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Law Professor Recommends Nigeria Abandon Violence for Human Rights.

Professor Ayodele Atsenuwa has recommended Nigeria shift from a culture of violence to uphold the fundamental human rights of citizens as contained in the constitution.

She suggested better support for the Nigerian Police Force and a focus on effective systems of law enforcement instead of talking about salary as the solution to human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings by law enforcement agents.

Prof Atsenuwa gave this advice while delivering her keynote address at the 75th International Human Rights Day Celebration held by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja Branch.

She gave an appraisal of Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) vis-a-vis the operations of Law Enforcement Agencies in the country.

According to Atsenuwa, the Nigerian state and its agents are largely complicit in the breach of the fundamental human rights of its citizens. Virtually every state agency has law enforcement powers that have implications for human rights. Their officers are usually empowered to use force, which has a clawback on rights.

The law professor said the legal provision for the use of force by the police can prevent citizens from enjoying their rights to movement, peaceful assembly and lawful gathering. She also stressed that the Nigerian criminal justice system needs to begin planning for the prevention of crime instead of being reactive to prevent further abuse of human rights, including unlawful arrest and detention and forced confessions.

Atsenuwa said that officers of the police force who feel that killing criminals is more effective ony lack the capacity for effective law enforcement. She also noted that there is a perception among law enforcement agencies that they are not a part of the criminal justice system and that it works against the execution of their duties.

The Vice Chairman of the NBA Ikeja Branch and Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, U.C. Tracy Amadigwe-Dike, said the celebration of International Human Rights Day was to shine a light on how unfortunate it is that the Nigerian government, through its agencies, are mainly involved in violating the rights of the citizens they are meant to secure.

The chairman of the NBA Ikeja Branch, Oluwaseun Olawumi, pointed to the value of human rights and said, “Human rights must be respected and implemented even if there is a cost – such as a slower and more expensive process.”

A panel of discussants of the theme, including Chief Magistrate Jumoke Olagbegbi-Adelabu, Jiti Ogunye, Adaku Mbama, Malachy Ugwummadu, Akeem Bello, Kuti Ezebiro and Babajide Otitoju also highlighted the need for Nigeria to respect and uphold human rights.

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