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U.S. releases damning human rights report about Nigeria.


“The most serious human rights abuses during the year were those committed by Boko Haram.”
A new report by the United States has described Nigeria as a country where corruption, official impunity, and gross human rights violations occur at will.
The report described the human rights violations to include extra-judicial killings, rape, torture, mistreatment of detainees, destruction of property, violence against women, vigilante killings, child labour, forced and bonded labour, and discrimination based on sexual orientation.
This assessment of Nigeria is according to the 2013 Country Report on Human Rights. The report, which is now in its 38th year, is sanctioned by the U.S. Congress. It, amongst other things, helps inform the U.S. government policy and foreign assistance.
According to the report, the terrorist group, Boko Haram, and the Nigerian Government are the worst perpetrators of human rights abuses in the country.
“The most serious human rights abuses during the year were those committed by Boko Haram, which conducted killings, bombings, abduction and rape of women, and other attacks throughout the country, resulting in numerous deaths, injuries, and widespread destruction of property; those committed by security services, which perpetrated extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, beatings, arbitrary detention, mistreatment of detainees, and destruction of property; and widespread societal violence, including ethnic, regional, and religious violence,” the report said.
The report came hard on the Goodluck Jonathan administration for institutionalising impunity with the state pardon granted to serial money launderer and former governor of Bayelsa State, Dipreye Alamieyeseigha. It also said the Nigeria government has displayed no willingness to prosecute soldiers and police officers accused of gross human rights violations.
The report makes specific reference to the refusal of the government to prosecute members of the armed forces found to have perpetrated extrajudicial killing and torture in clear disregard of the recommendation of The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Committee against Torture.
“During the year joint task forces (JTFs), composed of elements of the military, police, and other security services, conducted raids on militant groups and criminal suspects in the states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Kogi, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Katsina, Jigawa, and Yobe. These raids resulted in numerous deaths of and injuries to alleged criminals, militants, and civilians. Local NGOs, international human rights groups, and political and traditional leaders in the affected states accused the security services of indiscriminate and extrajudicial killings.
“The national police, army, and other security forces committed extrajudicial killings and used lethal and excessive force to apprehend criminals and suspects as well as to disperse protesters. Authorities generally did not hold police accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody. The reports of state or federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths remained unpublished.”
Inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment
The report frowned at the technique of “parading” of suspects commonly used by the police. It observed that most of those paraded are subjected to public ridicule or abuse.
“Police commonly used a technique called “parading” of arrestees. Parading involved literally walking arrestees through public spaces, subjecting them to public ridicule and abuse.
“Bystanders often hurled taunts, food, and other objects. Police defended this practice with the argument that public humiliation helped deter crime,” it said.
It further observed that police flagrantly extort money from civilians and in blatant violation of the law. They use torture to extract confessions from suspects, which are later used to secure convictions in court.
The report indicts the police of rape and other sexual offences of women in their custody. In one example in Abraka in Delta State, in March 2013, a woman said four men raped her while she was in police custody. She said the police had put her in the same cell as the men. She accused the police of failing to help her. According to her, the investigating police office told her to keep quiet about the incident.
Over-crowded and disease-infested prisons
The report described a horrid condition of the country’s prison. It said the prisons are mostly over-crowded and in such deplorable states that they provide fertile breeding grounds for communicable disease. It said prisoners are poorly fed and their health neglected.
For instance, it observed that inmates with mental illness are kept among the general population. Prison warders are also accused of widespread torture, extortions, and sexual abuses such as rape of female inmates.
“Prison and detention center conditions remained harsh and life threatening. Prisoners, a majority of whom had not been tried, were subject to extrajudicial execution, torture, gross overcrowding, food and water shortages, inadequate medical treatment, deliberate and incidental exposure to heat and sun, and infrastructure deficiencies that led to wholly inadequate sanitary conditions and could result in death.”
“Reports indicated guards and prison officials extorted inmates or levied fees on them to pay for food, prison maintenance, and prisoner release. In some cases female inmates faced the threat of rape. Female prisoners pregnant at the time of incarceration gave birth to and raised their babies in prison,” it added.
“Overcrowding was a significant problem in some prisons. Although national capacity stood at 47,284, an imbalance in the use of prisons resulted in underutilization at some facilities, while others were at more than 800 percent of their designed capacity. For example, the Owerri Federal Prison had the capacity to hold 548 prisoners but held more than 1,784. Ogwuashi-Uku prison in Delta State, with a capacity to house 64 prisoners, housed 541, while Port Harcourt prison, with a capacity to hold 804, held 2,955. Ijebu-Ode prison in Lagos, with a capacity to hold 49 prisoners, held 309,” it continued.
“Although the law prohibits the imprisonment of children, minors–many of whom were born there–lived in the prisons. A 2006 report on the rights and welfare of children from the Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs to the African Union found an estimated 6,000 children lived in prisons and detention centers. The Nigerian Prison Service reported, however, that as of March, 69 infants resided in prison with their mothers while 847 juvenile inmates were detained in juvenile detention centers.”
Freedom of Speech
The report observed that though the freedom of speech and a free press are guaranteed by the constitution, high-handed security and government officials still occasionally harass journalists.
The report made a case in point of the December 2012 raid of the homes and offices of the editor Musa Muhammad Awwal and reporter Aliyu Saleh of the Hausa-language weekly newspaper Al-Mizan, confiscating their phones and laptops as well as detaining the journalists and their wives.
“Politicians and political parties harassed and attacked journalists perceived as reporting on them or their interests in a negative manner. For example, on April 8, authorities in Abuja detained two reporters for Leadership Newspaper, Tony Amokeodo and Chibuzor Ukaibe, following the publication on April 3 of an article alleging that President Jonathan had ordered the disruption of operations of his political opponents. Authorities charged the two men with “vexatious publication.” All charges were later dropped.
“Journalists also were at risk of abduction. For example, in March assailants in Ondo State abducted a Nigeria Television Authority journalist, Olubunmi Oke, as she arrived home from work with her infant child and maid. The child and maid were later released. Media reports stated that the assailants had demanded an eight million naira ($50,240) ransom. Oke was freed after three days, following the payment of an undisclosed ransom.
Nicholas Ibekwe
(From Biafra Galaxy)

Nigerian Church Still Struggling After Massacre.

Nigeria violence

The church is still empty. Clothes and Bibles remain scattered throughout the sanctuary. Dried blood stains the floor.

One month after gunmen opened fire inside Deeper Life Bible Church in Eika-Adagu, a suburb 12 kilometers from the town of Okene in central Nigeria’s Kogi state, members of the church have yet to resume worship services and other activities.

“All of us are traumatized by this attack. [There is] no family in this church that is not affected by this incident,” Stephen Imagejor, an assistant pastor, told Open Doors News. Imagejor’s wife, Ruth, was killed. Their two daughters, Amen, 12, and Juliet, 9, were hit by bullets and hospitalized. In all, 19 died.

Police have played down widespread suspicion that the militant group Boko Haram was behind the attack, and the group itself has not claimed responsibility, as it has after other deadly outbursts. Members of the church, however, say they have no doubt it was Boko Haram that came after them specifically because of their Christian faith. They may have been a target, they say, because some of the dead include former Muslims who had converted to Christianity. And in the aftermath, church leaders say members struggle with the gospel’s admonition to forsake revenge.

“Many are now saying that they can no longer come to the church,” Imagejor said. “But we will eventually try to see how we can get those of us that have survived the attack to return to the church for worship services. But, I do visit them to encourage them to remain steadfast in the faith in spite of the persecution.”

It Happened on Bible Study Day
It was a Monday. Bible-study day.

Deeper Life members and their families gathered at the church in the evening. Pastor Williams Kumuyi, general superintendent of the Church, was delivering a message via satellite broadcast. It was 7:30 p.m.

Outside the building, a Toyota van rolled up. A group of men—some news reports said as many as 10—got out. Some carried assault rifles.

“Suddenly the lights in the church went off,” said Faith Isaac Yusuf, who was inside. “A member went out to find out what the problem was and just as we waited for the lights to be fixed, we heard a voice shouting at us to hands up. And then they began shooting us.”

The gunfire lasted 20 minutes.

“I ran out of the church. Honestly I cannot say how I got out, but I know I escaped from the church as the guns burst out with fire and bullets,” Yusuf told Open Doors News in her house at Eika-Adagu.

Her son, Matthew Isaac Yusuf, a high school student, was killed. Another son, Michael Isaac Yusuf, was injured.

When the shooting began, Imagejor hit the floor. “I crawled out as the gunmen began shooting. I crawled along the wall in the dark until I broke through a zinc sheet used to block a door in the children’s section and out of the church. That was how I escaped.”

Outside, he looked across the road. His eyes found Jesse, his 8-year-old son.

“His was a miraculous escape as I saw him across the road without knowing how he got out of the place,” Imagejor said.

Too many others did not get out: Martha Joseph. Aderuwa Joseph. Lydia Michael. Mary David. Emmanuel Ambe, a senior pastor of the Church, who was visiting for a brief meeting.

“I was hit on the leg, while my wife, Grace, was shot death,” said Samuel Ayodele Yusuf, one of the pastors at Deeper Life.

Church member Stephen Isaiah Yusuf survived the attack. His mother, Mary Isaiah Yusuf, did not. Still in shock a month later, he could not recall details.

Seventeen members of the church were killed on the spot. Two died in the hospital.

About thirteen members remain in two hospitals: General Hospital, Okene; and Lokoja Federal Medical Centre.

‘We Cannot Run Away’
Immediately, suspicion fell upon Boko Haram, the militant group that has waged violence across Nigeria in an attempt to topple the government in favor of an Islamic state. Boko Haram has attacked Christian churches elsewhere, mainly in the northern portions of Nigeria. The assault on Deeper Life Church was farther south than typical.

Police have made a handful of arrests, but have not revealed whether any of the suspects have ties to Boko Haram. The police commissioner for Kogi state, Mohammadu Katsina, flatly ruled out any religious motive:

“There is no Boko Haram in Okene,” Kastina told the Nigerian newspaper This Day. Instead, he said the deadly events of Aug. 6 were “a pure case of armed robbery and political attack.”

The surviving members of Deeper Life aren’t buying it.

“No member of our church has been involved in politics and there is, therefore, no justifiable reason for anyone to attack us,” said Samuel Ayodele Yusuf. “So the claim that it is not Boko Haram is not acceptable to us.”

The attack in Okene was too similar to others to dismiss suspicion of Boko Haram out of hand, said the MEmmanuel Egbunu, the Anglican Archbishop of Lokoja Province of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, and the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Kogi State Chapter.

“This is not the first time that a Church is being attacked in this state, as there have been attempts in the past to bomb churches here,” Egbunu told Open Doors News. “We are not surprised about this attack because attack on churches has been the trademark of this Islamic sect, Boko Haram.”

“There are claims by security agencies that the attack may be politically induced,” he said, “but the question we have been asking is why should the Church become the target of an attack when the Church is not involved in politics? We believe that this attack is premeditated.”

One reason why, church members said, is the fact that several of the Deeper Life members who were killed had previously converted from Islam to Christianity.

“My wife, Ruth, 46, became a Christian in 1988,” said Imagejor, the assistant pastor.

“She was a Muslim before she converted to the Christian faith. And through her life in Christ, her mother and two of her Muslim sisters also converted to Christianity.”

Mary Isaiah Yusuf was a former Muslim, too, said her husband, Isaiah. “She became a Christian when she heard the gospel preached to her. She also shared the gospel with her relations who in turn, gave their lives to Christ.”

He said the two married in 1982 in the city of Kaduna when Mary became a Christian. The couple had six children, and Mary was involved in the church’s team of prayer warriors. She was responsible for the daily cleaning of the church sanctuary.

“We were living in Kaduna in northern part of the country, but the religious crisis caused by the forceful implementation of the Islamic law, Shariah, forced us to relocate to Kogi state in 2001,” Isaiah said. “We thought we were fleeing persecution up north, but now this attack has shown us that we cannot run away from it.”

The Challenge of the Scripture
The attacks on churches are taking a toll on Christian life. Churches are changing from houses of welcome to houses of suspicion, Archbishop Egbunu said. Money that should go to evangelism instead is being channeled into security measures. As the sectarian violence creeps southward into Nigeria’s predominantly Christian regions, he said, worries grow about the country’s ability to police itself.

Egbunu said it’s creating a situation where Christian leaders will not be able to contain the anger building in the hearts of some Christians.

“As church leaders we preach and tell Christians not to avenge these attacks,” he said. “But it is possible that we may not be able to restrain them for a long time. Things are getting out of hand. We as leaders may restrain ourselves, but Christian youths may not be able to bear things for long. But our message has been that we should not be overcome with evil, but should strive to overcome evil with good, as we are taught in Romans 12:1.”



Court Rules on Kogi Gov Suit Today.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja will today rule on whether to consolidate
the two different suits instituted by a governorship aspirant of the Peoples
Democratic Party PDP in Kogi state,Oyebode Makinde and the winner of the
January 2011 governorship primary election in the state,Jibrin Isah Echocho
seeking to unseat the Captain Idris Wada as the governor of the state.

Makinde had through his counsel, Alex Izinyon SAN brought a motion
challenging the inauguration of Wada while Echocho through his counsel,Wole
Olanipekun SAN is asking the court to set aside the December 3,2011 guber
election which brought in Wada.

When the two suits were mentioned on Monday, the court drew the attention of
Olanipekun to the earlier suit brought by Makinde pending before it.

However,he responded that the court could use its discretion to consolidate the
two applications as it will go a long way to ease the heavy burden on it.

Counsel to Makinde,Izinyon aligned himself with the submission that the suits
should be consolidated so that it would be easier for all the parties.

Opposing the application for consolidation,counsel to Wada,Chris Uche SAN
argued that the two suits are different from each other going by their subject

He added that in the first suit, Makinde was challenging Wada’s swearing-in
while Echocho is asking the court to set aside the election of December 3,2011
which produced Wada as the governor.

Uche also argued that they have raised an objection as to the locus of Makinde
instituting such a suit and also intending to challenge the jurisdiction of the court
in the suit brought by Echocho.

Meanwhile,the court granted the application for joinder brought by the Peoples
Democratic Party PDP as a defendant in the suit.

After listening to all the parties in the suit, the presiding judge, Justice Donaltus
Okorowo adjourned ruling till tomorrow.

Echocho had in his suit wanted the court to give an order setting aside Wada’s
swearing in and order INEC to conduct a fresh election pursuant to the January
27 judgement of the Supreme court.

He also wants a declaration that INEC which is an institution established by the
Constitution is under a to  duty to obey and comply with decision of the
Supreme Court delivered on January 27,2012.

It will be re-called that the apex court had on January 27 sacked five governors,
Kogi inclusive.

The plaintiff further wants the court to declare that INEC being the appellant in
Appeal No,SC/357/2011 between INEC(as appellant) V Alhaji Ibrahim Idris(as
respondent) which prayed the Supreme court to decree and declare that the term
of office of the last holder of the office of Governor of Kogi state constitutionally
lapsed on 28th May,2011 by the virtue of Section 180(2) of the Constitution and
which appeal/reliefs the Supreme court allowed cannot rightly and in good
conscience be heard and allowed to jettison or misinterpret in any way the said
judgement of the Supreme court to again defeat the clear wordings of Section 180
(2) and (2A) of the same Constitution.

The court has also been urged to declare that purported election to the office of
Governor of Kogi state held by the defendant during the pendency of its appeal to
the Supreme court in Appeal SC/357/2011 and which purportedly produced the
2nd defendant as Governor-elect of Kogi state was unconscionable,
unconstitutional,null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

He also want the court to declare that the election that brought Wada in was
done in violation of the mandatory provisions of Section 178(2) of the Constitution,
Section 25(8) and 31(1) of the Electoral Act.

Isah also wants the court to declare that the letter issued by the INEC on
January 30,2012 directing Wada to be sworn in based on the December 3,2012
is contemptuous,null and void and of no effect.

By African Examiner.

Mr. Vice President and the Naked dance in Kogi State.

While the debate on the interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment on
tenure elongation that sacked five State Governors rages on, Nigerians
awaits a dissection of the ruling by Justices of the Apex Court. But this did
not come with a dance and a show of shame as Kogi was turned into “big
trouble in little China”, Courtesy of the purported intervention by the vice
president, Arch. Namadi Sambo.

The purported order of the Vice President to security agencies that Capt.
Idris Wada be ‘installed’ as the Governor Kogi State was done with military
precision and fiat! It would be recalled that immediately after the ruling by the
Supreme Court, the Attorney General of the Federation in his capacity as the
government’s principal legal adviser instructed the Chief Judge of Kogi State
to swear in the Speaker of the House of Assembly as the Acting State
Governor until an election is conducted in accordance with directive of the
Apex Court.

In democratic setting, the role of the judiciary within the electoral process is
widely recognized as significant in the consideration of electoral contests or
petitions. Regrettably, the situation in Kogi State was different and a taint on
the independence of the Judiciary in the state and by extension Nigeria.  Mr.
Vice President aided the imposition of Capt. Idris Wada as governor in
defiance to the Supreme Court order with the deployment of over two hundred
government forces in and around the Kogi State Government House with the
active connivance of the Inspector General of Police.
Today, this undemocratic action has not only compounded the climate of fear
in Kogi State but diminished the right of every eligible voter in Kogi state to
determine who will be their Governor. The expectation that people in
leadership should abide by judicial decisions which is fundamental to the
maintenance of the rule of law was abused by the vice president. One would
have thought given his sensitive position as number two man in the Executive
arm of Government, he should have respected the doctrine of separation of
powers which denotes the practice of dividing the powers of a government
among different branches thereof.
The rule of law requires that all branches of the Nigerian State, including the
Executive, strictly abide by the judgments and decisions of the Judiciary,
even when they do not agree with them. The Vice President by interfering
with the Supreme Court orders on Kogi State has thus put in jeopardy the
rule of law in Nigeria because his actions on Kogi State constitutes serious
infringements of the independence of the Judiciary.
It is also very disturbing that even with the avalanche of challenges
confronting Nigerians and Nigeria as a nation, the vice president discovered
new wisdom in solving Nigeria’s problems by usurping the functions of the
Judiciary. This attempt is highly unacceptable because no arm of government
should be regarded a stumbling block in the execution of the provisions in the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

It is therefore very unfortunate that the vice president forgot that on
assumption of office, he swore to an oath to uphold the constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria. And if he must be reminded, that oath includes
upholding judicial independence as guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution
and in all democratic constitutions especially to protect the Nigerian people
from abuse of power by the Government and top politicians like him.  

Many sectors of society are believed to have interpreted the action of the vice
president as a contravention of the constitution on separations of powers.
Needless I also mention that such could warrant an impeachment from office
because there is no doubt that he deliberately acted ultra vires; his action in
Kogi State is so much outside his authority or jurisdiction.
The events that led to the forceful exit of the already sworn in legitimate
Acting Governor must be thoroughly investigated by members of the National
Assembly and President Jonathan.  This sad attack on the Judiciary by the
vice president has caused “grave concern” from many quarters and has gone
too far and that unless there is a reversal, the judicial institutions will be
irreparably damaged with adverse effects on Kogi State’s democracy.
The Vice President ought to apologize and publicly disassociate himself from
that ignominious role of the PDP leadership in Kogi State. The maintenance
of the Rule of Law is very important for the sustenance of any democracy and
the Attorney General as the chief legal adviser of the government should not
hesitate to advise the government on the constitutionality or otherwise of the
various actions of the vice president. Furthermore, the entangling influences
and selfish interest on Kogi state governorship must be stopped for the
growth of Nigeria’s democracy and stability of the Judiciary.
PHRANK SHAIBU, A Public Communications Consultant, wrote from Abuja.

By: Phrank Shaibu.

Tenure elongation: Supreme Court sacks Governors of Sokoto, Kogi, Bayelsa, Adamawa, Cross River.


The Supreme Court of Nigeria has sacked five governors of Cross River,
Sokoto, Kogi, Bayelsa and Adamawa state. In a unanimous decision, the
court ruled that the governors have overstayed the constitutional
requirements of four years in office.Those who are kicked out of office are: Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Liyel  
Imoke (Cross River) and Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa). Ibrahim Idris (Kogi) and  
Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto)

The unanimous judgment of the apex court reads:

“The earlier oath taken by the governors cannot be used as a reference
point when determining when the tenure of the governors will end. This is
because the election upon which they took the oath was not held in
accordance with the law.

“INEC was wrong in trying to give effect to the 2007 annulled elections in
the five states. There is no ambiguity in Section 180 of the 1999
Constitution as amended as it states clearly that the tenure of a governor
shall be four years starting from the day he takes Oath of Office and Oath
of Allegiance.

“Once an act is declared null and void by a competent court of law, such
an act has never existed in the eyes of the law. INEC was wrong in trying
to give effect to the annulled 2007 elections in the five states. Something
cannot be built on nothing; it will collapse.

“The Supreme Court does not need to shout itself hoarse before we
understand the meaning of Section 180 of the Constitution as amended.

The amendment done to the constitution took effect from July 16, 2010
whereas the re-run elections and Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance
thereof were conducted in 2008. And in the said amendment, there is
nowhere in the constitution that it was stated that it will take a retroactive
effect. And as such, amendment done to the constitution by the National
Assembly will take effect from July 16, 2010.“In conclusion, the appeal brought by INEC lacks merit and is accordingly

Reacting to the judgment, Jibrin Isah, a PDP chieftain from Kogi state, in
a statement by his Consultant on Public Communication and Strategy,
Phrank Shaibu described the Supreme Court  ruling as a “cast-iron victory
for truth and a clear-cut expression of the electoral wishes of the Kogi  
people and Nigerians.”

His words:

“I am proud of the courageous judgment. Truth and electoral wishes of the
people have finally triumphed.

“As for the judiciary, it remains the last bastion of hope for the common
man and custodian of the Rule of Law.

“We give kudos to our modern day Daniels. We are set for fresh elections
as may be ordered within 90 days. This has indeed strengthened our
position as the authentic and validly nominated candidate of the PDP in
Kogi state”

By Oludare S. Fase.

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