Category Archives: Human Rights

FG’s plans to borrow from dormant accounts, unclaimed dividends is illegal, says SERAP

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to use his leadership position “to promptly drop the plan by the Federal Government to borrow about N895bn of unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts using the patently unconstitutional and illegal Finance Act, 2020, and to ensure full respect for Nigerians’ right to property.”

The Finance Act, signed into law by Buhari last December, would allow the government to borrow unclaimed dividends and dormant account balances owned by Nigerians in any bank in the country.

But SERAP in a letter dated 9 January 2021 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “The right to property is a sacred and fundamental right. Borrowing unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts amounts to an illegal expropriation, and would hurt poor and vulnerable Nigerians who continue to suffer under reduced public services, and ultimately lead to unsustainable levels of public debt.”

SERAP said: “The right to property extends to all forms of property, including unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts. Borrowing these dividends and funds without due process of law, and the explicit consent of the owners is arbitrary, and as such, legally and morally unjustifiable.”

According to SERAP, “The borrowing is neither proportionate nor necessary, especially given the unwillingness or inability of the government to stop systemic corruption in ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs], cut waste, and stop all leakages in public expenditures. The borrowing is also clearly not in pursuit of a public or social interest.”

The letter reads in part: “The security of property, next to personal security against the exertions of government, is of the essence of liberty. It is next in degree to the protection of personal liberty and freedom from undue interference or molestation. Our constitutional jurisprudence rests largely upon its sanctity.

“Rather than pushing to borrow unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts, your government ought to move swiftly to cut the cost of governance, ensure review of jumbo salaries and allowances of all high-ranking political office holders, and address the systemic corruption in MDAs, as well as improve transparency and accountability in public spending.”

“The borrowing also seems to be discriminatory, as it excludes government’s owned official bank accounts, and may exclude the bank accounts of high-ranking government officials and politicians, thereby violating constitutional and international prohibition of discrimination against vulnerable groups, to allow everyone to fully enjoy their right to property and associated rights on equal terms.

“SERAP is concerned that the government has also repeatedly failed and/or refused to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of recovered stolen assets, and the loans so far obtained, which according to the Debt Management Office, currently stands at $31.98 billion.

“SERAP notes growing allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the spending of these loans and recovered stolen assets.

“We would be grateful if your government would drop the decision to borrow unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts, and to indicate the measures being taken to send back the Finance Act to the National Assembly to repeal the legislation and remove its unconstitutional and unlawful provisions, including Sections 60 and 77, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.

“If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in public spending.

“The government cannot lawfully enforce the provisions on Crisis Intervention Fund and Unclaimed Funds Trust Fund under the guise of a trust arrangement, as Section 44(2)[h] of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] is inapplicable, and cannot justify the establishment of these funds.

“SERAP notes that while targeting the accounts of ordinary Nigerians, the Finance Act exempts official bank accounts owned by the federal government, state government or local governments or any of their ministries, departments or agencies.

“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution, the country’s international human rights obligations including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party, and which has been domesticated as part of the country’s domestic legislation.

“According to our information, your government has reportedly completed plans to borrow an estimated N895bn of unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts using the Finance Act 2020 you recently signed into law.

“Under the law, the government will be able to access and take without consent unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts in any bank, on the basis of the vague and undefined ‘Crisis Intervention Fund,’ and patently unlawful ‘Unclaimed Funds Trust Fund’.”

“The government is justifying the borrowing on the ground that it would improve access of the Federal Government to much needed funds, and remove the burdens of foreign exchange and punitive loan conditions imposed by multilateral lenders.

“According to the Finance Act, the operation of the trust fund is to be supervised by the Debt Management Office (DMO) and governed by a governing council chaired by the finance minister and a co-chairperson from the private sector appointed by you.

“The Nigerian Constitution in Section 44(1) provides that, ‘no moveable property or any interest in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of Nigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by a law.’

“Similarly, Article 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantee the right to property, and prohibit the arbitrary deprivation of the right. Thus, everyone is entitled to own property alone as well as in association with others.

“Respect for the right to property is important to improve the enjoyment of other basic human rights, and to lift Nigerians out of poverty. The Nigerian Constitution and international human rights law limit the ability of any government to interfere with private property without any legal justifications.”

The letter is copied to Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

UK court blocks US attempt to extradite Julian Assange of Wikileaks

The United Kingdom has blocked United States’ attempt to extradite Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser on January 4 took the decision, but RSF has expressed extreme disappointment that the court failed to take a stand for press freedom and journalistic protections.

According to a statement by Rebecca Vincent, RSF Director of International Campaigns, “We disagree with the judge’s assessment that the case was not politically motivated and was not centred on journalism and free speech.

“This decision leaves the door open for further similar prosecutions and will have a chilling effect on national security reporting around the world if the root issues are not addressed”.

Although Judge Baraitser decided against extradition, the grounds for her decision were strictly based on Assange’s serious mental health issues and the conditions he would face in detention in the US. On the substantive points in the case – in which the US government has pursued Assange on 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – the judge’s decision was heavily in favour of the prosecution’s arguments, and dismissive of the defence.

The US government has indicated that it intends to appeal the extradition decision. Assange remains detained on remand in high-security Belmarsh prison, pending the judge’s consideration of his bail application on 6 January.

RSF has called again for his immediate release, and says it will continue to monitor proceedings.

Despite extensive difficulties securing access – including refusal by the judge to accredit NGO observers and threats of arrest by police on the scene – RSF monitored the 4 January hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey), and has been the only NGO to monitor the full extradition proceedings against Assange.

Barr Emekesiri’s CG-IPOB appoints President, Secretary for Bilie Human Rights Initiative (BHRI)

The Customary Government of the Indigenous People of Biafra (CH-IPOB) has appointed a new National President and National Secretary for its human rights and legal department, the Bilie Human Rights Initiative(BHRI).

Vision Bearer of the CG-IPOB, Barrister Emeka Emekesiri announced the appointments during the annual General Meeting of the organization at Awka.

Barrister Pius Nwabueze Okoro was appointed National President of the human rights group, while Frank Nwapa Esq. emerged National Secretary.

BHRI is the accredited human rights advocacy group for the Biafrans. It is the human rights organisation that has presented the Biafran case to the United Nations and the African Union. It has engaged the Nigerian Government in a hydra-headed battle of wits using legal, diplomatic and political strategies. It is one of the sister organisations under the CH-IPOB, the umbrella body of the Biafran struggle as was envisioned by Biafran lawyer, Barr Emeka Emekesiri, the Solicitor for Indigenous People of Biafra.

Emeka Emekesiri is the Vision Bearer of the Legal Method of Self-determination.

CHRISTMAS: Activist Patrick Eholor harps on the virtues of kindness

Nigeria Political Observe General and President of One Love Foundation, Chief Patrick Eholor has called on people across the globe to realize the true meaning of kindness, ans apply it in dealing with others.

Eholor stated this in a Christmas and New Year message he sent to Jungle Journalist Media Limited.

He stated “Kindness means making people feel loved. You can be kind in all sorts of different ways, whether it be out of generosity, maybe nice words to brighten someone’s day, or helping out a friend in need.

“When you show kindness to someone, it can make them feel valued and cared for and brighten their day. It can make them happier. When we show kindness we also spread it. Let’s show a little kindness and forgot about animosities.

“We have survive the worst of COVID-19. Let’s forget about those who we
think have knowingly or unknowingly wronged us,
you cannot drink poison for your enemy.

“Starting from you, let’s stop the bitterness. I pray God grant you all your heart desire this coming year”, Eholor stated.

Nigeria: Over 60 (30 Identified) Now killed & 90-100 (50 Identified) Injured In Obigbo Army Massacre-Intersociety

Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria
Thursday, 19th Nov 2020

The Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law is deeply sad, worried and dismayed over the continuation of Army massacre operations in Obigbo and global silence trailing same.

With our latest updates, the number of slain defenseless Igbo citizens of Obigbo residency and environs in Rivers State has now risen to at least 60 with between 90 and 100 others shot and deadly injured. Dozens have also been permanently disappeared and 200-300 others militarily abducted and held in custodies only known to the Nigerian Army.

The Nigeria Police Force, Rivers State Command is also strongly believed to be holding not less than 100 persons. All the surviving victims being held alive by the Army and the Police are strongly believed to be undergoing torture and other harsh detention conditions. There are also no credible pieces of evidence showing that the sick and the injured detainees are receiving adequate medical treatments, raising serious fears of some dying in Army or Police custody or both.

We therefore strongly call for international intervention to stop the atrocious Army operations. The Nigerian Government and Nyesom Wike led Government of Rivers State must be prevailed upon to immediately withdraw the killer soldiers deployed to Obigbo and environs and all those currently held by the Army and the Nigeria Police Force in Rivers State and neighboring Abia State must be freed unconditionally or put on fair trial.

The Obigbo massacre must not only be thoroughly investigated but also the perpetrators of the dastardly act including Major Gen Olu Irefin (GOC, 6 Division, Port Harcourt), Brig Gen SB Kumupayi (Commander, 14 Brigade, Ohafia) and Gov Nyesom Wike must be fished out at appropriate time and place and put on local and international trial for mass murder and crimes against property well as crimes against humanity.

We also wish to state boldly and factually that what is going on in Obigbo is far more devastating and three times murderous than the 20th night of Oct 2020 Lekki Tollgate Army shootings and killings targeted at gathered unarmed and defenseless protesters in Lagos State.

In other words, the number of unarmed and defenseless citizens killed so far at Obigbo in Rivers State is at least three times higher than that of Lekki Tollgate in Lagos State.

While the Lekki Tollgate killings took the lives of about 20 persons, the number of persons so far killed in Obigbo has risen to at least 60, out of which 30 have been verified bodily or by names.

On the other hand, while the number of those shot and deadly injured in the Lekki Tollgate shootings is about 30, the number of those shot and deadly injured at Obigbo has risen to between 90 and 100, out of which 50 names have so far been identified. The ongoing Obigbo Army massacre has also resulted in permanent disappearances of dozens and 200-300 Army abductions.

Unlike the Lekki Tollgate Army massacre where ‘ethnic cleansing’ was never intended even though a good number, if not majority of the dead activists were Igbo citizens; in Obigbo, the Army massacre there was and still is a full blown ‘ethnic cleansing’.

Apart from the fact that 98% of the dead and the shot and deadly injured victims in Obigbo are citizens of Igbo Nation, using “IPOB death code”, the Nigerian Army and other killer squads loyal to the Rivers State Government headed by Gov Nyeson Wike have also applied instant death and abduction code against every citizen with Igbo name or identity.

In other words, any citizen with Igbo name or identity caught during their house breaking and house-to-house search and violence is instantly labeled “IPOB member” and either killed or abducted.

Therefore, going by our earlier promise of keeping the global community with verified updates over the ongoing Nigerian Army-Gov Nyesom Wike massacre operations in Obigbo, Rivers State; Intersociety has updated and verified 30 of the dead victims and 50 names of the shot and deadly injured in the massacre. We had in our first statement of 6th Nov 2020, released names of eight slain citizens and three unidentified others as well as 22 names of the shot and deadly injured others and made a promise to launch a detailed investigation into the massacre.

The Obigbo Army massacre, now bearing semblance of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and still ongoing, had occurred since 21st Oct 2020 following a curfew and thoughtless order issued same date by Gov Nyesom Wike, which the heavily Muslim controlled and secularity challenged Nigerian Army cashed in to levy human and property war targeting members of the Judeo-Christian Igbo population residing in the area; by killing them at will and looting and destroying their properties. Homes and areas occupied by Igbo natives have been targeted and are still being targeted by soldiers and-any person with Igbo identity is instantly made to run the high risk of losing his or her life or liberty and property.

The soldiers had In keeping with their new “IPOB death code”, abducted and presumably killed scores of unarmed and defenseless Igbo citizens living in the area-with multiple dozens, if not hundreds still held in the custodies of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army located in Port Harcourt and Elele as well as its neighboring Asa-Ukwa military facilities in Abia State.

They have been held in such facilities for past 28 days or since 21st Oct without being released or handed over to the Nigeria Police Force as required by law. Hundreds of homes have been broken into and still being broken into-with their Igbo occupants abducted at ungodly hours and their properties razed or destroyed or vandalized or burnt. It is credibly estimated that the Nigerian Army is presently holding not less than 200-300 of the arrested.

For instance, the areas affected by the Army massacre in Obigbo and environs are Obigbo Expressway (surrounded with armored tanks since 21st Oct till date), Old Aba Road (under siege since 21st Oct), Obigbo Roundabout (under siege since 21st Oct), Mbabo Camp (under siege since 21stOct), Ehi Road/Umunchi (under siege since 23rd Oct), Kom Kom Area (under siege since 24th Oct), Ohafia/Abiriba Quarters (under siege since 26th-27thOct and 11th-12th Nov and Obeama Area (under siege since 29th-31st Oct ), etc.

Terrified witnesses including passersby are also alleging the dumping and drowning of scores of slain corpses inside ‘Imo Gate’ and ‘Mmiri Nwanyi’ Rivers. Some claimed to have sighted some floating corpses at ‘Mmiri Nwanyi River on 29th and 31stOct and ‘Imo Gate River Banks’ on 7th and 8th Nov 2020. The witnesses were unable to photo or video the ‘floating corpses’ owing to heavy presence of soldiers guarding the areas for possible destruction of evidence or erasing traces.

Timber Road area has been under Army terror since 28th Oct. A Jewish Shabbat Mission in the area was attacked and dozens of its worshippers and officials abducted with scores killed. Umusonye/School Road and Vacation Areas have also been under Army siege, forcing several, if not many of their residents to flee. At Okpulo Area, residents including Shabbat religionists were attacked on 6thNov and on 8th Nov, the Shabbat Mission in the Area was demolished; likewise terrorization of residents of Ikwere-Ngwo Area and violent attacks on their houses including demolition of another Shabbat Mission in the Area. Houses and residents of Okoloma-Afam have been under heavy military terrorization since 12th and 14th Nov 2020.

Along Tap Junction, at least four defenseless citizens were shot dead and scores injured by soldiers in the evening of 11th Nov. This is according to eyewitnesses’ accounts. At Mbano Camp same evening of 11th Nov 2020, three persons were shot dead and at Obigbo Express Junction, two more persons were shot dead and at Ohafia and Abiriba Junction same date and time, witnesses said “between 15 and 20 persons” were shot dead following indiscriminate shootings in different terminal directions by soldiers. While some of the corpses particularly those that felled off the road or street or inside gutters are abandoned to decompose, soldiers made away with others.

The heavy presence of soldiers also made it very difficult for relations of the slain to pick up their relatives’ bodies. Late Queen Nwazuo was among those shot and killed by military’s rain of bullets fired in different terminal directions. She was shot dead in front of her shop around noon of 23rd Oct 2020. She was killed at Umunchi Junction, Ehi Road in Obigbo. Among those abducted in their sleep by soldiers are Aneke Sunday and Onyema Christopher Onyeiro.

While Citizen Aneke Sunday was abducted in his sleep around 2am in his residence around Market Road, Obigbo, Citizen Onyema Christopher Onyeiro and scores of his co residents were abducted around 11pm on 17th Nov 2020 at Isaiah Eletuo Street, Obigbo.

In all these, the Government of Rivers State and authorities of the Nigerian Army (who have refused to speak and maintained silence of the graveyard on the massacre) are stopping at nothing to ensure that the truth concerning the massacre never sees the light of the day. Gov Wike apart from going about denying that “no killings took place at Obigbo”, has also been trying to divert the public attention by urging ‘all to condemn the killing of soldiers, police personnel and burning of police stations at Obigbo rather than wasting time seeking to investigate without evidence the Oyigbo incident”.

Attempts by the NBA fact-finding committee to investigate the massacre have also been strongly resisted by the Gov and Government of Rivers State.

Updated Slain Victims Of Obigbo Army Massacre:

Their identities are: (1) Pastor Igwe (slain husband of Mrs. Amara Igwe), (2) Queen Nwazuo (slain fiancée of Mr. Monday Bakor), (3) Okoro Peter and (4) Mr. Chinwendu (the two were shot at close range and killed instantly by soldiers including busting the brain box and fluids of Late Chnwendu on 24thOct 2020 few meters away from Gov Wike’s convoy during his visit to Obigbo), (5) Jude Egejuru (died from gunshot injuries), (6) Clifford Okeke, (7) Cornelius Anya, (8) Udeme Ossy Monday, (9) Edochie Steven, (10) Ebere, (11) Wisdom, (12) Chizy (missing and presumed dead), (13) Michael Nkama (believe to have died from gunshot injuries) and (14) Chinonso Joshua (died from gunshot injuries), (15) Godwin Samuel Umahi, (17) Sunday Umahi, (18) Queen Eze, (19) Darlington, (20) Chinonso Udoh (missing and presumed dead), (21) Kufre Sandy (missing and presumed dead), (22) Justice (shot dead in front of his residence), (23) Martins (missing and presumed dead), (24) Ebite Orjinta (Ihite-Uboma, Imo State), (25) Sunday Aneke (missing and presumed dead), (26) a young nursing mother (died from gunshot injuries) and (27) her newborn baby of one month, 3 weeks and two days (yet to locate her relatives), (28) a yet-to-be identified dead citizen, (29) second yet-to-be-identified citizen and (30) third yet-to-be-identified dead citizen. The three slain bodies were shot and left to decompose along an Obigbo Street in a verified video footage.

Updated Injured Victims Of Obigbo Army Massacre:

Among the deadly injured are: (1) Chukwuma Chinonso, (2) Nwoke Okwudiri Nwonye, (3) Uche Ogbonna, (4) Chikaodi Agwu, (5) Michael Okwudiri, (6) John Emeka, (7) Agwu Enyi, (8) Obichukwu Chibuike, (9) Izuchukwu Igwe, (10) Eluu Chukwuemeka, (11) Arinze Joshua, (12) Nwakama Izuegbe, (13) Destiny Okorie, (14) Israel Asoh, (15) Emeka Heart, (16) Victor Heart, (17) Orji Amaoji, (18) Paschal, (19) Obasi Emela, (20) Chiwuzu Orjinta, (21) Sylvester Odoche, (22) Elochukwu Emeka, (23)Nwakama Uzuegbu, (24) David Godwin, (25) Chima Iwuala, (26) Theresa David, (27) Ozara Ede Anyanwu, (28) Nnamdi Udorji, (29) Obasi Emerem, (30) Sunday Okoegwu, (31) Ozuen Christian, (32) Chima Ogbona, (33) Samuel Obasi, (34) Solomon Ukezu, (35) Ndubuisi Azunna, (36) Victoria Ndubuisi, (37) Ubong Umoh, (38) Tochukwu Nicholas, (39) Anthony Obi, (40) Udorji Anayo, (41) Etim Ubong, (42) Chisom Nnamdi, (43) Eric Angel, (44) Peter Ajah, (45) Uzochukwu, (46) Godwin, (47) Emeka, (48) Arinze, (49) Mike Ujam and (50) Ugwuanyi Ogbuu.

Signed:

Principal Officers: Emeka Umeagbalasi (Board Chair),

Chinwe Umeche, Esq., (Head of Democracy),

Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., (Head of Civil Liberties),

Ndidiamaka Bernard, Esq., (Head of Int’l Justice & Human Rights) and Comrade Sam Kamanyaoku

(Head of Field Data Collection & Documentation)

Contacts:
Mobile/WhatsApp: +2348174090052
Email: info@intersociety-ng.org
Website: http://www.intersociety-ng.org

#EndSARS:Enugu Judicial Panel commences public sitting, today 16th November [see details]

The Enugu State Police Brutality And Extra-Judicial Killings Panel will commence its public sitting today, the 16th day of November 2020.

Interested individuals are hereby requested to attend.

Time: 9:00 am.

Venue: High Court Of Justice (inside old Court 3), Enugu State Judiciary Headquarters Independence Layout Enugu.

Members of the Enugu State Police Brutality and Extra-Judicial Killings Panel include:

1. Honorable Justice Kingsley Ngwu Udeh(Rtd.) Chairman.

2. Prof. Joy Ezeilo, Member.

3. Odokoro Ikechukwu, Member.

4. Comrade Osmond Ugwu, Member.

5. Ogbu Charles, Member.

6. Ani Steven, Member.

7. Dr. Valentine Madubuko, Member.

8. Onochiengwu Obuna Esq, Secretary To The Panel.

Please note that only 2copies of the memoranda, letters or complaints is needed and not 12 copies any longer.

#EndSARS: Abia panel begins sitting with 44 petitions The Abia State panel in Umua

The Abia State panel in Umuahia on Tuesday had its inaugural sitting with over 44 petitions at hand.

The Chairman of the 17-member panel, Justice Sunday Imo, said, “This panel shall in line with her mandate ensure that those who were once victims of police brutality and maltreatment get the required justice and possibly put an end any form of police harassment, intimidation, and abuse of the rights of the citizens of Abia State.”

According to the Secretary of the panel and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Uzoamaka Uche Ikonne, “about 44 petitions have been received, but the tribunal has not yet accessed all petitions sent online.”

Four petitions were entertained and all adjourned till next week to enable the defendants, the Commissioner of Police, Abia State, and others who were absent but represented by Superintendent of Police, Stanley Ofoegbu “to verify the complainants and be acquainted with the matters.”

Nigerian Defence Intelligence plans to kill me, Sahara Reporters founder, Omoyele Sowore cries out

Omoyele Sowore, Nigerian activist and founder of online news agency, Sahara Reporters, has disclosed that a bounty has been placed on his head.

According to the journalist, the Defence Intelligence academy put a bounty on his head, that he must be arrested and murdered.

He wrote on his Twitter page(https://twitter.com/YeleSowore/status/1326617987558887425?s=19) “Info reaching me now is that a signal from Defence Intelligence Agency has put a bounty on my head, that I must be arrested or murdered as they claim I would resist arrest in the next 24hrs! This is from the Defence HQ here is Abuja!

“The Inspector General of Police, Adamu is also involved and I am sure the DSS are all involved. Be it known that this can’t affect the struggle for freedom! It doesn’t matter what they do to me, please let this generation never give up, we just have to do this now so that we will never leave the next generation of Nigerians with this recurring nonsense! Thank you!”, he tweeted.

ASEC TASKS EDO GOVERNMENT ON CITIZENS’ INPUT ON BUDGET FORMULATION

A civil society group, Action for Socio-political and Economic Change (ASEC) have called on Edo state government to make it as a point of deliberate policy to engage citizens at grassroots level in harvesting their peculiar needs for budget formulation.

The call was made by the Coordinator of the group, Leftist Osazee Edigin in Benin City in reacting to the presentation of the 2020 revised supplementary budget by the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to the state House of Assembly on Tuesday.

Edigin who stated that, this is the second time the 2020 budget is been revised in response to the current economic reality which was predominantly caused by the novel Coronavirus pandemic that affected the larger part of the year and distorted economic projections.

Speaking further, he emphasized on the need for government and House of Assembly representatives to always organise stakeholders’ meetings at the local level to enable government input what are of more importance to the locals into budget formulation instead of relying mostly on call circulars from MDAs and party leaders without engaging the grassroots populace, he went on to assert that, a budget performance is determinant on how it has imparted on the people positively.

Local Government Chairmen, Councilors and state House of Assembly members are expected to meet with people at the grassroots level to get feedbacks on government expectations vis-a-vis project execution in their domains that will form a robust budget document he posited.

ASEC is a civil society group whose thematic areas are public accountability, transparency, good governance and human rights and an affiliate of Edo Civil Society Organisations.

#EndSARS: Lecturer narrates ordeal in detention as Anambra judicial panel receives 114 petitions

The State Panel of Enquiry on Police Brutality, Extra-Judicial Killings and Other Related Matters yesterday announced that petitions from victims of the recently disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have increased to 114.

Anambra is noted to be one of the states with the highest number of SARS brutality, torture and extrajudicial killings in the country, with the police unit’s Awkuzu headquarters officially code-named ‘hellfire’.

Chairman of the panel in Anambra, Justice Veronica Umeh (Rtd) announced during the panel’s sitting yesterday at the Anambra State government house that more petitions were coming in, and that so far, 114 petitions had been received.

She said, “We have started in earnest. We have 114 petitions so far. We dismissed some the other day and treated some too. We have a total of 114 now, and from Thursday, we will announce a new sitting arrangement, and we want you all to bear with us.

“From next week, we will produce a tag for all members of the panel, so that it would be easy for us to know who is who. I urge you all to submit your passports. Journalists are also expected to clearly display their press tags very clearly, so we know those who are here.”

Meanwhile, the panel entertained some petitions, including testimonies from a lecturer with the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Dr Justin Nwankwo who said the defunct SARS operatives ruptured his scrotum in the process of torturing him in 2013.

He also asked for compensation for properties confiscated by men of the SARS from his room during his ordeal, and compensation for unjustly branding him a kidnapper and human parts dealer.

He told journalists that, “The incident happened in 2013. I was the manager of the Upper Class Hotel in Onitsha, and I was also a PhD student then. We had rented out one of our rooms to a guest, who was properly checked in.

“In the morning, policemen came and searched the hotel and discovered some skulls in room 102, and the guest to whom we rented the room was not there. We told them that we duly recorded the guest before check-in, and that same morning, we had taken our manifest of all people who were guests to the CID department as was the practice, but they refused to listen.

“We urged them to investigate the guest as only he could tell how the skulls got there, but they were more interested in parading us as kidnappers and human parts dealers. I was brutally tortured and had a near-death experience for 81 days in SARS office Awkuzu, and I almost died.

“We (staff of Upper Class Hotel) were detained, tortured and released without any charge. I sustained damaged testicles, and ruptured scrotum, with lots of bodily harm. I am seeking compensation for the demolition of the hotel and for my name to be cleared, and my properties paid for.”

He regretted that immediately after they were arrested, no investigation was carried out, nor any panel set, but the then state governor, Mr Peter Obi ordered the demolition of the hotel on the same day.

“The police knew that no one was missing in that room, the man who rented the room had a name and the manifest was submitted to the police. The person who brought the skull is the person who should be investigated.

“Under one day, there was an executive, a judiciary and all investigation carried out in one day and the hotel was demolished, all in one day. Peter Obi was hasty (with the demolition) but said he had information, and never made such information known.

“We were paraded to the world as people selling human parts and taken for torture. That to me as a PhD student then was enough blacklisting. They know you cannot as hotel management ask to search the bag of guests. Our instinct is clear and we know that it was a plant. The hotel owner (Mr Bonaventure Mokwe) was set up by his adversaries and we (staff) were caught in the web,” he said.