The International Centre for Investigative Reporting(ICIR), with support from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), on Friday, organised a one-day round table meeting for the media and Civil Society Organizations(CSOs) in Nigeria to strengthen their partnership on human rights and Justice issues.
The round table meeting which was part of the activities lined up under the Human Rights Accountability and Justice Project, aimed at strengthening partnership on Human Rights and Justice Issues.
Held at the AES Luxury Apartments in Jabi, Abuja it was to enhance and deepen discussions in strengthening impact through strategic partnership.
In his welcome remarks at the round table meeting, Mr Dayo Aiyetan of the ICIR noted that the goal of the media and CSOs is to make government accountable to the people.
Aiyetan therefore, urged the media and CSOs to work together to achieve greater results in ensuring human rights are respected, protected and justice for the people.
Speaking also, Mr Ajibola Hamzat of the ICIR, said that a lot could be achieved in the areas of focus of the project if the media and CSOs work together. “We can achieve a lot in fixing our democracy. If our democracy is very strong then we can all live in peace,” he added.
Hamzat said the media owe the duty to expose those breaking the laws and violating the rights of people. “We need CSOs to take the reports or stories after it has been written and published by the media to the next level. With media and CSO collaboration, we will be able to bring the problems down to a minimal level,” he added.
Earlier while speaking on the objective of the meeting and reviewing activities carried out in Phase One of the project and the outcome, a Mentor/ Grant Beneficiary for the project, Rosemary Olufemi said just as in any civilized country, the media and CSO in Nigeria, play an important role in good governance, rule of law and democracy.
She said the second phase of the project which has just kick-started with the roundtable meeting, will cover security training for journalists, capacity building for CSOs and media, roundtable meeting of CSOs/ media, commissioning of grants for investigation and advocacy campaign, and targeted advocacy for investigative reports.
Mentor/ Grant Beneficiary for the project, Rosemary Olufemi while speaking on the objective of the meeting and reviewing activities carried out in Phase One of the project and the outcome
Sharing some of the experiences, benefits, impact and lessons learnt during the first phase of the project, a participant journalist, Ameh Ejekwonyilo said investigations revealed that children accused of petty crimes like stealing food items, were been detained in centres across states in the country like Benue, Kaduna, Niger, Rvers for years without trial.
“What the CSOs can do is to look at some of these cases and follow up on where they are been kept and liase with heads of these institutions to see how they can be taken out,” he said.
He said minors held in detention by police operatives were deceived to write statements declaring that they were older than their original age on the deception that that will get them out of the problem, only for officials to keep them in detention and rape them continuously.
On his part, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for Cleen Foundation, Nnamdi Hyginus said where such cases of age falsification are established, the court could be approached and the victims will be set freed.
In her representation on Current Human Rights Violation Tends and Effective Advocacy Strategies, the represetative of the Human Rights Watch(HRW) in Nigeria, Aniete Ewang said for years, the HRW has been focusing on six areas: Insecurity, abuses by security forces, repression of freedom of expression, media and association, women’s right, corruption and socio-economic rights in its advocacy.
Represetative of the Human Rights Watch(HRW) in Nigeria, Aniete Ewang
She said that the HRW has been carrying out advocacies to put an end to rampant cases of illegal detention, extra judicial killing, torture, extortion and sexual violence.
According to her, the condition of the detention centres in the North East had been very appalling as there are no proper ventilation in the illegal detention centre where children and adult were crammed together.
She said inmates were not well fed and not allowed to stretch their legs, adding, there were over 200 people in one cell until the ICIR intervened by exposing the gory sight of the detentions.
Ewang disclosed that presently, there are over 5000 people in North-East Nigeria in various detention centres awaiting trial.
She said that IDPs are been sexually abused, people including children detained and tortured by security forces and allied militia.
“The rate at which women and girls are being raped in IDP camps outside Maiduguri is alarming,” she added.
Ewang blamed the developments to complete failure on the part of security to protect lives and property.
“There is failure to institute external oversight mechanism,” she said
She further observed failure by goverment to institute internal mechanism to ensure respect for human rights in all aspect of operations as one of the cause.
The HRW representative said over 2million people are raped every year in Nigeria but barely 1 percent of the victims report these cases.
She blamed this also to failure to hold credible investigations and ensure accountability for reported abuses.
This was as she insisted that CSOs need to engage in advocasy for more results. “It shouldn’t just be only shaming and naming, the CSOs should as part of their contributions collect those reports and stories written by the media and share with stakeholders,” she said.