The African Centre for Leadership Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) has called for actions on security rights of the citizens, saying most citizens are ignorant of their basic right or are too poor to make cases for themselves especially in the security sector.
The Director of Strategy of the centre, Itia Otabor, said this on Monday in Abuja at the formal launch of Centre LSD and Trust Africa “Strengthening of Security Sector Accountability” project.
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He said that the project was to strengthen citizens’ voices to demand accountability in the security sector and was supported by a grant from Trust Africa an independent foundation in Senegal.
According to him, the idea of the project was conceptualised against the backdrop of outcries by citizens on the security forces implementation of the lockdown measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
“Of note, was also the limitation of citizen’s ability to call out security services and demand redress. According to statistics provided by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), between March 30 and April 13, 2020 which represented the first phase of the lockdown in Nigeria law enforcement agents killed 18 persons.
“This was more than the number corona virus had killed which stood at 12 at that time. The report also showed that a total of 105 complaints bordering on violations of citizens fundamental rights, illegal arrests and detentions among others were received from 24 out of 36 states and FCT,” Otabor said.
He listed others as unlawful arrest and detention, seizure of properties, sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and extortion and that most of these reported cases remained unsolved.
He said, “Lack of recourse mechanism was a reason because citizens did not have access to trusted and credible outlets to report such cases with the assurance to get justice. Resolution or investigative processes even when such cases were reported were often cumbersome and tedious.
“There was the perceived notion that reported cases would not be accorded attention, in addition, usually those who experience violations lacked the means to pursue the case. Non availability of channels to speak out when rights were trampled upon and limited access to government’s organs to engage and report were part of the reasons.”
He also said that citizens ‘systemic suppression and intimidation over time by security forces have weakened their resolve to speak up adding that citizens’ ignorance of their constitutional rights on such matter were some of the reasons.
He said that the project implementation and execution would be carried out in two key cities of Lagos and Abuja and that the activities would include pre-citizens forum and citizens meeting with key civil society organisations, human rights bodies, security services and other stakeholders.