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ACCESS TO JUSTICE LAMENTS NIGERIANS' SUFFERING

By NBF News
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Coming on the heels of Nigeria's 51st independence anniversary, a human rights group, Access to Justice, has lamented the deplorable state of things, in the face of failure by government.

In a statement by Joseph Otteh, director, Access to Justice expressed displeasure at the way security agencies treat Nigerians.

The group said that since government takes no action against extrajudicial killings, security agencies have engaged in this with impunity.

The statement said: 'As Nigeria marks 51st Independence anniversary, many Nigerians, particularly those without privileges of wealth, power and influence, continue to suffer untold abuses by the failure of Nigeria's government to guarantee them a life of security, dignity and opportunity. Fifty-one years after independence, the blessings of political liberty still ring hollow for several millions of Nigerians who continue to endure grueling exploitation, want, deprivation and abuse from their government.

From the abject collapse of critical infrastructure - power, roads, water - to a dysfunctional state of services delivery - healthcare, education, security and safety, housing, judicial services etc - Nigerians have, in growing frustration, endured the pain of not realizing individual and national aspirations for 51 years.

'Government has failed to invest in the welfare of its citizen and keeps on violating section 14(2) of the Constitution, which provides that the welfare and security of citizens shall be the primary purpose of government. No where is this more evident than in the failure to guarantee that Nigerians will no more be subjected to brutal and gross abuses of their rights to live in dignity, and free from violence and risks of extrajudicial killings by security officials.

'For too long, the Nigerian government has permitted lawless state security agencies to abuse the civil rights and freedoms of citizens ordinarily enjoyed by democracies worldwide. Nigerians' rights to live peaceably in security, dignity and integrity; to pursue happiness, economic opportunity and live without fear of want. Year after year, thousands of people are killed by security agencies, extra-judicially, while on their ordinary business, and the government looks the other way. In September, Ismaila Quadri, a Lagos baker, was brutally assaulted by policemen from Ipaja police station, and did not survive the grievous assault, dying a few days later and an audacious Commissioner of Police says he was caught with weeds.

'Earlier in the year, soldiers went on a rampage to murder policemen who had nothing to do with a soldier allegedly killed by a policeman. While professing to be a 'people's government,' the Jonathan administration turns its back to the people when it stays silent in the face of thousands of summary executions of innocent people; it turns a blind eye to their need the Nigerian people have for an accountable and law-respecting police force. It remains indifferent to longstanding agitations towards reforming Nigeria's security institutions and has refused to take any credible step towards changing the paradigm of law enforcement operations in Nigeria.'