A coalition of civil society organizations in Rivers state bemoaned the fate of arrested victims of the #endsars protesters, and the reappearance of black soot in the state.
Addressing journalists on Tuesday, the lead advocator Barr. Debbie Effiong explained that the form and essence of human rights and democracy and the entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria have undoubtedly become a cause for concerns for citizens.
“Democracy must allow for equal participation of citizens in government and governance, as well as transparent and accountable leadership by the ruling class. Government require strong institutions to sustain democracy. For instance, the judiciary which is the last hope of the common man must always uphold the rule of law and human rights.
She said it was against this backdrop that Social Democratic Network coordinated a series of engagement with Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) to commence advocacy action and reverse the trend of the shrinking civil space in Rivers State.
Effiong said the key advocacy issues they are tackling include illegal arrest and detention of citizens following the #EndSARS protest and addressing the environmental and air pollution in Rivers State.
According to her, the coalition will visit the State Commands of the police and the Nigerian Civil Defence and Security Corps to extract commitments in addressing documented cases of fundamental human rights violations and ensure a pollution-free Rivers State.
She said the coalition will visit courts and correctional centres to follow up on cases relating to victims of illegal detention during #Endsars protest in Rivers State, adding that they will also engage in media advocacy to ensure the restoration of violated citizens’ rights, and prosecution of perpetrators of these crimes and acts.
“Beyond seeking the highlighted issues, the coalition demands that the Rivers State police command should as a matter of utmost urgency and priority carry out a proper investigation into lingering cases of human rights abuses and police brutality; and immediately charge suspects to court within the stipulated time allowed by law in order to enforce respect for human rights and show regards to the rule of law.
“Also, the Rivers State government should live beyond policy enactment and immediately implement recommendations made by the government panel on soot by setting up enforcement and monitoring team that will ensure that violators of illegal crude refining, etc are brought to book and appropriate sanctions meted out to them.
“The extent law, ( the anti-torture Act of 2017) frowns at torture and sees it as an infringement on Human rights. Therefore offenders of this heinous crime/ torture should be immediately prosecuted no matter how highly placed and connected,” she said.
Earlier in his address, Mr Green Isaac, the advocacy team lead said the judiciary and police should endeavour in working under the constitutional laws. According to him, Nigeria has fine laws amongst other countries of the world but in enforcing these laws, the country slack.
“Nigerian police has become the law and jury. Take for instance the arrest of Success Odinaka, a suspect arrested after the EndSARS protest. He and others are still held by the police when they are expected to approach the nearby magistrate court to inform the court that someone is held in their custody and request for a trial, by which the judiciary will determine what is to be done.
“Nigeria police should know henceforth that people are watching what they do, the media is also watching. We have visited the Port Harcourt correctional centre to see what is happening, we want the judiciary to carry out their oversight functions to see that justice to human rights is guaranteed”