Stakeholders in the criminal justice sector has condemned the use and involvement of the Military in the enforcement of the COVID-19 lockdown directives in Nigeria.
They explained that it is against the tenets of civil engagements, as some of the human rights violations witnessed were mostly perpetrated by the Military.
These stakeholders holders who are members of the Ekiti state Administration of Criminal Justice Working Group set up by CLEEN Foundation with the support of MacArthur Foundation for effective implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, said this during its bi-monthly meeting which held on 5th June on the state capital.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, jointly signed by Ms. Rita Ilevbare, Gender Relevance Initiative Promotion (GRIP) and Ms. Yetunde Kolawole, Ministry of Justice and issued at the weekend, they called on government not to involve military in the enforcement of special duties which are entirely civil in nature.
The stakeholders however commended the “substantial compliance” with rules of engagement and Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) by the security agents, particularly the Police and the NSCDC in the enforcement of the COVID-19 Lockdown directives.
They noted that Ekiti State witnessed minimal human rights violations by security agents, including no record of extra judicial killings as witnessed in some other states.
They observed that both the conventional and State security outfits were not trained before being deployed to enforce the COVID-19 Lockdown directives in Ekiti State.
They therefore advised that in case of future special duties, security agents both conventional and State security outfits be specially trained by Government before deployment.
The stakeholders also observed that alleged violators of Lockdown directives were denied legal representation. This, they said negates the principles of access to justice; particularly the right to fair hearing as preserved under the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
They therefore urged government to categorize lawyers as essential workers, should there be need for future Lockdown.
CLEEN Foundation with support from MacArthur Foundation is implementing in Ekiti State the Project, “Promoting Accountability and Transparency in the Administration of Criminal Justice System in Nigeria.” As part of the project activities, CLEEN Foundation set up a State Working Group to monitor the effective implementation of Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) in Ekiti State.
The Group consists of stakeholders in the justice sector and meets bi-monthly to deliberate on the effective implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, and to explore strategies for collaboration with partners towards the attainment of the ideals of ACJL in Ekiti Sta