SERAP writes Chief Justice over detained Sowore, Jalingo | Nigerian News. Latest Nigeria News. Your online Nigerian Newspaper. f

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council (NJC), urging h

“Nigerians now have a high degree of scepticism about the ability of the authorities at the state and federal levels to protect their human rights. We urge you to ensure that the NJC and the judiciary consistently demonstrate their original and sacred functions of standing between government and the governed.”

“Charging citizens for crimes of treason and treasonable felony or ‘insult’ simply for exercising their human rights shows the authorities’ lack of commitment to protecting the human rights of all Nigerians, particularly those who perform critical roles and contribute to strengthening and sustaining the Nigerian democratic system.”

“No government should have the power to use the courts as a tool of overriding the rights of individuals. The NJC has a responsibility to ensure that the courts play a central role in enforcing fundamental rights, and ensuring that the authorities do not use the courts as a tool to charge citizens with crimes, which are not constitutionally and internationally recognizable, simply for exercising their human rights.”

“Democracy requires some protection of the weak from the strong. The NJC ought to push for courts’ activism in the area of human rights, especially at this time when the authorities are regularly clamping down on citizens’ human rights. This will enhance democracy, the rule of law, and will be entirely consistent with the constitutional role of the judiciary.”

“Human rights and constitutional principles are fundamental and it is the role of an independent judiciary to give effect to those rights and principles, within the rule of law.”

“We believe that the NJC can ensure that the courts are better protectors of human rights than the executive at state and federal levels can ever be. Indeed, Nigerians including journalists, bloggers and activists require protection from both the state governments and federal government.”

“We believe that it is only an independent and courageous judiciary that can ensure full respect for the human rights of those brought before the courts by the authorities.”

“Agba Jalingo, journalist and publisher of the online CrossRiverWatch, is charged with treason over a report about an alleged diversion of N500 million by the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade. According to our information, a Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, and presided over by Justice Simon Amobeda on October 4 2019 denied him bail. He was handcuffed to another inmate when he appeared in court.”

“Similarly, journalist and activist Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare are facing trial on seven counts of treasonable felony, fraud, cyber-stalking and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari, simply for exercising their human rights.”

“Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu granted Sowore and Bakare bail but imposed stringent conditions that implicitly violate their constitutional rights to personal liberty, presumption of innocence, freedom of movement and freedom of expression.”

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your action by ensuring that the NJC is able to urgently respond to the threats to judicial independence and authority highlighted above. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.” The group concluded





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