorism.
Goodwill message by representative of State Security Service National HQ, Abuja, Safwan Bello: He started by appreciating CLEEN Foundation for organizing this policy brief dissemination on counter-terrorism legislation in Nigeria.
However, he said the policy brief dissemination will go a long way in checkmating both the issue of terrorism and procedures in court.
Keynote Speech by Executive Secretary NHRC, Barr. Tony Ojukwu Esq: The ES appreciated effort of partners on the project. In order to address the security challenges we are facing as a nation, the Federal Government has deployed military capability which has resulted to serious human right violations for the civil population.
NHRC and CLEEN has been collaborating through interventions in and holding military and other law enforcement agencies accountable while they perform their constitutional responsibilities which must be carried out within the law and respect for human rights.
Some of the interventions of the Federal Government are to provide comprehensive mechanism to prevention and investigation of terrorism offenses. Since the beginning of Boko Haram insurgency, government has come up with many policies which has helped deal with terrorism and these are;
- Review of training curriculum for the military and other law enforcement agencies to include modules of information on international human rights and humanitarian law during internal security operations.
- FG presented an award of compensation and rewarded an amount of 135million naira made the NHRC in favour of families of unlawful killings and those attacked on commercial motorcycles in Apo, Abuja by members of the military and other security personnel in 2013. The compensation was paid in 2018 through NHRC in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Justice.
- There has been an appointment of human right adviser to the Chief of Defence Staff
- There has been a division of Human right desk at the Army Headquarters’ and other divisions of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
- There has been a review of the code of conduct and rules of engagement for Armed forces personnel during internal security operations.
- There has been development of natural security framework and action plan in preventing and countering violence.
- There has been a reform of criminal justice system
- Review of national defence strategy and the national counter terrorism strategy
- Development of violence countering extremism program, to counter radicalization, de-radicalization and strategic communication.
NHRC has been engaging all relevant stakeholder with CLEEN Foundation in ensuring that respect for human right is not compromised in anyway by some of our interventions which are;
- Preventive dialogues with military and other security forces in maintaining human rights and humanitarian law principles.
- Participation in the development of policies on the extremism of human rights and humanitarian law principles in national counter insurgency operation
- Regular training of military and other law regulating bodies in respect for human rights and humanitarian law
- Monitoring of internal security agencies in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states from 2013 to 2015 and up till date.
- Human rights assessment report published in 2015 to 2017
- Monitoring of internal displaced persons camp in 2017
He therefore encouraged all stakeholders to play their roles in ensuring respect of human rights and humanitarian law principles.
Mr Michael Ugwueze did a presentation on the policy brief Dissemination on Counter Terrorism Legislation in Nigeria: Since the inception of Boko Haram insurgency in 2009, there has been a huge increase at the rate of death and human rights violations, both both the security agencies (especially the military and the police), Boko Haram fighters have been accused of these violations.
The escalating cases of these violations have posed a serious concern to stakeholders, given impetus for a review of various counter-terrorism initiatives in Nigeria.
However, the methodology is based to review the secondary literature with primary focus on the 1999 Constitution, Terrorism Act 2011, Criminal Code Act, Penal Code Act, the Money Laundering Acts of 2011 and 2012, Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, Police Act, Armed Forces Act, the Prisons Act, EFCC Act of 2004.
He therefore talked on the complementary role of state actors (oversight bodies, security forces and regulatory agencies) and non-state actors (the people, non-statutory security forces and civil society and non-governmental organizations) in security management.
He then emphasized on the lawless in Nigeria based on the conduct of security agents in the enforcement of Covid-19 containment measures, the extant laws failed to explicitly criminalize human rights violations. Even where they exist, implementation is always weak.
Extant laws detailing the functions of the military such as the Armed Forces Act and 1999 Constitution (as amended) failed to clearly identify the parameters of military engagement in internal security matters. Prisoners, treated as though they are less than human beings in Nigeria. This explains why ex-convicts or freed prisoners end up becoming more hardened than they were before their incarceration.
He ended the presentation by giving recommendations to strengthening human rights desk offices of all the security agencies, there is the need to hasten the review of Armed Forces Act to clearly show the parameters of military engagement in internal security disturbances, total overhauling of the Nigerian prisons (now correctional services) should be initiated as a matter of urgency, the Nigerian government should institute a culture of participatory and inclusive soft approach to counter-terrorism.
This will help in rebuilding the trust between and among security agencies and the citizens. Also, everybody is a stakeholder in the issue of security management, it is not by change of name, it is by change of practice.
Statistics of Complaints and Punishments awarded from 2016 to 2019 by Commandant David Ojelabi, Head CRU/NPF:
- 11,829 total complaints received
- 9,197 complaints results
- 820 total number of undeserved complaints
- 2,981 complaints on cases that has to do with request for bail application
- 265 complaints of retired police officers
- 17 officers dismissed
- 175 officers given different types of punishment
- 1 officer was severely reprimanded
- 4 officers were reduced in rank
* The highest ranking officer that incurred the rout was an Assistant Commissioner of police punished
* 11.1 million and additional 8,000 dollars total amount of money recovered and returned by the Complaints Response Unit of Nigeria Police Force.
In his closing remarks, Barrister Tony Ojukwu said Nigeria is not in isolation, enforcement of law should be done with respect for human rights; let’s keep improving on our system.
Mrs Ruth Olofin, Program Manager, CLEEN Foundation, also in her closing remarks stated that articulation of policies to address the challenges of insurgency, countering terrorism and improve the state of things.