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THE UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE PYTHON DANCE11 BY THE NIGERIAN…

The NCICC  frowns at the illegality and unconstitutionality of the ‘python dance’ instituted by the Nigerian Military  to curb an insurection that does not exist. it is an aberration and a flagrant disregard to the rights of civilians in the country.

Although the President is empowered by virtue of section 217(2) of the Constitution to deploy the armed forces for the “suppression of insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore law order” he cannot exercise the power until there is an insurrection or civil disturbance which cannot be contained by the police. the police by virtue of section 215(3) was created and empowered to maintain peace and public safety, not the army.

Since there was no insurrection in Abia State which the Nigeria Police Force could not contain, the deployment of armed troops by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces cannot be justified in law.

However, if the federal government has evidence of other criminal offences recently committed by Mr. Kanu the Police should have been directed to arrest him and charge him to court without any delay.

“Neither the Constitution nor the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 has empowered the Nigeria Army to arrest any citizen who is not subject to service law.

In  Yussuf v Obasanjo (2005) 18 NWLR (Pt 956) 96 the Court of Appeal held that “It is up to the police to protect our nascent democracy and not the military, otherwise the democracy might be wittingly or unwittingly militarized. This is not what the citizenry bargained for in wrestling power from the military in 1999. Conscious steps should be taken to civilianise the polity to ensure the survival and sustenance of democracy”.

Regrettably, no conscious efforts have been made by the civilian government to demilitarise the country since power was transferred from former military dictators to the civilian wing of the political class in May 1999. Hence, armed soldiers have been allowed to continue to be involved in the maintenance of law and order in all the states of the federation. Up till now, state governments have allowed armed soldiers to remain members of the police anti robbery squads. They have been deployed, from time to time, by the President to deal with the menace of herdsmen and kidnappers. They have just been authorized to deal ruthlessly with civilians who are involved in any form of agitation for self determination.

“There is no legal basis for authorizing the Nigerian army to take over police duties. Even under the defunct military era in Nigeria the military dictators had to declare a state of emergency to legitimize the usurpation of police powers by the armed forces. But under a democratic dispensation the President and Commander-in-chief of the armed forces lacks the power to deploy members of the armed forces in the maintenance of internal security in any part of the country. We may want to recall that in waging  the war on terror in the north east region, a state of emergency was declared by President Jonathan to justify the deployment of members of the armed forces as part of the extraordinary measures required by him to restore law and order pursuant to section 305 of the Constitution. Thereafter, the President sought and obtained the approval of the National Assembly for the said deployment of the armed forces.

The coalition therefore urge Mr President to order the withdrawal of the troops from Abia state and allow the commissioner of police to efficiently dispense his duties.

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Report on The Presidential Panel set up to Investigate…

The Presidential Panel set up by his excellency the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement, especially in the local conflict and insurgency situations and also  to investigate alleged human rights violations by the Nigerian Army,  held its inaugural sitting in Abuja on the 11th of September 2017 with Benue indigenes narrating how soldiers helped rampaging herdsmen to attack their communities.
The panel opened for witness account and several witnesses were called to testify. In his testimony, the first petitioners’ witness, Mr. Jacob Kwaghkper, who is a retired Deputy Director with the National Commission for Colleges of Education, told the panel that from 2015 to June 2017, five communities that make up the Moon Valley were subjected to intense, sustained and coordinated attacks by soldiers from the 93 Battalion and herdsmen, leading to the death of 28 people. He told the panel that the herdsmen, with the active support of soldiers, were still occupying ancestral lands of the five communities. Lamenting before the panel, Kwaghkper said: “The soldiers are even providing security for the herdsmen, who are occupying the ancestral lands of the communities. “The displaced people of the communities, who escaped from the series of sustained attacks, have become refugees in Cameroon and internally displaced persons, (IDPs), taking shelter in various places in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State, under the watchful eyes of both the Federal and State government without any form of assistance.”

Another witness, Mr. Agbo Utah, told the panel that soldiers watched as herdsmen burnt down his compound. He also narrated how he was beaten, arrested and detained for a week by soldiers who disrupted local government election held in the area in 1998. Demands Aside the narratives, the displaced communities prayed the panel to order immediate restoration of their ancestral lands with adequate compensation. They further want all places     of worship, schools and markets that were destroyed as a result of the attacks by soldiers of the 93 Battalion, Nigerian Army, Takum, Taraba State, and herdsmen, be rebuilt on their original sites.

Shortly after Justice Georgewill, Chairman of the seven-man panel, declared the sitting open, victims who were  residents of Moon Valley communities in Kwande Local Government Area of   Benue State took turns to narrate their experience.    They narrated how about 30,000 persons were displaced by the military from their abode. Represented by their lawyer,        Mr. Mike Utsaha, the community told the panel that while 28 persons were killed in the attack, 91 compounds and property were destroyed.

According to the community, the attack was carried out by the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Takum, Taraba State. The community, through an 18-page memorandum submitted to the panel, stated how following intense and sustained attacks from 2013 to 2015, they were massacred and displaced from their ancestral land by the combined team of soldiers.
The chairman of the probe panel, Justice Biobele Georgewill, said the proceeding will provide a unique opportunity to those that have genuine and verifiable cases of human rights abuses by the Armed Forces, in the course of managing and containing local conflicts and insurgencies, to submit their memoranda.
The panel will hold a public hearing in each of the six Geo-political zones of the country on selected dates and centers.
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The National Coordinator of the NCICC Mr Chino Obiagwu…

Mr Chino Obiagwu   he called on states to explore all legislative, diplomatic and legal avenues to robustly respond to concerns of African states in the ICC system
Mr Chino Obiagwu an insightful human rights activist and the National coordinator of the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court took the floor on the 2nd day of the 15th session of the  Assembly of State Parties. He called on states to explore all legislative, diplomatic and legal avenues to robustly respond to concerns of African States in the ICC systems.